A very busy weekend was experienced by members of the Cherokee nation and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee as dedications, a Pow Wow, and the annual Blessing of the Bison took place.
Officials and visitors visited Hamilton, Bradley and Meigs counties to take part in the series of events.
The infamous Trail of Tears occurred 175 years ago and essentially began in Bradley County as Native Americans were rounded up by the federal government and moved to Charleston and other points, such as Blythe Ferry in Meigs County.
The lands of Cherokee and other tribes were taken away by the federal government and Native Americans were forcibly moved westward to a new home in Oklahoma. Blythe Ferry was one of those areas where the Native Americans took their dispatch of 1,000 miles to a new land.
On Saturday, Chief Bill John Baker of the Cherokee Nation located in Talequah, Okla., was among those attending events, and he will continue this evening with a speech as part of the Friends of Moccasin Bend Lecture Series at the Chattanooga Aquarium.
At the Vital Farm in Georgetown, Baker participated in the fifth annual Blessing of the Bison.
He described the surroundings of the farm as what his ancestors sought when they were moved westward.
“Our people didn’t stop. They found surroundings like this in a new land. It’s an honor to return and be here,” Baker said as he addressed the crowd attending the event.
In the Cherokee language, Tommy Wildcat greeted the crowd, then entertained with his flute.
“We were honored the chief attended the blessing,” said historic preservationist and conservationist and Greg Vital, a local businessman.
Prior to the blessing, members of the Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band were present at a dedication of a Brown’s Ferry Federal Road in Hamilton County, along the Trail of Tears Original Route Segment.
Sunday, the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park at Blythe Ferry celebrated the opening of the newest exhibit.
Engraved in granite were the names of the Cherokee people, who were a part of the 1835 Henderson Roll and began their trek from the Blythe Ferry site in 1838.
Local government officials, including former Congressman Zach Wamp, attended the dedication.
Wamp played an instrumental role in securing federal funding for the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park.
At Red Clay State Park, the annual Pow Wow was held.
Jim Corn of the Friends of Red Clay said the event was successful and fun-filled for visitors.
“The weather was perfect for the Pow Wow and we appreciate all of the hard work that goes into the planning and execution of the event,” Corn said.