Roswell acknowledges its dark past, honors Cherokee Nation

They sit along a path on the mighty Chattahoochee, eight 1- to 2-ton boulders with bronze plaques bearing the ugly history between Georgia and the Cherokee Nation.

“To honor those who came before us,” one reads near the entrance of Riverside Park. “… Roswell honors the Cherokee people who called this place their home.”

Taken together, each stone recounts the events surrounding the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which resulted in the forced march of thousands of Cherokee from their homes. The story has held Cindi Crane captive for nearly four years.

Under orders from President Andrew Jackson, an estimated 16,000 Cherokee Indians were forced from their homes and made to walk almost 1,000 miles to what is now Oklahoma to resettle. More than 4,000 died from hunger, exposure and disease. The journey is widely remembered today as the “Trail of Tears.”

Crane, 52, discovered this piece of Roswell’s little-known history while researching her husband Steve’s Cherokee heritage. Even though the city’s history was said to have begun in 1839, when Roswell King began building the city, Crane knew that the Cherokee were taken from their homes just months before.

“They gave the Cherokee until May 1838 to leave voluntarily,” she said. “The Cherokee held their ground, hoping a new president would overrule Jackson, but that didn’t happen. The removal occurred between May 1838 and March 1839. The Cherokee were put in stockades in the summer of 1838 and began their trek on the trail in August 1838, 1,000 at a time.”

“That piece of history was rarely acknowledged,” Crane said, and so she set out to set the record straight, first writing a historical novel, “Roswell Redemption,” and then going on a campaign to expose the history that had been swept under the rug.

As she set out to promote her novel at local speaking engagements and book signings, Crane said it became very clear audience members wanted to know more and to somehow honor the Cherokee.

“The truth of the matter is it became very personal,” she said.

Find out why in Saturday’s AJC or click here: