A three day event recently took place at the Red Clay Historic Area in South Bradley County. Here the Eastern Band and Western Band of Cherokee Indians met in a joint tribal session for the second time in 171 years.
In 1832, the Georgia State Legislature passed a series of laws which forbade persons considered as Indians from owning property within the State or even gathering to voice any objection to their plight.
In order to hold meetings that would not be illegal, the Cherokee people met in council at a spring in Tennessee located just north of the Georgia state line.
In 1838, the Cherokee people, including those of mixed blood, were rounded up, placed in stockades, and eventually moved to a site in Northern Bradley County, known as Rattlesnake Springs. From this site, the Cherokees were divided into detachment. of approximately 1,000 persons and forced marched along a route to Oklahoma that came to be called by the Cherokee, "nunna-da-ul-tsun-yi", the trail where they cried. Thousands died along the removal route and were buried in unmarked graves.
When the Cherokee were move from Red Clay to Rattlesnake Springs, they took with them live coals from the final council fire.
In 1951, the Eastern Band of Cherokee traveled to Oklahoma and persuaded the Western Band to permit them to ignite a fire from the Eternal Flame.
In April 1984, a torch was ignited from the North Carolina flame and relayed by runners back to Red Clay, Tenn., where a third Eternal Flame was lit.
The flame returned to its origin after 146 years.
In April 2009, once again a torch was ignited in North Carolina and relayed by runners back to Red Clay to to announce a joint session of the Eastern and Western Band of Cherokees.
Some of the groups were recruiting numbers to their ranks by promising monetary support from the Federal Government.
A group in New Jersey petitioned the state for recognition as Cherokee. There were no Cherokee in the state of New Jersey.
Yet, similar groups across the country continue to be state and federally recognized and receive monetary funds.
The Cherokees were a peaceful people who lived in houses, were proficient farmers, and better at living a civilized life than the white settlers. They had a constitution similar to the U.S. Constitution, a Supreme Court, and a written language of their own.
Before the white settlers arrived, the land of the Cherokee covered 80 million acres. Despite ceding 72 million acres to the Federal Government, the white man’s greed was not satisfied. Another 8 million acres was illegally seized, and the Cherokee driven from their homeland. This was done in spite of the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the Cherokee nation was legally sovereign.
It is ironic that, today, we hear voices raised in protest to treatment of detainees who are avowed enemies of the United States, but no thought is given by these protesters to the fact their homes sit on land illegally seized from Native Americans.
If the present enemies of the United States succeed in their goals, the white man will become the Indian of the past.