Skip to comments.Ground broken for Trail of Tears Monument at Blythe Ferry (TN)
Posted on 03/07/2008 11:21:32 AM PST by Tennessee Nana
A lone Cherokee Indian walked the barren earth where bulldozers had cleared the way for construction of a monument to the people who were at the Blythe Ferry staging area prior to the Trail of Tears in 1838.
Alva Crow of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee from Cherokee, N. C., arrived at Blythe Ferry Landing, west of Georgetown, two hours early. It was a difficult journey for Crow, who is undergoing chemotherapy.
I am blessing the people who were here that made the removal on the Trail of Tears is here, he said. The people who passed away is here.
He blessed the people to help them relieve their anger and help them go home.
Its time for them to go home, Crow said. Its time for them to welcome the new world, the new Trail of Tears, to make it a beautiful place for them, not for us. They can go on and be happy now.
He said it is important for people to remember how America was in the freedom they had.
US Congressman Zach Wamp has been in the forefront of passing national Trail of Tears legislation that will double the size of the trail based on 29 immigration depots and two other routes that were never documented or recorded as the Trail of Tears. A full length feature film will be released in the next two years.
This is part of who we are. This is one of the great lessons of history that mistakes can be made by the greatest government in the history of the world, Wamp said. The US Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional and couldnt be done. President Andrew Jackson did it anyway. He basically told the Supreme Court to enforce their ruling, knowing full well they had no enforcement power.
Wamp said Jackson denied his responsibility and ordered the forced removal that led to the death of 4,000 to 5,000 before their arrival in Oklahoma.
Here at Blythe Ferry is where 9,000 Cherokee crossed the Tennessee River, he said. Thats why this is a special place. Thats why it is appropriate the Cherokee Removal Memorial is here.
The 2,400 sq. ft. memorial was funded by $1.3 million of federal transportation enhancement funds. There is an overlook on a bluff above Jolly Island where Sam Houston lived for a time. Eventually, there will be a boat dock at Blythe Ferry.
There will be three amenities here where 9,000 Cherokee spent quite some time before they headed west, he said. The bright spot in this tragedy is they survived and they have very strong character. The Cherokee Nation is a strong tribe.
The Cherokee Removal Monument was the dream of one woman, then two and then a third.
Shirley Hoskins, who had relatives on the trail was born in Oklahoma, but moved to Tennessee when her husband went to work for the Tennessee Valley Authority. A monument has been a dream of hers for 30 years.
I lived in Chattanooga 15 years before I even knew where the Cherokee came from, she said.
The dream began to solidify 12 years ago when Gloria Schouggins and Shirley Lawrence, of Decatur, began helping her.
County Mayor Ken Jones said Schouggins was a constant picture on his radar screen. Every time I looked up from my desk, Gloria was right there in front of me.
Jones said it is important the memorial be built so we do not forget.
Building this is just, and it is right, he said.
But I do look forward to a day when our face is not constantly rubbed in it. Will that day ever come?
No. Unless libs decide to no longer attend journalism school.
Bet the Indians wish they had had better immigration policies. /bad joke
Cherokee history is fascinating stuff. They were nothing like the indians of Hollywood’s imaginings.
Yes, I agree. Bad things were done, but there’s no point in wallowing in it forever. Basically, under the US, the Indians did eventually get a fair deal, but the thing that really ruined it was the advent of the 1960s and the bizarre separatist movement that essentially condemned the various tribes to live in subjugation to their dysfunctional, greedy chiefs in their sovereign territories (reservations). With all the gambling money that flows into Indian territories, they should have flourishing cities, not shanty towns of illiterate alcoholics.
But that’s neither here nor there. The Spanish were much better colonizers than the British, and thus ended up with mestizo populations. This is something that did not happen in the US, partly because our aboriginal population was lower, and partly because the British were never interested in converting the Indians, teaching them European ways, and marrying them, but instead regarded them as exotic savages who could never be British. The initial US approach had a lot of the British colonist in it.
Oddly enough, when the British went to India, they seem to have changed their approach and made serious efforts to educate the (East) Indians about Western culture and political practice.
The real Trail of Tears is the stretch of 82nd Street from I-69 to Keystone Avenue on the Northside of Indianapolis.
“Cherokee history is fascinating stuff. They were nothing like the indians of Hollywoods imaginings.”
Indeed. I’ve just finished a novel on this, still in editing. The written records my ancestors kept are fascinating.
The legendary “Trail “ was actually a series of land routes and water routes. Some went only by land, others only by water. Some combined the two. Because of the numbers passing over the same landscape over such a short period of time and severe drought, vegetation was scare to feed the livestock and beasts of burden, making alternate routes necessary. Most routes traveled about nine hundred to one thousand miles. Within a decade of passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1839, it is estimated sixty thousand Indians, African slaves, white spouses and missionaries crossed through North West Arkansas. Sixteen thousand were Cherokee as well as other tribes from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
My ancestors (Bells) fared better than most because they took military roads with only about 700 on their wagon train instead of the Army running the trip. Only 21 were lost on the trip. They were first entered and held at Ft. Cass in Tennessee. Before doing so, they shipped many of their belongings by barge to the new Indian Territory.
Some verified dates of the Bell contingency.
1838 October, Ridge Party families of Bell, Adair, Lynch, and others removed from their
homes, entered at Ft. Cass, E. Tenn. for holding to await removal to Indian Territory West.
1838 November 22, Bell Detachment arrives Memphis, TN. , buried 17 in Monroe County
1838 December 25, Bell Detachment ferries Point Remove Creek, Arkansas N.E. of Little Rock.
1839 January 7, Bell Detachment arrives at Evansville, Ark. Completed 707 miles in 89 days
This particularly sad account of other groups is given by Private John G. Burnett of Captain Abraham McClellan’s Company:
“I saw the helpless Cherokees arrested and dragged from their homes, and driven at the bayonet point into the stockades. And in the chill of a drizzling rain on an October morning I saw them loaded like cattle or sheep into six hundred and forty-five wagons and started toward the west....On the morning of November the 17th we encountered a terrific sleet and snow storm with freezing temperatures and from that day until we reached the end of the fateful journey on March the 26th 1839, the sufferings of the Cherokees were awful. The trail of the exiles was a trail of death. They had to sleep in the wagons and on the ground without fire. And I have known as many as twenty-two of them to die in one night of pneumonia due to ill treatment, cold and exposure.....
The most recent and best map of the trails is here. This has been updated because of records found in the government of the various trips:
That is BAD!
What will be worse is when the green bridge is removed this summer for renovation.
“But I do look forward to a day when our face is not constantly rubbed in it. Will that day ever come?”
Not likely. Not as long as any group wants to remain a victim.
Andy Jackson was a Democrat federalist and one of our worst presidents.
agreed on all counts.
American Indians suffered terribly as this nation expanded.
I am all in support of such memorials.
But at times, it can be abused as a guilt trip against our modern nation today.
I have to point out that had this nation not expanded and became a world force, how would the Indians have been treated by things like the NAZI, Japanese or Soviet empires as they expanded un-hindered by the United States?
Red Clayh is not far from where i live...
it was a village with good houses, stores etc..
Cherokees lived quiet lives there before they were forceablly moved from there own homes and lands...
One reason that so many died is that instead of going due west into OK...about 700 miles...they were forced to go in a horseshoe ...far north into Il and MO in the dead of winter...and then back south...
“The Spanish were much better colonizers than the British, and thus ended up with mestizo populations. This is something that did not happen in the US, partly because our aboriginal population was lower, and partly because the British were never interested in converting the Indians, teaching them European ways, and marrying them,”
Mostly, I agree, but all Indians were not the same. Groups within each tribe also varied greatly. One group of Cherokee by 1825 was more “converted” than their white counterparts. As for the ‘British’ (colonists?), all those were not the same either. Many Cherokee attended New England universities like Dartmouth and were mentored by rich colonists like Elias Boudinot.
An interesting quote by Jefferson:
Remarks of Thomas Jefferson, President of The United States of America
To the Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation. Washington, D. C. January 10, 1806
My friends and children, chiefly of the Cherokee Nation, I cannot take
leave of you without expressing the satisfaction I have received from
your visit. I see with my own eyes that the endeavors we have been
making to encourage and lead you in the way of improving your situation have not been unsuccessful; it has been like grain sown in good ground, producing abundantly. You are becoming farmers, learning the use of
the plough and the hoe, enclosing your grounds and employing that
labor in their cultivation which you formerly employed in hunting and in war; and I see handsome specimens of cotton cloth raised, spun and wove
by yourselves. ....
Go on, my children, in the same way and be assured the further you
advance in it the happier and more respectable you will be.
Our brethren, whom you have happened to meet here from the West and Northwest, have enabled you to compare your situation now with what it was formerly. They also make the comparison, and they see how far you are ahead of them, and seeing what you are they are encouraged to do as you have done........
When a man has enclosed and improved his farm, builds a good house
on it and raised plentiful stocks of animals, he will wish when he dies that these things shall go to his wife and children, whom he loves more than he does his other relations, and for whom he will work with pleasure during
his life. You will, therefore, find it necessary to establish laws for this.
When a man has property, earned by his own labor, he will not like to see another come and take it from him because he happens to be stronger,
or else to defend it by spilling blood. You will find it necessary then to appoint good men, as judges, to decide contests between man and man, according to reason and to the rules you shall establish.....
My children, I thank you for your visit and pray to the Great Spirit who
made us all and planted us all in this land to live together like brothers
that He will conduct you safely to your homes, and grant you to find your families and your friends in good health.
“One reason that so many died is that instead of going due west into OK...about 700 miles...they were forced to go in a horseshoe ...far north into Il and MO in the dead of winter...and then back south...”
Exactly. My grgruncle, John Adair “Jack” Bell led the wagon train. He had scouted back and forth for years to the new territory (other Cherokee voluntarily removed in the early 1820’s and settled in No. Arkansas.) He gained the respect of the Army and with a Lt. Deas was allowed to move his people on the Army roads south of the typical trail. Also, they were the last group and the usual routes were devestated with the traffic and drought, so he knew they’d never make it. They were ‘late’ because the Chief Ross faction of the tribe were trying to assassinate all who signed the removal treaty. Ross’s brother signed it, but he gave him amnesty and killed one of my grgruncles, David Bell and many others including Major Ridge, his son John and Elias Boudinot (who took his benefactors name).
“Andy Jackson was a Democrat federalist and one of our worst presidents.”
He pulled some stunts for sure. One of the uglier ones was during the War of 1812. The Cherokee supported the United States government against England. On March 27th, Cherokee leader, The Ridge with eight hundred volunteers fought the Creeks to submission beside General Andrew Jackson and his militia at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814. A Cherokee brave, Junaluska, was said to have saved Jackson’s life from the knife of a Creek during battle and the name ‘Major’ was bestowed to Chief Ridge by Jackson. When the war of 1812 ended, large land concessions were taken from the losers, the Creek. And the loyal Cherokee? Land was also demanded and taken from them in subsequent treaties by Jackson.
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