May 2013 marks the 175th anniversary of the tragedy known as the Trail of Tears. Tens of thousands of Cherokee (as well as Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole) were rounded up from their homes by the US army, and sent to stockade camps where they would wait for their forced journey west to begin.
Many thousand died in the stockades and along the trail. The Cherokee Nation was decimated, families torn apart, but the Cherokee spirit prevailed. Upon arrival in Indian Territory, the Cherokee forced west reunited with those Cherokee who had moved prior to the Trail of Tears, and worked to reform their government and cultural bonds. Today, with close to 300,000 tribal citizens, the Cherokee Nation is one of the largest Indian nations in the US. Despite the tragic events of 1838-1839, the Cherokee people have persevered and the Cherokee Nation thrives.
This year, the National Park Service, in collaboration with the Cherokee Nation, produced a video which tells the story of the Trail of Tears from the Cherokee perspective. The 30-minute documentary was written by Cherokee Nation citizen Shane Smith, and tells the story of the Cherokee families who experienced the Trail of Tears, often telling the story in the Cherokee language. It is a great video, and well worth watching as we solemnly mark the anniversary of one of the darkest events in American history.
You can watch the video here: