The Untold Story of American Indian Activism in Chattanooga

Nov 28, 2023

The Rise of Native American Activism

The history of Chattanooga is deeply intertwined with the story of Native American activism. The city, located in southeastern Tennessee, has been a hub of Native American culture and resistance for centuries. Yet, this vibrant history is often overlooked, overshadowed by the city's more recent industrial past.

lighted candle on brown round holder

One of the most significant periods of Native American activism in Chattanooga began in the 1970s, spurred by the American Indian Movement (AIM). AIM was a national organization, but its influence was strongly felt in Chattanooga, where local activists took up the cause. They fought against the systemic injustices faced by Native Americans, from land rights to cultural preservation.

Key Figures and Moments

Several key figures emerged during this period of heightened activism. Among them was John Red Hawk, a Cherokee activist who became a prominent voice for Native American rights in Chattanooga. He led protests, organized community meetings, and even ran for political office, all in the name of advancing the rights and recognition of his people.

Crowded people hands up at a day time concert.

Trail of Tears Remembrance

Another key moment in Chattanooga's Native American activism history is the annual Trail of Tears Remembrance. This event, which began in the 1980s, commemorates the forced removal of the Cherokee people from their ancestral lands in the 1830s. Each year, participants embark on a motorcycle ride from Chattanooga to Oklahoma, retracing the path of the Trail of Tears.

a tall metal tower in a field

Continuing the Fight

While the 1970s and 1980s were a high point for Native American activism in Chattanooga, the fight for justice and recognition continues today. Modern activists are focusing on issues such as education, preserving Native American languages, and combating stereotypes.

A young girl plays the part of a native American Indian 
girl. She poses proudly on top of a small hill. The girl 
is silhouetted as the sun rises behind her.

Chattanooga Native American Advocacy Group

Organizations like the Chattanooga Native American Advocacy Group are at the forefront of this ongoing struggle. They work to educate the public about Native American history and culture, advocate for policy changes, and provide support for the local Native American community.

The Untold Story

The story of Native American activism in Chattanooga is a tale of resilience and resistance. It's a story that deserves to be told and remembered. By shedding light on this crucial aspect of the city's history, we can ensure that the voices of Chattanooga's Native American activists are heard and their contributions acknowledged.

man in black and white coat