Trey and I headed up to Sweetwater on Veteran’s Day to see our favorite veteran and namesake. On the way up we stopped at New Echota Historic Site which is just off I-75. Trey and I ate PB&J sandwiches and then toured the grounds and buildings. It was a cool, overcast day that was perfect for picture taking. The light really made the autumn colors pop and diffused any harsh shadows.
New Echota has a lot of interesting and sad history surrounding it. In 1825, the Cherokees abandoned their traditional clan system of ruling their tribe and declared New Town to be their nation’s capitol. They renamed it New Echota and created a planned community around which Cherokee lived in small cabins on farms of their own.
The town became home to the first Native American printing press and it published the bilingual newspaper The Cherokee Phoenix. The press also turned out thousands of pages of other Cherokee language publications like novels, hymns, and Bibles.
Georgia’s white citizens began demanding more and more land and the discovery of gold on Cherokee land in 1828 increased pressure for their removal. Georgia began to annex their land and pass prejudicial laws aimed at making life miserable for the Cherokee people. In 1832, the state surveyed, divided, and gave away all the Cherokee land in the Georgia Land Lottery.
The final straw for New Echota was Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act. In May of 1938, over 7,000 federal troops and state militia moved the remaining Cherokees from their homes and began placing them in a series of stockades. They were forced to move west to Oklahoma along the infamous Trail of Tears. Along the way thousands died of disease, starvation, and from the severe winter.
At this age Trey just enjoyed running around the grounds and in the buildings, but I believe it is very important for him to visit sites like this. Revisiting our history – especially the bad parts – will help him to learn from our mistakes.
Mankind’s sin nature can creep in and take over even when we least expect it. After all, it wasn’t just Andrew Jackson that banished the Cherokees. The US Congress passed the Removal Act and the Georgia state legislators voted to pass the laws to steal their land. That means the majority was in the wrong.
I hope Trey grows up to be a young man who isn’t afraid to stand by his moral convictions even when the majority says he is wrong.