Our first stop on this three day get away was at the Cherokee Nation Indian Reservation, two hours from our home. We had visited there a couple years ago and wanted to return to go throught the museum.
The first part of the museum tells the story of the Cherokee from ancient prehistoric times until the white man came. The transition from a hunting environment to a farming environment brought profound changes. With less time being devoted to getting food they had more time for relaxation and time to make new tools and pottery. A decade ago I have to admit I really didn’t see the value of history as it relates to today. Now I get it.
The middle part of the exhibit tells about the treatment they received from the US government, the broken treaties and most horrible of all the Trail of Tears resettlement of the Cherokee and four other tribes from this area to Oklahoma. Andrew Jackson arranged this in the early to mid 1830’s. The loss of life was significant. The Cherokee tribe lost 4000 of their 15000 people. My book club at the U of MN had read 13 Moons by Charles Frazier and so I was familiar with the story.
Since I was a very little girl and read my first book and Lewis and Clark and their female Indian guide Sacajawea I have been interested in what the white man did to the Indians. The behavior of our ancestors makes me feel very ashamed. I wish now I had taken more time to learn about the Indians in MN because there is much history there also. My friend Lester borrowed me a book awhile ago and when I find it again I will have to read it.
The last part of the exhibit tells the story of three Cherokee, Emissaries of Peace, who made a trip to England to see King George III in 1762 with British officer Lt. Henry Timberlake. There journey is well documented both by the memories of Timberlake and the British newspapers and is delightful.
My favorite memory of the exhibit was a section that had conversations between the English and the Cherokee on religion, politics, treatement of women, etc. Here is one sample:
Timberlake: “…who would seek to live by labour, [if they can] live by amusement? The sole occupations of Indians, are hunting, and warring abroad, and lazying at home. Want is said to be the mother of industry, but their wants are supplied at an easier rate.”
Corn Tassel: “You say: Why do not the Indians till the ground and live as we do? May we not with equal propriety ask, Why the white people do not hunt and live as we do? The Great God of Nature has placed us in different situations …
On religion (and I don’t remember the exact quote but it went something like this): The Indian Chief was asked about the bible and he replied “It seems to be a good book but I don’t understand why the white man is not better (more imprved) having had the book so long”.
You leave the exhibit on an upbeat note which was nice. I want to go back next summer to see their outdoor play Unto These Hills.
The Trail of Tears broke the Cherokee nation into an eastern and western tribe. in 1989 after 150 years they
After that we went for lunch and had Indian Fry Bread with Chili and Cheese. Delicious!!!!!!!!!