By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Trail of Tears began in May 1838 and ended in March 1839. Now, 175 years later, the State of Tennessee has expressed “regret” for its role in that tragic era of history.
“We, the citizens of Tennessee, wish to close this chapter in our collective history, so that our past does not cast a shadow over our future,” reads Tennessee House Joint Resolution 553 (HJR553). “Tennesseans stand against acts of injustice perpetrated against any people or group regardless of race, gender, or religion. Therefore, we offer our sincere regret to the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Yuchi, Creek, Choctaw, and Shawnee Nations and all Native American nations who were tragically and unjustly confined and removed from their lands by our participation in the Removal Act of 1830 and the subsequent death march known as the Trail of Tears.”
HJR553, introduced by State Representative Glen Casada, passed the Tennessee House of Representatives on March 13 by a vote of 90-0, and it passed the State Senate on April 8 by a vote of 31-0. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed the legislation on April 15.
Casada commented on the legislation, “Nearly 200 years after the forced removal of Native Americans from their land, a new day is dawning in our great state. Join us as we come together in the spirit of restoration, honor and dignity as we acknowledge the sins of our past and step into the future united as One Nation in Tennessee.”
A special commemoration ceremony was held at the Tennessee State Capitol on Friday, June 27 to recognize the legislation as well as the state’s official designation as June 27, 2014 as the “official date to commemorate sincere regret to all Native American Nations affected by the state’s participation in the Indian Removal Act of 1830…”
Following are links to video of discussions of the legislation by the Tennessee General Assembly: