ELIZABETH, LA (KPLC) - 2019 marks the 200 year anniversary of the Adams-Onis Treaty, which gave the United States ownership of Louisiana’s No Man’s Land.
The area along the Sabine River near Oakdale was largely disputed in the 1800s, because it was unclear if it was owned by the U.S. or Spain.
“In that time, a lot of the natives, during the Trail of Tears, they went to the Neutral Zone, and would go into hiding from the government," Len Wiggins said.
Wiggins is the chief of the Four Winds Cherokee Tribe, which was one of the groups that was caught in the territory dispute.
“We’re giving honor to our native ancestors," Wiggins said. "To all of our ancestors that came out of the neutral zone, they endured very hard times in that day.”
They honored them with a ceremony, the planting of a magnolia tree, and the burial of a time capsule.
The capsule will be opened in 100 years, and will serve as a reminder of the day’s significance for future generations.
“Myself, I put a little change, a newspaper and a dollar bill," Wiggins said. "But they probably won’t know what that is in 100 years.”
Even though it was a war-torn time for the Cherokee, it’s a history that the people of Elizabeth are proud to carry.
“To me it’s special just because this is the No Man’s Land, their people are from this area," Mandy Green said.
Green is the mayor of Elizabeth.
She said she’s thankful the tribes are a part of her town.
“To be mayor, and to be a part of the people, is just amazing to me," Green said. "They’re so kindhearted, and they have a lot of good visions.”
One of those visions is to keep the pride of the Cherokee Indians alive and well in Elizabeth for generations to come.
“The people are still the same, they own the same land, its been passed down through generations, but they’ve always taken care of their own, kind of like in the neutral zone, and I’m proud to have ancestors, to be part of this area; it’s part of me," Wiggins said.
Tribes across Louisiana will be celebrating the bicentennial all year.