WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center commemorates the Trail of Tears

The "Cherokee Artistic Expressions of the Trail of Tears" exhibit visits Western's campus. Photo by: Tanner Hall

The “Cherokee Artistic Expressions of the Trail of Tears” traveling exhibit and lecture stopped by WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center this past week to honor the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears.

“Never forget” was the theme of the exhibit, which included government documents to give a broad timeline of the event, artwork from around the country depicting the removal and icons to commemorate the history.

Dr. Michael Abram held a reception and delivered a presentation titled, “Fewer Footprints & More Tears” Thursday night, providing insight into the meaning behind some of the paintings and sculptures displayed throughout the center.

During the presentation, the auditorium projector did not cooperate with event organizers and added some discoloration to the pictures of the artwork; however, the malfunction provided all the more reason to visit the actual pieces located just across the hall.

“We need to remember the removal – it’s part of a history that helped shape the entire United States, and it affects all of us, whether we’re native people or not,” said Dr. Susan Abram, a history professor at Western. Dr. Susan Abram is the wife of Dr. Michael Abram and is the co-founder/curator of the Cherokee Heritage Museum along with her husband.

The Cherokee Heritage Museum teamed with the North Carolina Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association to fund and carry out this event.

Dr. Anne Rogers, an anthropology professor at Western, said that Western is doing its job in raising awareness and recognizing the history of the land and its native population. “It is important because it helps people to understand that this is Cherokee homeland,” said Rogers of the exhibit.

The Abram’s are in the process of locking down a building in Chattanooga, Tenn. to permanently house the exhibit and are planning on opening later this year.

Some of the the artwork can be viewed in the photo slideshow below:

More information about the Mountain Heritage Center can be found here.