A Georgia elementary school removes assignment instructing students to write a letter as ‘an American settler’ to Andrew Jackson in favor of removing Indigenous people from their land
- An assignment at a Georgia school about the Trail of Tears has been removed.
- Fourth-graders were given a prompt to write in favor of “removing the Cherokee.”
- The assignment also asked students to write from the point of view of a member of the Cherokee Nation.
A Georgia school gave fourth graders an assignment that prompted them to write from the point of view of an English colonizer in America and justify the removal of indigenous people from their land.
“Write a letter to President Andrew Jackson from the perspective of an American settler. Explain why you think removing the Cherokee will help the United States grow and prosper,” the writing prompt titled “The Trail of Tears” said, referencing one of the largest tribes of Indigenous peoples in the US.
Jackson, commander in chief from 1829 to 1837, signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, authorizing – beyond his time in office – the violent forced displacement of approximately 100,000 Indigenous peoples amid the country’s westward expansion. Over 15,000 people from different tribal nations died on what came to be called the Trail of Tears, which has been largely categorized the ethnic cleansing and genocide of tens of thousands of Indigenous peoples.
While exact numbers are unknown, the National Park Service estimated that 4,000 Cherokees – or a fifth of their population – died on the Trail of Tears. One Choctaw leader referred to the journey as a “trail of tears and death.”
Jennifer Martin, a parent in Virginia, told Insider that she shared the assignment from a public charter school called the Georgia Cyber Academy after seeing someone post it in a private group among parents. She saw the prompt as an example of how the movement against critical race theory is “prioritizing the feelings of settlers and colonizers as more important than actual, real history.”
“If this sort of content could happen at a state-funded Georgia charter school, it could easily happen in any public school, and I think people should be aware of how quickly we’re devolving into this kind of atmosphere in American schools,” Martin said. “The truth of American history, and what happened to indigenous peoples and enslaved Africans and other people of color, shouldn’t be whitewashed.”
According to the Georgia Department of Education, in lesson plans that explain westward expansion in America, educators are to “describe the impact of westward expansion on American Indians; include the Trail of Tears, Battle of Little Bighorn and the forced relocation of American Indians to reservations.” Georgia Cyber Academy, a charter school, may not have to adhere to this guidance for social studies curriculum.
A spokesperson for Georgia Cyber Academy told Insider that the assignment has since been removed after school leadership “concluded this is not an appropriate question to be used in our classrooms.”
“While there is often a benefit in asking students to consider all perspectives in a social studies class – and it should be noted that the next question in the series asked students to also argue from the opposite perspective (screenshot attached) – we believe there are more appropriate ways to teach this subject,” the spokesperson said in an email.
The second portion of the assignment, shared by the school, asked students to write from the “perspective of a Cherokee Indian.”
“Explain why the Indian Removal Act is harmful to you and your family. Describe conditions on the Trail of Tears and their effects on your tribe,” the prompt said.
The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.