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Contact: Kim Coons, 706-866-9241 x139
Fort Oglethorpe, GA: On Tuesday, June 19, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, in partnership with the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, invites the public to attend a free, 45-minute program at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, 200 East Martin Luther King Boulevard, Chattanooga, TN 37403. The doors open at 5:30 pm, and the formal presentation begins at 5:45 pm, focusing on African Americans who were enslaved in the Cherokee Nation and subsequently freed after the Civil War.
When visitors to the Chattanooga area think about its rich American Indian history, the first nation that comes to mind is that of the Cherokee. Forcibly removed from parts of Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina in 1838, they were not the only ones who traveled along the infamous and deadly Trail of Tears. Enslaved African Americans traveled the routes and endured hardships as well. Although the Cherokee maintained slavery during the Civil War, once it died in the Cherokee Nation, one might think the fight for equality would have died along with the institution. However, Cherokee Freedmen were not considered equal to the Cherokee, sparking a battle beginning in 1866 and lasting until a senior United States district judge answered the 151 year old debate on August 30, 2017. We hope you will join us as we explore Cherokee Freedmen and their lives in the Cherokee Nation after enslavement.
For more information about upcoming programs at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, please contact the Lookout Mountain Visitor Center at 423- 821-7786, the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center at 706-866-9241, or visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/chch.