Missouri TOTA chapter earns humanities partner award

By: Partnership for the National Trails System, adapted from the Spring 2019 Trail of Tears National Historic Trail News

Missouri Chapter Trail of Tears Association Secretary Dr. William Ambrose (left) and President Deloris Gray Wood (center) receive the 2018 Missouri Humanities Council Partner Award from Missouri Humanities Council Executive Director Dr. Steve Belko (right) after the Humanities Awards and Gala. Photo Credit: Becky Ambrose

The Missouri Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association (TOTA) was one of four recipients of the 2018 Missouri Humanities Council Partner Award during the Humanities Awards and Gala at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis on October 24, 2018. Chapter President Deloris Gray Wood accepted the award on behalf of the chapter for its dedication and work in the humanities in the State. The award recognizes the rich historic, cultural, and humanitarian significance of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail in Missouri at a critical time—a time when the trail stories and assets were nearly forgotten or facts are reworked to more acceptable fiction.

The Missouri Chapter is rapidly becoming one of the leaders of the nine-chapter Trail of Tears Association, bringing new and exciting facts forward with engaging, high-tech, and interactive opportunities. These have been made possible through strong support from the Missouri Humanities Council, including grants for research, asset protection funding, leadership toward public interpretation, and digitization and GIS georeferencing of the trail. This partnership has facilitated efforts between TOTA and its congressionally appointed partner, the National Park Service, to pursue the goals of finding the actual trail; inventorying the facts, stories, and assets of the trail; and interpreting truthfully these assets to engender stewardship of the trail.

“We intend to discover the truths of the tribe, the trail, the tragedy, and the triumph of the Trail of Tears epic as it actually happened here in Missouri,” Gray Wood said in her speech. “A thank you to Dr. Steve Belke for believing in us and to the Missouri Humanities Council for supporting this nearly forgotten Missouri humanitarian epic.”

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