Native American Ancestors – Battles and Beliefs…#180

1.Wandering-desert Women
Acrylics on Canvas – By Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree

 

Native American Ancestors – Battles and Beliefs

I had made the statement that “The Americans stole the land from the Native Americans, just as the Native Americans stole the land from those before them”. The current question is “Who did the Native Americans steal land from”? Only each other!

Native Americans were stealing land from one another, and killing one another long before others sailed to what is today known as America. Taking land by conquest was a part of Native American culture. Creek Indians conquered land from Choctaws and Chickasaws and other Creeks. Comanche’s came in and took the land from the Apaches by war, as so on.   The Cheyenne and Comanche took a lot of land away from other Indians when they got the horse. The Blackfeet, Nez Pierce, and Crow continually fought over the same land in Idaho and Wyoming. American Indians both stole, and had land stolen. The Apache stole every “thing” from everybody.

Columbus thought he was in India because of how similar the Natives appearance to the Persians, thus history tells us that Columbus discovered America. However, America is named after Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer who set forth the then revolutionary concept that the lands that Christopher Columbus sailed to in 1492 were part of a separate continent. A map created in 1507  was the first to depict this new continent with the name “America,” a Latinized version of “Amerigo.”

My ancestors were Chickasaw in Southeast America, living between the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico. In the area of the Mississippi River. They inherited the Mississippian culture period that lasted from AD 700- 1600. The natives of the regions spoke a number of different languages that included Choctaw, Chickasaw, Apalachee, Creek, Seminole, and Alabama.

The Natives of the Southeast both grew food and were hunter-gathers. The main items of their diets included cornbread, grits, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn. They were able to catch rabbits, hogs, turkey, raccoons and deer. The religious beliefs of the Native Americans of the Southeast were similar to the rest of the Native Americans. They believed in Animism, the belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Potentially, animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork and perhaps even words—as animated and alive.

We as humans would have done well to continue keeping Animism in all religions, with this belief, we would have respected everything and each other, creating a better America.

However, this is just my opinion!

 

EAJM

 

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https://www.amazon.com/Fragments-Time-Bits-Pieces-lived/dp/1981472142/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=elizabeth+ann+johnson-murphree&qid=1586107558&s=books&sr=1-4

 

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https://www.amazon.com/Echoing-Images-Soul-Journey-into/dp/1500366811/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?dchild=1&keywords=elizabeth+ann+johnson-murphree&qid=1586107627&s=books&sr=1-1-fkmr0

 

https://www.amazon.com/Journey-into-Art-Johnson-Murphree-2014-07-28/dp/B019NRG4YG/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?dchild=1&keywords=elizabeth+ann+johnson-murphree&qid=1586107665&s=books&sr=1-2-fkmr0

 

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Betraying Native Americans…#179

 

4.MAKA-Earth Family
Acrylic Artwork by Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree

 

It appears that the Trump administration has revoked a tribe’s reservation status, in a grab power for land. This news is not new, but worthy a post. The administration has used discretionary powers to attempt to take lands away from Native Americans. I believe the decision is cruel and unnecessary, and many tribes are dealing with the Virus within their sovereign lands.

One major thing that comes to mind is the one-billion-resort casino. I can very easily see our President attempting to buy it from the government. These people are being blindsided. The federal court decided to remove the special land designations bestowed in 2015 under President Barack Obama.

The very bad news is that Native Americans own no land. Reservations are Federal lands, and the Federal government legally owns the land. American Indians living on Indian reservations cannot take mortgages out on their homes, because banks know that American Indians don’t own the land; the Federal government does.

The American tribes lost their lands due to being out matched by better armed Europeans who had black powder guns and cannons, steel armor and swords, which made them very hard to take down with the weapons the natives were used for fighting. The Americans stole the land from the Native Americans, just as the Native Americans stole the land from those before them.

The decision is the latest concerning sign that the Trump administration is willing to use its discretionary powers to attempt to take lands away from tribes. Joe Biden has posted a protest about the move. All year these power grabs have been going on, from East to West coast.

A Judge has blocks Trump from giving Virus relief for Native American communities to corporations. The Trump plan “betrays” congressional intent and tribal nations.” They were eligible for $8 billion in funding allocated by Congress; the Tribes believe that there will be other attempts to direct these funds away.

Have we forgotten the Native Americans?

However, that is just my opinion!

 

EAJM

Author’s Books at Amazon.com

 

https://www.amazon.com/Flying-Broken-Wings-Charlotte-Murphree/dp/1547051329/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=elizabeth+ann+johnson-murphree&qid=1586107137&sr=8-1

 

https://www.amazon.com/Cherished-Memories-Life-Mason-Murphree/dp/1722763744/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=elizabeth+ann+johnson-murphree&qid=1586107373&sr=8-2

 

https://www.amazon.com/Passage-into-Madness-Frenzied-Activity/dp/1688948996/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=elizabeth+ann+johnson-murphree&qid=1586107529&s=books&sr=1-3

 

https://www.amazon.com/Fragments-Time-Bits-Pieces-lived/dp/1981472142/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=elizabeth+ann+johnson-murphree&qid=1586107558&s=books&sr=1-4

 

https://www.amazon.com/Rhythm-Rhyme-Thoughts-decade-poetry/dp/1723433055/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=elizabeth+ann+johnson-murphree&qid=1586107582&s=books&sr=1-5

 

https://www.amazon.com/Echoing-Images-Soul-Journey-into/dp/1500366811/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?dchild=1&keywords=elizabeth+ann+johnson-murphree&qid=1586107627&s=books&sr=1-1-fkmr0

 

https://www.amazon.com/Journey-into-Art-Johnson-Murphree-2014-07-28/dp/B019NRG4YG/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?dchild=1&keywords=elizabeth+ann+johnson-murphree&qid=1586107665&s=books&sr=1-2-fkmr0

 

https://www.amazon.com/Honeysuckle-Memories-Ann-Johnson-murphree-2014-07-02/dp/B019L4LL1W/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?dchild=1&keywords=elizabeth+ann+johnson-murphree&qid=1586107698&s=books&sr=1-1-fkmr1

 

https://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Poetry-Ann-Johnson-Murphree-2014-06-20/dp/B01A0CW1FO/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_2?dchild=1&keywords=elizabeth+ann+johnson-murphree&qid=1586107724&s=books&sr=1-2-fkmr1

Back to Another Time…#159

One of my first “remembrances’” at the age of four is sitting on top of an old yellow dog as he lay in our front yard on bare ground. I can close my eyes and smell the lilac bush at the end of our front porch, at night its fragrance would drift into the open windows. I would play in that red Alabama dirt all day long with a coffee can and a big wooden spoon. The house had two rooms and plank floors; the outside was nothing but plywood painted gray. The windows keep us cool in summer and newspaper glued to the walls kept it warm in winter. My sister and I shared one room with our great-grandmother “Ma”, the “front” room is where mother and daddy slept, it held the table and chairs and a wooden cook stove. A long handmade table was to prepare meals and wood crates nailed to the wall above the table held dishes of every variety; the cast iron skillets and pots sat on the back of the stove. Yes, we were country folk, sharecroppers!

Daddy would pick me up saying, “suppertime”. I love cornbread, Pinto beans and buttermilk to this very day. After supper he or my sister would wash me up and put me to bed, as farmers we went to bed when the night was hanging behind Burleson Mountain; a black curtain backdrop in eastern sky; they would get up before the blazing hot sun of summer rose in the morning, the Mountain kept the house cool until noon.

My mother worked in the Goodyear Mill at night before attending “beauty school” during the day, with no sleep; she wanted to be a beautician. She rode an old bicycle the five miles in the dark to where she would catch a bus to the Mill, she then walked to the Beauty School, took the bus home, it dropped her off after dark and she rode the bicycle five miles home. She slept a few hours then repeated the schedule. I rarely saw my mother, maybe on Sundays, but then she was busy getting ready for the week to come. My mother was an extraordinary individual, she hated being poor, but she loved the young Chickasaw sharecropper she was married too. When my sister got old enough to be, alone she set about planning her future.

 

 

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Generations of Secrets and Lies – Part 4 – #151

Generations of Secrets and Lies
by
Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree
Part 4
Story told by Great Grandmother-Mary Jane Overton – “Ma”

 
  “In 1850, my mother Sipsee gave birth to the only child she and Hawk would ever have, she names me Mary Jane. She never gave me an Indian name, or enroll me on the Chickasaw register. She might have been wrong in doing this; her thinking was that her daughter with a white name would have a chance to fit in a white world. This would cause a problem in the future, relatives tracing the heritage of our Native American ancestors would be impossible. The only proof that we existed would be the stories told to those who would listen. It was my mother’s way of trying to change in order to live in her new world. This change did not mean she had forgotten the old ways, she told me many stories of the simple life known by the tribe before the family was forced to go away. She gave me the knowledge of the Indian way and how to survive. She knew that Hawk my father would always possess the heart of a warrior and would never change”. Ma in telling the story remembered both of her parents; her eyes would glaze over with sadness when she talked about them.

 
Both Sipsee and Hawk were survivors in their own way. He in the ways of the land and playing the white man’s game to his own advantage. Yet, Sipsee knew survival meant to learn everything about the white people and their way of living. Sipsee wanted more for her daughter than always being afraid of separation from her family. Once when she ventured into town the general store proprietor asked her name, she told him Sipsee Over-Towne because they only had tribal names. He misunderstood and called it Overton. Sipsee decided when dealing with the white man she would use that name she would be Sipsee Overton. They were all Indian, dark skin, she tried to get Hawk to call himself a white man name, he would just walk away. Sipsee in time would know the word arrogant, in her own mind, this is what she thought of him and she would within time share these thoughts with Jane.

 
After a few years had passed, they had built a cabin, Sipsee worked for a farmwoman living on the edge of the forest. Jane would go with her every day, they would clean the house, cook and work outside when ask, for this she was paid only a few “cents” every day. She was a good woman and taught Sipsee to read and write, in turn she would teach Jane at night. Hawk began logging in the Black Warrior forest for a local lumber company. He worked for loggers that had their own team of horses.

 

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Soon after he got the new job, he told Sipsee that he was going on a hunting trip. He came home after two weeks; in his possession was a team of beautiful workhorses and he set in building himself a skid to haul logs. He told Sipsee he found them running wild and he had tamed them before coming back. Sipsee suspected some logger in the southern part of the state was missing his fine team of horses, she never question Hawk. She knew that it was wrong to steal, Hawk knew it was wrong to steal; but it would be wrong to go against Hawk.

 
Hawk became one of the best loggers in North Alabama. Another logger waged a bet with Hawk that his team could pull more weight with the loser forfeiting his skids and team to the winner. Hawk told Sipsee that he would soon be the owner of two teams and have someone working with him hauling logs, Sipsee again thought of him being arrogant. She silently did not approve of him taking a chance on losing their only means of making a living.

 
The day of the race many people gathered to see who would win. The skids were loaded the day before the race with an estimated equal amount of weight. Unknown to Hawk the middle of his skid had been added iron bars. Hawk, Sipsee and their young daughter Jane walked into the logging camp and Hawk began to hitch his team to the skid. He stood proudly behind his tame waiting for the shot he knew would soon ring out starting the race. Suddenly he was distracted with a familiar sound above him.

 
It was a large hawk circling above him, spreading his massive wings, his calls seems to be one of frantic warning. Hawk turned and looked at Sipsee; their eyes met and locked in some unknown fear. The shot from the pistol rang through the air, starting the race. Hawk’s command to his team sounded no less than one that would send men into battle. Hawk knew when his team lurched forward that he carried a larger amount of weight than had been agreed. This was no difficulty for Hawks team, within seconds they were side-by-side with the other team. Hawk pulled ahead he could see the bloody cuts on the backs of the other team left by the brutal lashing of a whip. He knew this torture must stop, he urged his team forward crossing the finish line.

 
     “The Injun won.” The first words heard from the crowd.

 

 

Hawk leapt from his skid and jumped onto the other skid throwing the man with the whip to the ground. He jerked the whip from him, beating him until he bore gashes like those on the horses. Hawk did not think of the danger and him doing such a thing, his thoughts were with the horses. Hawk then went to the horse’s one-b-one, speaking to them softly then walked back to his own team. Gasp from spectators feel the air when a pistol was drawn from the man on the ground bloodied by his own whip. Sipsee saw the anger on the man’s face, she focused on Hawk. Getting up from the ground where Hawk had left him the man pulled his pistol out firing it at Hawk until the chamber was empty. With his back covered with blood, Hawk continued to walk towards his team, he spoke gently in his own language to them then fell to the ground. Sipsee ran with Jane by her side, Hawk’s spirit was gone from him, his life had ended. The logger Wes McCartee had shot Hawk in the back.

 
     “Nobody will do anything to me; he is just another dead Injun.” Wes McCartee with a snarling smirk on his face yelled to the crowd.

 
Several of Hawks friends, Indian loggers, unhitched his team and placed his body on one of the horses on another Sipsee put her daughter Jane. Hawks friends held to his other horses, in no way was the white man going to get them. Sipsee could hear the people as she walked from the camp.

 
     “The dirty Injun’s should know better try to beat a white man”. Sipsee turned looking into the eyes of Hawks killer, she then turned to face the crowd saying; “You have not killed just another Indian or just another man. You have witnessed the murder of a proud Chickasaw warrior”.

 
Taking hold of the horse caring Hawks body Sipsee began walking the rutted road back into the forest where they lived. Several Indian families followed singing a song for the dead; it floated on the wind through the deep woods. Sipsee saw the hawk that soared above the team; she now believed it to be a sign. Hawk would be buried with his ancestral ceremony.

 
Sipsee decided to leave the forest. With the help of friends, she loaded the few possessions they had in an old two-wheel cart, hitched with two of Hawks horses. The would leave the world of heartache behind, they would have to live with their lives filled with secrets and lies.

 
She gave the remaining horses to Hawk’s closest friends, placing Jane up on the seat of the cart she pulled away never looking back. She took with her from the white woman who taught her English a letter of endorsement. She had told Sipsee both her and Jane would be allowed to work on the plantation of her sister. With her child the letter and all the courage she had, Sipsee moved further into central Alabama.

 
Author’s Note:
This facts of this story has two aspects, one is the presumed facts written from the annals of history; and second by the verbal history confident from the memory of Mary Jane Overton, proud Chickasaw.

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Generations of Secrets and Lies – Part 3 – #151

Generations of Secrets and Lies
by
Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree
Part 3
Story told by Great Grandmother-Mary Jane Overton – “Ma”
    “My grandparents and those of my mother had been friends since their childhood years; they shared the same nightly fire on the trail that seems to have no end. They spoke often among themselves about what was happening in the strange land they were being taken too”. Ma swore many times that she would never be the captive of any white man.
Around many fires were Indian tribes from all of the Five Civilized Tribes, the greatest numbers being the Cherokee. Proud spirits of once great tribes were now faltering under degrading conditions. Soon, they had arrived in Arkansas; Sipsee would hear her mother speak about what was going to happen to them. Many people were contracting diseases that had no cure and the weather was becoming frigid, clothing worn was inadequate for the time of year and many elders’, young children and babies had already died.
The younger men talked of escaping. It was Hawk’s decision to be among those who would attempt return to their homeland in Alabama. The warriors, the men, their wives and children would escape. Hawk set with his family and the family of Sipsee around the fire on what would be their last night. He revealed to his family that he would leave after everyone had bedded down for the night, his mother feared for his life, yet his father understood of what his young son had to do.
“Being dead had to be better than living like animals herded into circles with soldiers guarding them”. Hawk said leaning close toward the families.

 

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In secret, he had sought out Sipsee and questioned her about her feelings for him. It was too late for courting rituals, or for Sipsee to be prepared by her mother to become a part of Hawks soul. The giving of gifts and of the special blessings of the elders would not take place.
Earlier when Fosee found Sipsee her thoughts was the same as his; he spoke to Sipsee’s father immediately. He wanted Sipsee to return to the homelands with him; both families agreed they should be together. Without ceremony, Sipsee and Hawk’s father blessed the merging of hearts. During the night when the fires were low, when the soldier were sleeping except for a few guards, a small band of men, women and children in the darkness of a moonless sky slipped away. They would never know if their families had paid for their freedom with their own lives.
A few families stayed together, many others ventured off to find their own place, maybe a new land. Hawk and Sipsee were among those going into Alabama. They hid among the tall bushes they passed along their way through the woods, always staying away from the open fields if possible. Finally, they made their home deep within the forest on the eastern edge of Alabama; living among a few Indians who was not forced to leave because of their decisions to live white gave them privilege to stay. Hawk and other warriors decided they must conform to some ways to remain free but in their hearts, the hate for the white people grew stronger.

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They built log cabins and were soon moving freely among the white settlers without consequence. Sipsee learn the English language from a nearby settler who hired her to clean and wash their clothes. Hawk learn the language from Sipsee but refused to speak it unless necessary to talk to a white person. Sipsee knew that times were changing and had the foresight to know it would become a white man’s world. Hawk did not approve of many things she would say, he would only look at her and try to keep his own dreams of the future alive within his spirit.

 

 

Author’s Note:
This facts of this story has two aspects, one is the presumed facts written from the annals of history; and second by the verbal history confident from the memory of Mary Jane Overton, proud Chickasaw.

Author’s Note: To be continued in Generations of Secrets and Lies – Part 4

©2020.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

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Generations of Secrets and Lies – Part 2 …#150

Generations of Secrets and Lies
By
Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree
Part 2
Story told by Great Grandmother-Mary Jane Overton – “Ma”

 

“My father would tell me of his childhood and becoming a man in the Tribe. He went    on a vision quest as most Indian boys did as a part of their passage from boy to manhood. Early one morning his father took him to the edge of the forest to a familiar path they often walked. The path led toward what was known as the Mississippi River, and it was at the river’s edge he would stay without water or food for several days. A rule of the ritual. On the trail, he would see many signs of small animals; he walked by bushes where his favorite berries hung in abundance. Yet, he pushed his hunger out of his mind quickly moving down the well-worn path toward the river. When the path ended, he walked through the woods west”. Ma as she remembered.

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Mississippi River

It was the middle of the day when he came into a clearing filled with tall golden grass. Laying down to rest a few minutes, he stared at the sky and the clouds. He picked out a cloud that the thought looked like his beloved grandfather; he studied it closely absorbed in its shape. The chiseled face with deep furrowed lines and long white hair cascading around strong shoulders, he drifted off to sleep when the sun became warm and welcoming. Waking to what he thought was the sound of his grandfather calling his name he realized that he had fallen asleep. The sun had moved into the western sky, he had to hurry. He walked, and then ran, pacing himself so he would be at the river before dark.

It was time for the sun to set when he stood before the bank of the river, he looked up and down the river, and the massive cliffs embraced the wide river on both sides. He then made several trips climbing to the flat surface of a big rock carrying wood and cedar branches gathered for his stay on the rock. He placed the rocks in a circle for his fire. When the fire was blazing and he had, many cedar branches to lie upon he sat looking into the fire watching the sparks float over the edge of the flat rock down the cliff into the river. He lean over as they drifted to the water then became lost in the darkness. When he was cold and tired, he moved closer to the fire listening to the familiar calls of the night until he fell asleep.

     “ My father loved nature, every morning he would meditate as the sun warmed his face and body; even as an adult continued this ritual letting his mind meld with his Soul’ continued”. Ma continued to gather her thoughts.

One day crept slowly into the next, on the third night the spirit of his grandfather came to him. His thoughts returned to the clouds that looked like the grandfather they now sat across from him. His grandfather silently stared into his eyes, penetrating his mind.

When the fourth day arrived, it would be his last night. He could no longer sleep, he lay on his bed of cedar watching visions float in front of him. Before dawn a magnificent hawk appeared. The hawk took his massive wing gliding it over the fire circle, when Fosee looked at the circle he found a rock missing. Pointing to what appeared to be the first rock of the circle the hawks; mind as one with Fosee’. As the hawk pointed he said, “This was the beginning of your life, you entered the world in peace”, then the hawk pointed to the last rock, “This is the end of your life’s circle, beware of the man who lives among the trees”. Fosee stared at the circle when he looked up the hawk was gone, as was his grandfather. He understood the message his grandfather and the hawk had given him; then he fell back asleep.

Black and White Hawk Drawings

     “My father would tell the story of his quest many times in his life”. Ma would say gently.

Fosee heard the screeching of a hawk then saw it fly directly in front of him as he walked down the path toward home. When he looked, there at the paths edge was his father. He stopped; staring in disbelief as the hawk came to rest on a piece of colored cloth wrapped around his father’s hand, and then flew away. He walked beside his father into the open Chukka yard knowing that his father was proud of him. His mother came out of their roundhouse saying his name softly, he was home, and he was safe. It was then that he told those gathering around him that from that day forward he would be known as Hawk. His father put his arm on his shoulder saying, “So you are no longer a Little Bird”.

His great tracking and hunting skills made even the eldest of the Tribe respected him. He went on Mock raids with his father, not to harm but to put fear into the white man. A source of humor to them, later the Warriors would mimic the terrifying looks of the faces of the white people as they sat around the fires at night reliving the raids.

“He would never change! My grandmother worked the gardens and gathered medicine herbs and roots with the other women; they too would discuss the white people. They were afraid that someday their men or sons would be caught and punished for their amusing antics. The white people coming into the lands were greater in numbers, Hawks mother worried for him and of how the change she knew was coming would affect him”. Ma wished she had known her grandmother, her father talked of her.

Sipsee was the young girl that would someday become Fosee’ wife she was named after the Cotton Wood Tree. No doubt, the beautiful white fine cotton like blooms of this tree that rained like snow inspired Sipsee mother or father in choosing her name. Sipsee had known Hawk since they were children playing in the Chukka yard. Her memories of Hawk went back many years; he would run up and down kicking up the dust playing on his imaginary horse. His long black hair flying in the wind, she remembers when he brought home his first deer and how proud he was of himself when he presented it to his mother. Sipsee would never forget the first time their eyes met across the glowing flames of the gathering fire in the Chukka yard and the lowering of hers in respect of his warrior status.

Sipsee with her dark amber skin, wide doe eyes and long silky black hair had been a source of interest to Fosee for many years. Before his eyes, he said that she had grown from a skinny weed into exquisite flower. She and her family were from a Cherokee Tribe. She in turn could only dream that someday the tall noble warrior would want her to walk with him through life.

“Then came the spring of 1838 and under the brutal forced march perpetrated by the United States government they were removing Hawk, Sipsee and their families from their ancestral lands . Many sold the land they lived on to the white man; others were forced off their land. My mother, father and their parents were among those forced from their land on the western edge of north Alabama”. Ma sat not showing any emotions, but her eyes burned with hate.

 

 

Author’s Note:
This facts of this story has two aspects, one is the presumed facts written from the annals of history; and second by the verbal history confident from the memory of Mary Jane Overton, proud Chickasaw.

 

 

Author’s Note: To be continued in Generations of Secrets and Lies – Part 3
©2020.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

Generations of Secrets and Lies – Part 1…#149

Author’s Note:
This facts of this story has two aspects, one is the presumed facts written from the annals of history; and second by the confident oral history from the memory of Mary Jane Overton, a proud Chickasaw.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 marks a dark time in American history regarding the new country’s relationship with the Native American population. It first called for the “voluntary” relocation to lands west, then the “forcible removal of all Indians”. The outcome would be that they would reside in the eastern United States to the state of Oklahoma.
May 1838 was set as the voluntary removal date, but many Cherokees remained and did not voluntarily move; many of them resided in my home state of Alabama. Eight years later, Major General Winfield Scott was ordered to round-up and remove the remaining Indians. This forcible removal came to be called the “Trail of Tears”. During those eight years, 46,000 Native Americans were forced to leave their homes in southeastern states.
Many sites in Alabama factored into the removal on the Trail of Tears. Five known routes crossed north Alabama taking many from their homeland on foot, by boat and train through towns like Guntersville, Tuscumbia, my home town of Decatur, Huntsville and Waterloo.
The Trail of Tears is roughly 2,300 miles long and passes through nine states over land and water. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Many people were either murdered or relocated with very few hiding in remote locations like Bucks Pocket, Little River Canyon, the mountains, and around the Tennessee River.
Many died from exposure, disease, and starvation on their route to Oklahoma. On this forced march were my great-great grandparents. It is estimated that 4,000 Chickasaw, including any of their black slaves as well as lower class white citizens were in this movement. The Trail of Tears is one of the worst tragedies in American History.

trail-of-tears-hero-AB

The Native American culture is known for its rich oral tradition – instead of using a written language to document their history, these indigenous people simply relied on their verbal language to share their history, customs, rituals, and legends through vivid narratives.
This oral accounting told to me beginning at the age of about six-years-old until my great grandmother died when I was a teenager.

Generations of Secrets and Lies
Part 1
Mary Jane Overton – “Ma”

     “Fosee, my father belonged to the Mississippi Over-Towne Tribe. In his youth, the        Tribe tried to continue their peaceful life without contact with the white man’s world.   Fosee knew that he was a descendant of many generations of Warriors. Born in a round Birch bark roofed dwelling that stood on the edge of the Chickasaw Tribes town. His parents gave their only child the name Fosee, which meant Bird. His younger days were spent hunting small animals and playing Chukka Ball in the open yard centered in the middle of his peoples circled dwellings”. Ma said in her firm no nonsense tone.
Fosse’s father a name that Ma could not remember held a place of prominence in the tribe. It was said that he was a powerful Warrior and skilled hunter, his wife; Fosse’s mother, again no known name, was said to be the most beautiful woman in the Tribe, her beauty came from Cherokee ancestors, and she was of mixed blood, Chickasaw and Cherokee. Her beauty and gentle nature were the reasons Fosse’s father had chosen her to be his wife.
“My father told me that his father remembered all of the grandparents. However, it was on his father’s side, the grandfather he remembered the most and with clarity. He remembered his elegant clothes made of the softened skins of deer. The colorful decorations sewn upon the breast of his shirts by his grandmother were elegant and of the best beads. His grandfathers white hair flowed about his shoulders and his skin engraved with the scars of many wars from his younger days”. Ma stopped for a moment staring at something no one else could see.
This grandfather Fosse’s favorite looked like nobility. It was said that he would listen intently to the stories this grandfather told around the cooking fires and see the softness in his eyes when he detailed of the loss of family and friends in battles. Within a few short years, after the birth of Fosee all four of his close grandparents had succumb to a disease brought into the town by a white man.

 

Author’s Note: To be continued in Generations of Secrets and Lies – Part 2

Wild Mountain Rose…#136

Image result for tennessee mountains art images

Wild Mountain Rose…

There is a legend up on Mossy Ridge that children hear while listening to the old folk weaves their tales around their supper table at night –

About…

Two gentle spirits walking the rutty
Mountain roads under the mystical Tennessee moonlight.

These stories begin many years ago about
An old Cherokee and a little girl
He called his Wild Mountain Rose –

Folks …

First saw her drinking from a cool mountain
Stream all legs and dirty yellow hair abandoned
By her family so the stories go, but no one is
Sure, of that if the truth is told.

The first time the old Cherokee saw her she was
Sleeping under a bush folks call the Mountain Rose –

Afterwards…

She was with him no matter where he would go.
Folks would say that without old Willie Youngblood
She would not have survived –

Willie…

Knew that without her he himself would have died,
The years went by quickly and they both grew old,
Time had touched their hair with gray –

They…

Could only dream about their younger days.
One cool spring morning Willie woke to find her gone
From his side, he sat for hours head hung low as he
Cried –

Later…

He found her lying peaceful she had died there on a
Soft bed of leaves a mournful death chant was the only
Way the old Cherokee knew how to grieve.

Now if you know where to look it is in the Tennessee
Mountains where Willie Youngblood’s Wild Mountain
Rose can be found –

Beneath…

The damp rotting forest floor in a shallow grave up on
Mossy Ridge near the entrance of Chicopee Cave.
The following winter Old Willie died and they buried
Him next to his Wild Mountain Rose –

Folks…

Say in the moonlight two ghostly spirits can be seen
Sitting on the banks of Chestnut Creek or floating along
The rutty mountain roads.

When the sun comes up, they disappear…

Or so the legend goes, but everyone on Mossy Ridge
Knows that it is Old Willie and that golden haired pup
He found those many years ago…

Wild Mountain Rose.
©2019.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 
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The Chickasaw Farmer…#126

 

30. Women in cottonfield

Art by Author

The Chickasaw Farmer…

“A tribute to my Daddy”

Rickety ole man stood on the cotton
Wagon a tin of yellow salve in his
Hand.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man

A hot southern sun hides behind the
Willows on muddy Flint Creek, cotton
Pickers sweat falling on parched lips
Taste like salty brine while they wait
For the ole man to call “quitting time”.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man

Young, old, children, women and men
Bloody fingers cut by the barbs of the
Cotton boll dig into the old yellow salve
Tin.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man

Tar bottom sacks filled with soft white
Gold weary feet follow two old sway
Back mules down a rutted road.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man

 
Crimson clouds from wagon wheels
Whirl around tired bodies and drained
Minds; feels like pickers been
Working in the cotton fields since the
Beginning of time.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man

Mules stop at the fork of the road as the
Cotton pickers walked into the dark of the
Night the Ole man’s heart filled with
Appreciation; cause he’s just an old
Chickasaw farmer trying to
Survive inside a “White Nation”.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man

 
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41+X2DEZIpL._AC_US218_

As a Child I Prayed it was the Way…#119

 

Image result for Native American women Praying images

As a Child I Prayed, it was the Way…

Knarred pines below the mountain where we lived were living gravestones on the
land we called home high above them was the kudzu-shrouded caves where I played with constant skinned knees, Hoarfrost eyes and long black braids. Below this mountain was hallowed ground and beneath decaying pine needles the bleached bones of my ancestors lay hidden in the mounds.

My Great-grandmother whom we all call “Ma” said the mountain was like a cathedral, a place where she took me every morning to pray, she told me that it was our way. As the night shadows disappeared in the mornings golden rays, we raised our palms toward the sky to bless another day.

Ma’s voice strong and clear begin to chant in her native tongue the words robust and bold; it came from deep within her as if orchestrated by her Soul. Floating across the mountains scarred face her mantra rose to the Great Mystery – her God, she said that I must always honor this sacred place.

She told me that the sounds of a waking earth should reminded us of how the world came to be, her prayers spoke of rebirth and how our Souls would someday be free. We walked through emerald grass damp with morning dew, the unseen breeze kissed our face, and she believed that with the beginning of each morning our life was once again renewed.

We hurried to the creek behind our tarpaper shanty to wash away all of Yesterday’s sorrows. I held her hand wishing that this were how our lives would always be, that I would never grow up and she would never grow old, and it would always be Ma and me. Yes when I was a child my Great-grandmother taught me many lessons about life, it was the way.
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