Tuesday, August 13, 2019

the Cherokee, and these mountains

revelation from the native

how hard it is to know one’s self,
how much harder it is to know another,
and these days I push possibility
and reach my heart to know the native peoples better,
particularly the Cherokee,
those cousins who knew this continent 
millennia before my ancestors moved in
within the last 400 years,

my direct ancestors felt a call
to subdue the woods, the animals, the land,
they felt a charge to be master:
the world, and sometimes even people,
just things that were disposable,
servants to be used
with no empathic leap into their own reality,
not into the people, the animals, the plants, that we enslaved,

the Cherokee were dominant
throughout the mountains of south-east North America:
they hunted, they gathered, they fought, they loved,
they also found a way to be gentler upon the land
than the European folks who pushed them out,
the Cherokee farmed and asserted their will,
they chose to be Christian,
to develop their own writing, 
to play by the rules of the new country,
some even having slaves, 
since that was the way the new neighbors lived,
and they still lost the land,

I am working hard to know how they were 
with land, with animals, with plants,
with themselves as part of the larger whole,
Adam and Eve still in Eden,
in Eden enough to glorify God,
even after the temptation of the apple,
 to know the Snake and themselves,
and work to balance it all,

I savor the mountains in the Smokies named for animals:
Bullhead Mountain, named for the bison bull,
who somehow was in the mountain, was the mountain,

two uplifts of Anakeesta slate,
called the Chimneys by English settlers,
the antlers of a great deer in repose to the Cherokee,

the Great Fire roared through these mountains near 3 years ago,
and especially stripped rocky ridges of trees,
now the heath green them again, 
close to how the Cherokee told 
of dragons landing on them
and their fire burning off the trees,
creating balds of grass and heath,

I love revelation, whether from “just the facts” science,
or from religion delving deep, particularly into “why,”
Native Peoples, such as the Cherokee,
lived a revelation our disposable society needs to hear,
before the dragons land,
and the world finds a new shape without us.

by Henry H. Walker
August 12, ‘19

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