Trail of Tears Association holds conference after two-year hiatus | Culture

Patrick Swanson / September 30,2022


The affiliation contains 9 state chapters together with Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina, which couldn’t meet in 2020 and 2021 as a result of COVID-19 epidemic. Convention attendees received to tour historic websites within the space, soak up a Cherokee vogue present and listen to historians share details about the Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) removals from their southeastern homelands.  

Govt Director of the Path of Tears Affiliation, Troy Poteete, stated the convention isn’t held to “disgrace or blame” anybody for the Path of Tears, and he added nobody alive at present is in charge for the compelled removing of Native individuals from their homelands practically 200 years in the past. 

“We do it as a result of it’s a possibility for us to say to the world, ‘our ancestors persevered.’ They’d tenacity and resilience. They refused to be victims they usually rebuilt the Cherokee Nation. A few of them received up in these mountains and held neighborhood collectively, they usually’re the Jap Band (of Cherokee Indians) at present,” he stated. “We draw inspiration from what occurred so way back and the very fact they overcame it they usually held our tribe collectively as a cultural and political entity, and take a look at us now.” 

Poteete thanked the volunteers throughout the nation and members of the 9 Path of Tears Affiliation state chapters who work with tribes and the Nationwide Park Service to mark the paths taken by the 5 tribes from their southeastern homelands to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. 

“We actually don’t have the manpower ourselves to get out and determine the place these routes ran or to make interface with the native communities in order that we will put interpretive supplies in museums and roadsides all throughout the nation. There’s no approach we will do this ourselves. We’re in a position to do this as a result of we’ve got so many good companions,” he stated. “What the Path of Tears Affiliation does is convey collectively plenty of actually good companions.”

President of the Nationwide Path of Tears Affiliation Jack Baker stated work has been ongoing because the late Eighties to mark removing trails with street indicators and interpretive panels. 

“When the Nationwide Park Service started marking the paths there have been solely two indicators from the east to the west, and that was on the Path of Tears Park in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and the Path of Tears State Park in Cape Girardeau, (Missouri),” Baker stated. “You, because the (TOTA) membership have accomplished a incredible job of getting the paths marked as a result of now on any phase of the path you’ll be able to go and discover interpretive panels and discover licensed websites. So, I feel you all ought to give your self a spherical of applause for all that you just’ve completed. I simply wished to thanks for all of you could have accomplished since you all are those that did the work.” 

Baker stated Cherokee Nation residents who attended the TOTA convention had been capable of come again to their homeland, notably, their “Mom City” of Kituwah. 

“That is the place they got here from, that is the place the Cherokee individuals got here from. This was our dwelling and it nonetheless is our dwelling in some ways,” he stated.

The vital a part of the Path of Tears Convention is to “inform individuals in additional element about Cherokee removing and completely different features of it. Additionally, not simply Cherokee removing, the opposite tribes’ removals. For instance, we had somebody discussing the Muscogee Nation removing, and we attempt to embody extra of the tribes’ removals in our conferences, however as a result of this one is in Cherokee, it’s extra closely on Cherokee removing.”

Jap Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Richard Sneed was not capable of attend the convention to welcome attendees as meant. Govt Director of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian Shana Bushyhead Condill learn a speech for Sneed to the TOTA attendees through the convention’s opening ceremony.

“It can’t be overstated how invaluable and vital the work of the affiliation is to the correct file of historical past. I say this as a result of we now discover ourselves in an age the place reality appears to have grow to be subjective. A time when even recorded historical past could also be known as into query and even denied,” Sneed wrote. “It’s crucial that the Path of Tears Affiliation ensures that the file of what was accomplished to the primary nations of the southeastern United States stays as related a narrative at present because it was 180 years in the past. Equally as vital is that the story being advised about these occasions is correct and supported with proof within the type of historic documentation.” 

Through the TOTA convention, Sneed was in Tulalip, Washington, helping with sustaining the tribal sovereignty of tribes in that state. He added the three federally acknowledged Cherokee tribes should consistently defend their sovereignty and shield their id from teams claiming to be historic Cherokee tribes. 

“We now have actually spent thousands and thousands of {dollars} over the previous few many years combating these teams who search to rewrite historical past and insert themselves into the historic narrative of a persecuted tribe so as to bolster their potential to hunt federal recognition,” Sneed wrote. 

The Workplace of Federal Acknowledgement was created in 1978 by Congress to assessment claims of teams looking for federal recognition as a tribe. Nevertheless, Sneed stated, “yr in and yr out” members of Congress entertain teams “who, in some circumstances, can not display any Native ancestry in any respect.” 

“This occurs each time a member of Congress sponsors a invoice to federally acknowledge a bunch whereas bypassing the all-important vetting course of that the OFA gives,” Sneed wrote. “For the final two years, the Jap Band has been sounding the alarm throughout Indian Nation, using the identical 4 pillars of the Path of Tears Affiliation – Identification, Preservation, Safety and Consciousness. We’re figuring out teams who falsely declare to be a tribe, we’re preserving the integrity of the federal recognition course of, we’re defending our tradition from misappropriation and we’re elevating consciousness amongst tribal nations that our collective id is being stolen and our sovereignty is slowly being eroded away. For all that you just do, I thanks and salute you.”