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The two RV Gypsies hiked at
Red Clay State Historical Park
1140 Red Clay Park Road, SW
Cleveland, Tennessee
October 4, 2015

USA map showing location of TennesseeWelcome To Tennessee sign

Red Clay State Historic Park is a state park located in southern Bradley County, Tennessee. The park is also listed as an interpretive center along the Cherokee Trail of Tears. It encompasses 263 acres of land and is located just above the Tennessee-Georgia state line, in Bradley County, Tennessee. The park is open year round.

The park was the site of the last seat of Cherokee national government before the 1838 enforcement of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 by the U.S. military, which resulted in most of the Cherokee people in the area being forced to emigrate west. Eleven general councils were held between 1832 and 1837. Red Clay is dedicated to the preservation of the Cherokee.

Tennessee map showing location of Red Clay
Red Clay State Historical Park sign

Inside the Interpretive Center

sign: Red Clay State Historic Area sign about Red Clay and the Cherokees

The Booger Dance (Cherokee: tsu'nigadu'li, "many persons' faces covered over" is a traditional dance of the Cherokee tribe, performed with ritual masks. It is performed at night-time around a campfire, usually in late fall or winter.

Before the dance begins, the male Cherokee performers, known as "Boogers", discretely leave the party. Booger masks are colorful masks that represented evil spirits. Booger masks were made from wood or hornets nests and were originally made as part of the Booger Dance, a winter celebration that ensured evil spirits could not disrupt the coming growing season. The Boogers also represent the malevolent spirits of those who oppose the Cherokee. They act in a stereotypically lewd manner by chasing the females around, grabbing them if possible, to satirize and ridicule what is seen as the non-Cherokee's predatory lust for the Cherokee. The dance and accompanying music are traditionally believed to drive away or offer protection against the inimical spirits, and those in whom they dwell, striking fear into their hearts, while providing comedic relief for the tribal members. Eventually, these masks came to resemble the faces of the White trespassers.

The masks could be fashioned from gourds, animal skins, or buckeye wood. The dance has also been the subject of much scholarship.

sign about the Booger Dance and some masks
Seal of the Cherokee Nation
stained glass display inside the Interpretive Center Map of Red Clay State Historical Park

The Eternal Flame of the Cherokee Nation

The Eternal Flame of the Cherokee Nation sign: The Eternal Flame of the Cherokee Nation
sign about the Red Clay Council Grounds

One of the most fascinating spots to visit while at Red Clay is the Council Spring. It is a natural landmark which arises from beneath a limestone ledge to form a deep pool that flows into Mill Creek, a tributary of the Conasauga and Coosa River system. It is called the Council Spring because it was used by the Cherokee for their water supply during council meetings, and it was a sacred place to them while they lived here. It is more commonly referred to today as the Blue Hole Spring.

sign about Blue Hole Spring

Here are some facts that set this spring apart from an ordinary spring: The Blue Hole Spring rises from an underground cave below the limestone rock ledge to flow into the Conasauga and Coosa River systems. Some 504,000 gallons of water flow through here every day at a rate of 350 gallons per minute. The spring maintains an annual temperature of about 56 degrees and is approximately 14 feet deep. The spring provided water for the people at the councils and was a scared place for them.

The Blue Hole Spring The Blue Hole Spring
The Blue Hole Spring The Blue Hole Spring and bridge
bridge over The Blue Hole  Spring a small river stream

Council House and Cherokee Farmhouse.

Council House and Cherokee Farmhouse

The two RV Gypsies hiked on a short 1.7 mile trail which started at a picnic shelter and led through a wooded area to an interesting stone overlook, then returned down the hill to connect to the Council House Trail.

Council of Trees trail sign path on the Council of Trees Trail
Lee Duquette  on the Council of Trees Trail a small stream along the trail

Karen climbed the stairs to The Overlook. But the trees were very tall, and so the only thing Karen saw from the Overlook was trees. Lee did not want to climb up the stairs.

Karen Duquette climbed the stairs to The Overlook Karen Duquette on The Overlook
Karen Duquette on The Overlook Karen Duquette
look below

please continue on to the next adventure of the two RV Gypsies The two RV Gypsies in Georgia: Historic Euharlee, Radium Springs Gardens, High Falls State Park, Ray Charles Plaza, Veterans Memorials, Albany and more.