Saturday, November 26, 2016

after having it so long

the Cherokee and the mountains

in Thirteen Moons, Charles Frazier opens us 
to the story of the Cherokee
in their great effort to endure and adapt
to the Anglo culture flooding their world,

most Native Americans I know of
seemed to drown fast in that contact,
yet the Cherokee hoped to be the fittest and survive,
the will that made them ferocious,
and devastatingly fearful to other tribes,
turned into remaking their culture by modeling the enemy:
speaking English, developing a syllabary and newspapers,
accepting Christianity, settling even more into farming,
even having slaves and helping Andy Jackson defeat the Creeks,
winning in the Supreme Court,
and their reward? 
the Trail of Tears,

a Cherokee leader, Yonaguska, 
after reading The Gospel of St. Matthew, reportedly commented:
“It is a good book.  
It is strange that the white people are no better 
after having had this book for so long.”  

the Cherokee loved these mountains and traces of their touch still remain:
trails, names, pieces of flint and quartz where they made tools and weapons,
they fit the land as a hand fits the glove,

when I settle into the natural rhythms,
I seek to hear them, to feel them, to remember them,
the land doesn’t, the forest doesn’t, the bears don’t,
up in the Park, those who came after the Cherokee
are slowly being forgotten, too,
why should I hope to endure any more?
yet I do. 

by Henry H. Walker

November 24, ’16

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