Most of the Cherokee Indians had been forcibly removed from Canton and the surrounding area in the infamous “Trail of Tears” in 1838. They were rounded up and put into camps such as Fort Buffington and Sixes Encampment before being marched toward what is now Oklahoma.
Fifty years later, a delegation of Cherokee Indians came back to Canton on a tour of the Georgia area. While in town, they put on demonstrations of traditional dances and songs and “engaged in Indian ball play.”
Word quickly spread among residents and the Cherokees attracted large crowds. Here’s an account of the unplanned visit by the Cherokee Advance, from September 7, 1888. (Please remember that these historical documents are presented as a record of the past, and so they reflect language and attitudes of different times.)
“On Tuesday evening last, a band of full blood Cherokee Indians — 13 bucks and 4 squaws — besides several half-breeds and others, dropped in on Canton suddenly and unceremoniously. The news soon spread and by night a large crowd was in town, and on next day this crowd was considerably augmented by others coming in from the country.
On Tuesday night, the Indians, under the management of Messrs. Crew, Grubbs and Sneed, gave an Indian war dance, sang a few songs and conversed in their native tongue concerning this place, when sixty years ago their forefathers inhabited the country and made this their headquarters. The entertainment was conducted in first-class order, and every one went away well pleased. On the following evening they engaged in an Indian ball play, which attracted a large crowd and introduced a new game for “our native Cherokees” to play. The Indians carried on their game, though hard contested, peacefully and fairly, but when the whites tried their hand at the game, all alone and to themselves, a little “fuss” ensued.
The Indians and their managers are an orderly, peaceable and gentlemanly set of fellows, or at least so conducted themselves here, and they met with pretty fair success. They left yesterday evening by private conveyance en route to Cartersville, where they will stop on Saturday and give one or more exhibitions. We hope they will meet with good success there and along the line of the W. & A. R.R.”