The Giles County Trail of Tears Interpretive Center reopened June 25.
The center will be open by appointment only. Anyone wishing to visit should call 931-580-3789 to set up an appointment.
The admission fee is $2 per person, however, donations are always accepted.
At this time, all visitors must wear a mask and observe social distancing guidelines. Tours are limited to 15 or less visitors.
The Interpretive Center is still in the process of being developed in Pulaski in an effort to preserve and protect the 1838-39 Trail of Tears routes. The all-volunteer staff will be working to bring in tour groups and visitors, as well as local residents, and hopes to begin visits by school-age children in the fall.
The Center is not a museum, but just what the name implies. It tells the story of what happened in Giles County. It is the first effort to document local Native American history.
Now entering Phase Three, the Trail of Tears Interpretive Center Project will move forward with the actual completion of the interior of the center. The design will include multimedia productions utilizing still images and video, both with narration and music that recreate the experience of the Benge group and the Bell group as they travel from their ancestral land to present day Oklahoma.
Another project of Phase Three calls for a monument to David Crockett, a Tennessee statesman opposed to the removal, and extensive exterior landscape designs. A Native American garden was designed and planted last month by Peggy Tatum of Tycon Excavating and gives a glimpse of things the Native Americans grew and ate.
Bernice Davidson, a former art instructor at Martin Methodist College, will begin working on an art project in the viaduct and also on the south side of the viaduct in late July.
The aim of the memorial committee is to honor the memory of the Native Americans who were forced to walk the Trail of Tears routes through Tennessee. Though scarred by the forced relocation, the Cherokee people endured and have preserved their culture. This memorial will be a tribute to the strength of the Native American family.
The Tennessee Preservation Trust has established the Trail of Tears as the number one most endangered historic site in the state. The National Park Service has completed the certification of the Bell’s and Benge’s routes as part of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Certification not only documents Giles County’s and Pulaski’s unique place in history, but also will attract more visitors.
Primarily through the support of local individuals and businesses, fund-raising events and grants, more than $580,000 in cash and in-kind gifts has been raised toward the $1 million project. Anyone wishing to donate to the tax-exempt project may mail a check to Giles County Trail of Tears Interpretive Center, 220 Stadium St., Pulaski, TN 38478.
—Trail of Tears Interpretive Center