Sunday, June 5, 2011

June 5: Cherokee Removal starts in Tennessee

The medallions on the wall of The Passage are reproductions of Native American art. The medallion photographed above is in the "Nashville II style" of artefacts found in Middle Tennessee. This medallion invokes strength.

In March, my family visited The Passage, which is part of the Tennessee Aquarium complex in Chattanooga. The Passage commemorates the Trail of Tears' traversal of the city at the site of a ferry business owned by Chattanooga resident John Ross.

The round-up of the Cherokees in Tennessee started 173 years ago today, on June 5, 1838.

The next day, on June 6, at the direction of Brigadier General Winfield Scott, forced removal from Tennessee commenced at Ross' Landing. The first group of 800 Cherokees was "forcibly crowded onto a flotilla of six flatboats lashed to the side of a steamboat."

Over the course of June, the stockades at 15 Tennessee internment camps were filled with thousands.  The number of camps swelled to 13 in Bradley County, and 2 in Hamilton County. Camps were also established in Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama.  "Between four and ten Cherokee died every day in the camps from heat, lack of food and water, and disease."  The Removal itself provoked further casualties.

Ross' Landing was abandoned after that part of the Cherokee Removal was complete and Ross himself and his wife - both Native Americans - were forced West at the hands of the federal government. Mrs. Ross, like many others, did not survive the journey.

For more photos of The Passage, visit

For information about Nashville's role in the Trail of Tears, read this February 6 post on Cherokee Removal - remembering Nashville's role in the Trail of Tears

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