Becoming apart of Tennessee in 1789 when North Carolina ceded land to the federal government, Clingmans Dome became apart of the Great Smoky Mountains. The mountain marks the highest point of the Appalachian Trail located in the Great Smoky Mountains. The Dome stands at 6,643 feet and overlooks the Great Smoky Mountains giving a scenic view as far as 100 miles spanning as many as 7 states on a clear day. These mountains were home to the Cherokee Indians, who were displaced after the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The mountains housed European settlers who left behind their homes and land after the establishment in 1934 of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Backstory and Context
In 1789, the North Carolina state legislature signed an act that gave portion of their land over to the federal government. This land would be turned into what is known as the state Tennessee today. Along with the creation of a new U.S. state, a mountain range would also be established and is known today as The Great Smoky Mountains. One of these mountains is known as Clingmans Dome where the Cherokee Indians lived in the late 19th Century. The mountain was named after Confederate general Thomas L. Clingman, who was an explorer of this area back in the 1850s.
On this mountain is where the historical Trail of Tears is located. The Trail of Tears is the pathway in which the Native American Indians traveled when forced to relocate from their homes east of the Mississippi after the passing of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The forced journey using over 2,200 miles of trail was long and brought death to many Indians. Unable to have basic-necessities such as adequate clothing, shelter, and food, the Native American Indians suffered great death. Some people were even without shoes and the harsh winter weather took its toll killing thousands of Indians, especially the elderly, sick, and the young.
President Andrew Jackson led the Trail of Tears Indian removal and relocation. He used negative propaganda to empower this historical tragedy. There were as many as 45,000 Indians relocated and this included many different tribes. The Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations were forced against their will to leave their homelands which were lands that were carved by the wings of a bird. Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Smokey Mountains National Park and the Appalachian Trail. The Cherokee Indians valued this point as a place to rest and pray making it their sacred home. The rugged slopes around Clingman’s Dome served as hiding places for those Indians, who successfully avoided the Trail of Tears and President Jackson’s forced removal. Some Cherokee Indians remained behind and their ancestors inhabit the area today.
During the Trail of Tears journey, the Native American people left behind their homes and the only life they knew. They also had to leave behind their source of traditional medicine. This contributed to their deaths as well. Some estimate that there was a loss of as many as 6000 Cherokee alone. Along with the other mentioned tribes, there were also other people included in these relocations, such as “European Americans and African Americans.”
“Clingmans Dome,” All Things Cherokee. Accessed June 30th 2021.
“Clingmans Dome,” National Park Service. Accessed June 30th 2021.