September, 2006 – While looking at their site to see what Village Creek State Park offered, what really intrigued me is that one of the park’s trails is actually a preserved portion of the Trail of Tears. After visiting the Cherokee Heritage Center while in Oklahoma, I couldn’t pass up a chance to see more of this piece of history, tragic though it was.
The Memphis to Little Rock Road was constructed in the 1820’s – 1830’s with Indian removal in mind. Now part of the park’s Old Military Road Trail, this 1-1/2 mile segment is the longest and best preserved surviving portion of the historic Trail of Tears.
The main trail begins here at the earthen dam. It’s a loop that’s a little over 2 miles long.
I was fortunate to have Buford Horne, Asst. Park Superintendent, show me the road as we talked about the history of it along the way. After its more infamous purpose in 1838, other settlers used this road. In fact, Buford’s ancestors came down this very road in the late 1860’s in their move to Paris, Arkansas from the Eastern states.
The peace and beauty found on the trail today is in stark contrast to how the Indians must have perceived it as they were forced down this road after being removed from their homes and forced into a new land.
The day before, I watched a 2 hour documentary that the park featured entitled “Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy” – a powerfully moving account of this period. I highly recommend a viewing of this before walking the trail and just try to imagine the heartbreak of these people whose hopes of keeping their own nation intact were crushed by our own nation’s broken promises and lust for Indian territory and its riches. So many of the children and the elderly died along the way that it was said that they arrived as a people with no past and no future. As the film says at the end, “The promised Indian Sovereign Nation came to nothing in the face of greed. Their survival is not a tribute to the United States, but to the Cherokee nation.”
All Village Creek State Park Pages: