Remembering Cherokee Removal in Civil Rights–Era Georgia
This chapter describes the expansion of removal commemoration in the post-World War Two decades, focusing particular attention on Georgia's reconstruction of New Echota, the capital of the Cherokee Nation. While the project began as a local effort to promote heritage tourism, state officials applied a loftier theme to the commemoration, describing the site as an apology for Georgia's part in removal. The chapter examines the New Echota project in the context of the South's civil rights-era politics and as an example of American Cold War culture. It argues that the commemoration of the Trail of Tears offered white southerners a politically safe way to contemplate their region's history of racial oppression. The New Echota project included very little Cherokee participation, a feature that suggests the organizers assumed modern Cherokees were mostly irrelevant to their work in Georgia. The New Echota project required Cherokees to act as witnesses to commemorative acts conducted by non-Indians. It did not require them to participate as authors of those commemorations.
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