I do apologize for the lateness of this entry. I am working on some rather interesting responses to these blogs but have not secured all I want for them yet. With that being said, let’s explore some of the People that chose to walk home!
Some members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians living in modern day Western North Carolina are descendants of Trail of Tears survivors, some of whom made it to Oklahoma and then walked back home. Others are descended from Cherokee who managed to keep land they owned and did not march West.
As I research this, I find it difficult to find out very much about those that turned around and walked the 1,000 miles back home. It is an intriguing thought that after the long, terrible walk TO Oklahoma, some would be willing to do it again, just to get home.
The plan of civilization was a federal development program created in the 1790s to address the so-called “Indian problem,” the much-debated question among American politicians about how to go about opening up American Indian lands to Euro-American settlement.
The stated purpose of the plan of civilization was to train Indian men and women in ranching, farming, and cottage industries such as cloth making. The public face of the plan suggested that through such training Indians would become self-sufficient farmers, selling small surpluses on the market. The underlying goal of the plan, however, was to settle Indians on small farms and thus force them to give up hunting on their vast territories. Then, as American needs for land increased, the Indians in theory would be more willing to give up their holdings. The federal and state governments, so the thinking went, then could acquire peacefully Indian lands through treaty.
That same government ignored the fact that the American Indians, many of whom had been agriculturalists for millennia, were already more than capable of clothing and feeding themselves.
Not all tribal elders or tribal members approved of the ways in which many in the tribe had adopted white cultural practices and they sought refuge from white interference by moving into what is now northwestern Arkansas. In the 1820s, the numbers of Cherokees moving to Arkansas territory increased. Others spoke out on the dangers of Cherokee participation in Christian churches, and schools, and predicted an end to traditional practices.
I am one of the native sons of these wild woods. I have hunted the deer and turkey here, more than fifty years. I have fought your battles, have defended your truth and honesty, and fair trading. The Georgians have shown a grasping spirit lately; they have extended their laws, to which we are unaccustomed, which harass our braves and make the children suffer and cry. I know the Indians have an older title than theirs. We obtained the land from the living God above. They got their title from the British. Yet they are strong and we are weak. We are few, they are many. We cannot remain here in safety and comfort. I know we love the graves of our fathers. We can never forget these homes, but an unbending, iron necessity tells us we must leave them. I would willingly die to preserve them, but any forcible effort to keep them will cost us our lands, our lives and the lives of our children. There is but one path of safety, one road to future existence as a Nation. That path is open before you. Make a treaty of cession. Give up these lands and go over beyond the great Father of Waters.
As I look out my window and think how I would feel about this, I realize I probably would have been one of those willing to make that journey back after just arriving in Oklahoma. I would try to come back to my history, my way of life and these mountains.
In your time here with us in the North Georgia mountains, look around. Visit the petroglyphs, or maybe Blood Mountain one of the homes of the Nunnehi or Immortals, spend an evening away from the lights watching a sunset and the stars coming out like extensions of the mountains. Be sure to enjoy yourself, this land has for many years been appreciated by those that travel through or stay.
We want to thank you for spending a little time with us today and as always
Welcome to the Mountains