Trail of Tears
In the 1830s, about 15,000 Indians were abruptly forced out of their homes in the Southeastern states, to make way for a white settlement. They were marched along the Trail of Tears to their new reservation in Oklahoma. Thousands died during the march.
The National Park Service currently oversees the Trail of Tears. And a Republican Congressman from Tennessee, Zach Wamp, wants to fund a Congressional study to learn more about this disgraceful episode of America’s history. This Congressional effort might include an education and research center.
According to the National Park Service, “families were separated — the elderly and ill forced out at gunpoint — people given only moments to collect cherished possessions. White looters followed, ransacking homes as Cherokees were led away.”
Cleata Townsend, a Cherokee descendant, said visiting youngsters “don’t have a clue” about the forced removal of thousands of Southern Indians in the 1830s. She said “they all think we lived in tepees. That’s the one thing they see in movies.” She said Cherokees at the time were very established and “may have lived in better houses” than white settlers. “We may have been having dinner and soldiers came to our door and took us at gunpoint.”
Rep. Zach Wamp (also a Cherokee descendent) said “You have to recognize and acknowledge your mistakes for the white man to make this right…There has to be an acknowledgment that ... slavery was a mistake, the Trail of Tears was a mistake.”
America (like every country) has a lot of dark chapters in its history. We need to own up to this. The dark side needs to be publicized and acknowledged.