'Trail of Tears' sign unveiled at Red Clay

By COLBY DENTON

Posted 2/8/18

Red Clay State Park unveiled a brand-new sign on Wednesday that designates it as part of the National Historic Trail of Tears.

Park Manager Erin Medley states that Red Clay has never had …

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'Trail of Tears' sign unveiled at Red Clay

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Red Clay State Park unveiled a brand-new sign on Wednesday that designates it as part of the National Historic Trail of Tears.

Park Manager Erin Medley states that Red Clay has never had signage to show its guests how the park is part of the National Historic Trail until now.

“We’ve been working closely with the National Park Service, and they are the reason that we got the sign,” Medley stated. “It allows us to mark that, so whenever guests visit, they instantly know that we are part of that trail.”

As with Fort Cass and Blythe Ferry, Red Clay is a valuable source of Cherokee history and education. Medley explains how each park tells a similar story, but from different perspectives.

Numerous figureheads dedicated to the Cherokee nation attended the sign’s unveiling, including: Jack Baker, president of the National Trail of Tears Association; Brock Hill, deputy commissioner of Tennessee State Parks; representatives of the Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia Trail of Tears Associations; members of Friends of Red Clay; the National Park Service; Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce; and several other members of the park service.

Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland spoke about his and Colonel James Corn’s initial brainstorming of the park, and its significance to the people of the area as well as Native Americans.

Jack Baker spoke about the overall impact that Red Clay’s newest marker will have on the area, and the Cherokee specifically.

Brock Hill also spoke about the importance of the park to Tennessee’s history and culture.

Red Clay’s signage now features text in the native Cherokee language as well as English. The park hopes to imbue a sense of pride in Native Americans who visit through additions such as these.

“One thing that’s important to us is to always put the Cherokee language on top as the first words someone sees on our signs, before English,” Medley said. “This will remind everyone that that’s what this place is about: the Cherokee people.”

Medley said Red Clay has a plethora of upcoming events, including a junior ranger camp occurring this summer, as well as a seasonal interpretive ranger who will be providing free programming for guests. Another event, the Cherokee Cultural Celebration, sponsored by three Cherokee nations, will take place in August.

Red Clay is open seven days per week, with summer hours running from March 1 to Nov. 30, from 8 a.m. to sunset; and winter hours from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28, from 8 a.m. to  4:30 p.m. The park is closed on Christmas.


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