Alabama Trail of Tears Memorial opens Saturday

The Etowah Historical Society will open a memorial Saturday in honor of those displaced by the Trail of Tears.

More than 1,000 Native Americans from Northeast Alabama were forced from their homes starting 175 years earlier, on September 28, 1838. Many settled in Oklahoma and neighboring areas.

"I think it's important to show what the Cherokees and the Creek and the other Indians went through," Etowah Historical Society president Danny Crownover said.

Both of his parents are descendants of members of the Cherokee tribe.

"They were forcibly removed to out West. We need to educate a lot of people and show them what happened," Crownover said.

Crownover said the idea for an Alabama Trail of Tears Memorial began about two years ago. Over the past year it became a reality as the Etowah Historical Society received a grant from the state of Alabama tourism board.

They commissioned 30 metal display plates with images and descriptions of the hardships faced by the native Americans.

"Some nearly froze to death, many actually died on the Trail of Tears," Crownover said.

"We also wanted to show the way the Indians lived at the time of removal and some of the drawings can be seen. There's a lot of things that we have out here," he said.

There is also a garden area with squash, corn, and other vegetables eaten by the natives.

The grand opening is at 10 a.m. with a national park service video that will tell about the trail of tears. There will also be guest speakers from the historical society, and a reception with refreshments.

The Elliott Community Center is at 2829 West Meighan Boulevard in Gadsden, near Interstate 59 along Highway 431.