The damage of a "Trail of Fears"

In previous posts I’ve made mention of my purported Cherokee ancestry, so I’ll not revisit those claims, but I want to focus on misguided use of term “Trail of Fears” with a recent announcement from my town as an example:

Trail of Fears Haunted Hay Ride: October 26, 2012

Let me caveat this by stating that I do not believe that the term is used with a malicious intent to cause pain to those who claim Cherokee ancestry, who might have predecessors may have endured the horrific event that is known as the “Trail of Tears”. I do find it ironic that a community who just had one of its biggest events of the year, the Annual Trail of Tears Commemorative Bike Ride, make its way though town about  a month ago.

That being said, I am offended when someone tries to get cutesy and calls their haunted-whatever event a “Trail of Fears”. That wordplay still resonates the evil that was perpetrated against a native population by a group of invaders whose land lust was insatiable. The part of north Alabama I live in was once part of the Cherokee Nation.

Map courtesy of the University of Alabama

What is also disconcerting to me is the upward trend in the use of the term over the past couple years:

(Click here if chart does not load.)

Like many things in life, meanings lose significance over time. Given the historic significance of the Trail of Tears, it’s disheartening to see it used so flippantly as a wordplay.

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