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The Trail of Tears Association (TOTA) is a non-profit, membership organization formed in 1993 to support the creation, development, and interpretation of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Designated as a national historic trail by Congress in 1987, the Trail commemorates the forced removal of the Cherokee people from their homelands in the southeastern United States to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) in 1838 - 1839. In 1993, the Association entered into a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service (NPS) to promote and engage in the protection and preservation of Trail of Tears National Historic Trail resources; to promote awareness of the Trail's legacy, including the effects of the U.S. Government's Indian Removal Policy on the Cherokees and other tribes (primarily the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek, and Seminole); and to perpetuate the management and development techniques that are consistent with the National Park Service's trail plan.
TOTA, a citizens' organization of national and international members, has state chapters in the nine states through which the Trail traverses. These states are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. State chapters address the more specific issues in each state, such as membership development, chapter organization and other efforts that assist the Association and the National Park Service in achieving their goals and objectives.