The Giles County Trail of Tears Interpretive Center in Pulaski, TN is located at 220 Stadium Street in a beautiful stone building. The Stone building was once a Catholic Church and was previously known as The Mars Chapel-- named after and built by Ethel Mars who was married to Frank Mars of Mars Candy Company. The church was donated in 2002. As you approach the doors you notice a blue mural on the ground showing the trails that came through this area.
Also on the grounds are storyboards that tell the story of the Trail in this area along with a statue that depicts a man, his child, and wife walking the trail with footprints on the statue are from two Cherokee Descendants. There is also a tunnel with more information about the trail and Native American art pieces.
Peggy Tatum met us and gave us a tour of the amazing Center. Giles county is the only place where two trails intersect in the state. In October and November of 1838 around 1700 Cherokee came through this area. John Bell led one group, while John Benge led the other; these trails were named Bell and Benge. The Cherokee were forcibly removed and moved to Indian Territory in what is now known as Oklahoma. This is just a part of the history of the journey The Trail of Tears; Nunna-da-ul-tsun-yi (meaning the place where they cried)
In 1997 the National Park Service marked 17 routes of the Trails that were used. Anywhere from 140,000 to 180,000 Native Americans were removed and traveled by foot around 1200 miles. 1 in 4 died en route d/t harsh weather conditions, poor food supplies, and spread of illnesses. This center helps to educate and re-educated visitors because much of the history we've been taught is lacking in information which is why the center is so important. We truly cannot do justice telling the historical significance and information! If you're in the area stop by and visit them. You will be glad you did! They are worth the stop.
The Center host many events to shine the spotlight on this important historical event:
April 29-3: The Vicky Garland Memorial Pow-Wow
Location: Giles Agri Park - 2030 Elkton Pike, Pulaski, TN
Like their Facebook page for more information and for dates and times on other events they host!