The 24th annual National Trail of Tears Association Conference and Symposium will be held at the Holiday Inn Riverfront/Paducah Convention Center Friday through Sunday.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, with keynote speaker Professor Ezra Rosser of American University College of Law, Washington D.C. officially opening the conference at 2 p.m.
Speakers throughout the weekend will offer presentations related to the forced removal of Indian tribes, as well as historic Cherokee and Chickasaw culture.
Additional highlights of the conference will include the dedication of several new interpretive exhibits at both the Paducah riverfront and Fort Massac in Metropolis.
A Wayside Exhibit sign dedication ceremony will take place at Fort Massac State Park at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, followed by a Fort Massac in Cherokee History presentation at 12:30 p.m. by Jack D. Baker.
Chickasaw musician Jason Burwell and Cherokee musician Tommy Wildcat will provide entertainment throughout the conference. Registration for the conference and a tentative conference schedule can be found at www.nationaltota.com.
Following the three-day conference, the public is also invited to attend a short ceremony on Monday, Oct. 14 at 10 a.m. to dedicate the installation of two new Trail of Tears interpretive exhibits at Fort Defiance Park in Cairo.
These exhibits will highlight the water route taken by several detachments of Cherokee as they removed to Indian Territory in the 1830s.
These exhibits were made possible through collaboration between the National Trail of Tears Association, the Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association, the National Park Service, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the city of Cairo.
The Trail of Tears Association (TOTA) is a not-for-profit, membership organization formed in 1993 to support the creation, development, and interpretation of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.
Designated as a national historic trail by Congress in 1987, the Trail commemorates the forced removal of the Cherokee people from their homelands in the southeastern United States to Indian Territory, which is present-day Oklahoma, in 1838-1839.
TOTA has state chapters in the nine states through which the Trail traverses. These states are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee.