Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Red Clay State Park Tennessee, Trail of Tears Cherokee

Cherokee Government Meeting House
Typical Cherokee period Farm House
I am spending some time in southeastern Tennessee and while I am here I am taking in some of the sights.  I like history and have always been interested in the American Indian story.  Part of that story is the manner in which the American Indians were treated by the federal government.  In the early 1800's the Cherokee owned and occupied large areas in Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina.  After 1838 they were completely dispossessed of their land.  The exodus and journey to their new home is referred to at the Trail of Tears.  Part of this story took place at Red Clay in Tennessee.  The traditional center of Cherokee government had been in Georgia.  The State made laws that made it illegal for the Cherokee to meet in any kind of government body for any purpose other than signing away the rights to their land.  So they moved the government to Red Clay.  This site is now a State Park.  There is a visitors center that tries to tell the story of the Cherokee's time at Red Clay.  There are exhibits that include replicas of the governmental meeting house, a typical Cherokee farm and sleeping houses.  

Hiking Trail Sign
Located at the site is a walking trail that are an easy one hour trek through a wooded area at the park.  From a historical point of view there is nothing to see on the hike.  It is still a nice walk.  There is a spring on the property that is called Red Clay Spring.  It is next to where the Meeting house was located and a creek runs off into the meadow beyond the site. 
 There is also a creek on the hike through the woods.  I find creeks and other water ways to be soothing and can loose track of time sitting of the bank watching the water flow by.  I din't get the name of the creek.

I like log cabins and find their construction methods interesting.  I enjoyed studying how these homes were built.  It is interesting how the ends of the logs were dovetailed together to hold the structure fast.  The chinking is modern.  I have no idea what they used in the 1830's.  The park is a pleasant half day trip.  The visitors center has a short film and many exhibits that discuss the eviction of the Cherokee from their homelands.  Also included is  information on the nature of the Cherokee government.  I was unaware that the Cherokee were a democratic people and that they had adopted a constitution.  I must admit that I feel a little remiss in never taking the time to learn more about the story of the Trail of Tears.  It certainly was not one of the finer moments of our American History.

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