Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 20

COURTESY NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

The Trail of Tears
The Cherokee
Nation honors its
past and looks ahead
to its future
BY PAMELA A. KEENE

I

t's called the Trail of Tears: the 800-mile network
of land and water routes that took the Cherokee
Nation from its homelands in the South to new lands
west of the Mississippi River nearly two centuries ago.
This year, the Cherokee will commemorate their ancestors' journey.
But for members of today's Cherokee Nation, the
Trail of Tears is not about memorializing the forced
removal of their ancestors 180 years ago. The focus is on

the people's resilience and their ability to thrive under
adversity.
"We participate in the commemoration of that sad
episode because it affords us the opportunity to honor
the resilience, the tenacity and the perseverance of that
generation who refused to be defeated," says Troy
Wayne Poteete, executive director of the Oklahomabased National Trail of Tears Association. "We certainly
don't do it because we wish to somehow appropriate
their victimization to ourselves. We personally didn't
endure the Trail of Tears, and no one alive today had
anything to do with that tragedy."

COURTESY RICH-HEAPE FILMS

Georgia at the epicenter

Top: Visitors travel a segment of the Trail of Tears National Historic
Trail as part of a National Park Service re-enactment. Thousands
of Cherokees traveled 800 miles along the trail from Georgia to
Oklahoma in 1838. Above: In a re-enacted scene for the film "The
Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy," a group of Cherokees prepares for
the journey.
20

"Long before America gained its independence, the
Cherokee people were a separate, sovereign nation,"
says Tony Harris, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation who
lives in Cobb County. He's one of only 32 Cherokee
citizens who live in Georgia.
"The Cherokee had treaty rights to the land on
which they lived with England, France and Spain. And in
reality, all of those treaties are still in effect; they didn't
just disappear," he says.
After the Revolutionary War, early American leaders,
including Gen. George Washington and U.S. Secretary of
War Henry Knox, negotiated treaties with the Cherokee
regarding the preservation of the Cherokee Nation in
return for land the Cherokee ceded to the government.
Georgia became a state in 1788.
According to Cherokee history, assimilation between

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - January 2018

Contents
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 3
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 5
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 6
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 7
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 8
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 9
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 10
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 11
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 12
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 13
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 14
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 15
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 16
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 17
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 18
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 19
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 20
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 21
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 22
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 23
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 24
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 25
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26A
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26B
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26C
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26D
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 27
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 28
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 29
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 30
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 31
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 32
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 33
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 34
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 35
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 36
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 37
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 38
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 38A
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 38B
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 39
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 40
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 41
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 42
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 43
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 44
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 45
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 46
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 47
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 48
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 48A
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 48B
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 49
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 50
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 50A
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 50B
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Cover4
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