As yet another Cherokee descendant, I noted many "twists" in the story of the Trail of Tears.
First, in John Ehle's book, "Trail of Tears," his research led him to a far less dramatic number of Cherokee deaths on the Trail of Tears. Of course, even a single death in such an endeavor was one too many.
Second, while America has often used the "alternative leadership" of nations (i.e., the leadership that agrees with our interests) to form treaties, or get "invited" to action, etc., the truth of the matter is that the Cherokee, by virtue of being in lands that were in the path of white settlement and white demand for gold, were "doomed" no matter whether they had ALL agreed or ALL disagreed to the move west. Very simply, the Cherokee would have been moved, subjugated, or killed for their lands. The only survival option was to allow removal.
While Ridge and others realized this (and were later murdered for it), there is always a hopeful remnant that, like the mice in "Who Moved My Cheese," will continue to linger, wait, tarry, all in hopes that things will just work out in the end. But as we see, even though the Cherokee won their contest in the courts, there was just no true remedy except to remove (either west or east).
In some way, the Cherokee nation "chose life." They were hopelessly outgunned and outmanned in this matter. The only way to survive was to yield to the realities of life. While some Cherokees saw this of their own accord, others were forced to this conclusion.
Thankfully, this beautiful people was preserved, though it was through much trial and tragedy.
The question is what do we do NOW? Clearly, too much water has went under the bridge for us to just return southeast Tennessee and northeast Georgia to the Cherokee Nation. But surely we owe them something.
It is MY OPINION that there ought to be a perpetual percentage of all state and local taxes within former Cherokee lands that is given to the Cherokee Nation. After all, we are not here "just because." We are here because a people were removed from their lands. NOT because they wanted to be removed, but because, whether they supported the Treaty of New Echota or not, there was no other choice really.