Metropolis in Massac County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
They Passed This Way
Fort Massac State Park
— Trail of Tears National Historic Trail —
In 1838, more than 15,000 Cherokee began their migration west from their eastern homeland to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) over the "Trail of Tears." They traveled by roads and rivers and stopped in Paducah for supplies. More than 1,000 died during the journey westward, and more than 4,000 died as a result of their forced relocation.
Travel by boat had its challenges. Hazards included the quick spread of sickness onboard, fear of disease along the river lowlands, and fires aboard steamers. Unpredictable water levels, impassable shoals, and weather patterns that affected river navigation. Food was prepared on deck or in steerage with rations consisting of flour, cornmeal, and bacon.
Fort Massac, Crumbling Witness
The 1794 fort lay in ruins at the time the four detachments of Cherokee passed
We left Paducah about sun set and shall continue to run through the night…The Boats reached the mouth of the Ohio about midnight…
Deas' detachment of Cherokee passed Fort Massac in the dark.
1830s Indian Removal Policy
Federal Indian removal policy aroused fierce and bitter debate. Supporters claimed it was a benevolent action to save the tribes east of the Mississippi River from being overwhelmed and lost in the onslaught of an expanding American population. Opponents decried its inhumanity and the tragic consequences it would have for Indian peoples. One thing was certain; millions of acres of Indian lands were given to white settlers.
Learn more at nps.gov/trete or nationaltota.org
Despite the hardships of the journey, members of the five removed tribes established new lives in the West. They stand as successful sovereign nations, proudly preserving cultural traditions, while adapting to the challenges of the 21st century.
Cherokee who survived the Trail of Tears joined those who removed earlier to form a new government for their sovereign nation in present-day Oklahoma. Some Cherokee remained in North Carolina and formed the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The United States government forcibly removed more than 15,000 Cherokee, 21,000 Paid Muscogee (Creek), 9,000 Choctaw, 6,000 Chickasaw, and 4,000 Seminole.
You can visit more sites along the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. The story of the forced removal of the Cherokee people and other American Indian tribes is remembered and told by the National Park Service and its partners.
Erected 2019 by National Park Service and Trail of Tears Association.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts or Castles • Native Americans • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Trail of Tears series list.
Location. 37° 8.567′ N, 88° 42.68′ W. Marker is in Metropolis, Illinois, in Massac County. Marker can be reached from East 5th Street. Marker is on the grounds of Fort Massac State Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1212 E 5th St, Metropolis IL 62960, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. In Memory of George Rogers Clark (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Four Flags Over Fort Massac (about 400 feet away); J.C. Blair (about 500 feet away); Illinois in the American Revolution (about 600 feet away); Lewis and Clark in Illinois (approx. 0.2 miles away); Drouillard Creek Drouillard Trail (approx. 0.2 miles away); Historical (approx. 0.2 miles away); Hope Light (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Metropolis.
More about this marker. Marker was dedicated on October 12, 2019; this was when the city of Paducah, Kentucky (across the river) was hosting the Trail of Tears conference.
Also see . . .
1. Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. From the National Parks Service's website. (Submitted on August 15, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.)
2. National Trail of Tears Association. Official website for the organization. (Submitted on August 15, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 15, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 15, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 64 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on August 15, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.