Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My new book a success

  I want to give an update on my new book,THE GARDEN OF EVE  MYSTERY OF THE CHEROKEE HIDEAWAY.  I want to thank everyone who has been instrumental in making it a success.  Many of you did not know that I have written a book and it is published (and avaliable on Amazon).  It has just come off the press and I got my first look at it Friday when my publisher brought it down to Jasper for a book signing at the public library.  It was the first printing and my publisher had already informed me that she had made a mistake on the cover as it differed slighty from the title page.  The cover reads THE SECRET OF THE CHEROKEE HIDEAWAY and the title page reads MYSTERY OF THE CHEROKEE HIDEAWAY.  This mistake resulted in the editor making a recomendation that it read one way, but the plans were for the other and consequently both ended up in print.  Mystery was the word that I wanted to use and will be used in the second printing.  My publisher only had 150 copies printed initialy (most are already gone but iI still have a few) because there are usually mistake in the first printing that needs correcting.  People who now have a copy can verify the first printed ones because of this mistake.
     I have already had three book signings.  Friday we had one at the Jasper library and I signed a lot of books.  After it was over my publisher informed me that she has had only one other author(An established writer with a large following) who signed more books at a session than what I did Friday.  On Saturday there was a book signing in Rogersville and last night(12-6-11) I was one of three authors who were invited to the Huntsville-Madison County library for a historical presentation and book signing.  It was raining and a nasty night but the trip was enjoyable nevertheless.
     I am writing a trilogy and have my second book almost half completed.  I enjoy writing and hope that others enjoy reading my work.  After retirement, there were a number of things that I had on my list to do and writing a novel was one of them.  So I did it with no intention of having it published.  I let Ricky Butch Walker, an author with a number of published books-and a friend of mine, read it and he wanted to know when i was going to have it published.  I told him that I was not.  He contridicted this and insisted that i provide a copy of it to his publisher at Bluewater Publication. When I didn't follow through after he had given me the information to contact her(Angels Broyles) he arranged a meeting with her in Tuscumbia.  I didnt have the manuscript to be in what I thought would be in an acceptable condition but we met anyway.  We talked about the book and its content and she was very interested and requested that we meet again when I had the manuscript in the order that I wanted it to be.  I agreed, but didn't follow up until Butch arranged another meeting and informed me that I had better shape up and give her the manuscript.  After our meeting and after she had time to read it she called with high praise for the book and said that she wanted to publish it--which she did. 
     I think that those who read the book will enjoy it but a word of warning.  Don't read the end first and make sure that you read it well.  There are clues scattered throughout the book that you will need to solve the mystery.  I venture to say that you will not have it completely figured out before reading through the entire thing.  If you do I would like to know about it.  And if you still have questions, dont worry.  The second book will answer some of them.  This book reveals enough to answer most of the questions generated in it but raises new questions to which you will want to know the answers.    
     Sandra Strickland, my classmate from Cordova High School and English teacher extraordinare, was kind enough to edit it for me and correct my many mistakes.  I received assistance from others to which I am extremely grateful.
      If you would like to check out the cover you can see in as advertised on www and go to books and Wheeler Pounds The Garden of Eve.  You do not have to buy from Amazon although it might be the easiest way to get it. If you should want to buy one I will have them and will autograph one for you ($20).  I would like to give everyone one(or discount it) but my contract will not allow that over the fifty books that they provide me to sale or give as gifts.  After the first of the year it will be available on Kindle.      
       It appears that I have just started writing another book here so wil exit for now.  Thanks for being my friend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Garden of Eve

Start hiking on an adventure that will soon uncover a mystery, which leads to an investigation, which gets sidetracked by romance.
The problem: Should it be called an adventure story, a mystery, or a romantic novel?
The solution:Pack it full of history and designate it to be a historical novel.
Now that should include something for everyone; except--
The weakness:No Sports! But maybe that is not all bad. Sport fans are glued to their TV’s and would take no time to read the book anyway. Oh well! Everybody cannot be pleased.

Bankhead National Forest

     The land of 1,000 waterfalls! It is difficult to choose a favorite waterfall of the many you can find in the Bankhead National Forest. The forest is truly a land of enchantment. Located in three counties in Northwest Alabama, the Bankhead is Alabama largest at 181,280 acres. It offers first class horse trails, hiking trails, and boating, fishing, swimming and canoeing streams.
      Established as Alabama National Forest on January 15, 1918 the forest first claimed 12,000 acres. On June 19, 1936 it was renamed Black Warrior National Forest but this title was changed again on June 17, 1942 to William B. Bankhead National Forest. Bankhead was a prominent member of the U.S. Congress who supported the funding and expansion of the forest. The name was changed in order to honor Bankhead for his efforts.
      Acreage in the forest increase to 66,008 and later expansions brought it up to the current size of 181,280. The Counties of Winston and Lawrence host the major portions of forest lands but Franklin County can claim a small sliver of the Western Kinlock section of the Bankhead.
     In the heart of the Bankhead Forest, a wilderness area has been carved out in order to allow the land and its habitat to return to a primitive condition. Designated as a wilderness area in 1975, the Sipsey Wilderness area was expanded in 1988 and now encompasses 24,922 acres. It was the first wilderness area to be declared east of the Mississippi River and is currently the third largest in the Eastern United States.
     Located on the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River, the designated wilderness zone is achieving the desired purpose of allowing the region to return to its wild and primitive state. The Sipsey River originates at the confluence of Hubbard and Thompson Creeks and channels water into Lewis Smith Lake, and then to the Black Warrior River. Joining the Tombigbee River downstream at Demopolis, Alabama, the water then empties into the Alabama River. The journey of the water then spills into the Mobile River which empties into Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The upper portion of the Sipsey constitutes Alabama’s only wild and Scenic River and offers excellent canoeing in season when there is adequate water flow.
     In the bowels of the wilderness area, there are no roads and only a few hiking trails. Hikers and backpackers bushwhack over hills and valleys, but this should be attempted only with extreme caution. In the summer there is the danger of snakes, ticks, heat exhaustion, entanglements and the danger of becoming lost. In the wintertime there remains the danger of becoming lost, storms, floods, ice, and hypothermia. The days are shorter and one must be careful while bushwhacking so as not to be caught in the wild country after sundown.
     From one end of the forest to the other there are numerous sites which will well reward the visitor with incredible vistas. Maintained by the U.S. Forest service, they provide information to assist the visitor during their visit to the forest. They maintain an office on highway 33 north of Double Springs. A stop at their office would be worthwhile as the personal there would be able to direct one to places in the forest which might be of interest to the visitor.
     One should be aware that the digging of herbs, artifacts or disturbing the natural habitat within forest boundaries is unlawful. Outside the wilderness area there are well maintained forest roads that permit a leisurely traverse through the forest in a motor vehicle. The autumn foliage offers a memorable excursion along the forest roads. A short stop at easily accessible location throughout the forest will enhance the experience. These places include the Natural Bridge north of highway 278 near old Houston, Pine Torch Church, Sipsey River Picnic Area, and Kinlock Spring. 
     Fortunately, the vision of some of our elders has preserved a truly priceless region in the Warrior Mountains of Northwest Alabama for the enjoyment of our, and future generations. We should enjoy it and carefully preserve it for the pleasure and education of our descendents.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cherokee-Centers of Government (Eastern)

     The first recorded site of government was associated with the Overhill band of Cherokee Indians in Eastern Tennessee. They located their unofficial capital in what is now Monroe County, Tennessee. The Historic town of Tanasi was located on Cherokee,the Little Tennessee River in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Near this site another settlement was established which was called Chote, Chota, or Echota. It is not known how the town received this name but is speculated that it was originally established by the Muskogee people and was later occupied by the Cherokee. Chota is the Hitchiti-Creek and Muskogee-Creek word for “Frog.”

      From the late 1740’s to 1788 Chota was the center of government of the Cherokee. The town began to be endangered as the developing government of the United States expanded their territory at the expense of the Indians. With the development of hostilities between Native Americans and the European Settlers, a systematic destruction of Indian settlements was under way. In 1776 the Cherokee towns of Great Tellico, Citico, Misloguo, Chithowoes, and Toqua were destroyed by Colonel William Christian but he spared Chota. John Seiver later returned and destroyed most of the “Overhill” towns including Chota. Following this the Cherokee Capital was relocated to Ustanali which is near present day Calhoun, Georgia. Both sites of the ancient towns of Tanasi and Chota (Echota) are now submerged by the Tellico Lake impoundment of the Little Tennessee River. The Chota Townhouse site was raised above the operating water level and was connected to the mainland via causeway. Chota does not appear in the historical records until 1745 but Tanasi is mentioned much earlier than that.

     Beginning in 1788, Ustanali, on the Coosawattee River, served as the seat of the Cherokee people. Little Turkey had been elected chief of the Cherokee and he abandoned Chota and moved to Ustanali. In 1823, a site nearby would be chosen by Major Ridge, who was then the chief of the Cherokee, to be the permanent location of their new Capital. Located at the confluence of the Coosawatte and Oosanaula Rivers, near Town Creek, was a Cherokee town called Gansagiyi (Gansagi). This location was chosen to be the site of the new capital. The name was changed to "New Echota.”

     Major Ridge had chosen a prime piece of property on which to build the new capital town. Hoping to establish a permanent seat of government, Major Ridge and Charles Hicks envisioned a modern, thriving town for their people. They had farms only four miles away and the site were in the middle of the lands claimed by the Cherokee. There could be no dispute at that time regarding the ownership of the land.
     At a council meeting in 1825, Major Ridge suggested plans for the new capital. One of the ways that he devised to secure approval was to make the recommendation that its name be Echota as that was the name of the ancient capital which had been located on the Little Tennessee River; suggesting that this one should be called “New Echota.”

     John Ross was elected Principal Chief at a convention in New Echota in 1827. A Republican system of government was established at that time. The plot of land on which the town was to rise was said to be as level and smooth as the floor of a house. The town was sectioned off with a two acre central square, a sixty foot wide main street, which was surrounded by one hundred-one acre lots, laid out in city style, to be sold for house places. Water was available from a large spring which was located near the center of town.

     Work was started on buildings which would be required to house the government and commercial businesses that were needed. There were also framed dwelling houses constructed. A two story council house was built to conduct the operations of the tribe. Also built was a courthouse for the Supreme Court, a printing shop in which the newspaper, The Cherokee Phoenix, was printed, stores and shops needed by the community.

     Business was conducted by the tribal leaders in this setting for only a short time but their presence in the Eastern United States was waning. By 1835 the removal of the Cherokee nation from their ancestral lands had begun and Georgia ordered that they abandon the location, seized their printing press, and proceeded in earnest to rid the territory of all Native Americans. Being forced from Georgia, the Cherokee leaders conducted their affairs briefly from Red Clay, Tennessee, but three years later (1838) the Trail of Tears would be in full march to Oklahoma. The government of the Cherokee would then be conducted by the Western Band of the tribe.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Cherokee Phoenix

    In the spring of 1828 the Cherokee established a press and began publishing their own newspaper, The Cherokee Phoenix. They were the only Native Americans in the new world who had their own press and published their own newspaper. It was written in English and also in the Cherokee language, using the new syllabry which was developed by Sequoyah. The name was chosen because the Phoenix, the legendary bird of Egyptian mythology that arose from the ashes to live again, had become the symbol of Cherokee resistance. Elias Boudinot proposed the name stating that the Cherokee must rise like the Phoenix from the ashes of the past.
     The Cherokee had begun to build a new capital in Georgia which they named “New Echota”. It was decided that a printing press was desirable so they could print a newspaper as well as religious material and other material. In addition to the newspaper, a portion of the Bible, the laws passed by the Cherokee Council, political pamphlets, a hymnbook and other documents were translated into the Cherokee language and printed on the new press.
     At New Echota, a twenty by thirty building, with doors at both ends for easy access, was constructed to house the one thousand pounds press. Elias Boudinot was chosen to be the editor. He would be assisted by a Congregational minister, Samuel Worcester. Boudinot, a prominent Cherokee at the time, was well educated and capable of filling this position. The paper was to be a weekly publication with both English and Cherokee editions made available. It was widely distributed with weekly editions being sent to significant cities of that time such as Washington, London, Philadelphia and Boston. This afforded Boudinot, in his editorials, to make weekly reports and carry his message to those he wanted to reach outside the jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation.
     The advance English language price for the newspaper was $2.50 annually. $2.00 would buy a year subscription of the Cherokee language edition if paid in advance, or $2.50 if paid within the year.
For his efforts, Elias Boudinot was paid $300.00 annually. John Foster Wheeler, a printer from Tennessee was hired to operate the press. The council agreed to pay him $400.00 a year, which did not set well with Boudinot who was making $100.00 less. Wheeler justified this extra amount because he insisted that an assistant would be required to help him whose salary he would be required to pay. He selected Isaac Harris to assist him in operating the press.
     The first issue of The Cherokee Phoenix was printed on February 21, 1828. This accomplishment was not achieved without some difficulty. After installing the press in the printing shop, Boudinot, Wheeler and Harris met to conduct the first test on it. Wheeler was a Christian who watched his words, but Harris seemed to entertain himself by uttering profanities. Harris first attempted to set a few words in the Cherokee language but passed the task on to printer Wheeler after uttering a barrage of oaths regarding his failed efforts. After the type was set, Harris next made the inquiry to Boudinot; “where is the goddamned paper?” There was no paper! In the excitement of the arrival of the press, the paper needed for printing had been forgotten. Harris had to make a trip to Knoxville, Tennessee to purchase the required paper.
     The size of the edition was four superroyal pages with five columns on each. Samuel Worchester, being a Congregational missionary and an unpaid assistant of Boudinot, took advantage of the printing press and newspaper to convey his religious message to the readers. A significant amount of religious material, printed in both Cherokee and English, was included in the weekly publications. In the first edition, the Lords Prayer was printed in both languages. Also in this first edition, Boudinot wrote an editorial critical of the white mans appetite for the Cherokee’s land. He vowed “not to intermeddle with the policies of our neighbors,” and, quoting Proverbs 15:1, he wrote that they had “been taught to believe that a soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” The first edition also contained part of the new Cherokee constitution which had been adopted by the ruling council.
     In 1835 the Cherokee had been ordered to vacate the land on which their Capital city, New Echota, was built. The removal to Oklahoma was in progress and thus the printing press of The Cherokee Phoenix was silenced. In 1838, the long march of the trail of tears would be underway.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Cherokee Colors

     White and red were the most significant colors to the ancient Cherokees. Because they lived in an alternating state of war and peace, they devised a dual organization of tribal government. This consisted of a white, or a peace organization and a red, or war organization. These organizations were found at both the national and local levels. They each had two head chiefs, the white chiefs governing during peace time and red chiefs during wars.
     In the white organization the tribal officials were required to be fifty years old or older. The red organization was composed of officials who where young warriors and capable of going into battle. Leaders of the white organization were the priest and their assistants. The National organization as well as the larger towns required a priest, their assistants and seven counselors. Their duties were to administer civil laws and invoking the blessings from the celestial bodies and spirits. Colors were also significant as to the direction from which the spirits were summoned by the priest. The duties of those in the white organization were many and were vital for the daily activities of the tribe.
     The function of the red organization was exclusively military. Their leaders were the war chiefs but they were subservient to the Great High Priest of the white organization who could make, or unmake, the war chief, otherwise they had duplicate duties and rankings.
     To the Cherokee, white denoted peace and happiness. They used white stone pipes to ratify peace treaty. White was the significant color seen during their ceremonies, dance and sports. The color indicated that all was well and times were good.
     Red was not only the symbol of war but of success. When the Cherokee warrior went into battle with the enemy he carried a red war club and a red shield to protect himself. When there was a warning that the enemy was approaching, but yet some distance away, one of the local chiefs would send a massager to the Great High Priest announcing the news. The massager carried a twist of sacred tobacco that was painted red. After the Great War Chief and his officers consider the news, the tobacco would either be smoked or returned by the massager who delivered it. The tobacco would be smoked only if they perceived that there was a threat to their safety. In the event that the tobacco was smoked, the massager then spread the news of a possible approaching battle. The leaders, their assistants and counselors then met and made plans for war. The red war standard was then hoisted in front of the National Heptagon and the red officers painted themselves and their weapons with red paint.
     Black was the symbol of death to the Cherokee, while blue was emblematic of unhappiness, failure, disappointment and unfilled desires. Brown was associated with the animal world and yellow was the symbol of unrest, instability and apprehension. When the priest or medicine men wanted to bring down calamities but not destroy a victim, they would call upon the yellow spirits to intervene in the matter.
     As mentioned earlier, the colors white, black, blue and red were each associated with a particular point on the compass. The blue spirits lived in the North, the white spirits lived in the South, the red spirits lived in the East and the black spirits always lived in the West. No direction was associated with the brown and yellow spirits.

Cherokee Marriage

     Perhaps the most stringent of all of the laws of the Cherokee was the one that prohibited marriage within the same clan. Members of the same clan were considered near relatives and therefore the requirement that the man and woman be from different clans. In ancient times this violation resulted in the death penalty which was enforced by members of the offended clan. In the early 19th century this penalty was eased and replaced by a public whipping. This penalty was later entirely eliminated.
     A young woman was not eligible to marry until after she had gone through her first menstrual period. When this occurred, the young woman was separated from the rest of her family for seven days. No one could touch her during this time and se was restricted from handling her own food, depending upon another woman to feed her. During this time she was considered to be unclean. After the seven days were over she washed herself, her clothing and anything else she had handled while she was considered to be unclean. She was then returned to her family and was then eligible to marry.
Not only did the various Indian tribes have different approaches to marriages but so did those within the same tribe. Should we be studying the tribe of Creek Indians, for example, we would learn that a man who could afford it was permitted to have multiple wives. The Creek considered it of great value to having several wives or concubines; but only the wealthy had the means to support more than one wife. The Cherokee, however, accepted marriage as a contract for life and if either spouse left the other, the one who was in fault was publicly humiliated. Normally, for punishment, a man was whipped by a tribal leader and the wife had her hair cropped by the women of the town.
     There were several ways in which a Cherokee could enter into a marriage relationship. Different circumstances dictated the way that a couple could be married; dependent upon the region and customs of the time.
     Sometimes a young man would fall in love with a young girl but because of her age she was not permitted to marry as she had not begun he menstrual cycle. He could inform her parents that he wanted to marry her but the decision was left to them to allow the union. If they agreed, the young man could keep her supplied in venison and her parents would not allow her to marry another person. After the purification ritual during her first menstruation period, the marriage ceremony could then take place.
     A marriage could also be purchased by the suitor of a young maiden. If the parents approved of the union, the girl could not refuse the marriage. The parents and the suitor would enter into a contract in which the man would agree to assist the parents for a specified amount of time. His varied duties could be the making of canoes, hunting, or other chores. He also present them with presents of items which he possessed, including jewelry and articles of clothing.
     Sometimes a marriage could be finalized merely by having a female relative make the request to the young woman’s mother. If the mother approved, the marriage could be consummated merely by their sharing the bed together. This was a simple way to began a marriage relationship.
     Some marriage ceremonies, however, involved a more elaborate style. One method required the activities to begin the evening before the wedding. The groom and his male companions gathered on one side of the council house and staged a feast while the bride and her female friends were on the opposite side doing the same thing. When the time arrived for the wedding rites to begin, the entire town gathered in the town council house for the ceremony. Males and female remained separated; with the men on one side and the women on the other.
     After a signal was given, the groom entered, escorted by a priest, and took his assigned place at one end of the open space in the center of the council house. The bride then entered, escorted by another priest, and took her place at the opposite end. The grooms mother supplied him with a leg of venison and a blanket while the bride received from her mother an ear of corn and a blanket.
     The couple then met near the sacred fire at the center of the council house where they exchanged the venison and corn, and joined their blankets together. This was symbolic of cooperating and sharing the mutual responsibilities of the man and woman as they formed another Cherokee family. When the ceremony was completed, they separated and walked alone, silently, to the dwelling of the brides mother or within the mother’s clan area. The mariage could then be consummated by their sharing a bed.

Monday, September 19, 2011

George Gist-Silversmith

George Gist--Silversmith
In my soon to be published book-Mysteries of the Cherokee Hideaway: The Garden of Eve, George Gist developed the Cherokee alphabet which will play a role within the Warrior Mountains people hiding from government folks. The people were secretly obtaining old Cherokee Phoenix Newspapers to find out what was happening to their nation prior to the removal of the tribe.

Born in Tennessee around 1760, George Gist, Jr. would become an important figure as the country developed. He made such a significant contribution to his people that his statue represents Oklahoma in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. In 1828 he went to Washington D.C. as a representative of the American Indian Tribes.

A silversmith by trade, he wanted to be able to sign his pieces of jewelry that he was making. He went to Charles Hicks, a Cherokee half-breed, who was a farmer and a translator of English to the illiterate Indians. They spoke only their own language and had no written language of their own. George Gist asked Charles Hicks to write his name on a piece of paper so that he could be able to put his signature on his works. Chief Hicks inquired as to whether he wanted to use his Indian or English name on the pieces of jewelry. Undecided, he wrote both “George Gist” and “Sequoyah.”

Today almost everyone is familiar with his Indian name “Sequoyah.” While young, he had a difficult time as his father, Colonel George Gist, deserted his family. Sequoyah was an excellent craftsman and became very skilled in his work as a silversmith. It would not be the jewelry, however, for which he would be remembered. He spoke no English but he would invent a syllabary for writing his native language-Cherokee. In 1809 he began to invent symbols to represent words. In 1819 he proved before a group of Cherokee elders that one who could speak the Cherokee language could learn to read and write that language by using his syllabary of 85 characters.

This achievement was not without difficulties, especially for his family. When he decided to develop his system of writing, he poured all of his energy into the effort. His farm went to waste, his family went hungry and his friends considered him to be wasting away his life at his family’s expense. He was told that he was making a fool of himself and that he was no longer respected. His behavior became so aberrant in accordance to Cherokee standards that he was tried for witchcraft. Later, when he completed his syllabary and taught his six year old daughter to read it, some thought that they were using witchcraft to allow her to reveal the secret messages had been spoken and which Sequoyah had written on paper for her to read.

Nothing deterred Sequoyah from his goal to create a written language for his people. He built a house near his wife and family and secluded himself inside while he did his work. He admitted his shortcomings and sympathized with the burden he was placing on his family but he was compelled by his own sense of duty to complete the task that he had started. His wife had every right to complain as he was failing to provide them with the essentials needed to maintain a suitable lifestyle. She pointed out to him that the children were going hungry and that they were being laughed at by children whose parents acted in a more responsible way. Sequoyah’s wife and her brothers decided that he might be insane, to which he responded that he would admit that he was in sort of a trance, but nevertheless he would do his work-regardless.

After developing a set to his satisfaction, Sequoyah chose his six year old daughter to be his student. He taught her the symbols and sounds of his newly developed syllabary. Using her, the friends who had considered him to be wasting his time and making a fool out of himself were astonished that she could correctly translate a secret sentence that he had written, using strange marks on paper which they had provided. While the sentence had been quoted, she had been sent outside with another person who could assure that she had not been able to hear it when spoken. Sequoyah would write the sentence down and she would come in and read it as it had been spoken. This “trick” led many of them to suspect witchcraft and many, both men and women, would flee from his presence.
Thus began the education of the Cherokee people in their own written language. After teaching his daughter how to read and write, he began to teach other children, including his nephew. When a brother of Chief John Watts heard about this strange development he went to see it done. He was so impressed by the accomplishments of the children that he inquired of Sequoyah if he could write down anything. Sequoyah assured him that if it was spoken in the Cherokee language that he could write it so as to be read. With this assurance, it was requested that Sequoyah write down speeches and history of the Cherokee so that they could be accurately preserved.

Sequoyah died in Mexico in 1843 while searching for some lost Cherokee. At his death, he was no longer considered a fool who had wasted his life but a wise man who did what few have ever done-developed a system of writing for an unwritten language. He was truly a remarkable man who made a valuable contribution to his people.

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Cherokee People

Cherokee People
I have completed the first novel of a trilogy, Mysteries of the Cherokee Hideaway; The Garden of Eve. The book is about our local Indian people who hid in the Warrior Mountains in order to avoid the harsh consequences of the forced Indian removal era in our American history. My book is now with the publisher and should be in print shortly. Below you can find a very brief synopsis of the struggles Cherokee people faced after the arrival of white settlers into their ancestral lands. These difficulties faced by our native people will be included within the mysteries found in my soon to be published book. Stay tuned to this blog for more details.

An accurate history of the Cherokee people has been difficult to document. Much of this record was lost before historians could record it. Many who attempted to preserve it often lamented that much of that history before 1700 was buried with those who created it. With the arrival of Europeans to their territory, the Cherokee made an amazingly rapid transformation in their ancient culture and rituals. With this change, some of the traditions, rituals, and customs vanished as the tribe sought to blend into the strange world of the newcomers.

There were a number of sympathizers who attempted to recreate and preserve this history by living with and associating with the members of the Cherokee Nation. There were several notable individuals who interviewed many of the elderly tribal members. They recorded their findings and left us with what little we know about the ancient tribe.

John Howard Payne probably spent more time intermingling with the tribe and recording his findings. He left extensive, handwritten manuscripts of his efforts to preserve as much of their history as possible. Unfortunately, according to some who reviewed his work, he had very poor handwriting and it is difficult to read his script. There are fourteen volumes of these manuscripts.

James Mooney was another person who made an important contribution to this effort. He made friends of an old Cherokee man who had the name of Swimmer. Even though Swimmer did not know English, he was knowledgeable in the Cherokee alphabet and could write the language. He not only recited oral traditions but also provided a notebook in which he had written, in the Cherokee language, many of the sacred formulas of the tribe. As a result of Mooney’s relationship with the Cherokee, he was able to ascertain that they held constant, long standing systems of beliefs which they held sacred.

William Harlen Gilbert, Jr., James Adair, Charles Hudson, Thomas E Mayes, and others also made valuable contributions by make diligent studies of Native Americans and authoring books that contain valuable accounts of their findings. A constant theme of their writings was their failure to learn more about the subject of which they wrote.

The exact time of the arrival of the Cherokee into what is now the Southeastern United States is unknown. Sometime between 1000 and 1500, probably around 1300 AD, a group of people who would be know as Cherokee made the southern move. They laid claim to land and settled in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Alabama. They built their homes and villages along waterways and near springs where they carried on their ancient way of life. There was an abundant food supply and favorable environment where they lived, raised their families and buried their dead without foreign interference. There were occasional conflicts between tribes but they lived in relative peace until the arrival of the white man.

Likewise, the exact number of Cherokees cannot be determined, but there were a substantial number of Cherokees here when the Europeans arrived. As with other Native Americans that were here, their numbers were greatly reduced due to diseases that were introduced by the Europeans of which they had no resistance.  Around 1800 the struggles of the Southeastern Indian tribes grew steadily more difficult. The Cherokee, in a peaceful manner, unlike some other tribes, attempted to develop a stable government in their traditional territorial boundaries which would be acceptable to the expanding state of the union. They were soon to realize, however, that all of their efforts to maintain control of their homeland would be in vain.

In 1819 the Cherokee Indians had twelve million acres of land. Fast forward twenty years and there would be only a small area in Western North Carolina on which they could lay claim. The bulk of Cherokee land would be taken from them by the government of the United States and the States in which they lived. They were forced to move to newly established Indian Territory in Oklahoma and their land was divided into parcels and sold to white settlers; no Cherokee need to apply-they had already been tossed out and not welcomed in those parts. The majority of the full blood Cherokee opposed the removal but was forced to make the long journey to the west of the Mississippi River. Many died on the march which is now know as “The Trail of Tears.”

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