Robert Ward, Trail of Tears Commission President, and Judy Boaz, long-time member of the commission, were in studio Wednesday morning to talk to WPKY about the Trail of Tears Park in downtown Princeton.

In 1838 the federal government forced over 14,000 Cherokee Native Americans to march from their homelands in the Carolinas to lands west of the Mississippi. During that long and perilous march, in which many Cherokee perished, they stopped and camped in the area around Big Springs in Princeton. Charter members of the Trail of Tears Commission wanted to make sure to preserve that history, so in 2004 they started taking the necessary steps to create a memorial park near the site. In 2005, after the donation of land and the completion of all the paperwork, they began developing the park. Several of the charter members then went to visit artist Donald Vann, who lived in Cherokee, North Carolina, to get permission to use the design for a tear drop that had been inspired by one of his paintings. After permission was granted they built the park with a brick outline, flagstone interior and a seven pointed star to represent the seven clans of the Cherokee.

The next step for the park is a memorial sculpture to be completed by artist Matt Large, who is the son of commission member, George Large. The sculpture will be a lost wax cast, which appears like bronze but isn’t, and will feature a Cherokee woman and child in hopes of bringing awareness to the plight of the women and children of the Cherokee Nation. The sculpture will be placed on a large natural stone base and will most likely be placed near the lower end of the tear drop. Matt will be presenting the completed design in drawing form at the Trail of Tears Commission Annual Meeting on July 22nd at 5pm at the tourism center in Princeton. The meeting is open to the public, especially for people who may be curious about joining the Trail of Tears Commission.

You can catch the full interview with Robert Ward and Judy Boaz below.