Preserving, learning local history

Preserving, learning local history

September 17th, 2012 in Opinion Times

Many Chattanoogans, understandably intent on their daily lives, might be aware either directly or indirectly in the landmark revitalization that has made the city a magnet for community planners and developers. But they sometime seem to forget that there is a full and rich history here that predates the official founding and more recent past of the place they happily call home. Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, will be here Monday to remind area residents of that rich legacy.

Hicks will speak tonight at 7 at the Tennessee Aquarium Auditorium in the initial Friends of Moccasin Bend Lecture Series event of the fall. His presentation is the first of three public presentations in the annual series that offers free public talks about Moccasin Bend's Native American and Civil War history. Other scheduled speakers include Harold Holzer, a Lincoln scholar, on Oct. 1 and David G. Anderson, an archeologist and UT professor, on Nov. 12.

Hicks, who helped dedicate the Passage at the Chattanooga waterfront in 2005, promised then that he would return to the city to discuss what he predicted would be the success story of reintegrating the heritage of Native Americans and Chattanooga. Tonight he keeps that promise, and properly so. Much has been accomplished in that area and the work continues. Moccasin Bend, of course, plays a central role in that history and reintegration.

Holzer and Anderson, like Hicks and earlier speakers in the series, promise, as well, to provide interesting views of people, places and times related to Moccasin Bend, a site seamlessly connected to succeeding periods of local and regional history. Such expertise and excellence has become a hallmark of the series, which was established in 2006 and is sponsored by Greg Vital, president of Independent Healthcare Properties.

Moccasin Bend, part of the national park system, preserves historic sites, natural landscapes and greenspace and helps ensure that Chattanoogans and others can learn about and enjoy local and regional history. The lecture series is a very welcome adjunct to that important mission.