The Chieftains Museum / Major Ridge Home is a National Historic Landmark, a designation reserved for the most significant sites in America. As the only surviving home in this area of one of the two most influential leaders in the history of Cherokee removal, it is also a designated site on the congressionally-designated Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. While living in this home Major Ridge participated in the establishment of the Cherokee constitutional government with legislative, executive, and judicial branches. He served as Speaker of the Cherokee National Council, and counselor of the Cherokee Nation and was considered by at least some of his contemporaries to be the greatest orator of the Cherokee Nation.
While Ridge resided on this property, Georgia extended its laws over the Cherokee Nation and began surveying Cherokee land for distribution by lottery. Increasingly, the Cherokee people were abused by encroaching white settlement. In this farmhouse Ridge abandoned his lifelong resistance to removal and decided to negotiate a treaty with the federal government. The Chieftains Museum / Major Ridge Home has the unique potential to powerfully convey the story of Cherokee removal and the breach it caused among Cherokees who disagreed on how to respond to removal pressures. These momentous events had a profound effect on shaping the geography of the southeast and represent a very important chapter in both Cherokee and American history.
The Major Ridge Home is poised to become an historic site as significant as Colonial Williamsburg and Old Sturbridge Village in interpreting critical passages in our nation’s history. It is the quintessential educational and interpretive site for Cherokee removal history along the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.
Since 1971, Chieftains Museum/Major Ridge Home has been educating individuals, families and the school children of Rome, Georgia on our site. In 2005, when fuel shortages caused field trips to be deferred, Chieftains took programming into the classroom, and continues to offer these programs today.
In the past several years, Chieftains has demonstrated a commitment to work closely with the governments of the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians by obtaining their input in the planning process, presenting their respected artists and craftspersons, and hosting the nationally-acclaimed Cherokee Nation History Course.
Chieftains is working closely with the National Park Service to increase educational reach. This relationship will support ongoing archaeological investigations of the historic property including a GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) survey and much-needed analysis of previously excavated archaeological material. A major study has been conducted by the National Park Service to significantly enhance the long-term preservation and interpretation of Major Ridge’s home and farm.
Chieftains is also working with the City of Rome as a major venue along the Ross to Ridge Road Riverwalk. The Riverwalk brings more people to the site, exposing them to the historical significance of Major Ridge and the Trail of Tears and enhancing the Major Ridge Home as an integral part of Rome’s current day culture.
The museum continues to work with the local and national members of the Trail of Tears Association (TOTA), both hosting and attending meetings and conferences to represent the significant history of the Cherokee in Rome.
These efforts ensure that the museum will continue to preserve and present the history of the Cherokee and the community which witnessed that history first-hand.