The Georgia Trust

2007 PLACES IN PERIL: CHEROKEE STRUCTURES IN NORTH GEORGIA

honor cherokee nation’s trail of tears before more is lost

The Story: Before the Cherokees were forced out of Georgia in 1838, they lived sophisticated lives with a written alphabet, a newspaper and a Constitution. Cherokees built cabins, operated ferries and constructed stagecoach stops and taverns along the Federal Road built in 1805 that cut through their land to Tennessee. In 1832, Georgia held its last land lottery, dividing up and giving away Cherokee lands before the Nation endured a forced march to Oklahoma on the 1838 Trail of Tears. A quarter of the Cherokee Nation's 16,000 members perished along the way.

Threat: While the homes of notable Cherokee leaders James Vann, Major Ridge and John Ross have been documented and are protected, a great many Cherokee-built structures are gone. Those that remain are often difficult to locate. After taking over Cherokee homes settlers often expanded them, concealing original construction in the process. Most Cherokee structures remain unidentified, undocumented and unprotected.

Solution: When Congress created the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail in 1987, Georgia was not included. Current legislation before Congress will amend the National Historic Trail to include trail segments, sites and campgrounds in Georgia. To substantiate the legislation the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association is currently identifying sites associated with the Cherokee before removal. The National Park Services is documenting removal fort sites constructed to hold the Cherokee before the forced march across the continent. Researchers need your help in identifying existing structures that will bring the lives of Cherokees before removal into sharper focus.

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