State historic site celebrates major Cherokee milestone

Wednesday marks exactly 190 years the first Native American-published newspaper rolled off a printing press right here in North Georgia. Creating the Cherokee Phoenix was a major milestone for the Cherokee Nation, and it’s one that’s honored year-round at New Echota State Historic Site in Calhoun.

New Echota was created in 1825 as the capital of the Cherokee Nation, and remained so until the Native Americans were forced to leave in the 1830s on what’s now known as the “Trail of Tears.”  A few years after it was founded, Cherokee leaders decided to establish a newspaper, and the first issue of the Cherokee Phoenix was printed at New Echota on February 21, 1828.  A missionary named Samuel Worcester helped secure a printing press and physically created the metal type for each character, and Elias Boudinot was the newspaper’s first editor.  The Cherokee Phoenix continued to be printed at New Echota until 1834, and the printing press was seized soon after; years later, during an extensive excavation beginning in the 1950s, archaeologists found much of the original type used to print the newspaper.  Today, the area is owned by the state and known as New Echota State Historic Site, and visitors can learn more about the former Cherokee capital by visiting a dozen original and reconstructed buildings, including the Print Shop and Samuel Worcester's home. 

Good Day Atlanta’s Paul Milliken took a trip up to Calhoun to spend the morning at New Echota State Historic Site, helping staffers there mark the 190th anniversary of the very first printing of the Cherokee Phoenix.