CALHOUN, Ga. — New Echota historical site, located about an hour and a half northwest of Atlanta, is the reconstruction of the Cherokee capital that led up to the Trail of Tears.
The Cherokee Indians lived throughout the Southeast but the town of New Echota was the epicenter. About 70 Cherokee lived and worked in the area.
David Gomez oversees the land and 12 buildings that tell the stories of the past.
"Many were living the lifestyle that I as a Georgia citizen would have been living in the 1830s," he said.
Gomez described some of the historical things inside a Cherokee cabin that sits on 200 acres of land.
"Cherokee stickball, it wasn't a sport as we think about it, it was a big cultural part of their life, he said.
The Cherokee also had their own newspaper written in two languages.
"Only a third of it was printed in Cherokee because it was labor-intensive work to do both languages, Gomez said.
The black and white pages became the first native American newspaper, it went out in the United States and in Europe.
"The Cherokee Phoenix newspaper continues today out in Oklahoma," Gomez said.
Oklahoma is where the Cherokee wound up after the Trail of Tears relocated the tribes to the West.
In 1835, 21 Cherokee, against the wishes of others, entered into an agreement with the government.
The Cherokee would cede the land in exchange for $5 million.
"There was also racial prejudice the native folks were looked down upon by Georgia and other states and they thought they had the legal right to take this land, Gomez said.
The Trail of Tears is a story for another day.
New Echota is meant to show you what life looked like before Georgians came after the land.
Gomez says a lot of people stop in thinking along stereotypical lines.
"A lot of it is tied to the oral traditions that people have heard growing up but they've never had a chance to study the Cherokee or other tribal groups," he said. "They come here very surprised about the simulation the Cherokee Indians had made by 1820s and 1830s."
New Echota doesn't have a happy ending, but you can take the time to learn history, listen to the winds and reflect on chapters of the past.
Tuesday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sundays 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
December-March it is closed on Sundays. It is also closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's.
1211 Chatsworth Highway NE in Calhoun in Gordon County.
- Field trips
- Nature trail
- Guided Tour (call to schedule)
- Adults (18–61): $7.00
- Seniors (62+): $6.50
- Youth (6–17): $5.50