Cherokee Messenger
April, 1998

Red Nations Remembering 1998

A Cherokee Honoring of the Trail of Tears
By Judith Bruni,
CCS Board of Directors, Special Projects Chair

In Houston, Red Nations Remembering on Sunday, March 8, 1998, commemorating the lives of those who walked the "trail where they cried", was a powerful event this year. The day before, members of the Cherokee Cultural Society of Houston excitedly prepared for the events of the next day by preparing the event's park grounds. That evening, under cool clear skies, the stars shown brightly as a Cherokee stomp dance stirred the air and startled small night owls in the nearby Shaky Hollow Stomp Grounds. 50 to 60 participants, mostly from all parts of Texas and Oklahoma, helped in the songs and tangled the people in twisting line dances that night. During the dancing we watched the stars and hoped the weather would hold for our Second Annual Red Nations Remembering event the next day. Somehow we knew that it would not.

As the day dawned windy and overcast, members of the Cherokee Cultural Society of Houston, honored speakers and vendors steadily prepared for the events of the day. The rain that we had feared did not come, but the wind and the cold did. Blasts of bone chilling cold whipped through blankets and sweaters as people huddled under awnings. Somehow it was fitting for the day. Black armbands had been passed to the elders and children in the crowd. We wanted people to understand the depth of the loss for our ancestors. J.C. High Eagle opened our event with prayer, reminding us with words what we had all been feeling in our hearts. This day was very much like the days in 1838 when our ancestors too had stood in the cold and began their walk. For them, this would have been a "good day". As we began our memorial "trail of tears" through West Montgomery County Park, the Cherokee words to Amazing Grace lofted over the trees like feathers caught in a strong breeze. Those who walked at the end of the line wearing black armbands were proud of the people walking before us - and the ones who had walked long before us.

Later, we heard stories from the voices of Sequoyah, John Ross, Major Ridge, Sarah Ridge, Sam Houston, Richard Fields and Nancy Ward. Native American flute music and dancing interspersed the day as people stayed as long as they beared, warming themselves however they could. It was a day we will not forget. It was a powerful day.

Red Nations Remembering is on the second Sunday in March each year (The third annual event is on March 14, 1999). People from all tribes are invited to participate in their local communities or join the Cherokee ultural Society in Houston at our annual event. Our purpose is to share our stories with the young so that we will never forget.

A special thanks to those communities who took this on with us this year. To name the few we heard from: Ohio, Tennessee, New Jersey, Idaho, New Mexico, and two islands of Hawaii: Kauai and The Big Island. Blessings to all who participated and we didn't hear as well. We would love to hear about all the events.

American Indian Health Coalition

The AIHC is a volunteer group of individuals seeking ways to improve health and living standards for American Indians in Southeast Texas. As part of their efforts, this new group will be staffing tables at events and distributing educational information as well as recruiting help for the cause! The group meets the first Thursday of the month at 6:00 p.m., at the Area Health Education Center, 595 West Loop South, Suite 206. (The meeting is over in plenty of time to make the CCS meeting.) Additionally, we will be forming a core of volunteers interested in HIV prevention training to work with Native Americans in area substance abuse treatment facilities and incarceration centers. This is a tremendous need that has previously gone unremarked. We hope to change it. We will be working in conjunction with AIDS Foundation Houston Education Department for training programs and support of our efforts. If you are interested in making a difference, please call Deborah Scott at (713) 861-6667. Wado.

CCS Recognition

At the March 5 meeting, the Cherokee Cultural Society of Houston was presented a CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION from the Red Nations Foundation, Inc. of Tennessee. Member Alan Taylor offered the plaque to President Cindy Linnenkohl, in recognition of support and encouragement in preserving Cherokee culture, and updated the group on preservation efforts at Tennessee historical sites which were on the Trail of Tears.

The Intertribal Council of Houston honored CCS at their March pow wow with a $10.00 contribution. We thank them for their kindness and generosity.

Mail Bag Gem

From a February 18, 1998 e-mail sent by Charles Heisterkamp, III to the editor: "I need your help. Please write or e-mail your congressman and ask him/her to support efforts to establish a national holiday honoring American Indians. Also, please ask his/her support for the Post Office to issue a series of stamps honoring American Indian tribes and nations. Please e-mail this message to five friends. And please ask your friends to help. Thanks, Charles" Readers interested in further contact can e-mail

Poetry Corner

The following poem was composed by CCS member Cyndie Campbell-Menard after returning from Red Nations Remembering, held on a very cold and windy Texas Sunday. We thank her for sharing with us.
By Cyndie Campbell-Menard
Thin moccasins cover my tender feet
The wind blows fiercely - screaming in my ears
I shiver - my lungs protest the cold air
My steps are halting as I pick my way through the thorns
My brain complains
My heart breaks
Tears betray my emotion
Spilling from my eyes - running down my face
Someone sings Amazing Grace
My throat constricts - I am unable to speak
My thoughts are forced back
Back to another walk
Thin moccasins cover some feet
Some are bare - bleeding
Winter's menace picks on the weak
Small children cry for their mothers
Mothers left behind
Mothers in shallow stone covered graves
But onward they march
Forced to leave all that they knew
All that was sacred
And onward I march
Pushing aside my minor discomfort
Proud to hold my face to the wind
Honored to remember
(to be copyrighted)

Sincere CCS Appreciation...

goes to everyone who made possible the 1998 Red Nations Remembering, through generous donations of time, effort and materials:

Houston Zoological Gardens; Target; Coca-Cola Bottling Co.; Primis Corporation; Harlin Grocery, Magnolia; Cheech & Gary; John Herrington; Chad Smith; Tommy Wildcat; Dr. Jonathan Hook; Frank McLemore; Billie Miller; Wal-Mart/Samís Wholesale Club; Academy; Brookshire Bros., Magnolia; West University Marble; Larking Signs; S & B Engineers; Gregg Howard; J. C. High Eagle; Larry Sampson; Hal Cooper.

Committee Members/ Performers/Workers:

Deborah Scott; Julie Williams; Joe Williams; Cindy Linnenkohl; Victor Carroll; B. J. Callihan; Cyndie Menard; Steve Triplett; Wade McAlister; Charley Strack; Travis Potter; Pat George; Donna Davis; Donna Allen; Mark Bruni; Carter Terry; Jamie Williams; Joe & Patti Davis; Vicki Henrichs; Judith Bruni; Clabert Menard; Darrell Crosby; Wayne Hinkley; Terry Thompson; Jimmy Melton; Jim Gravino; Margaret Himes; Nicki Davis; Paul Baukman. See ALL of you in 1999!

Copyright © The Cherokee Cultural Society of Houston