Service to commemorate Cherokee removal’s 175th anniversary

BY STAFF REPORTS
04/03/2013 08:39 AM
CALHOUN, Ga. – A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on May 18 at the New Echota historic site in Calhoun to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the removal of Cherokees from Georgia that began in May 1838.

The “175 Years: Cherokee Trail of Tears Memorial Service – Honor and Remember” is free and open to the public. However, regular admission applies to the museum/site tour.

Presenters will include Cherokee tribal representatives and Trail of Tears Association President Jack Baker, who is also a Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor. The All Nations Warrior Society Honor Guard accompanied by the Medicine Ridge Singers from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians will conduct flag and honor ceremonies and place a wreath at the Trail of Tears Monument.

Tommy Wildcat will represent the CN as its tribal emissary. Wildcat is a cultural educator, historical storyteller and an internationally known recording artist and performer.

Sammy Still will represent the United Keetoowah Band. Still serves as the UKB’s public information officer and editor of the Cherokee Gaduwa News. He is also a founding member of the Turtle Island Liars Club, a group that preserves the tradition Cherokee storytelling.

The 1835 New Echota Treaty relinquished Cherokee claims to land east of the Mississippi River. The majority of the Cherokee people considered the treaty fraudulent. On May 26, 1838, the U.S. government and the state of Georgia began the forced removal of more than 16,000 Cherokee people from their homelands to Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma.

Although the exact number is not known, disease, exposure and sickness claimed thousands of Cherokee lives during the course of their capture, imprisonment and removal. Their ordeal became known as the Trail of Tears.

Opportunities are available to become involved or volunteer. For more information, call 706-624-1321. Tax-deductible donations to support these efforts may be made to Friends of New Echota State Historic Site and mailed to FONE, P. O. Box 643, Resaca, GA 30735-0643.

The host hotel for the May 17-18 memorial event is the Baymont Inn & Suites at 189 Jameson St., in Calhoun. For more information, call 706-629-8133 or 1-800-526-3766 or visit calhoun.ga@cphosp.com.

Culture

BY STAFF REPORTS
05/31/2016 04:00 PM
ROSWELL, Ga. – The next meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will be held at 10:30 a.m. on July 9 at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. The speaker will be TOTA member Lisa Simpson, a retired Fulton County teacher and long-time docent at the Nature Center. Her topic will be the significance of the Hightower Trail. She has spent years researching the trail and the Native Americans who used it. Following her talk, she will lead attendees on a short tour along the trail as it passes through the Nature Center property. A Georgia TOTA business meeting will follow. The center will be open until 5 p.m. The Chattahoochee Nature Center is located on the Chattahoochee River in Roswell and sits on a site comprised of 127 acres of native plants and gardens. It has a River Boardwalk, Discovery Center, wetland demonstration gardens and woodland trails that are home to more than 30 wildlife species. For 37 years, the facility has grown and reached out to citizens as a place to explore ideas and expand the awareness of the natural world. There is no charge to attend the meeting or tour the grounds. There will be a charge to visit the museum on the site if meeting attendees wish to do so. There are also picnic areas available. The Nature Center is located at 9135 Willeo Road. From I-75, take Hwy. 120 (also called Marietta Highway or Upper Roswell Road) east toward the city of Roswell, cross Johnson Ferry Road and travel approximately four miles to Willeo Road. Turn right onto Willeo Road. The CNC is located one mile on the right. The TOTA was created to support the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail established by an act of Congress in 1987. It is dedicated to identifying and preserving sites associated with the removal of Native Americans from the Southeast. The association consists of nine state chapters representing the nine states that the Cherokees and other tribes traveled through on their way to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). TOTA meetings are free and public, and people need not have Native American ancestry to attend meetings, just an interest and desire to learn more about this period in the country’s history. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.nationaltota.org" target="_blank">www.nationaltota.org</a> or <a href="http://www.gatrailoftears.org" target="_blank">www.gatrailoftears.org</a>. For more information about the meeting, email <a href="mailto: harris7627@bellsouth.net">harris7627@bellsouth.net</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/26/2016 01:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism will offer a family-friendly storytelling event every Wednesday in June. The program will last one hour and be hosted at 10 a.m. at the gazebo located on the grounds of the Cherokee National Courthouse. Before Sequoyah introduced his “talking leaves” writing system, generations of Cherokees passed down family heritage and culture through the art of storytelling. The general public is now getting a chance to hear these stories, a CN Communications release states. The stories to be featured will be “Opossum’s Tail,” “First Man and First Woman,” “The Medicine Plant” and “How the Turtle Cracked His Shell.” Attendees also receive free admission to the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum and the Cherokee National Prison Museum, the release states. The Cherokee National Courthouse is located at 129 S. Muskogee Ave. For information on Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism, including museum operations, call 1-877-779-6977 or visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter – @cp_wchavez
05/24/2016 04:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – What was the experience of Cherokee children following the removal of Cherokee people in 1838-39? Dr. Rose Stremlau, an associate professor of history, American Indian studies and gender studies at the University of North Carolina-Pembroke, focused on this topic in her April 23 presentation “The Last Generation and the First Generation: Cherokee Children in Post-Removal Indian Territory.” She presented during the “From Removal to Rebirth: The Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory” symposium held at the Gilcrease Museum. She focused on children and emphasized stories of children who lived rather than focusing on the period’s high rates of child mortality. Stremlau wanted to know how the survivors lived. “An individual’s account of a traumatic experience, the contextual details, those easily dismissed as inconsequential, is precisely the information that points to how survivors of trauma reconstruct their lives,” she said. “The little things are actually the big things.” Stremlau used various sources to “understand the experiences of Cherokee children” during the removal era. She used their words as recorded in the Cherokee Phoenix and Cherokee Advocate, political correspondence and oral histories collected from the period. She also used records compiled by church missionaries “who worked closely with Cherokee children and families.” She said to discuss how Cherokee children survived post-removal one must also look at how they were raised in the old CN before removal. “Cherokees believed children to be precious, valuable and sentient beings from birth. In a Cherokee society children were full persons with rights and responsibilities as kin. Of course as a matrilineal people, children are particularly precious to their clan kin,” she said. She said Cherokee parents strived to raise “powerful” children who could live in harmony with one another in a complicated, ever-evolving world around them. “The Cherokee kinship system empowered women who prioritized the needs of children,” she said. Following the removal there was a destabilization of households and disruption of familial relationships. “Traditionally, Cherokee households would have been secure, safe places for children...young people’s needs were typically met without disruption,” she said. So for children who showed up in Indian Territory without any maternal kin, “it was an unspeakable tragedy.” The removal’s scope was not comparable to the American Colonial period when outbreaks of disease or warfare usually occurred locally and regionally and other Cherokee towns could assist affected kin with food stores and taking in refugees. “In contrast, removal affected Cherokees nationally,” she said. “The trail was especially hard on babies, children and the aged. The death of children is always tragic no matter what the context, but in Cherokee society the survival of children without their grandparents was also tragic.” Children lost teachers. Elders were not there to show cultural knowledge, Stremlau said, or teach appropriate social boundaries, the teasing and joking, which was the primary way Cherokees corrected misbehaving children rather than using corporal punishment. “For this reason Cherokee children would experience those tremendous losses and their consequences quite differently than adults,” she said. Moravian Congregationalists and missionaries who documented the period after removal spoke about the need to care for orphaned children as a result of some families coming “so close to dying out” and in some instances only children were left. “The prevalence of children without caregivers was a real problem and immediately addressed by the Cherokee government. The Cherokee government, even before resolving other deeply divisive issues resulting from the removal, began to provide for the care and education of orphan children beginning in December of 1841,” Stremlau said. It also funded a foster care system that subsidized the care of orphans by “a good, steady family convenient to a school in their area.” She said Cherokees wished to maintain the integrity of post-removal communities by keeping children in them rather than entrusting their care and education with missionaries. Stremlau said because of the confusion caused by the removal and families not knowing where their relatives resettled in Indian Territory, the restablization of households was a long process and continued through the mid-1840s. “Sickness and death continued to undermine Cherokee recovery as children continued to die and experience the loss of loved ones at elevated rates in post-removal Indian Territory,” she said. Many deaths were the result of sicknesses and a shortage of common medicines. The old and young died in the greatest numbers. When re-establishing homes, some Cherokees settled far away from others and some chose to farm larger plots of land while others chose to settle in towns and farmed smaller plots. Stremlau said children living in the towns were able to “enjoy social relationships more consistent with original customs.” Cherokee farmers were not familiar with the region’s weather patterns and suffered droughts, wildfires, flooding and predators attacking livestock in the early 1840s as they tried to re-establish farms, which in turn caused their children to suffer. Rebuilding homes while trying to plant crops without enough laborers due to sickness resulted in “outright poverty” for some Cherokee families. “In short, children who survived removal were only beginning a period of seemingly biblical tribulations that slowed the restoration of the predicable and reliable subsistence cycle that had characterized the domestic economy in the old nation,” she said. “The harsh economic realities of post-removal Indian Territory cut childhood short.” Children, especially boys, were needed to clear fields for corn or plant corn, so some did not attend school regularly. Also, because growing crops was an uncertain practice, Cherokees fell back to relying on nature to survive by hunting, gathering nuts and berries, found honey and tapped maple trees. Children who experienced the devastation of removal and the rebuilding of homes, who had their families, even when things weren’t perfect, had a chance to become adults and live happy, productive, balanced lives in the ways Cherokee people defined that in the 1800s, Stremlau said. “In 1840s Indian Territory, then, children witnessed the re-establishment of households all around them. What’s remarkable...is how hard Cherokee adults worked to return to a state of normalcy,” she said. Scholars and historians frequently use one word to describe Cherokee survival and the restoration of their homes and government, Stremlau said. That word is resilience.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter – @cp_wchavez
05/20/2016 08:30 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Seven Stilwell High School students displayed photos and narratives about their ideas on how to sustain Cherokee communities during an exhibition held May 10-13 at the Cherokee Heritage Center. The public discussed the “Sustainable Communities: Through the Lens of Cherokee Youth” exhibit on May 13 at the CHC. Tiffanie Hardbarger Ord, an instructor of Cherokee and Indigenous Studies at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, facilitated the project. “It is the culmination of a project that was done with Stilwell High School young people,” she said. “They used photography to answer research questions because this started as my dissertation project. I went to Stilwell, and they were very, very welcoming and supportive of the project.” Initially, she had 18 students interested. However, seven students, ages 15 to 18, went through the process. “The students who were interested and had the ability to participate went through group interviews, and I told them all about what the project was about and they thought it was interesting,” she said. December Rider, of Stilwell, said it was important to participate because she believes Cherokee culture is “sort of dying” and she wanted to show that Cherokee people are “still here” and “still important.” She said the photo that inspired her was the one she took of the three columns outside the CHC that are the only surviving pieces of the Cherokee Female Seminary that once stood. “It’s inspirational because we had to fight for where are right now. We had to work so hard to get here, and the struggle that we went through and the education that these women had and what happened to this place is just tragic to me, and I felt like it’s very part of our culture,” she said. Ord asked students to take photos of sustainable communities from the perspective of young Cherokee people. She also asked them to show the values, practices and relationships needed “to perpetuate to sustain our (Cherokee) lifeways for generations to come.” Students took photos of their communities before turning them in to Ord, who is from Stilwell. “We had one-on-one dialogue about the meanings of those photographs. So, I took the transcript of what they had told me the meanings behind the photos were and that’s the narratives that you see that are exhibited along with their photographs,” Ord said. She said it’s hoped the students’ perspectives might start dialogue in their communities and with their elders that will carry on to their careers or inspire individual projects or projects with the Cherokee Nation. “This is the beginning of the conversation. What these students say is not the only conversation, it’s just the very beginning of the conversation and a way to get it more public,” Ord said. Kali Sawney, of Stilwell, said she was interested in the project from the beginning, and through it, learned more about Cherokee culture. “I was really interested in getting in touch with it and learning more about it, and I thought this would help me,” she said. Sawney’s photo of a family quilt hung during the exhibition. The photo shows her grandmother and mother holding a quilt that her great-grandmother started before dying. Her grandmother finished it. “Quilts are a big part of the family. We keep them like art. We don’t really cover up with them. We keep them in a chest. They’re just kind of sacred, I guess,” Sawney said. “I just thought it was a good representation of a sustainable community, communication, and it really represented the Cherokee way of life.” Ord initially tried to work with Sequoyah High School, but school officials informed her that students would likely not be able to fit the project into their busy schedules. So, in April, she turned to Stilwell High School. Ord said she was amazed at how quickly the seven students gathered their photographs and narratives. The students had about a week to take photographs and submit them. “So, I’m very, very proud of the young people,” she said. “I am so blown away by their creativity and the depth of thought they put into not only their photographs but the meanings behind the photographs and how engaged they’ve been.” Stilwell Principal Ramona Ketcher said when Ord explained the project to her she was “excited.” “It was such a great idea and such a blessed opportunity for my kids,” she said. “They go home every day to their elders. They go home to a way of life, you know, they don’t even realize what a blessed opportunity it is for them. The most important thing that I was excited about for my kids in her project was opening up communication between them and their elders.” The other participants in the project were Kelen Pritchett, Cody Chewey, Shania Brown, Justine Littlehead, and Shameka Cochran. The students’ chosen photos and narratives were published in a booklet that was handed out on May 13 at the CHC. Ord thanked NSU, Stilwell High School, the CN and Arizona State University for assistance with the project. She said she would like to see the project continue at Stilwell and other area high schools.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/19/2016 02:00 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – The evolution of Cherokee clothing represents more than just a historical record of what was worn throughout time. It shares the story of identity, resiliency, adaptability, history and culture of the Cherokee people. The “Threads of Time” exhibit runs May 21 through Aug. 20 and showcases Cherokee clothing from ancient history to modern day apparel. “Cherokee clothing represents a beautiful balance as it embraces practical components of society at large, while maintaining cultural identity,” Dr. Candessa Tehee, CHC executive director, said. “Each piece communicates a different part of our history and culture while giving us a unique perspective at Cherokee lifestyles throughout the years. “ Today, Cherokee artisans carry on the tradition of creating Cherokee clothing, as their tribal identity continues to be an important part of life. Cherokee artists make traditional style clothing and create themes that maintain and promote identity. “Cherokee clothing has long been both practical as well as beautiful,” Callie Chunestudy, CHC curator said. “Through this exhibit we are able to share the evolution of Cherokee textiles and provide valuable insight to how and why some of the progression took place.” The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Dr.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/19/2016 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The next meeting of the Tahlequah Writers group is 2 p.m. on May 21 at the Cherokee Arts Center at 212 S. Water St. behind the Spider Gallery. The meeting is open to the public and provided by Tahlequah Writers. Following announcements concerning local writing events and accomplishments in submissions by members, attendees are invited to participate in a workshop to critique written materials brought to the meeting. Submissions to the group’s upcoming anthology are also ideal for receiving workshop comments. Whoever is interested in participating should bring a copy to read. Monthly meetings are casual and involve news of interest to writers and updates on what attendees are writing. Attendees include poets, fiction writers, historians, essayists, humorists, playwrights, scriptwriters, and more. Meetings discuss the art of writing as well as the business of publishing and promotion. For more information about the Tahlequah Writers group call 918-207-0093. People can also visit Tahlequah Writers on Facebook.