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Portion of Trail of Tears to be Dedicated Saturday

This Saturday Springfield residents will be able to take part in the dedication of a portion of the Trail of Tears. KSMU’s Justin Lux has the report.

Right now, I’m standing at the corner of Marcella Lane and Golden in Springfield—that’s about a block south of Republic Road.Research shows that thousands of Cherokee men, women and children walked along this land on the Trail of Tears. Many of them were barefoot and thinly-clothed. They had just been forcibly removed from their homes in the southeastern US—and were on their way to land that had been designated Indian Territory in Oklahoma.That was 153 years ago. On Saturday, they will be remembered once again.

“There was 16,000 Cherokees who were rounded up by 9,000 government and state troops and put in stockades.”

Jackie Warfel is on the 12-member Greene County Historic Sites Board. The board has been able to help bring recognition to the trail and the unfortunate history that goes along with it. On this day, she and I walk along the path of the Trail of Tears.

“And it’s very emotional to walk on this stretch and say this is where thousands of Native Americans were forced to walk. Because when they came through here it was December, they were bare foot and cold and ragged,” Warfel says.

The section of the trail that passes through Springfield is part of the B.B. Cannon Route that saw an estimated 13,000 Cherokee pass through the Ozarks and Greene County.

The research was completed by Dr. Holly Jones of the Center for Archaeological Research of Missouri State University through a grant from the National Park Service.

The dedication will take place at the site on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. The Historic Sites Board is overseeing Saturday’s dedication: the board is appointed by the Greene County Commission. Harold Bengsch is the Associate County Commissioner for the Commission.

“I think that it’s important in terms of the history that is behind the Trail of Tears that an important part passed through Greene County and much of southern and southwest Missouri,” says Bengsch.

The site will be marked as a Greene County Historic Site and will become an Ozark Greenways Trail. The path leads directly to the Battlefield City Park.

For KSMU News, I’m Justin Lux.