During May, all six libraries in the Fontana Regional Library system will be hosting the exhibit "Fewer Footprints and More Tears: Commemorating the 175th Anniversary of the Trail of Tears." The exhibit is provided by Dr. R. Michael Abram and his wife Dr. Susan Abram in conjunction with the North Carolina Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association.
The forced march of the Cherokee took place from 1838 to 1839. "As the approximately 16,000 Cherokee left, there were a lot of footprints, but as they went along there were more and more deaths - and fewer footprints," Abram says. "And more tears, because of the sorrow and sadness and grief for the ones lost as well as leaving their homeland.
The comprehensive exhibit will highlight different aspects of the Trail of Tears starting with copies of the complete documents that led to the removal. Each document is accompanied by pictures of those involved in those decisions, both American and Cherokee.
Five documents integral to the removal will be highlighted: the 1802 Georgia Compact, the General Assembly of Georgia's mandates, the Indians Removal Act of 1830, the Treaty of New Echota of 1835, and the Henderson Roll of 1835.
Documents will also include an alternative to the removal offered by Return Jonathan Meigs, a government agent to the Cherokee. The alternative was supported by James Monroe but denied by the Government.
The second part of the exhibit will include transcribed first-hand accounts from the Trail and art objects showing the Cherokee experience of the Trail, including paintings, wood and stone sculptures, textiles, and pottery.
Visitors will also see objects that represent the Trail in contemporary Cherokee life. These objects include cornbead necklaces, the Cherokee Rose, and the flag of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, which bears a black star to represent the Trail of Tears.
Concluding the exhibit are items, images, and newspaper articles from events, such as the Remember the Trail Bike Ride, that are commemorating the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears.
Dr. Abram encourages everyone to visit the exhibit. "It is important to understand all the nuances of the Cherokee Culture to fully grasp the travesty of the Trail of Tears," he says.
The exhibit will be divided among the six FRL libraries in Sylva, Franklin, Highlands, Cashiers, Bryson City, and Nantahala. Each library will host a different section of the exhibit and visitors are encouraged to visit all the libraries to experience "Fewer Footprints and More Tears" in its entirety. For more information about the exhibits please contact your local library.