The Legend of the Cherokee Rose

The Cherokee were driven from their homelands in North Carolina and Georgia over 100 years ago when gold was discovered in their lands. The journey known as the "Trail of Tears". It was a terrible time for the people - many died from the hardships and the women wept. The old men knew the women must be strong to help the children survive so they called upon the Great One to help their people and to give the mothers strength.

The Great One caused a plant to spring up everywhere a Mother's tears had fallen upon the ground on the journey. He told the old men that the plant would grow quickly, then fall back to the ground and another stem would grow. The plant would have white blossoms, a beautiful rose with five petals and gold in the center for the greed of the white man for the gold on their land. The leaves would have seven green leaflets, one for each Cherokee clan. The plant would be strong and grow quickly throughout the land all along the Trail of Tears. The stickers on the stem would protect it from those who might try to move it, as it spread to reclaim some of the lost Cherokee homeland.

The next morning, the women saw the beautiful white blossoms far back on the trail. When they heard what the Great One had said they felt their strength returning and knew they would survive and the children would grow and the People would flourish in the new Cherokee Nation.

Info provided by the Cherokee Nation Cultural Resource Center. For information regarding culture and language, please contact: cultural@cherokee.org

For more information about the Cherokee Nation, please visit http://www.cherokee.org/Culture/History.asp


THE NEVER ENDING TRAIL
By Del "Abe" Jones
Used with permission

We whites honor the "Hermitage"
And the man who once lived there -
But, that leader of our Nation
Was cruel, unjust, unfair -
He ordered the removal
Of the Cherokee from their land
And forced them on a trek
That the Devil must have planned -
One thousand miles of misery -
Of pain and suffering -
Because greed of the white man
Could not even wait till spring -
We should bow our heads in shame
Even unto this day
About "The Trail Of Tears"
And those who died along the way.
It was October, eighteen thirty-eight
When seven thousand troops in blue
Began the story of the "Trail"
Which, so sadly, is so true -
Jackson ordered General Scott
To rout the Indian from their home -
The "Center Of The World" they loved -
The only one they'd known -
The Braves working in the fields
Arrested, placed in a stockade -
Women and children dragged from home
In the bluecoats shameful raid -
Some were prodded with bayonets
When, they were deemed to move too slow
To where the Sky was their blanket
And the cold Earth, their pillow -
In one home a Babe had died
Sometime in the night before -
And women mourning, planning burial
Were cruelly herded out the door -
In another, a frail Mother -
Papoose on back and two in tow
Was told she must leave her home
Was told that she must go -
She uttered a quiet prayer -
Told the old family dog good-bye -
Then, her broken heart gave out
And she sank slowly down to die -
Chief Junaluska witnessed this -
Tears streaming down his face -
Said if he could have known this
It would have never taken place -
For, at the battle of Horse Shoe
With five hundred Warriors, his best -
Helped Andrew Jackson win that battle
And lay thirty-three Braves to rest -
And the Chief drove his tomahawk
Through a Creek Warrior's head
Who was about to kill Jackson -
But whose life was saved, instead -
Chief John Ross knew this story
And once sent Junaluska to plead -
Thinking Jackson would listen to
This Chief who did that deed -
But, Jackson was cold, indifferent
To the one he owed his life to
Said, "The Cherokee's fate is sealed -
There's nothing, I can do."
Washington, D.C. had decreed
They must be moved Westward -
And all their pleas and protests
To this day still go unheard.
On November, the seventeenth
Old Man Winter reared his head -
And freezing cold, sleet and snow
Littered that trail with the dead
On one night, at least twenty-two
Were released from their torment
To join that Great Spirit in the Sky
Where all good souls are sent -
Many humane, heroic stories
Were written 'long the way -
A monument, for one of them -
Still stands until this day -
It seems one noble woman
It was Chief Ross' wife -
Gave her blanket to a sick child
And in so doing, gave her life -
She is buried in an unmarked grave -
Dug shallow near the "Trail" -
Just one more tragic ending
In this tragic, shameful tale -
Mother Nature showed no mercy
Till they reached the end of the line
When that fateful journey ended
On March twenty-sixth, eighteen thirty-nine.
Each mile of this infamous "Trail"
Marks the graves of four who died -
Four thousand poor souls in all
Marks the shame we try to hide -
You still can hear them crying
Along "The Trail Of Tears"
If you listen with your heart
And not with just your ears.

The preceding was partly inspired by a story told to children by John Burnett on the occasion of his eightieth birthday in 1890. It was printed in a book titled "Cherokee Legends And The Trail Of Tears", adapted by Thomas Bryan Underwood. My main inspiration, though is the shame and disgust I feel as I learn more about the atrocities perpetrated by our forefathers and the injustices which still occur to the true Native Americans. John Burnett was a Private in an infantry company which took part in the Cherokee Removal of 1838-1839. Near the end of his story he says, in part, "Future generations will read and condemn the act .....". Do we? In closing he says, "However, murder is murder whether committed by the villain skulking in the dark or by uniformed men stepping to the strains of martial music. Murder is murder and somebody must answer, somebody must explain the streams of blood that flowed in the Indian country in the summer of 1838. Somebody must explain the four thousand silent graves that mark the trail of the Cherokees to their exile. I wish I could forget it all, but the picture of six hundred and forty-five wagons lumbering over the frozen ground with their Cargo of suffering humanity still lingers in my memory. Let the historian of a future day tell the sad story with its' sighs, its' tears and dying groans. Let the great Judge of all the earth weigh our actions and reward us according to our work." If only it worked that way!(Abe Jones)


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