New Echota is one of the most significant Cherokee Indian sites in the nation and was where the tragic “Trail of Tears” officially began. In 1825, the Cherokee national legislature established a capital called New Echota at the headwaters of the Oostanaula River. 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 lands east of the Mississippi River, and the assembly of Indians for removal west on the infamous Trail of Tears.
New Echota was the capital of the Cherokee Nation from 1825 to their forced removal in the 1830s. New Echota is located in present-day Gordon County and is a state park and a historic site, and is designated as a National Historical Landmark.
The site is at the confluence of the Coosawattee River and Conasauga River, which join to form the Oostanaula River, a tributary of the Coosa River. It is near Town Creek. Archeological evidence has shown that the site of New Echota had been occupied by ancient indigenous cultures prior to the Cherokee Native Americans, to whom it was a town of theirs named Gansagiyi or Gansagi; they renamed it New Echota in 1825 after making it the capital.
Prior to relocating to Gansagi and building the community of New Echota, the Cherokee had used the nearby town of Ustanali on the Coosawatte River as the seat of their tribe, beginning in 1788. Ustanali had been established in 1777 by refugees from the Cherokee Lower Towns in northwestern South Carolina.
By 1823 the government of the Cherokee Nation was meeting in New Echota. On November 12, 1825, New Echota was officially designated the capital of the Cherokee Nation. The tribal council also began a building program that included construction of a two-story Council House, a Supreme Court, and later the office (printer shop) of the first Indian language and Cherokee newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix.
After the Cherokee were removed, their capital remained abandoned for more than 100 years. Much of New Echota disappeared, though some of the houses continued to be used.
On March 13, 1957, following the news of archeological finds, the State of Georgia authorized reconstruction of the town of New Echota as a state park. They reconstructed such buildings as the Council House, the Supreme Court, the printer shop, a building of the Cherokee Phoenix, a common Cherokee cabin representing a home of an average family, and a middle-class Cherokee home, including outbuildings. Vann's Tavern is a restored building, with modern nails and replacement wooden parts. It was relocated from Forsyth County, Georgia.
The archeologist discovering much of the type once used to print the Cherokee Phoenix.
Copy from Wikipedia and a brochure from the park. Photos by Jan Riser.