A special ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of Phase 1 of the Hiwassee River Heritage Center will take place at 2 p.m. on Friday with an open house until 6 p.m.
The overall three-part plan is expected to be complete in approximately five years. Future plans for expanding the heritage center include a river park at the Hiwassee River and an interpretive greenway connecting the park with the heritage center.
“This is a significant piece of American history that needs to be preserved and we can do that in a respectful way focusing on education and accuracy,” said Melissa Woody, vice president for Convention & Bureau for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.
The Hiwassee River Heritage Center, as well as interpretive features along the greenway and at the river park, will tell the story of the area known as present-day Charleston as being a major gateway to the Cherokee Nation. The federal Indian Agency was located in Charleston and provided protection to the Cherokee, who lived, farmed, traded and worshipped in this area.
Charleston was named Fort Cass in 1838, the federal headquarters for the entire Trail of Tears operation, removing the Cherokee from their eastern homelands and forcing them to designated lands in the west.
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