Trail of Tears


Cherokee Heritage Center

Master Planning

Graphics Production

Installation Supervision

The permanent Cherokee Trail of Tears exhibit at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma exhibition depicts events leading to, through, and beyond removal. The project mandates included the groundbreaking use of Universal Design principles and storytelling from a Cherokee perspective. The exhibit utilized traditional exhibit methods along with the theatrical AV techniques of an object theater and Pepper's Ghost.

The project was a joint venture between the NPS Wayside Division and the Cherokee Heritage Center. The National Park Service was in the process of developing wayside signage demarcating stops along the Trail and a visitor center already existed at the start of the journey.

Tahlequah represents the end of the journey and a conclusion exhibit was desired. The exhibit explores the forced removal of Cherokee ancestors from the indigenous territory to "Indian Territory" through six content-themed galleries.

The “Removal” themed gallery utilizes an array of life-cast sculptures representing period figures on the removal trail. Proximity sensors trigger a sound and light AV program as visitors move through the various figures. The final “Starting Over” gallery includes a large authentic signed treaty and a printing press utilized to create tribal newspapers such as the “Cherokee Phoenix.”