From 1830 to 1842, the Indian Removal Act took tribes from some of our southern states, through Missouri, to reserved land (reservations) in Oklahoma. One-quarter of the people died along this 800-mile march known as the Trail of Tears.
On Friday, our class conducted a blind simulation of the Cherokee (Tsa La Gi) Trail of Tears. Students were told our classroom was needed for a class from the local university (who had outgrown its facility). Therefore, we were ousted from our classroom and put out into the school to find our own place to survive. Collecting a passel of supplies to weight ourselves down, we went in search of a place to learn.
The first location - the extra hallway beside the gym/safe room - had too much traffic and was distracting. The second place we found - an entryway at the far end of our school building - was too cramped for comfort. The third location - in the pavilion area outside the building - might have been comfortable on a nice day, but the cold autumn breeze cut our stay there short.
I had to explain that this was all a simulation to help them feel the frustration, the discomfort, the anger, and the sadness of the Trail of Tears. It was more than reading a quick paragraph in a history book or watching a documentary about the subject. Instead of "blowing off" the subject as another boring assignment, students got a taste of the 12-year event.