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Cherokee historic sites lose funding / book coming soon!

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

The Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma just announced that two very historic sites in Georgia have lost much of their state funding. I have been working on a book about BOTH sites and some sneak peek photos are in My Photos.

I have decided to publish the book to the web so it will be FREE! I want to keep the memory of these sites for posterity. New Echota, Georgia was the fracturing point of the Cherokee people, so that is where I will start the story.

I am trying to find a way to raise money to preserve these places, but I want to make sure that all of the money is spent in the right places. As I figure out exactly what to do, I may ask for your help!

I want to share with you a quote from Elias Boudinot about the Cherokee people:

"The time will come... when the few remnants of our once happy and improving Nation will be viewed by posterity with curious and gazing interest as relics of a brave and noble race... Perhaps, only here and there a solitary being, walking, 'as a ghost over the ashes of his fathers,' to remind a stranger that such a race once existed."
-Elias Boudinot [Cherokee]
(November 25th, 1836)

Here is the original message from the Cherokee Nation:
By Will Chavez
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. ? Because of budget cuts, Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials recently announced that operations at two historic Cherokee sites would face reductions starting July 1.

The cutbacks would affect New Echota in Gordon County and the Chief Vann House in Murray County, along with 10 state sites.

GDNR public affairs coordinator Kim Hatcher said both Cherokee sites would be open Thursday through Saturday beginning July 1. Both are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Hatcher said the cuts allow all state historic sites to remain open.

Jack Baker, a Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor and president of the National Trail of Tears Association, said the CN had heard Georgia planned to cut about 12 percent from its natural resources budget. He said that is why both the CN and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians councils passed a resolution in April during a joint meeting at Red Clay, Tenn., asking Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and North Carolina to sufficiently fund the historic Cherokee sites.

?We knew likely there was going to be some cuts. What we had been told is that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources would have cuts of about 12 percent, but what they did is cut their historical sites by 39 percent and left the other recreational areas as they were,? he said. ?So, the historic sites took the hit for the entire Department of Natural Resources in Georgia.?

GDNR officials said the cuts eliminated one full-time position at the Vann House and two full-time positions at New Echota. The lack of employees at both sites makes it difficult for visitors to understand Cherokee historical significance, Baker said.

New Echota served as the CN capital from 1825-32, when Cherokee leaders were forced by the Georgia government to move the capital to Red Clay, Tenn.

The Vann House was built in 1804 and was the residence of Cherokee leader James Vann and later his son Joseph Vann. The Vanns left the home during the forced removals of the 1830s. The Vann House marked its 50th anniversary as a state park and historic site in 2008.

Gary Greene was a New Echota tour guide and interpreter for eight years. His last day on the job was June 13. He said worked at New Echota because he has ?always been interested in the Cherokee people? having grown up in Haywood, N.C., near the Qualla Boundary, home of the Eastern Band.

?I?ll miss the kids and being able to tell them what really happened. There?s so much to the history that I can tell them that they can?t get anywhere else, especially for this area in Georgia,? Greene said. ?It (New Echota) means a whole lot more to me than when I started. It?s like a home. I identify with all the people. It has not been all glamour and glory. I swept floors, cleaned restrooms and painted buildings. I have given tours in the rain and frigid cold temperatures. But I told my stories.?

Greene said he hopes to work on a small guide about Cherokee history in Georgia and visit schools to present Cherokee history.

The $18.6 billion fiscal year 2010 budget signed by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is $3 billion less than the 2009 budget approved in 2009. A nearly 39 percent reduction in state appropriations and 24 percent projected loss of revenue means 12 of 15 state historic sites were affected by cuts.

State officials said the General Assembly could restore funding to keep the historic sites open longer, but that would depend upon whether and how much the economy improves.

Baker said he would like to see restoration of employees and operating days at both historic sites, even if it means the two Cherokee tribes work together to help fund them.

?New Echota is an important site because it was our capital for so many years,? Baker said. ?It?s where many decisions were made and where the Treaty of New Echota was signed. So I think it?s important to have the sites operating because they do tell the story of the Cherokee people that were in the area.?

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