The date for the National Endowment for the Humanities workshop is fast approaching and we’re making preparations. Don’t miss out!
Depending on public health guidelines related to Covid-19, plans for a residential offering are subject to change.
The Funk Heritage Center at Reinhardt University would like to invite you to apply to be a part of a week-long summer workshop on The Trail of Tears: Context and Perspectives, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. We welcome your interest in this exciting program!
The Trail of Tears: Context and Perspectives will be offered twice in the summer of 2022 from July 10-15 and again from July 17-22. Each week-long workshop will begin on Monday morning and end on Friday evening. Each workshop will enroll a total of 36 NEH Summer Scholars.
At the beginning of the 1830s, nearly 125,000 Native Americans lived on millions of acres of land in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Florida–land their ancestors had occupied and cultivated for generations. By the end of the decade, very few natives remained anywhere in the southeastern United States. Working on behalf of white settlers who wanted to grow cotton on the Indians’ land, the federal government forced them to leave their homelands and walk hundreds of miles to a specially designated “Indian territory” across the Mississippi River. This difficult and sometimes deadly journey is known as the Trail of Tears.
White Americans, particularly those who lived on the western frontier, often feared and resented the Native Americans they encountered: To them, American Indians seemed to be an unfamiliar, alien people who occupied land that white settlers wanted (and believed they deserved). Some officials in the early years of the American republic, such as President George Washington, believed that the best way to solve this “Indian problem” was simply to “civilize” the Native Americans. The goal of this civilization campaign was to make Native Americans as much like white Americans as possible by encouraging them convert to Christianity, learn to speak and read English and adopt European-style economic practices such as the individual ownership of land and other property (including, in some instances in the South, African slaves). In the southeastern United States, many Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, Creek and Cherokee people embraced these customs and became known as the “Five Civilized Tribes.”
But their land, located in parts of Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee, was valuable, and it grew to be more coveted as white settlers flooded the region. Many of these whites yearned to make their fortunes by growing cotton, and often resorted to violent means to take land from their Indigenous neighbors. They stole livestock; burned and looted houses and towns; committed mass murder; and squatted on land that did not belong to them.
State governments joined in this effort to drive Native Americans out of the South. Several states passed laws limiting Native American sovereignty and rights and encroaching on their territory. In Worcester v. Georgia (1832), the U.S. Supreme Court objected to these practices and affirmed that native nations were sovereign nations “in which the laws of Georgia [and other states] can have no force.” Even so, the maltreatment continued. As President Andrew Jackson noted in 1832, if no one intended to enforce the Supreme Court’s rulings (which he certainly did not), then the decisions would “[fall]…still born.” Southern states were determined to take ownership of Indian lands and would go to great lengths to secure this territory.
Andrew Jackson had long been an advocate of what he called “Indian removal.” As an Army general, he had spent years leading brutal campaigns against the Creeks in Georgia and Alabama and the Seminoles in Florida–campaigns that resulted in the transfer of hundreds of thousands of acres of land from Indian nations to white farmers. As president, he continued this crusade. In 1830, he signed the Indian Removal Act, which gave the federal government the power to exchange Native-held land in the cotton kingdom east of the Mississippi for land to the west, in the “Indian colonization zone” that the United States had acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase. (This “Indian territory” was located in present-day Oklahoma.
The law required the government to negotiate removal treaties fairly, voluntarily and peacefully: It did not permit the president or anyone else to coerce Native nations into giving up their land. However, President Jackson and his government frequently ignored the letter of the law and forced Native Americans to vacate lands they had lived on for generations. In the winter of 1831, under threat of invasion by the U.S. Army, the Choctaw became the first nation to be expelled from its land altogether. They made the journey to Indian Territory on foot (some “bound in chains and marched double file,” one historian writes) and without any food, supplies or other help from the government. Thousands of people died along the way. It was, one Choctaw leader told an Alabama newspaper, a “trail of tears and death.”
The Indian-removal process continued. In 1836, the federal government drove the Creeks from their land for the last time: 3,500 of the 15,000 Creeks who set out for Oklahoma did not survive the trip.
The Cherokee people were divided: What was the best way to handle the government’s determination to get its hands on their territory? Some wanted to stay and fight. Others thought it was more pragmatic to agree to leave in exchange for money and other concessions. In 1835, a few self-appointed representatives of the Cherokee nation negotiated the Treaty of New Echota, which traded all Cherokee land east of the Mississippi for $5 million, relocation assistance and compensation for lost property. To the federal government, the treaty was a done deal, but many of the Cherokee felt betrayed; after all, the negotiators did not represent the tribal government or anyone else. “The instrument in question is not the act of our nation,” wrote the nation’s principal chief, John Ross, in a letter to the U.S. Senate protesting the treaty. “We are not parties to its covenants; it has not received the sanction of our people.” Nearly 16,000 Cherokees signed Ross’s petition, but Congress approved the treaty anyway.
By 1838, only about 2,000 Cherokees had left their Georgia homeland for Indian Territory. President Martin Van Buren sent General Winfield Scott and 7,000 soldiers to expedite the removal process. Scott and his troops forced the Cherokee into stockades at bayonet point while his men looted their homes and belongings. Then, they marched the Indians more than 1,200 miles to Indian Territory. Whooping cough, typhus, dysentery, cholera and starvation were epidemic along the way, and historians estimate that more than 5,000 Cherokee died as a result of the journey.
By 1840, tens of thousands of Native Americans had been driven off of their land in the southeastern states and forced to move across the Mississippi to Indian Territory. The federal government promised that their new land would remain unmolested forever, but as the line of white settlement pushed westward, “Indian Country” shrank and shrank. In 1907, Oklahoma became a state and Indian Territory was gone for good.
The Trail of Tears is over 5,043 miles long and covers nine states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Today, the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail is run by the National Park Service and portions of it are accessible on foot, by horse, by bicycle or by car.
As the director of the program, I will be involved in the full week of the workshop, accompanying all lectures and providing guidance for our summer scholars. We have put together a very full and exciting program that approaches these landmarks from an interdisciplinary perspective and that brings together scholars and community activists from across the country. I hope that you will take the time to look over our full workshop schedule to see what is in store over the course of the week!
Our diverse and prestigious faculty will enable a truly interdisciplinary approach, bringing historical documents, visual imagery, and literary texts to bear on this long history. Each day of the workshop will be built around a mix of scholarly presentations, field excursions, discussions, and time for participants to work with the project team on individual and group projects.
We welcome applications from full-time and part-time classroom teachers and librarians in public, charter, independent, and religiously affiliated schools, as well as home-schooling parents from across the country. Other K-12 school personnel, including administrators, substitute teachers, and classroom professionals, are also eligible to participate, subject to available space. This kind of interdisciplinary conversation requires a diverse group of investigators, and we look forward to bringing together a diverse group of educators who can bring their own perspectives to bear on these issues.
Summer scholars will be expected to participate in the full five days of the workshop. Upon acceptance, you will receive an information packet that will include reading assignments to accompany the lectures, discussions, and site visits we will enjoy during the week. Because our schedule for the week will be so busy, we ask that all scholars complete these reading assignments before arriving in Waleska. There will be built-in opportunities over the course of the week to discuss these readings and pedagogical methods for teaching this material in your classrooms. At the end of the workshop, all participants will be asked to submit two sample lesson plans that address topics covered during our time together.
All efforts will be made to support participants over the course of the workshop. Each participant will be invited to join a small group, which will be led by a faculty member and will meet regularly over the course of the week. These groups will provide important support networks for participants as they translate our experiences into curricula that can be implemented at home.
All participants will receive a $1300 NEH Summer Scholar taxable stipend. Stipends will be paid at the end of each residential workshop session and are intended to partially cover transportation and accommodation expenses for the workshop. For those who are interested, the Reinhardt University campus provides a number of support services that are available to workshop participants. We can provide dormitory-style accommodation to summer scholars and breakfast and lunch most days of the workshop. All accommodation is fully equipped with wireless internet access and kitchen facilities, and the Reinhardt University campus offers a world-class library system and accessible computer labs. All efforts have been made by the workshop team to ensure the lowest possible costs for food, accommodation, and other services.
The summer workshop promises to be an exciting journey through the history of Native Americans in the Southeast, including the Trail of Tears. For teachers, participation in the program offers a rare opportunity for insight into these issues from some of the leading scholars in the country, as well as professional development and training for translating this into the classroom. We hope that the program will be of interest to you and your colleagues, and we look forward to what you will bring to the table!
W. Jeff Bishop
Director of the Funk Heritage Center
Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops are offered by the National Endowment for the Humanities to provide K-12 educators with the opportunity to engage in study and discussion of important topics and issues in American history and culture, centered around significant the interpretation of historical and cultural sites and the use of archival and other primary evidence.
All participants are required to participate in the full five days of the workshop and to complete all reading and assignments. The workshop will be held at the Reinhardt University campus in Waleska, Georgia.
Each workshop will have 36 participants, for a total of 72 spots available over the two weeks. The workshops are designed to enable Summer Scholars to gain a sense of the importance of historical and cultural places, to make connections between the workshop content and what they teach, and to develop individual teaching and/or research materials.
All applications for the Trail of Tears: Context and Perspectives workshop should be submitted online (see the link above) or postmarked no later than March 1, 2022, and should be addressed as follows:
NEH Workshop -- Trail of Tears: Context and Perspectives
c/o W. Jeff Bishop, Project Director
Funk Heritage Center
7300 Reinhardt Circle
Waleska, GA 30183
A completed application consists of completion of an online application (to be posted here Dec. 1) and a resume or short biography. The most important part of the completed application is an essay of up to one double-spaced page. This essay should include information about your professional background and interest in the subject of our workshop; your special perspectives, skills, or experiences that would contribute to the workshop; and how the experience would enhance your teaching or school service. You should also include three copies of this essay. Additionally, please be sure to submit one copy of a letter of recommendation from the principal or department head of your teaching institution or the head of your home schooling association in support of your application.
When you are finished completing the online form, be sure to click the “submit” button. A full application consists of this online application, your essay, a copy of your resume or short biography, and a letter of recommendation, mailed to the address above.
You can expect to hear a response from our workshop team on March 25, 2022, and you will have until April 8, 2022 to accept or decline the offer.
The workshop on The Trail of Tears: Context and Perspectives is designed primarily for a national audience of full- or part-time K-12 educators who teach in public, charter, independent, and religiously affiliated schools, or as home schooling educators. Museum educators and other K-12 school system personnel— such as, but not limited to, administrators, substitute teachers, and curriculum supervisors—are also eligible to participate. At least three spaces per workshop session or six spaces total for the entire program must be reserved for teachers who are new to the profession (five or fewer years teaching experience). Participants must be United States citizens, residents of U.S. jurisdictions, or foreign nationals who have been residing in the United States or its territories for at least the three years immediately preceding the application deadline. U.S. citizens teaching abroad at U.S. chartered institutions are also eligible to participate. Foreign nationals teaching abroad are not eligible to participate. Individuals may not apply to participate in a Landmarks workshop whose director is a family member, who is affiliated with the same institution, who has served as an instructor or academic advisor to the applicant, or who has led a previous NEH-funded Institute or Landmarks program attended by the applicant. Participants may not be delinquent in the repayment of federal debt (e.g. taxes, student loans, child support payments, and delinquent payroll taxes for household or other employees). Individuals may not apply to participate in a Landmarks workshop if they have been debarred or suspended by any federal department or agency. In any given year an individual may apply to a maximum of two projects but may attend only one. Once they have accepted an offer to attend any NEH Summer Program (Landmarks or Institutes), participants may not accept an additional offer or withdraw in order to accept a different offer.
Project applicants who accept an offer to participate are expected to remain during the entire period of the program and to participate in its work on a full-time basis. If a participant is obliged through special circumstances to depart before the end of the program, it shall be the recipient institution’s responsibility to see that only a pro rata share of the stipend is received or that the appropriate pro rata share of the stipend is returned if the participant has already received the full stipend.
The workshop committee must receive all of these materials for you to be considered eligible:
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY STATEMENT: Endowment programs do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or age. For further information, write to the Equal Opportunity Officer, National Endowment for the Humanities, 400 7th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024. TDD: 202-606-8282 (this is a special telephone device for the Deaf).
NEH Seminars, Institutes, and Landmarks programs are intended to extend and deepen knowledge and understanding of the humanities by focusing on significant topics, texts, and issues; contribute to the intellectual vitality and professional development of participants; and foster a community of inquiry that provides models of excellence in scholarship and teaching. NEH expects that project directors will take responsibility for encouraging an ethos of openness and respect, upholding the basic norms of civil discourse. Seminar, Institute, and Landmarks presentations and discussions should be:
1. firmly grounded in rigorous scholarship, and thoughtful analysis;
2. conducted without partisan advocacy;
3. respectful of divergent views;
4 free of ad hominem commentary; and 5. devoid of ethnic, religious, gender, disability, or racial bias.
The NEH-funded Landmarks of American History and Culture program gives K-12 educators the opportunity to engage with projects that situate the study of topics and themes in K-12 humanities within sites, areas, or regions of historic and cultural significance. A landmark may be a recognized historical monument, marker, or memorial or group of monuments or markers. Physical, natural, and cultural landscapes, as well as a historical district or a collection of thematically related structures and sites within a local region could also qualify. Each Landmarks program is offered twice in one summer and accommodates 36 educators in each one-week session. Prior to completing an application to a specific workshop, please review the project website and consider carefully what is expected in terms of residence and attendance, reading and writing requirements, and general participation in the work of the project.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.