published Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Retracing the Trail of Tears: A legacy of Native American culture and way of life

Visitors gather at the historic Chief Vann House during a rededication ceremony.
Visitors gather at the historic Chief Vann House during a rededication ceremony.
Photo by Staff File Photo.

GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE

For more tips that will help you find the best things to do in the Chattanooga region, pick up a copy of Glimpse, a travel guide that will be inserted into your newspaper on Friday. Glimpse covers the hottest activities and best-kept secrets in nearly 100 cities across Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina and will be accessible online from timesfreepress.com.

Exhibits, preserves, cabins and monuments mark the path where much of the Cherokee Nation was forced to move from the Southeast to Oklahoma in 1838. Thousands were removed from Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia. Many died during the journey, which spanned nine states and came to be known as the Trail of Tears.

The National Park Service, in partnerships with numerous government and non-profit agencies, oversees the historic trail.

Resting place of Cherokee warrior

The memorial site pays tribute to Junaluska, who served in the U.S. Army, and was forced to relocate out West from Robbinsville, N.C., in 1838. He later returned to North Carolina and died near the site in 1858.

• The memorial features a seven-sided monument with seven granite markers representing the seven Cherokee clans. Each marker describes Junaluska’s life and accomplishments.

• A museum contains exhibits of arrowheads and spear points as well as other Cheoa Valley artifacts, along with history about the people.

• Hours for the museum run from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday between April and October. From November to March, the museum is closed on Saturdays. Call ahead for a schedule at 828-479-4727. The site is located on Main Street in Robbinsville just north of downtown.

• A quarter-mile-long medicine trail is located near the memorial; the trail contains plants and shrubs used by the Cherokee to make traditional medicine including witch hazel, sassafras and blood root.

Source: National Park Service, the Junaluska informational website, main.nc.us/graham/junaluskamemorial.html and North Carolina Folklife Institute website, ncfolk.org

Chief James Vann’s Historic Home

James Vann owned the largest and most prosperous plantation in the Cherokee Nation, spanning 1,000 acres in Murray County, Ga. He was murdered in 1809 and his son, Joseph, inherited the property. The Vann family was forced to leave their 2-1/2-story brick home during the Trail of Tears.

• The home in Chatsworth, Ga., features hand carvings as well as a floating staircase, a 12-foot mantle and valued antiques.

• When the Vanns were forced to relocate, they rebuilt in Oklahoma. Their home in Georgia remains the best-preserved Cherokee Native home.

• The site includes 109 acres and half-mile nature trail with a visitor center and gift shop.

• The home is open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday and Saturday. Admission is $6 for adults, $5.50 for seniors, $4 for youth between the ages of six to 17 and $2 for children under the age of six. For more information, contact 706-695-2598.

Source: Georgia State Parks

Farm life

At the Elise Chapin Wildlife Sanctuary, two sites allow visitors to learn more about the Cherokee way of life.

• Situated on a 132 acres divided by the South Chickamauga Creek, the sanctuary has Little Owl Native Village, an archaeological site where historians believe Native Americans and the Spanish explorers Hernando de Soto and Tristan Deluna first met.

• The site contains the Spring Frog Cabin, home to Cherokee leader Drowning Bear, who was forced to leave during the Trail of Tears.

• The property also includes a visitor center containing exhibits on the Trail of Tears Brainerd Mission site and on Cherokee culture.

• The property is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission for $4 for adults is $4, $3 for seniors 60 or older and $2 for students between 5 and 12 years old. For more information, call 423-892-1499.

Source: Chattanooga Audubon Society and National Park Service

Removal fort in Alabama

Fort Payne, Ala., was the site where most of the Cherokee in Alabama were taken before they were sent to Oklahoma. It was the location of one of 20 removal forts and remained open for a year during the removal.

• View Andrew Ross’ home at 4502 Godfrey Ave. in Fort Payne. The residence is private and not open to the public. Ross, a Cherokee business man and judge on the Cherokee Supreme Court, was the brother of Principal Chief John Ross.

• Willstown Mission Cemetery contains 50 or more graves. Only eight are marked as belonging to white settlers, who opened a school and missionary for Cherokees in the 1820s and 1830s. It’s possible the remaining graves are those of Cherokee who died at at a nearby camp before their departure out west. The cemetery is located on 38th Street NE in Fort Payne.

• Visit the site of cabin that Cherokee John Huss built in 1825. The chimney and cabin foundation still remain. The site was seized by the military during the Trail of Tears and became a removal fort. Open to the public by appointment, it’s located at the east end of Fourth Street SE. For more information, call 256-845-6888.

Source: National Parks Service

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