Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Brainerd Mission

Brainerd Mission, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Brainerd Mission was a mission school established in October 1816, and classes were held there until 1838 when the Cherokees were removed from the Southeast. Near present day Chattanooga, it was the largest institution of its type among the Eastern Cherokees.

"It’s arguably the oldest historical site in Chattanooga," according to the mayor in 2005, when the city installed directional signs during a ceremony including the Principal Chiefs of both the Western and Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, the Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution, the Trail of Tears Association, and hundreds of Mission supporters.

The National Park signs designate the site as part of the National Trail of Tears Park System. Note the Cherokee language at the top of the sign.

At the height of its operation, the Brainerd Mission area consisted of 50 acres and 40 buildings, including boarding houses, boys' and girls' schools and churches, houses, a mill, barns, warehouses, carpenters' and blacksmiths' shops, as well as extensive fields, gardens, and orchards.

The Congregationalist and Presbyterian missionary founders believed that proper education for Indian children included instilling them with Christian religious principles and Anglo-American work habits.

At present all that is left of the 50 acre mission site is only the cemetery, just under an acre in size, and in the middle of a shopping mall parking lot. So much for resting in peace…

1 comment:

jellyhead said...

It's sad to think of how the native people were forced to try to become like the white invaders. This happened in Australia, too - to the point that many children were actually taken from their families by authorities, who thought they knew best. The children were placed in missionary camps and institutions, and many never found their parents again. Tragic - both your stories and ours.