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Visit the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

by Katie Skrzek

Jul 7, 2020

© Alacrityp | Dreamstime.com

Trends / History

Learn more about Native American tribes on your visit to the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

 

Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, requiring tribes in today’s southeastern United States to give up their land and relocate to federal land west of the Mississippi River. Between 1830–1839, Choctaws, Muscogee Creeks, Seminoles, Chickasaws and Cherokee tribes forcibly relocated from their homelands in Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia, to present-day Oklahoma. Thousands died on and because of the journey. The devastating journey became known as the Trail of Tears. It was designated the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail by Congress in 1987 and is administered by the National Park Service.

 

Though somber, the trail is an important commemoration of the lives lost. Sites on the historic trail stretch more than 5,000 miles across Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Visitors are encouraged to follow the trail by foot, vehicle, bicycle or horse. The National Park Service offers extensive trail maps and guides for exploring the various sites along the way. Search the interactive map for a full list of museums, historic markers and information centers on the trail. Given the length, decide what’s best for you in terms of sites to visit.

 

Ahead of your trip, explore the sites virtually. The National Park Service features a series of exhibits, videos, podcasts and photos detailing the history of the Trail of Tears. Need more inspiration? Follow the pre-made itineraries for driving tours and one- or two-day itineraries.

 

Though the story of the Trail of Tears is one of racial injustice and suffering, it is also one of resilience and thriving in the present while remembering the past.

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