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Monuments to AbsenceCherokee Removal and the Contest over Southern Memory$
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Andrew Denson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469630830

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469630830.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 17 October 2019

The National Trail

The National Trail

(p.190) 7 The National Trail
Monuments to Absence

Andrew Denson

University of North Carolina Press

In the early 1980s, the National Park Service began exploring the idea of creating a national trail dedicated to Cherokee removal. The planning and designation of this national trail became a catalyst for a variety of public history projects across the South. While the Park Service, itself, devoted scant resources to the initiative, the national trail became a framework in which local groups of commemorators pursued dozens of public history ideas. This final chapter describes the creation of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, paying particular attention to the ways in which the federal project influenced public memory in local communities. The national trail idea led local commemorators to emphasize their communities' Cherokee history, even when that Cherokee history was quite negligible. This chapter examines the expansion of removal commemoration since the 1980s as an expression of a contemporary American obsession with issues of history and memory. It also places the national trail in the context of recent "history wars," public debates over the interpretation of the American past.

Keywords:   National Park Service, National Trail System, Trail of Tears, Cherokee, Commemoration, Historical Memory

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