Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Trail of Tears

I just have to say we are loving our RV.  We went camping this past weekend and as a family we all commented on how nice it is to hit the road and go see new things without worrying about finding hotels.  We stop at a camp site in Cape Girardeau and visited the Trail of Tears center, there are several different centers along the trail in several states.  I must admit I have little little knowledge of this period of US history so we learned a great deal.  The center had an excellent movie that we watch giving us the basic history.  I will be researching this part of our history and presenting it to the children.

We are really enjoying camping at Missouri state parks, lots of space and not too crowded.

Watching the 20 minute film at the center -- we learned that during this period many Cherokee were considered Christian and living like Europeans in farm houses, attending schools and there were even very affluent families that owned slaves.

Learning about Sequoyah who created the 86 letter alphabet for the Cherokee nation

we read that it was very easy to learn and once the alphabet was created the Cherokee had their own newspaper called the Phoenix rising and the Cherokee even had their own constitution!

There were many reasons why the mass exodus happened, finding gold didn't help.   I was most surprised to find out that the Cherokees won a supreme court battle to remain on their lands only to have President Andrew Jackson refused to uphold the law and that he willingly went against the Supreme court.

16000 Indians were forcibly removed from their homes and forced to relocate.  They weren't paid for their homes or any of the possessions that they left behind.  It is shameful that there were "white" people" just waiting outside the Indians homes ready to move in.  Many died along the trail and we heard many horror stories of the conditions of the trail and the cruelness of the army.  But we also heard several stories of people trying to help the indians as not everyone was in favor of what was being done to the Cherokee Indians.  At one point the Cherokees realizing they could not stop what was happening, they decided to lead the the mass exodus themselves, with the army's approval.  Thus improving the conditions of the move only slightly.

What a family might of had along the route.  

A map of the various routes taken to get to their final destination. 

Once the Indians arrived the US govt had promised to supply them with food and supplies to build homes and communities only to provide food that was spoilt and wood that was rotten.  Despite this the Indians were able to build up their communities and survive and even thrive in their new home.  

This story particularly hit Firedrake hard and we had a great discussion with the kids on this period of history.
While at the visitor center I purchased this book about this and plan to read it and gather more insights on this horrendous part of our American history.


  1. This is a horribly sad and shameful time period for the U.S. Wasn't the Cherokee language the one they used in WWII that was impossible for enemy code breakers to break? Gotta go Google this, be right back.... My bad, it was the Navajo language -

  2. Such a sad time in history. I love reading about all the opportunities you get to submerse your kids in history!!

  3. Beautiful post...we will be vsitng this spot next summer when we focus on the SW of the USA. thanks for the info...pinning.
    And yes, talk about a shameful period in our history. Just as we were celebrating our centennial with fireworks and hoopla, Custer was massacring innocent women and children in Montana....just horrible. Honestly, there's a special place in hell for those who simply "follow orders."
    and hey, I'm not above reproach either...but really? Defenseless, innocent people? Terrible.
    Thank you for sharing this. Your trips are amazing!
    Be well and have a great day!

  4. Wow, I loved this lesson on American History. I actually have Cherokee Princess in my genealogy line. She lived in North Carolina. Also, at some point you can look up the history of the Mormon's in Missouri during the 1840's. I don't know if there are any sites on this one. We do have a lot of pioneer history in that area.
    I always love the pictures and thoughts. I learned a lot today; love this adventure.