Cleveland Kiwanis Club members received a history lesson about Tennessee’s Red Clay State Park Thursday.
The lesson was presented by Erin Medley, a product of Cleveland City Schools, and a ranger at the park facility.
Included in Medley’s discussion on the park, and the Cherokee people, was a demonstration of weapons used by the Cherokee more than 150 years ago. The weapons did not include a bow and arrows, but a flintlock rifle and blowgun.
Medley said the rifle was used by the Cherokee for deer, bear and buffalo, while the blowgun was used for small animals such as rabbits and squirrels.
She also explained how the tribe’s hunters made blowguns out of river cane, hollowing out the center with burning coals. They fashioned darts for the hand-made weapon.
Medley, who has been at Red Clay for the past six years, gave a brief history of the Cherokee people and the park.
Red Clay was the Cherokee capital, like Washington, D.C., from 1832 until 1838, prior to the removal of the people by the U.S. government to Oklahoma. She said the Cherokee were at the Council grounds when they learned of removal plans.
Asked if they were compensated for the loss of their home, Medley said they were promised $4.5 million.
“But they’re still waiting on it,” she added.
In the history lesson, Medley said an earlier capital for the Cherokee was in Echota, Ga.
One of the reasons they came to Red Clay, she said, was the Blue Hole on the property, which provides a very good water source.
“We also have some replica structures at Red Clay,” Medley continued. “They are what a typical Indian family would have had at that time.”
There is also a Council house on the grounds and a sleeping house. She said the sleeping house is like a modern-day motel, but very small.
The annual Cherokee Days celebration is scheduled in August by park personnel and friends, and a pow wow is planned later in the year. She added the pow wow may be changed in the near future.
Medley explained the Cherokee are divided into two bands, the Western Band in Oklahoma, and the Eastern Band in North Carolina. The Eastern Band members are descendants of Cherokee who hid in the mountains when the removal began.
The two divisions of the Cherokee met for the first time in 150 years when the Eternal Flame was lit at a Red Clay reunion in 1984.
There are 260 to 270 acres in the Red Clay Park. The depth and minerals of the Blue Hole gives its color, and the spring produces 300 gallons of freezing cold water every minute.
n Saturday is a big day for the Kiwanis Club with its biggest fundraiser of the year. Pancake Day is scheduled from 7 to 11 a.m. at the Bald Headed Bistro in The Village Green. Tickets are $6 and available from any Kiwanis Club member.