Chattanooga Marks the One-Hundredth Anniversary of the Trail of Tears
In 1938 civic and business leaders in Chattanooga organized an elaborate festival to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga and the one-hundredth anniversary of the founding of their city. While planning the festival, they added a third anniversary, the centennial of the Cherokee Trail of Tears. The festival became the period's single largest commemoration of Indian removal. This chapter explores the Chattanooga event as a particularly vivid example of the emergence of the Cherokee removal story within southern public memory in the interwar period. It traces the evolution of the removal centennial from a minor addendum to an elaborate program, arguing that the event helped to establish Cherokee history as a prominent element of this non-Indian city's public identity. It also describes Cherokee participation in the festival. Cherokees played several important roles in the centennial, but those roles were defined and closely scripted by local organizers. The chapter also explores relationships between the removal memory and more traditional commemorative themes, like the honoring of the Civil War dead and the celebration of community progress.
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