North Carolina Office of State Archaeology

Trail of Tears Trail of Tears

North Carolina Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association

Long time we travel on way to new land. People feel bad when they leave old nation. Women cry and make sad wails. Children cry and many men cry, and all look sad like when friends die, but they say nothing and just put heads down and keep on go towards West. Many days pass and people die very much. We bury close by Trail.
Survivor of the Trail of Tears

We were eight day in making the journey (80 miles), and it was pitiful to behold the women & children who suffered exceedingly as they were all obliged to walk, with the exception of the sick.... I had three regular ministers of the gospel in my party, and ... we have preaching or prayer meeting every night while on the march, and you may well imagine that under the peculiar circumstances of the case, among those sublime mountains and in the deep forest with the thunder often roaring in the distance, that nothing could be more solemn and impressive. And I always looked on with ... awe, lest their prayers which I felt... ascending to Heaven and calling for justice to Him who alone can & will grant it... [might] fall upon my guilty head as one of the instruments of oppression.
Lt. L.B. Webster

Trail of Tears BACKGROUND
In the spring and summer of 1838, more than 15,000 Cherokee Indians were removed by the U.S. Army from their ancestral homeland in North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. Held in concentration-like camps through the summer, they were then forced to travel over 1,000 miles, under adverse conditions to Indian Territory, which is now Oklahoma. Thousands died. The Cherokees came to call the event Nunahi-Duna-Dlo-Hilu-I or Trail Where They Cried.

This catastrophic journey, one of the darker events in American history, not only affected the Cherokee, but has symbolized the removal of the other Southeastern and Eastern Indian tribes. The grim result of U.S. Government American Indian Removal Policy, the forced relocations devastated American Indian cultures.

In 1987, Congress passed Public Law 100-192, designating two of the routes taken by the Cherokee people in their removal as a National Historic Trail within the National Trails System. The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail is administered by the National Park Service.

In 1993, under the auspices of the Secretary of the Interior and the Trail of Tears Advisory Council, the Trail of Tears Association was created and incorporated in Missouri as a non-profit organization. The corporation papers were signed by the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation and the Principal Chief, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

The Association has entered into a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service to promote and engage in the protection and preservation of Trail of Tears National Historic Trail resources; to promote awareness of the Trail's legacy, including the effects of the U.S. Government's Indian Removal Policy on the Cherokees and other tribes; and to perpetuate the management and development techniques that are consistent with the National Park Service's trail plan.

The North Carolina Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association is dedicated to document all routes and sites associated with the Trail of Tears in North Carolina and to work with the National Park Service to include the story of the Cherokee homeland in the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.


The Trail of Tears became a part of the National Trails System in 1987.

The Comprehensive Management and Use Plan was approved by the National Park Service in June, 1992.

For more information:
Long Distance Trails Group Office - Santa Fe
National Park Service
P.O. Box 728
Santa Fe, NM 87504-0728

The Trail of Tears Association, incorporated in 1993, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, and all donations are tax deductible, as allowed by law. Additional information about the Association, the Trail, and other chapters is available from:

Trail of Tears Association
1100 North University, Suite 133
Little Rock, Arkansas 72207

An array of membership opportunities and services are available, including periodic newsletters and discounts at various Cherokee historical and cultural attractions in Cherokee, NC, and Tahlequah, OK. Additional benefits will be added, as made available.

Members of the Association may also join a state chapter that addresses the more specific issues in each state, such as membership development, chapter organization and other efforts that assist the Association and the National Park Service in achieving their goals and objectives.


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North Carolina Chapter