After our fun at the Parthenon, we headed on down to Chattanooga. And of course you can’t go to Chattanooga without seeing the Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
Well, you can. And we would have – BUT – we still needed to buy a little gift for Layton and because he loves trains, we figured this was the perfect place for it :)
We also decide to go to a special memorial built to note the beginning of the Trail of Tears at Ross’s Landing. So we headed down to the riverfront park that website said the memorial was located at. We walked the entire length of the park and found nothing. So, a little disappointed, we headed back to our car, only to find out the memorial is on the OTHER side of the road from the park. Who knew.
Regardless of how hard it was to find, I am very glad we found it. The Trail of Tears is one of the most inhumane events in our nations history. Here was a nation of Native Americans who were not only at peace with the people around them, but were even adopting customs of the Europeans who were sharing their land. By the 1820s, many in the Cherokee nation had begun wearing clothing similar to their white neighbors, were building schools and setting up permanent townships. But their European neighbors were greedy. Rather than sharing the land, the State of Georgia decided to layout the Cherokee lands in lots of 160 acres and began selling them off for 4 dollars a lot to people who won a “land lottery”. And even after representatives from the Cherokee nation took their case against this to the Supreme Court and WON – the local government would not uphold the Supreme Court’s ruling. And so in a rather underhanded “treaty” deal, the Cherokee nation was forced to relocate to Oklahoma against their wishes. Thousands were forcibly rounded up and herded into small holding forts in unsanitary conditions and with little food. Then they were forced to march in the middle of winter to Oklahoma. Some 4,000 Cherokees died during the relocation.
The monument in Chattanooga has seven discs of artwork that represent the seven Cherokee clans. Each disc had special meaning in Cherokee folklore.
The first is the Sun Circle. It represents the sacred fire of the Cherokee that still burns today. It is their belief that the Cherokee will continue to exist for as long as sacred fire is kept burning.
The second symbol is the Four Direction Journey and represents the different directions the Cherokee Nation had to travel to reach their final destination.
The third symbol is their Warrior Birds.
The fourth symbol represents connections – connections to family, connections to the earth, connections to their forefathers, and connections to the Great Spirit.
The fifth symbol represents their Strength of Life.
The sixth symbol is the Coiled Serpent. The serpent is an animal that inspires both reverence and fear.
The seventh symbol is the Weeping Eye Mask.
The final piece of artwork is “Little Water Spider”. It is this little spider that is believe to have first brought the sacred fire to the Cherokee nation.
The entire monument is fed by water pumped up from the river to run down the steps to represent the tears of those along the trail who wept to leave their homes and watch as so many of their family died.
I am very proud of my hodge podge melting pot ancestry. I have so many different nationalities is my bloodline. Including several different Native American tribes.
That evening, Nathan and I took a riverboat ride along the Tennessee River.
It was fun with lots of food and entertainment.
And some lovely views.
It made for a nice romantic end to our day :)