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Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage Not A Happy Trail For Riders

September 29, 1988

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ The Trail of Tears wagon train left the Hermitage of Andrew Jackson without a symbolic reconciliation between Indians and the president who helped send them on a 1,000-mile forced march 150 years ago.

″Andy Jackson’s done it to us again,″ said wagon train member Paul Quick, who is part Chickasaw and part Blackfoot, after the wagoneers crossed wires with the Ladies Hermitage Association, which maintains the historic mansion.

The caravan of 11 wagons is recreating the forced march in which 4,000 Indians died on the way to Oklahoma.

Jackson is associated with the march because he signed the Indian Removal Act, but Martin Van Buren was president when the removal began in 1838, said Fred Rolater, a history professor at Middle Tennessee State University.

Jackson ″is not the person who supervised the removal of the Indians, but he had worked hard for it during his career,″ Rolater said.

″When he became president, he was determined to carry it out. But I don’t think anyone would say that he wanted the tragedy that occurred. He wanted it to be done fairly.″

When the party arrived at the Hermitage on Tuesday afternoon, they were told they could stay, but that the gates would be locked at 5 p.m. and no after-hours visitors would be allowed.

The decision scuttled a plan to entertain visitors Tuesday night with stories and traditional Indian dances.

The group agreed to stay in another Hermitage-owned field away from the front gate, but Quick said he has asked for a meeting with Gov. Ned McWherter to discuss state cooperation with the project.

Fletch Coke, regent of the Ladies Hermitage Association, said the problem was with miscommunication over the details of the visit.

″We tried to make them welcome for this historic event,″ she said Wednesday. ″They brought much more than just three wagons. There were campers and horse trailers.″

Luvenia Butler, executive director of the Tennessee Indian Commission, said she worked with the Hermitage to find a suitable campsite.

″The Hermitage people were so nice. They found another nice meadow and we relocated them there. It worked out fine. A man from Nashville donated food to them,″ she said.

Quick said the party has endured rigorous conditions since leaving Red Clay Historical State Park Sept. 17. The journey is scheduled to end in Tahlequah, Okla., in early December.

″We’ve slept in chicken yards and on mountain tops. Tennessee’s been a hard time,″ Quick said. ″The people have been nice, but the setups have been bad.″

The wagon train was to stay at a horse riding club Wednesday night, the Robertson County Fairgrounds on Thursday night and a campground on Friday.

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