Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The beauty has been tainted

Sweetwater Creek has been a hot spot in my life recently. My new found hiking friend Rebecca and I have been there numerous times in the last month. It is a park that I have really enjoyed for a long time. In fact, it was the first hike I had taken in Georgia.

Despite the beauty of this park there exists a long ugly history/herstory that taints this place. It is not the typical escape that a hike might bring. The travesties that occurred there are difficult to ignore.

In the early 1800's this area was occupied by the Cherokee Indians. After legal feuds with the Georgia and United States Government the land was slowly taken away from the indigenous peoples. In 1838, the year that the federal government began to force the Cherokee's out, began the Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears is one of the most horrific acts in American history/herstory and it has solid roots here, in this park.

Years later, during the early 1860's the Confederate soldiers used a mill that had been constructed as a prison for slaves. As the Northerners marched into Georgia, they split into two factions. They surrounded the mill, still filled with slaves and a few Confederate soldiers, and set the building aflame. The structure still stands and the memories of true American history/herstory is left along the river bank.

As a Northerner, I grew up with a specific idea about the civil war. Our history/herstory books teach that the Northerners simply were opposed to slavery and thus, the civil war was waged. By middle school I recognized that this was untrue but many of my class-mates were still caught in the myth. It is places like these that display the true stories of the American way of life. The beauty has been tainted.

I promise, more food soon.


Millie said...

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Jes said...

It is a horrid history...but a beautiful park. I miss it a lot! If you're interested in more Cherokee history coupled with nature writing, check out Christopher Camuto's Another Country. It's pretty darn amazing.

dreaminitvegan said...

Wow, what a beautiful place. Amazing how much history is around us.