To Me the Great Spirit of the Cherokee Spoke.
Ann Davis Tuton
@ Aug. 9, 2006
They walk though the trails of the Pisgah Forest, the land of the Cherokee.
I feel the spirits of the past. And hear the thunder as their drums, the birds as their flutes. The waterfalls are their tears.
They cry out to me from far off. Yet it seems like I could reach out and touch them just the same.
Will you fight for us they cried? For the white man has killed the fish, trees, and the game.
I look into the river and yes you can see the trash is floating down the way and the fish is fewer each day.
Trees are dieing for man does not care. They cut them down for homes to build.
I walked the path of my ancient people the rain falling on me and it leaves the smell of the fresh mountain laurels.
You hear the calling of the whippoorwills, the deer running in the woods, leaping from post to post.
What a joy to share with my grandchildren; for they are the future of the world.
My brother speaks and says Amicalola is one he says where my people lived, and it means as the spirits speaks (Tumbling Waters.)
I walk the path of the river behind the children and then the spirits call to me, with the drums beating louder and clear,
as the water come Un-ma-eolola; ( sliding rock) it said, water so cold and pure.
Help us keep it this way the drums beat as the water flows pass our way.
So I asked; why did the white man kill and take their land?
He spoke to me in a gentle voice and with a tear falling from his ghosty face he said; greed is why they gather us up and made us march on the Trail of Tears were each one of us lost someone dear.
This is why we call it the Trail of Tears, the way to the enchanted land, yet nothing was enchanted at all.
As I went to sleep that night I was woken with a sound from far away, it told me to come and listen,
by the river just to follow the sound; of the dancing, of the tribe from the past and my brother of the
Cherokee telling me, please tell them to save the land and water for the future of the children and their children.
For it is for them to carry on the past. Teach them about us and teach them the truth.
You watched them walk today the path of the forest hand and hand. So this will always be here for them as long as we keep it pure and clean.
As his tears fell from his cheeks. His ancient hand he held up and said;
I will go to my Father in Heaven and meet you there someday my friend.
Then we will dance to the music of my people and listen to the waterfalls
of the rivers in the enchanted land.
As I Promise each week I would put something new on my page about the Cherokee. This Week I choose the Trail of Tears....
Cherokee Trail of Tears
U.S. troops, prompted by the state of Georgia, expelled the Cherokee Indians from their ancestral homeland in the Southeast and removed them to the Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. The removal of the Cherokees was a product of the demand for arable land during the rampant growth of cotton agriculture
in the Southeast, the discovery of gold
on Cherokee land, and the racial prejudice that many white southerners harbored toward American Indians. Revolutionary War
(1775-83), the Cherokees had surrendered more than half of their original territory to state and federal governments.
In the late 1780s U.S. officials began to urge the Cherokees to abandon hunting and their traditional ways of life and to instead learn how to live, worship, and farm like Christian American yeomen. Many Cherokees embraced this "civilization program." The Cherokees established
a court system, formally abandoned the law of blood revenge, and adopted a republican government. A Cherokee man named Sequoyah
created the Cherokee syllabary, which enabled the Cherokees to read, write, record their laws, and publish newspapers in their own language.
Despite these efforts, white people in Georgia and other southern states that abutted the Cherokee Nation refused to accept the Cherokee people as social equals and urged their political representatives to seize the Cherokees' land. The purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 gave U.S. president Thomas Jefferson an opportunity to implement an idea he had contemplated for many years—the relocation of the eastern tribes beyond the Mississippi River. There, Jefferson suggested, Native Americans could acculturate at their own pace, retain their autonomy, and live free from the trespasses of American settlers. Although most Cherokees rejected Jefferson's entreaties, small groups moved west to the Arkansas River area in 1810 and 1817-19.
After the War of 1812, prominent southerners like General Andrew Jackson called for the United States to end what he called the "absurdity" of negotiating with the Indian tribes as sovereign nations. From that point forward, Georgia politicians, including George Troup, George R. Gilmer, and Wilson Lumpkin, increasingly raised the pressure on the federal government to fulfill the Compact of 1802, in which the federal government had agreed to extinguish the Indian land title and remove the Cherokees from the state.
, especially its principal chief, John Ross
, took steps to protect its national territory. Ross joined Charles Hicks and Major Ridge
in the "Cherokee Triumvirate" and received recognition for his efforts in negotiating the Treaty of 1819. He then continued his work by making legal moves for the Cherokees as president of the constitutional convention. In 1825 New Echota, the Cherokee capital, was established near present-day Calhoun
, Georgia. The Cherokee National Council advised the United States that it would refuse future cession requests and enacted a law prohibiting the sale of national land upon penalty of death. In 1827 the Cherokees adopted a written constitution, an act that further antagonized removal proponents in Georgia.
Between 1827 and 1831
Georgia Land Lottery
the Georgia legislature extended the state's jurisdiction over Cherokee territory, passed laws purporting to abolish the Cherokees' laws and government, and set in motion a process to seize the Cherokees' lands, divide it into parcels, and offer the parcels in a lottery to white Georgians. In 1828 Andrew Jackson was elected president of the United States, and he immediately declared the removal of eastern tribes a national objective. In 1830 Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, which authorized the president to negotiate removal treaties.
and the president pursuing a removal policy, the Cherokee Nation, led by John Ross, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene on its behalf and protect it from Georgia's trespasses. In Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
(1831), John Marshall, chief justice of the court, wrote that the Cherokees were a "domestic dependent nation" under the protection and tutelage of the United States. The court, however, did not redress the Cherokees' grievances. A year later, in Worcester v. Georgia
, the Supreme Court declared that Georgia had violated the Cherokee Nation's sovereign status and wrongfully intruded into its special treaty relationship with the United States. President Jackson, however, refused to enforce the decision and continued to pressure the Cherokees to leave the Southeast. John Ridge
, and Elias Boudinot
, signed a removal treaty at the Cherokee capital of New Echota without the authority of Principal Chief Ross or the Cherokee government. The Treaty of New Echota required the Cherokee Nation to exchange its national lands for a parcel in the "Indian Territory" set aside by Congress, in what is now Oklahoma, in 1834 and to relocate there within two years. The federal government promised to remit $5 million to the Cherokee Nation, compensate individuals for their buildings and fixtures, and pay for the costs of relocation and acclimation. The United States also promised to honor the title of the Cherokee Nation's new land, respect its political autonomy, and protect its tribe from future trespasses. Even though it was completed without the sanction of the Cherokee national government, the U.S. Senate ratified the treaty by a margin of one vote.
After Major Ridge
signed away Cherokee land, Ross made the effort to prove that the majority of the tribe were not spoken for by gathering 16,000 Cherokee signatures against the treaty. The Cherokee government protested the legality of the treaty until 1838, when U.S. president Martin Van Buren ordered the U.S. Army into the Cherokee Nation. The army rounded up as many Cherokees as they could into temporary stockades and subsequently marched the captives, led by John Ross, to the Indian Territory. Scholars estimate that 4,000-5,000 Cherokees, including Ross's wife, Quatie, died on this "trail where they cried," commonly known as the Trail of Tears. Once in the Indian Territory, a group of men who had opposed removal attacked and killed the two Ridges and Boudinot for violating the law that prohibited the sale of Cherokee lands. The Cherokees revived their national institutions in the Indian Territory and continued as an independent, self-sufficient nation.
•Chief Vann House
•About North Georgia: Trail of Tears
•Carl Vinson Institute of Government: Treaty of New Echota
•Carl Vinson Institute of Government: Gen. Scott's Order to Troops Assigned to Cherokee Removal
•Carl Vinson Institute of Government: Gen. Scott's Address to Cherokee Nation, 1838
•Museum of the Cherokee Indian: The Trail of Tears
•Cherokee Nation: The Trail of Tears
•Treaty of Hopewell
•Carl Vinson Institute of Government: Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
•Georgia's Virtual Vault: Act Authorizing Gov. George Gilmer to Take Possession of Cherokee Lands
•Georgia's Virtual Vault: 1783 Treaty of Augusta
•Georgia Historical Society: Nineteenth-Century Exhibit
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