Cherokee Messenger
May, 1997

Shawl Society Update

A new skill has entered the ranks of the CCS Shawl Society. We now have basketweavers abounding in various stages of expertise. Needless to say, the excursion to Tahlequah for the weekend workshop was a wonderful experience and a great success. You will see evidence of our newfound skills in the coming weeks. Many thanks to BJ Callihan for making this a "happening thing".

Video for Red Nations Remembering: Blazing a New Trail

The Cherokee Cultural Society of Houston's memorial for the Trail of Tears, 'Red Nations Remembering' was a big hit! This VHS tape displays this fabulous first-time event through news broadcasts, special television programs, historical re-enactments preparation/mock work, and scenes from the actual event itself. It makes a great memento for yourself or gift for your loved one on this special day.

Some of what you'll see are:

People wearing traditional dress: the ladies wore "tear dresses" from the post-Trail of Tears era. The dresses were made especially for the event! The guys were turbans and tunics/sashes from that time period...

Native Americans who participate in monthly pow-wows were inspired by what was produced....we had historical re-enactments from the time period of events leading up to the Trail of Tears, during the Trail of Tears, and post-Trail of Tears.

Children playing Native American games. Prayer feathers being tied. Native American market.

We had an Elders Circle with treats and activities for the seniors.

J.C. High Eagle, Tommy Wildcat, and Bob Annesley performing and discussing their work.

1997 Miss Cherokee Lindsay Houston and Cherokee Councilman, Harley Terrell from Tahlequah, OK.

Special memories include: Ending the event by singing Amazing Grace, led by Cindy Linnenkohl and the Ladies Shawl Society. We handed out the words on the program.

It rained the whole week before and it was expected to rain all weekend and the following week. At our meeting on March 6, we aligned as a community on great weather. The rain stopped Saturday, March 8, the ground dried up and it was sunny, clear and 80 degrees on Sunday, March 9! Monday, the rain started again and Tuesday we had a flood that made national news.

We could go on and on...instead, we have made a tape that captures the essence of the event. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did in putting it all together. It takes about 1 1/2 hours to view the entire tape.

The tape is divided into several sections.

Section 1. The "clippings" of the five news stations in Houston. They have blue spacing in etween them. We also aired in Bryan-College Station but didn't get a copy from there. We were in the Saturday Houston Chronicle, and the front page of the Monday Houston Chronicle and the Conroe Courier after we held the event...along with countless articles and radio news programs advertising the event.

Section 2. The local Houston freedom of speech channel, Access Houston, also a non-profit organization, donated the fees of a program production for our event (around $2,000 cost). A taped version of the program is placed here. It begins with the story of the Trail of Tears, written by the station, transcribed into Cherokee by Mike Breteler, and spoken in Cherokee by Victory Carroll. It is subtitled in English. It is truly a powerful piece.

Section 3. As participants practiced their talks, Judith Bruni taped part of one (Darrell Crosby as Sequoyah), all of the second (Carter Terry as Nancy Ward), and part of the third (Mark Bruni as Richard Fields). The first 2 are in full traditional dress. A discussion on Richard Fields' dress is included to show what thought people went through to make the clothing as authentic as possible.

Section 4. The actual day of the event is taped by Mark Bruni. This is not all encompassing, mind you, but it does give you a sense of the day, the mood and atmosphere of what it was like to be there. He started in the morning as people prepared, then as we began the event with the moccasin memorial walk, it includes some of the first speakers, it spans some of the visitors and ends with some of the Eagle Dancers...

We estimate that several thousand people came that is hard to estimate without charging for the event. We didn't get to film the busiest time period since we were all too busy working the event! We expect this event to be an annual event now...And this video is a memento of the First Annual Red Nations Remembering: Blazing a New Trail.

Price of the video is $12 and includes shipping and handling. Please send check or money order to CCS, PO Box 1506, Bellaire TX, 77402-1506

A Sad Day for Cherokees - An editorial comment by Deborah Scott.

It has been the position of the CCS not to become embroiled in politics, locally or across state lines, however, the events in Tahlequah can no longer go unremarked. I have often pondered the "psychology of oppression" especially as it pertains to minority groups. Time after time, I have observed groups from many minority cultures, (absolutely including our own!) become so caught up in the events of the moment that the long term ramifications of an action are not weighed out carefully and appear to have no importance.

The current events in Tahlequah bear such monumental long-term ramifications for the Cherokee people that I urge our leaders to set aside personal grievances and issues and put the greater good of the Cherokee people in the forefront. There is a world outside of Tahlequah, and that world has Cherokee in it who care very much about the continued sovereignty of our Nation. For too long have we defeated ourselves. For too long have we looked on a Cherokee brother or sister as "the enemy". For too long have we jeopardized the heritage of future generations in the quest for a present "victory". It is time for the thinking people in the Cherokee Nation to stand up and say to our leaders, "No more."

If you have never written a letter to your council representative before, I urge you to do so now. I know of no worthier cause. The Council representatives are: Chief Joe Byrd, Deputy Chief Garland Eagle, Bill Baker, Don Crittendon, Harold "Jiggs" Phillips, Dora Mae Watie, Mary Flute-Cooksey, Sam Ed Bush, Paula Holder, Troy Poteete, Barbara Mitchell, Barbara Starr-Scott, William S. Smoke, Harold DeMoss, Nick Lay, Charles Hoskins, Harley Terrell. The address for all is Tribal Council, Cherokee Nation, PO Box 948, Tahlequah OK 74465.

If you would like to read articles about the events in Tahlequah, the only resource I can refer to you is the Cherokee Observer,

Another Message To...

The elected servants of the Cherokee people: Sam Ed Bush, Mary Flute Cooksey, Bill John Baker, Dora Mae Watie, Charles Hoskins, non-elected, Byrd appointed Harley Terrell, Barbara Mitchell Conness, and Don Crittenden...

History will note your "treason" on this day, May 3, 1997. Cherokee History will tell the story of how you attempted to sell out your own tribe to the federal government and how you stabbed the nation in it's youthful heart of new self-governance. History will record not only did you betray your own Cherokee people, you betrayed Native American tribes throughout America.

Our posterity will read about how you attempted to sell out our nation to the Federal government for the sake of federal political "damage control" and avoidance of your own Chief's criminal investigation in a court of his own peers.

Our grandchildren will read how you helped Joe Byrd, Garland Eagle, Joel Thompson, Mark McCullough the non-Indian financier of Byrd's campaign for Chief, non-Indian Bruce Taylor, the U.S. Federal Government BIA, the embarrassed Democratic Party that picked Joe Byrd as their "token" Indian Chief to road trip around during the past federal election year with the U.S. Democratic President of the United States hoping to influence the "Indian swing vote" not realizing that their "token" was under a criminal investigation for misappropriated federal and tribal funds.

Native Americans throughout the Cherokee Nation and across the country will not forget your names, nor will they let this matter pass until the truth is revealed, and it will be. Not until then will they rest... and all of you mark these words well... not one day before that time will there be rest in the wounded hearts and spirits of our people.

Ancestors are crying out through our spirits to defend our sovereignty and the people's integrity. They cry with us over the tragic failure of you Cherokee leaders to hold dear your promises that you made to the people to uphold our laws and respect the people's will. It will be done, the truth shall be revealed. History will deliver your legacy to your children's children and their children, and they will be dishonored by your deeds.

Shall it be said, "forgive them for they know not what they did" when they crucified the young self-governing nation of the Cherokee people.

We cry again in this unending trail of tears to rebuild a sovereign nation of people, but the tears are particularly bitter this day because you, our own people, have attempted to give our nation back the U.S. Federal government for personal gain.

History will note kindly that (7) of the peoples' elected servants stood up for them today... and history will also note that the Honorable Councilman Jiggs Phillips stood up and walked out of your "kangaroo court" today and told you that it was "illegal" and unforgivable; and that he would not stand for your attack on the core of the peoples court; your attempt to impeach the honored and outstanding jurists of Cherokee Nation's Judicial Tribunal (the nations highest court); Cherokees who have respectfully and faithfully served the nation; protected our people rights; and have insured that our Constitution works for all the people for the last 20 years. We say to Cherokee Councilor Harold Jiggs Phillips... our hearts rejoice in your wisdom; we say this also to Councilors Troy Poteete, Barbara Star Scott, Harold DeMoss, Nick Lay, Paula Holder, and William Smoke and our 15 Cherokee Nation Marshals... we say thank you for your unselfish dedication to the Cherokee people.

Ray Walker
c/o P.O. Box 1767, Tahlequah, OK 74465

First Nations Unity Council

Here in Chattanooga, there is a contingent of descendants of the Chickamaugans who try to learn and follow the ancient Kituan ways (Ani-YunWiya)... There is also a larger contingent of Free Cherokee who follow a variety of paths... We meet here at the mission for ceremony and teachings... I am the host this year for the First Nations Unity Council, '97 to be held here in Chattanooga, Tennessee at Audobon Acres, (Bird Sanctuary), at the South End of Gun Barrel Road, on the first weekend of October. We are inviting all "Physical & Spiritual" descendants of First Nations to attend for the purpose of Council and Unity! There is a lot of information available for the asking at:

Ani-KwataNi Mission
C/O Mark "RedOwle" Norman
2624 Cedar Forest Road
Chatt, TN 37406

write or call for brochures or visit anytime

Texas History Began with Europeans?

Indians and archeologists will be equally upset to learn that the State of Texas is busily planning to build a new Texas State History Museum (TSHM) that will embody the view that *Texas History began with the arrival of Europeans.*

The new museum will be built in Austin north of the Capitol at the corner of MLK and Congress. Said museum will be built and run by the State Preservation Board. It is projected to cost 80 million dollars to build. The State Preservation Board released a consultants report on the project that is apparently available through an Open Records Act request (512-463-5495). Some information can be gleaned through the Texas Association of Museum's web page though this is not yet up to date.

The Executive Summary of the consultant report provides much disturbing news, especially the fact that as conceptualized, the TSHM will begin with the Spanish. According to the report's summary recommendations, the Texas State History Museum will offer the millions of visitors who come to Texas every year the "opportunity to grasp the great sweep of Texas history in its entirety." Elsewhere the document says "that the Texas story told in the Museum [will] span the period of early European exploration up through recent history."

Looks to me like 95% of Texas history, i.e., Native American Texas, is being cut out of the deal. Archeologists and Indians would seem to have a common concern here. This project looks like it is designed to glorify the Texas Heroes (most of them white males, of course) by creating a monument to the status quo to be run in "an efficient, business-like, and enterprising management approach" (meaning that they claim that revenue will pay annual operating expenses). This will include an IMAX theater (maybe they will show John Wayne battling at the Alamo and other important events in Texas history), but will not include any provisions for research or curation.

So rather than expand the limited public school textbook view of Texas history, this project will codify and exemplify it. The most powerful politician, the Lt. Gov., is said to be the driving force behind the TSHM. While the word is that this is a done deal, I intend to contact the Lt. Gov. and my legislators and ask that a more realistic definition of history be adopted.

Steve Black, President
Council of Texas Archeologists

Cherokee Tear Dress

The traditional dress of Cherokee women is the 'Tear Dress.' It was declared the "official" when Virginia Stroud became Miss Indian America. The 'Tear Dress' came about when Chief W.W. Keeler appointed a Costume Committee headed by Wynona Day and Anna Kilpatrick Smith.

Wynona Day is given much of the credit for the discovery of the 'Tear Dress.' She found the pattern of the traditional dress in North Carolina. The dress was in the attic of an old friend who had stored dresses that belonged to her Cherokee ancestors.

Wynona took the dresses to Oklahoma State University, and with the help of experts, found the dress to be well over 100 years old. This simply made dress was worn by the Cherokee women on the 'Trail of Tears.'

The 'Tear Dress' is designed of rectangle shapes, for which Cherokees were noted. Rectangle pieces didn't necessarily need scissors and could be torn.

It is interesting to note the word 'tear' has tow meanings - to cry or weep, and to rip or pull apart.

Cherokees shed many tears when the were 'torn' from there homelands in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. Many said it was like having their heart torn out of their bodies to leave the graves of their ancestors.

Source: The History of Miss Cherokee's Costume by Agness Cowan

Cherokee Nation Seal

In the center of the seal of the Cherokee Nation is a large seven pointed star surrounded by a wreath of oak leaves. The outside border of this symbol bears the words, "Seal of the Cherokee Nation." Two words for the "Cherokee Nation" in the native language then followed, printed in characters from Sequoyah's syllabary and pronounced "Tsa-la-gi-hi A-Ye-li." At the lower edge of the seal is the date, "September 6, 1839," when the constitution of the Cherokee Nation West, Indian Territory was adopted.

Interpretation of the design in the seal is found in Cherokee folklore and history. Ritual songs in certain tribal ceremonies refer to the seven clans, the legendary beginnings of the Cherokee people. A sacred fire was kept perpetually burning near the "town house" at a central point in the Nation. The Live Oak, the principal hardwood timber of the Carolinas was used in this fire. In connection with this fire, the oak was a symbol of strength and everlasting life.

The oak represents the seven Cherokee clans. Because the oak tree is associated with the mysteries of the sacred fire, the wreath of oak leaves symbolizes the dauntless spirit of courageous Cherokee people. The mystic seven-pointed star and the wreath of oak leaves formed a symbol of great promise. Adopted shortly after the Civil War, it heralded a "glorious return" of the Cherokees pledging their devotion to the highest ideals in their educational, industrial and religious life as a Christian people. The Cherokee seal was adopted by the National Council and approved by Lewis Downing, Principal Chief on December 11, 1871.

Source: Chronicles of Oklahoma, XVIII No. 4, Dec. 1940, pp. 363-4.

Poetry Corner....Notes from a Reader

I have been reading excerpts from the "messenger" and I find myself lost in the wonder of all that is Cherokee....I am only 1/16th Cherokee, but I am proud of that small bit that I can call mine. I live in the eastern part of Kentucky, only about two hours from the Great Smoky Mountains. I would like to send this true story of my most recent trip to the Smokies and how one mountain top could make me realize just how lucky I am.

I felt the cool wind blowing
And the warm blood in my veins
And I knew that nothing would
Ever seem to be quite the same

I wondered if some Cherokee
Ever stood upon that ground
To look with awe and thankfulness
At the beauty all around

I felt the spirit of Sikwayi
Reach out to join with mine
And remind me that those days
Were a nobler, simpler time

And as the spirits of my ancestors
Gathered 'round me on that crest
My native heart convinced me
That I am truly blessed

I climbed a mountain yesterday
And upon its peak most high
I gathered up my courage, then
Stood up, and touched the sky.

I thank you for your time,

Arlie Anthony Webb
90 Sunny Lane
Pikeville, Kentucky 41501

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