14 November 2007 There is a small state park just down the road from us that is the site of the Cherokee National Capital-New Echota. We planned on a quick stop here today on the way to spend our last day with our grandson and parents. It was such an interesting story that we ended up spending several hours there.
Before the white man came to this country and during much of the period of the early settlers taking over the lands once used by the many native Indian tribes, the Cherokee Indians occupied much of the central eastern region of what is now the United States. By the early 1800’s, these people were driven from most of this land, but still held onto territory that covered north central Georgia, parts of Tennessee and South Carolina. Those that remained had transformed their life styles from hunter gatherers to farming, trade and business and adopted a lifestyle very much like the white settlers. They owned farms, ran all types of business and were generally productive citizens of the larger society.
By 1825 they had established a central form of government that was a mirror image of the white man’s national government with a legislative, executive and judicial system. They were the first Native Americans to develop a written language and the only to have their own national newspaper that was distributed in their native language and English throughout the country and the world. In 1828 there were a total of 18 newspapers in Georgia and this was one of them.
This successful integration was not to last, as Georgia believed that the state was entitled to all the Indian lands based on its colonial charter and an agreement with the federal government in 1802.
Long story short-after failing to get a treaty with the Cherokee to leave and then losing a U S Supreme court decision to the Cherokee nation on Cherokee rights, the state arranged a questionable treaty with a very small minority of Cherokee to vacate the land. The Cherokee nation refused to leave their land and homes. At the order of President Andrew Jackson, 15000 people were forced from their homes at gun point by 7000 Federal and State troops and sent on a forced march to eastern Oklahoma with whatever they had on their backs. The difficult journey during winter months left as many as 4000 dead along the trail.
This whole sad saga is known as the Trail of Tears.