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In 1835, the most infamous of the treaties was negotiated at New Echota, Georgia, the Cherokee capital.  The treaty was never ratified, but less than three years later federal troops began to round up the eighteen thousand Cherokees who lived on the land.  By riverboat, wagon and horseback - but mainly on foot - the Cherokee began their forced exile across the Mississippi.  Over four thousand men, women, and children died on that fateful journey.  The silent graves stretching from the foothills of the Smoky Mountains to their new territory in the West, mark what has come to be known to the Cherokee as the TRAIL OF TEARS.

301-1839, On The Trail of Tears

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man.  All things are connected.  Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.

302-Band Of Brothers

On November 22, 1868, Custer mounted a winter campaign during a snow storm.

303-Black Kettle On The Washita

My heart is filled with joy, when I see you here, as the brooks fill with water when the snows melt in the spring, and I feel glad, as the ponies are when the fresh grass starts in the beginning of the year.   I heard of your coming, when I was many sleeps away, and I made but few camps before I met you.  I knew that you had come to do good to me and to my people.  I look for the benefits, which would last forever, and so my face shines with joy, as I look upon you. TEN BEARS.

304-Calling Song Of The Heart

My heart is filled with joy, when I see you here, asthe brooks fill with water when the snows melt in the spring, and I feel glad, as the ponies are wwhen the fresh grass starts in the beginning of the year. I heard of your coming, when I was many sleeps away, and I made but few camps beofre I met you. I knew that you had come to do goodto me and my people. I look for the benefits, which would last forever, and so my face shines with joy, as I look upon you. - Ten Bears

305-Calling Song

When cattle replaced the Buffalo, the Indians lost more than the food, clothing, tools, and shelter the Buffalo provided.  They also suffered spiritually with the lost of the Buffalo, put here by the Great Spirit.

306-Changing Times

In a deadly race, a stagecoach’s driver and  guard fight for life, hoping to get to the next station with the mail and their lives.  But the Indians may stop the race beforehand by bringing down a lead horse and piling up the coach.

307-Checks In The Mail

308-Cherokee Ambassador to Washington

The blowgun was a hunting tool made from river cane.  The dart was made of wood, with one end sharpened and dried thistle on the other end to make the dart fly straight.

309-Cherokee Blowgun

After the approval of the 1840 constitution the Cherokees turned to raising horse and cattle.  The wealth of the Cherokees grew rapidly and the people flourished.  The Cherokee citizens owned 300,000 head of cattle, horses and mules, and owned four thousand black slaves.

310-Cherokee Cattle

After the approval of the 1840 constitution the Cherokees turned to raising horse and cattle.  The wealth of the Cherokees grew rapidly and the people flourished.  The Cherokee citizens owned 300,000 head of cattle, horses and mules, and owned four thousand black slaves.

311-Cherokee Horses

Carnivores, fire, flood and storms took their annual toll, but neither these nor Indian hunting appeared to reduce the number of buffalo appreciably on the Great Plains.  The huge herds seemed indestructible before the coming of the white man.

312-Cosmic Thunder

The Eagle Dancer imitates the eagle, a sacred and powerful spirit, with graceful soaring and sweeping arm and body movements, telling the sotry of the bird's flight, capture and death.  The dancer portrays the wounded and dying eagle with downward quivering and fluttering actions; then lies motioless at the end of the dance.

313-Dances With Eagles

“Dutch”, also known as “Tahchee”, was a leader among the Old Settlers.  He grew up in the West and became a skilled hunter of the buffalo.  He visited many tribes and became skilled in a number of different techniques of hunting and fighting.  Dutch fought many battles with the Comanche Indians who resented the arrival of the Cherokee.  In his later years, “Dutch” made peace with the Comanche; and served with distinction as both a scout and a guide to a number of hunting parities and expeditions.

314-Dutch's Hunting Party

Plans for the Pony Express were spurred by the threat of the Civil War and the need for faster communication with the West. The Pony Express consisted of relays of men riding horses carrying saddlebags of mail across a 2000-mile trail.

315-Express Mail

Every summer, after the long and hard winter, the clans and societies would gather in a favorite camping place to re-new old friendships, celebrate and give thanks.  This tradition has been handed down generation to generation and known today as a Pow Wow.

316-Gathering Grounds

From Wakan Tanka,  the Great Spirit, there came a great unifying life force that flowed in and through all things  -  the flowers of the plains, blowing winds, rocks, tree, birds, animals  -  and was the same force that had been breathed into the first man.  Thus all things were kindred, and ere brought together by the same great mystery.

317-Highlands Adventure

Plans for the Pony Express were spurred by the threat of the Civil War and the need for faster communication with the West. The Pony Express consisted of relays of men riding horses carrying saddlebags of mail across a 2000-mile trail.  The express route was extremely hazardous, but only one mail delivery was ever lost.

318-Insufficient Postage

In 1835, the most infamous of the treaties was negotiated at New Echota, Georgia, the Cherokee capital.  The treaty was never ratified, but less than three years later federal troops began to round up the eighteen thousand Cherokees who lived on the land.  By riverboat, wagon andhorseback - but mainly on foot - the Cherokee began their forced exile across the Mississippi.  Over four thousand men, women, and children died on that fateful journey.  The silent graves stretching from the foothills of the Smoky Mountains to their new territory in the West, mark what has come to be known to the Cherokee as the TRAIL OF TEARS.

319-Journey Of Blood And Tears

A cutting instrument which Indians fashioned from many materials, including hard wood, stone, metal, shells, and even the teeth of animals.  Carried in a decorated sheath hung from a belt or around the neck.

320-Knife

In the beginning Heaven and Earth was a shapeless, chaotic mass, with the Great Spirit brooding over the darkness.  Shape and order was given to Earth and Heaven, with lights in the sky to divided day from night, seasons from years.  People appeared last, after the animals, the sun, the moon and the plants, but multiplied quickly.

321-Let The Magic Begin

Sitting Bull, in a vision, looked into the sky and saw soldiers falling like grasshoppers, with their heads down and their hats falling off.  Because the white men had no ears and would not listen, the Great Spirit was giving these soldiers lives to the Indians. On June 24, 1876, General Armstrong Custer and his 264 men met their fate at the junction of the Big Horn and Little Horn rivers.

322-Little Big Horn Welcoming Committee

The phenomenal birth of something so rare, the birth of a white buffalo calf, has great spiritual meaning in some Native American cultures.  To those who believe, the birth of the white calf is a prophecy come true.

323-Little Sacred One

Will you ever begin to understand the Meaning of the very soil beneath your feet? From a grain of sand to a great mountain, all is sacred.

324-Magic Buffalo Robe

Carnivores, fire, flood and storms took their annual toll, but neither these nor Indian hunting appeared to reduce the number of buffalo appreciably on the Great Plains.  The huge herds seemed indestructible before the coming of the white man.

325-Making a Stand

I recall all the memories from those days . . .When all meat was juicy and tender, and no game too swift for a hunter.  When I was young, every day was a beginning of some new thing, and every evening ended with the glow of the next day’s dawn. Ivaluarjuk Iglulik elder

326-Memories Last Forever

I was born in nature’s wide domain! The trees were all that sheltered my infant limbs, the blue heavens all that covered me.  I am one of Nature’s children.  I have always admired her.  She shall be my glory: her features, her robes and the wreath about her brow, the seasons, her stately oaks and the evergreen—her hair, ringlets over the earth—all contribute to my enduring love of her.

327-One Fine Day

Like the beautiful, lone bird which lived in ancient times in the Arabian desert for 500 to 600 years and then set itself on fire, rising renewed from the ashes to start antoher long life;  the Cherokee Nation arose from the ashes of the TRAIL OF TEARS, to rebuild a great nation in Oklahoma.

328-Phoenix

The white man never fully understood what the white buffalo, meant to the  Indian — held in great awe and reverence in every aspect of his life, his culture, and his religion.

329-Sacred Buffalo

Between 1838 and 1839, about 18,000 Cherokees were forced to walk the Trail of Tears.  The Spirit of the Owl swept down from the Nightland taking the lives of over 4,000 weak, sick and frail; leaving behind the strong to rebuild the Cherokee Nation in the new lands of the West.

330-Spirit Of The Owl

The pipe or calumet was important to many tribal cultures.  This Cherokee example was collected by Lewis and Clark in 1804-06.  It is probable that the pipe was received from a more northerly tribe as a token of peace and to attest contracts and treaties which could not then be violated without incurring the wrath of the gods—for whom  this pipe was the spiritual messenger.

331-Spirit Pipe

White Buffalo maiden was sent by the Buffalo tribe.  She was pure white and without blemish; this being the principal desire of the Native People for the character of their children.

332-Spring Blessing

While many students of the horse culture of the Indians believe that the horses which stocked the Plains had been left behind by Coronado, others contend that all his five hundred and fifty-eight horses, two of them mares , were accounted for in his muster roll. These latter authorities believe that horses came from stock-raising settlements in the Southwest.  Many of them spread northward through the normal channels of trade, although Indians acquired many by raids on ranches and settlements.

333-Stolen Thunder

The white man never fully understood what the buffalo, meant to the  Indian — held in great awe and reverence in every aspect of his life, his culture, and his religion.

334-The People and The Buffalo

Having no pockets in his clothes, the Indian carried his possessions in bags or pouches.  Most bags made of rawhide, bird skins, buckskins, cloth and other materials were highly decorated with beadwork, quillwork, or painted designs.

335-Woodlands Bag

A small band make camp under the watchful eyes of Seeker; the wolf of today that seeks out Indian camps of the past. This band was one of the many plains Indians inhabiting the country between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains.  Besides being buffalo hunters, they also were farmers & did not live in tepees except when on the march or hunt.

336-Tranquility

The First Americans were denied their rights and citizenship until the 20th. Century, despite that the Declaration Of Independence declared that all men were created equal.

337-Unalienable Rights

Because of its portent and grandeur, the tomahawk eventually became a symbol for both war and peace.  Indians meeting to arrange treaties often buried the head of one in the ground to show their peaceful intent, or smoked it together to express the same thing.  Yet it spoke of other attitudes if necessary.

338-War And Peace

When delegates of the newly independent American Colonies met in Philadelphia in 1787 to write a constitution, they took inspiration from many sources, including the Native Americans. Benjamin Franklin observed that the Cherokees and Iroquois had a fine working example of representative democracy, with an unwritten constitution that spelled out checks and balances, rules of procedure, limits of power and a stress on individual liberty.  Much of the Constitution came to reflect the Native Americans ideas, but did not include them until the 20th Century, resulting in the loss of lives and the removal of many tribes from their homeland.

339-We The People

Where today are the Pequot?  Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people?  They have vanished, like our brothers the Buffalo, before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man.

340-Where Have My Brothers Gone

Dog Soldiers, members of one of the military societies of the Plains Indians, chosen for their bravery and fighting ability; are sworn never to turn their faces from the enemy.

341-Who Let The Dogs Out

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2016 - Designed by John G Matthews in cooperation with Ron Mitchell