Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Cherokee Nation: thoughts triggered by Cindy of Woodsong

I just read Cindy's post about her Cherokee roots and the Trail of Tears on her Woodsong web log . This is a "must read." Cindy says "My Mother now lives near Tahlequah, the capital of the Cherokee Nation. She is taking night classes to relearn the language of our ancestors, not an easy task for a 66 year old woman. Cherokee dialect is so beautiful- and oddly enough there are no words within the language for hate." <-- How cool!!

This brought to mind two powerful experiences I had last year.

Wilma MankillerOne was meeting Wilma Mankiller, Former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief, and hearing her read from her book “Every Day is a Good Day: Reflections of Contemporary Indigenous Women.” This is a wonderful book: essays and comments by "19 Native women on questions such as the meaning of spirituality, the importance of sovereignty, and what it means to be an indigenous woman today."
- Photo by Bryan Pollard, April 2005, Cherokee Nation Web Site

The other was reading Sarah Vowell’s book, “Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World”. Vowell relates how she and her twin sister, Amy, retrace their Cherokee roots, in particular Cherokee history and social organization in Georgia, the land grab and eviction, and the Trail of Tears. Vowell talks about the social organization of the Cherokee nation in Georgia, their relationship with Andrew Jackson and the Georgia land grab. That part of Vowell’s book was a real eye-opener for me. She quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson’s letter to Martin Van Buren, condemning Van Buren’s policy toward the Cherokees. And she quotes from a member of the nation who was writing as he walked on the Trail of Tears - something that brought me to tears when I read it. There’s an audio on NPR's "This American Life" excerpting the Cherokee parts of the book with comments from people Sarah and Amy Vowell met on their trip ."

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