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New Echota-Cherokee Capital State Historic Site

Gordon County

Date Established: 1962

Original Acreage: 200

Current Acreage: 200

In 1916, the Calhoun Women's Club purchased the New Echota Cemetery, and in 1931, the National Park Service erected a 25-foot tall granite Cherokee Memorial monument. The New Echota Foundation was formed in 1953 under the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce's leadership. Using the 1832 land lot surveys, historian Dr. Henry Malone, located the exact site of the town in August 1953. Archaeologist Clemens de Baillou of the University of Georgia was hired in 1954 to determine original building locations.

After purchasing the property from local farmer Jess Wilbanks, the New Echota Foundation deeded the property to the state of Georgia in 1956. During the late 1950s, the mission home of Samuel Worcester was restored, an 1805 Cherokee Tavern was moved to New Echota, and the Cherokee Print Shop and Court House were reconstructed on the property.

On May 12, 1962 Governor Ernest Vandiver led the dedication ceremony as the site was officially opened to the public, and in 1969 a new visitor center/museum was built. Eight years later, the site celebrated the sesquicentennial of the adoption of the 1827 Cherokee Constitution, and New Echota was designated as a National Historic Landmark. During the 1980s and '90s, two historic farmsteads and the Cherokee Council House were reconstructed, and in 2002 a visitor center and museum exhibit renovation were completed.

The 150-year anniversary of the 1828 Cherokee Phoenix newspaper's beginning took place in 1978, and in 1988 a memorial was held for the Sesquicentennial of the 1838 Trail of Tears Cherokee Removal. In 1992, the Cherokee Nation Council met at New Echota (the first council meeting on Georgia soil since 1830), a 1993 Georgia Supreme Court special court session met in the reconstructed New Echota Court House, and a 1996 Council House dedication/ Atlanta Olympic Torch Relay event with Deputy Principal Chief James Garland of the Cherokee Nation participating.

New Echota reigned as the capital of the Cherokee Nation only from 1825-1838; however, during that short time period, events of local, regional, state and national historical significance occurred. During its short history, New Echota was the site of the first Indian language newspaper office, a court case which carried to the U. S. Supreme court, one of the earliest experiments in national self government by an Indian tribe, the signing of a treaty which relinquished Cherokee claims to eastern lands, and the assembly of Indians for removal west on the infamous Trail of Tears. Today, visitors can see a recreation of the town of New Echota including 12 historic and reconstructed buildings and a museum with a 17-minute film.

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