New sign unveiled at Red Clay State Historic Park
Members of the Trail of Tears Association and Red Clay State Historic Park officials gathered to unveil a new sign at the park on Feb. 7. The new sign uses Cherokee and English and designates the park as part of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. COURTESY
CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Members of the Trail of Tears Association and Red Clay State Historic Park officials gathered to unveil a new sign at the park on Feb. 7.
The new sign uses Cherokee and English and designates the park as part of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, said Park Manager Erin Medley, and this is the first time the park has had a sign noting that designation.
Red Clay served as the last eastern capital of the Cherokee Nation just before the forced removal (Trail of Tears) of Cherokee people in 1838-1839. It was the tribe’s capital in exile because in 1832 the state of Georgia passed a law stating the Cherokee could no longer meet at its capital in New Echota, so at that time the capital, in effect, became Red Clay, said National TOTA President Jack Baker. New Echota and Red Clay are about 40 miles apart.
“Many (Cherokee) leaders were forced out of their homes in Georgia such as Principal Chief John Ross. He lived near here after he was forced out around 1834. John Martin, one of our leaders, moved up from Georgia just before removal (in 1838),” said Baker, who attended the Feb. 7 unveiling.
Other people who attended the sign’s unveiling included Brock Hill, deputy commissioner of Tennessee State Parks; representatives of the Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia Trail of Tears Associations; Friends of Red Clay members; National Park Service representatives; and Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce representatives.
Red Clay staff are planning numerous upcoming events, Medley said, including a junior ranger camp occurring this summer, as well as having a seasonal interpretive ranger who will provide free programming for guests. Another event, the Cherokee Cultural Celebration, sponsored by three Cherokee nations, will take place in August.
Also, Red Clay State Historic Park is the first stop for cyclists during the annual “Remember the Removal” bike ride.
Red Clay is open seven days a week, with summer hours running from 8 a.m. to sunset, March 1 to Nov. 30. Winter hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Dec. 1 to Feb. 28. The park is closed on Christmas.