The North Carolina Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will host the 25th Annual Trail of Tears Association Conference & Symposium from Monday, Sept. 19 through Wednesday, Sept. 21 in Cherokee at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Resort Convention Center. The symposium commemorates 184 years since the infamous Trail of Tears, which removed the majority of Cherokees in 1838-39 to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. North Carolina’s history is unique in that, though 3,000 Cherokees were removed from the state, some remained in the mountains or returned home to become the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI).
Registration for the conference begins at 9 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 19. An opening ceremony will take place at 2 pm followed by a welcome address by EBCI Principal Chief Richard Sneed and the National Park Service’s Annual Report. A special Community Night event will begin at 6 p.m. at the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center at Cherokee Central Schools. This event, which is free to the public, will feature cultural performances, book signings, and a conference keynote address by Dr. Brett Riggs.
On Tuesday, Sept. 20, the Cherokee Cultural and Heritage Corridor Pilgrimage will feature a day-long field trip to the mounds at Nikwasi and Cowee, which are located adjacent to the original Trail of Tears. Conference attendees will gather at Kituwah at 5:30 p.m. for cultural performances and a traditional dinner.
Wednesday, Sept. 21 will feature concurrent lectures beginning at 8:30 a.m. Eleven guest speakers will present throughout the day, including featured speakers Dr. Claudio Saunt and Dale Stewart. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. will provide an address at 4:00 pm, followed by closing remarks. After the conference, a sign dedication will take place at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian at 5:30 pm.
The Trail of Tears Association (TOTA) is a non-profit organization founded to support the creation, development, and interpretation of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Its mission is to identify, protect, and preserve Trail resources and to commemorate the forced removal of the Cherokee people. The TOTA promotes awareness of the Trail’s legacy, including the effects of the US Government’s Indian Removal Policy on the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek, and Seminole people, and perpetuates management and development techniques that are consistent with the National Park Service’s trail plan.
The Community Night event on Monday, Sept. 19 is free and open to the public. Conference pre-registration is recommended: https://nationaltota.com/25th-annual-trail-of-tears-conference-symposium. The cost is $125 for members and $175 for nonmembers (includes 2023 membership). Attendees will receive 3 meals and bus transportation to sites on Tuesday, along with breakfast and lunch on Wednesday. For more information, visit www.nationaltota.com, call 918-464-2258, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. This program is sponsored in part by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.
- N.C. Trail of Tears Association release