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 Thursday, 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 had too much traffic and was distracting. The second place we found was too cramped for comfort. Our first location outside the building was comfortable on a nice day like Thursday, but there was too much noise from the playground.
After learning of the plight of the Native Americans, 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.