The Sequoyah National Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has received nearly $58,000 from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council to develop an interactive touch-screen interface that teaches the general public about the Trail of Tears in Arkansas. The Trail of Tears, which occurred from 1831 to 1850, pertains to the forced relocation of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, Muscogee (Creek), and Chickasaw tribes from the southeastern United States to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma).
Although the Trail of Tears has been extensively documented and researched, very little documentation exists on its relation to the state of Arkansas. This project will also shed light on tribes that have not had the opportunity to share their stories, such as the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee (Creek), and Seminoles.
The first part of the project will consist of locating routes through Arkansas that are identified but not fully researched and documented. The project team will then travel to National Archives in Washington, D.C. to acquire digital copies of documents, maps, and photographs of the sites.
Next, the team will design and program an interactive touch-screen table that will show maps of removal sites, key sites along the routes, historical information, photographs, documents, timelines, tribal personalities, and information about U.S. officials who were part of relocation procedures. They will also create a companion website that will highlight the content of the touch-screen interface.
The center anticipates that this project will enhance the historical understanding of the Trail of Tears and its impact on all affected tribes.
“We are very pleased to undertake this project that will allow educators and the general public to access the Trail of Tears materials in a new, more approachable format” said Erin Fehr, archivist at the Sequoyah National Research Center. “The subject of Indian removal can be a difficult one to approach, but by using touch-screen technology, we hope to engage learners in a way that brings the past to life.”