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Photo of a Comanche preparing for dance competition
Gary Tomahsah, a Comanche from Apache, Oklahoma, prepares for Men's Traditional dance competition at 1999 Powwow

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Trail of Tears Powwow
A Local Legacy

In 1828, gold was discovered on land belonging to the Cherokee Indians in Georgia. This made the land even more desirable to white settlers who had begun expanding south and westward. In the fall and winter of 1838-1839, 15,000 Cherokees were forced out of their ancestral lands to make room for those settlers. They were made to move to what is now Oklahoma, a journey of 1,200 miles. About 4,000 Cherokees died on the way.

The route that they followed is known as "The Trail of Tears" or "The Trail Where They Cried" because of how much they suffered on the way. Hopkinsville, Kentucky, was a stopping point on that journey. In 1993, the Trail of Tears Commemorative Park opened in Hopkinsville to honor the Cherokees and all Indians, the original inhabitants of America.

Every September, there is a powwow in the park. This is a gathering of Native Americans and those who enjoy or want to learn more about Native American culture and traditions. Dancing in native costume, singing, storytelling, and craft demonstrations are all part of the celebration. Thousands of people come from all over the country to participate.

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