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In 1830, amid controversy and opposition, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, forcibly removing thousands of Native Americans to reservations west of the Mississippi River. Jackson’s goal was to “separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites,” claiming, “the policy of the Government toward the red man is not only liberal, but generous.” This forced migration of approximately 60,000 people is often referred to as the Trail of Tears. Their struggles transcend time, and can be connected to hardship, injustice or discrimination experienced today. This piece is a tribute to a proud people; their stories are an essential part of our diverse, and at times, dark, American fabric, not only as reminder of the past, but a reference to the present. (Original images courtesy Library of Congress.)

Photos by Larry Berman

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