Re-Discovering the Trail of Tears in Missouri
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Telling the Story of the Cherokee Tribe on the Trail of Tears in Missouri with Geographic Information Systems
Let’s talk about how a team of Missourians are sharing the Undiscovered Story of the Cherokee Tribe on the Trail of Tears in Missouri. I’m Chris Dunn, the GIS Guy on the team. For me, this project started sometime in 2019.
Our Origin Story
In 2019 Dr. Bill Ambrose and Steve Belko, Ph.D. some how found me. They thought Geographic Information Systems (GIS) could be a good tool to organize the Missouri Trail of Tears Association’s work. They had been talking to mappers around Missouri, looking for someone to begin mapping their research and discoveries. I knew very little about the Trail of Tears back then. But, work had been going on for decades prior to my joining the team in 2019. They finally contacted a geography professor at Missouri State Extension. She referred them on to me. There are not a lot of private GIS firms. Most GIS techs work for a government agency where they are not allowed to take on this sort of project.
I started mapping, cataloging, and archiving their data. Our hope was that someday we would have a public portal to share their work with the world. From 2019 until 2020, the Missouri Humanities Council (MHC), the (National) Trail of Tears Association, and Dr. Ambrose personally financed years of GIS work on this project. While the funding mix has changed since the early days, the goal has always been to tell the story accurately. That’s why I named this post the Undiscovered Story. We have completed so much work already. But you can’t see it, yet! This web portal is a start. We are going to present decades of work by the Missouri Trail of Tears Association’s members. We hope you will find to be in a user-friendly format.
We have designed this or several different types of users. We are sharing found documents which academics researching the Trail of Tears may find sufficiently authoritative for their use. There will be stories that inform and educate the public about the Cherokee’s forced relocation as they crossed Missouri. We’ll also tie those events with related contemporaneous Missouri historical events and people. Finally, we’ll use the GIS to put all of these things into a geographic perspective. We want you to use our maps at home and when you travel. We want to fuel your personal exploration of the Trail of Tears in Missouri.
Telling A Forgotten Story
My job is to organize this information. But, I need to ensure that thee Cherokee Tribe, the Missouri Chapter of the Trail of Tears Associations, and our other team member’s work is fairly presented. I won’t get everything right, and I won’t get every bit of research they have accumulated poste here overnight. But this site will grow steadily, and thus will always be something of a work in progress.
Do you find this work interesting and worthy of your support? If so, please consider joining the Missouri Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association. To join click here. You can even volunteer to help with the field work. That’s where the real fun is.
If you have any suggestions, comments, or critiques please email Chris.Dunn@GeoVelo.com
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