History Programs at Funk Heritage Center
History Beneath Our Feet - Presented in 2013-2014
In May, 1938, the United States government forcibly removed more than 16,000 Cherokee from their homelands in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina. They were sent to Indian Territory, today known as Oklahoma. This tragic chapter in American history became known as the Trail of Tears. Hundreds of American Indian people died during their trip west and thousands more perished from the consequences of relocation. 2013 -1014 is the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears.
The Heritage Center offered a free symposium in September, 2013. "History Beneath Our Feet" included programs on Cherokee Archaeology of the Trail of Tears Fort Sites and Preserving the Cherokee History and Heritage. In February, 2014, another program free program on Native Plants: Food and Medicine on the Trail of Tears and Tracing Cherokee Families was held. These programs were supported by the Georgia Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities and through appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 mandated the removal of all American Indian tribes east of the Mississippi River to lands in the West. The story of the Cherokee people is sad and the impact on them was devastating. Four detachments of Cherokee people were removed from their homeland in Northwest Georgia to water routes, while 13 detachments made their way overland along existing roads. These routes are part of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Hundreds of Cherokee people died during their trip west, and thousands more perished from the consequences of relocation. This tragic chapter in American and Cherokee history became known as the Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail commemorates the removal of the Cherokee and the paths that Cherokee detachments followed westward. It also promotes a greater awareness of the Trail's legacy and the effects of the United States' policy of American Indian removal, not only on the Cherokee, but also on other tribes, primarily the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole.
September symposium speakers are pictured below (left to right); Jeff Bishop, President of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears. Dr. Ben Steer, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of West Georgia. Paul Webb, Archaeologist on the Canton Hickory Log site in 1995. Dr. Russell Townsend, Preservation Officer for the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina.
The Center hosts various history programs during the year. Every November, a Native American Day is held during Native American Month. On this special Saturday, programs are planned for both adults and children. The Funk Heritage Center is certified as an interpretive site on the National Park Service Trail of Tears Historic Trail. The National Park Service administers this historic trail in close partnership with the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association. This non-profit organization was formed to support and document the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail in Georgia. Additional partners include the Cherokee Nation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee, and federal, state, county, and local agencies.
The Mill Town Employees of the Canton Mill in 1925 - Presented in February, 2013
On March 19, 2013, the Funk Heritage Center held a special evening program on Life in the Mill Town. Eighty-five people attended the free program held in the Bennett Theater and shared their interesting stories about growing up in the Canton Mill Town.
In 1899, Canton Mill was chartered by Robert Jones, the owner of one of the largest mercantile companies in the area. At its height, the mill provided employment for one-third of the area’s population and its story is an important part of Cherokee County’s history.
Jim Satterfield grew up in the Canton mill village and agreed to relate his memories for the video camera. Joseph and Anna Lee, two young video and music artists, captured 14 hours of Jim’s recollections and edited them into a compact professional video production which was shown. Background research was completed by Zach Waits, FHC’s 2012 summer intern from Kennesaw State University. The program was followed by open discussion by audience member of their childhood in the mill village.
Thanks to all who attended and made this an evening to remember!