Thus far we have explored natural features and historic sites, seeing the diversity that Georgia provides visitors, and today we will look at a very unique historic site, New Echota Historic Site. New Echota was the location of the Cherokee nation’s capital. The Cherokees probably more than any other tribe attempted to incorporate the culture of the colonists with their own, and New Echota reflects the blends of Cherokee culture with European immigrants. Unfortunately, New Echota was also the site where the mass expulsion of Native Americans from their homes began through the Trail of Tears. New Echota is the heart of one of the most devastating aspects of US and Native American history, but also one of the best ways to learn more about Cherokee culture and the history of its people.
The Cherokee people are a thriving nation and, visiting New Echota, you have the ability to learn about a unique time in their history. We recommend beginning at the visitor center at New Echota to visit the museum and watch the short video on New Echota and the Cherokee people. The museum and video helps explain the significance of the site and allows you to learn more about the Cherokee people. New Echota allows you to visit 12 buildings, several original and others reconstructed to see what the Cherokee capital looked like. The buildings are similar to a farm, post office, or school building from a European settler’s town, but then there are also pieces of Cherokee culture, such as the incredible printing press in the native Cherokee language. We were there during a special visit day and were able to get a free copy of of a freshly pressed page of an old Cherokee newspaper printing. The Cherokee capital had everything a European settler village would have, making it seem familiar to visitors, but, of course, it was the Cherokee nation’s; it was distinctly their capital and was a booming town with a yearly gathering and a central road connecting town. For those who want to learn more about the Cherokee people, Native American history, or perhaps your own identity as a Native person, New Echota is a fantastic state park site. Besides visiting the capital, there is a small nature trail we highly encourage you to take, as it comes across beautiful forests and a stunning little lake. We did not encounter a single person on the trail, making it a great opportunity to get away and have a little peace in nature. New Echota preserves the Cherokee’s impressive history and paves the way towards their continuing future.