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Local Native Americans Nostalgic on Anniversary of Indian Removal Act

Wednesday is the 178th anniversary of the Indian Removal Act, which was the precursor to tens of thousands of Native Americans being forcibly removed from their lands in the 1830s.

For many, it's just another date in history. But for descendants of those five so-called "civilized" tribes who walked the "Trail of Tears," starting in the southeastern part of the US and ending up in the Midwest, the day carries a significance all of its own.

KSMU's Jennifer Moore met up with a member of the Chickasaw nation, Kenneth Estes, whose ancestors made that journey by wagon, ferry and foot. In an emotional interview, he shared his sentiments and reflections on the anniversary.

Estes said his tribe, the Chickasaw, was the last tribe to be relocated, because they fought the relocation as long as they could.

He is the fifth-generation descendant of individuals who made the trip in the 1830s. He said his people fared better than the Cherokee because they had heard how arduous the journey had been and made provisions ahead of time to sustain them on the trip.

When asked if he feels the United States has done enough to apologize for removing his people, he said there has been an official apology for slavery, but not for the forcible relocation of Native Americans.

With tears in his eyes, he says he tells his daughter to be proud of the Indian blood running through her viens, because her ancestors paid an enormous price just for being Indian.