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Port Royal State Park
Port Royal Trail of Tears Section
Encampment site for the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears and an official site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

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NATIVE HISTORY ASSOCIATION - Clee's Ferry

Clee's Ferry, Page 2

Culture Periods Represented: Paleo, Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian

Looted Burial At Clee's Ferry

Looted Burial At Clee's Ferry, 1994

Unfortunately, illegal digging and surface collecting has taken a heavy toll on the burial grounds at Clee’s Ferry. In 1994, a series of large holes could be seen along the bluff, just above the shell mound. They looked like caves, but they were actually holes left by looters digging for Indian artifacts (see photos below). Vegetation could not grow on the river bank because of the constant trampling by diggers and surface collectors.

Looted Burial At Clee's Ferry Looted Burial At Clee's Ferry

Looting At Clee's Ferry, 1994

In 1995, through the efforts of the state Division of Archaeology and the Alliance for Native American Indian Rights, a local organization that works to protect Native American burial grounds, and with the cooperation of the land owners, the Clee's Ferry site was placed on Tennessee's Archaeological Registry, a listing of sites that are significant to Tennessee's heritage.

Peto Trejo Sets Up Camp Red Bear, Clee's Ferry, January, 1995

Peto Trejo Sets Up Camp Red Bear, Clee's Ferry, January, 1995

Peto Trejo was an Oglala Lakota and a member of the Alliance for Native American Indian Rights. He camped at Clee's Ferry in the middle of a cold January, and did not leave until the site was listed on the Tennessee Archaeological Registry. Peto's vigil lasted 2 weeks.

Peto died as result of complications from diabetes in South Dakota in 1998.

Toksha, Kola. May your journey be undisturbed.

Peto Adds Some Wood To The Campfire, Clee's Ferry, January, 1995

Peto Adds Some Wood To The Campfire, Clee's Ferry, January, 1995

The placement of Clee's Ferry on the Registry allowed the state to put up warning signs that list the state laws that apply to archaeological sites and cemeteries. Continued monitoring of the site and the discouraging words provided by the warning signs played an important role in curtailing the looting that would otherwise have completely destroyed the site. The large holes that once gaped along the bluff eventually collapsed and grass and other plants are were able to grow on the river bank, helping to protect the site from erosion.

Clee's Ferry, Page 1

Clee's Ferry Photo Gallery Coming Soon