Cherokee Rulers to Meet in Georgia for First Time Since 1830
CALHOUN, Ga. (AP) _ The governing body of the Cherokee Nation plans to meet on Georgia soil Thursday for the first time since the tribe was driven out on the infamous Trail of Tears more than 150 years ago.
″This is a very historic occasion. It has been 162 years since the council met here, and several years after the council’s last meeting the Trail of Tears began,″ said Jeff Stancil, a park ranger at the New Echota Historic Site near Calhoun in northwest Georgia.
The town of New Echota once was government headquarters for the 20,000 members of the Cherokee Nation, which covered parts of what is now Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama.
In the early 1830s, Georgia legislators gave the Cherokee lands to white settlers in a land lottery and threatened to arrest Cherokee officials if they continued to meet at New Echota. The council moved its headquarters to Red Clay, Tenn.
In 1838, 7,000 federal and state troops began rounding up the Cherokees and evicting them. That winter, 16,000 started west on the Trail of Tears, an 800- mile walk that left about 4,000 dead.
Those who survived built the Cherokee Nation in northeastern Oklahoma, now the United States’ second largest Indian tribe. An eastern branch of Cherokees settled in Cherokee, N.C.
Some Cherokee Nation representatives have toured New Echota privately, said Kim Maloy, a spokeswoman in the nation’s Oklahoma headquarters.
Besides addressing tribal business, leaders will help break ground for the reconstruction of the original council house, built in 1819 and destroyed sometime in the 1830s.