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.

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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

Patience…#148

 

“Baraboo, Wisconsin Devils Lake Hills”

 

Author’s Note: To one who loves life, has great patience; is at home in the hills, mountains and valleys of this earth.

 

Patience…

 
When a crouching fiery sky

leans down upon your hills,

gently; and a silky glow falls

toward the earth does your

soul also glow? Does your

gentle patience that never

angers lay quietly in wonder

within you?

 
When the snow covers the

earth, and frost hardens upon

your eyes or the green grass

goes to mucky dirt, are your

hills still your greatest gift

from Mother Nature? Does

your gentle patience that never

angers lay quietly in wonder

within you?

 
When you run and pain grips

you like iron bars, bolts tighten;

hopeless your body bends and

breaks. Does your gentle

patience that never angers lay

quietly in wonder within you?

 
The day windless, the world, the

moon, the sun, will they someday

end? Does your gentle patience

that never angers lay quietly in

wonder within you?

 

©2020.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

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Waunakee, Wisconsin teens create village’s first Black Student Union …#147

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Waunakee, Wisconsin teens create village’s first Black Student Union
• By Tim Wohlers tribstaff@hngnews.com
• Jan 14, 2020

Twelve members of WHS’s Black Student Union stand together, with advisor Chuck Murphree (left) and co-facilitator Brett Wheeler (right). The group meets on a weekly basis, during student-teacher contact time.
More than a dozen teens have now joined the Black Student Union at Waunakee High School. Together, they’ve started a support network for the district’s students of color.
Some have been focusing their efforts on community outreach.
“I’m really involved in social justice,” said senior Nicole Rauls. “So I thought this would be a good opportunity to help empower myself and others, and bring more awareness to the school… One thing we’re interested in is going to the younger schools and doing a mentorship program.”
Having lived in the village nearly her entire life, Rauls said it’s important that members of her demographic be exposed to black role models at an early age.
“Growing up in Waunakee,” Rauls said, “there’s not a whole lot of representation for people who look like us. And I think it’s important that we see people who are black in positions of power. If we’re not seeing that, we start wondering where we fit in the narrative as kids.”
Others, such as senior Miles Lewis, joined for the social aspect.
“I wanted a place that I could be with other black students,” Lewis said, “because I didn’t really know or have a connection with many of them. And coming here, it feels like a family.”
Having lived on the east coast for most of his life, Lewis said the demography of Waunakee is considerably different than that found in other places throughout the country. For black families, moving to the village has posed challenges and continues to be a culture shock for some.
He said an organization such as Black Student Union (BSU) helps.
“A lot of people look at Waunakee and see the demographics,” Lewis said, “and they don’t really think much of it. But there are a lot of issues for that smaller percentage of people that the community just doesn’t see or turns a blind eye to. So it’s good to have a BSU in place here.”
BSU became an official co-curricular at the high school in mid-October, after cross-categorical teacher Chuck Murphree advocated for an organization to serve Waunakee’s students of color.
He said the growth of the district had made it a necessity.
“The need came up here in Waunakee for our students,” Murphree said. “And it’s really to bring together black students in order for them to talk about issues that may be happening in the school – and have a safe place to do that – but also talk about culture and backgrounds.”
Murphree has since become the Black Student Union advisor, with special-education instructor Brett Wheeler drawing from experience teaching in urban areas to co-facilitate.
Both educators have expressed a sense of fulfillment from the role.
“As two white men being facilitators of the group,” Wheeler said, “I feel really privileged to be a part of it and to learn from these guys… We want it to be student-focused, and student-centered. So we’re just here to kind of help out.”
The advisors said non-black students are welcome to join.

 

Author’s Note: Chuck Murphree is not only an educator and advocate for Mental Health, he is a published “Young Adult Author”.

 

 

The Last Chapter ©2020.elizabethannjohnsonmurphee

An African* childhood, part 3

Equinoxio…read the many outstanding articles stored within this treasure chest of wonders. E.

Equinoxio

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The magic house, Conakry, Guinea, West Africa, c.1962. I’m sitting on the table, pondering the day’s next play. Little Sis walks down the stairs with her cast on her arm. Keep a safe distance lest she clubs you. The house may be long gone, the African village at the back has been replaced by rows and rows of concrete buildings, the dirt road is now a 4 way lane. But on Google Earth one sees there are still houses on the coast lines, some with a swimming pool. Silly. Why a pool when you have the open sea all for yourself? I Google Earthed a few years ago. Haven’t wanted to since. I guess one could probably Google Street. What for? There’s another, fancy house instead of “mine”? Who cares? Let the magic remain.

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On the beach on the island of Roume. We generally went on Sundays for…

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We Felt Like Abandoned Children…#146

Author’s Note:  Once again fellow bloggers I have been hospitalized for a week, this time it was diagnosed as “heart failure”.  As usual I refused to stay down for the count!  Even at this late stage of my life.  I keep saying that I have too much to do, yet!  The post below was in progress when I had to stop suddenly.  I am so happy to see all of your smiling photographs again.  E.

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Charlotte Jean Murphree    1958-2010

If you have read my book “Flying with Broken Wings”, the story of my daughter and her battle with mental disease you will have a better understanding of my poetry books that are filled with sad and disturbing poems. The poetry is based on life experiences, and I sometimes believe that no one wants to read poetry, especially sad poems. I felt that my soul was lost without her. My heart searched for her, for years. However, I did believe that her life story would find its niche in the marketplace. I am not the first, nor will I be the last to collapse inwardly with force because of the external stress that is alive and well among the world and writing community. This is my last sad poem…

We Felt Like Abandoned Children

The memory of you emerges from the depths of my heart and soul, like the many rivers that flow into the sea our lives will be merged forever. The hour of your departure, cold and pelted by the fragments of your life, you no longer have to battle with a troubled mind. The days could be filled with turmoil or laughter and love; you lived on your own terms. From the day you were born, you were winged and wounded.

You lived behind a shadowed wall in never-ending sadness, shattered and broken. You were always loved, you never thirst or felt hunger. Anticipation of a future was never hidden from you, when you came from your short-lived darkness and despair. Then without warning, you sank back to that place where we could not reach you.

Then as quickly as you came into the world you left, the hour of departure was cold, the moon hid behind darkened clouds. In the morning light, the black birds of death gathered outside the window where you lay. The stars disappeared beyond the gray skies; tremulous tears lay in the twist of my hands. Your battle over, the white doves of loved chased the black birds away; and in the hour of your departure we felt like abandoned children. Fly, fly away my beautiful child your wings are no longer broken.

 

©2020.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree
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