Tuesday 17 June 2014

The Never Ending Trail of Tears

In my last post I talked about the Great Smoky Mountains and how President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, forcing the Cherokee out of the mountains and across the Mississippi River.  The exile of the Cherokee, along with other Indian tribes, to the Oklahoma Territory, is now referred to as "The Trail of Tears".  Here is a map of the route that they followed in the years 1831 to 1839.



The White honor the Hermitage
And the man who once lived there
But that leader of our nation
Was cruel, unjust, unfair.

He ordered the removal
Of the Cherokee from their land
And forced them on a trek
That the Devil must have planned.

One thousand miles of misery
Of pain and suffering
Because greed of the white man
Could not even wait till spring.

We should bow our heads in shame
Even unto this day
About "The Trail of Tears"
And those who died along the way.

It was October 1838
When seven thousand troops in blue
Began the story of the trail
Which, so sadly, is so true.

Jackson ordered General Scott
To rout the Indian from their home
"The Center of the World" they loved
The only one they'd known.

The Braves working in the fields
Arrested, placed in a stockade
Women and children dragged from home
In the bluecoats shameful raid.

Some were prodded with bayonets
When they were deemed to move too slow
To where the Sky was their blanket
And the cold Earth, their pillow.

In one home a babe had died
Sometime the night before
And women mourning, planned burial
Were cruelly herded out the door.

In another, a frail mother
Papoose on back and two in tow
Was told she must leave her home
Was told that she must go.

She uttered a quiet prayer
Told the old family dog goodbye
Then her broken heart gave out
And she sank slowly down to die.

Chief Junaluska witnessed this
Tears streaming down his face
Said if he could have known this
It would have never taken place.

For at the Battle of Horseshoe
With five hundred warriors, his best
Helped Andrew Jackson win that battle
And lay thirty three braves to rest.

And the chief drove his tomahawk
Through a creek warrior's head
Who was about to kill Jackson
But whose life was saved instead.

Chief John Ross knew this story
And once sent Junalaska to plead
Thinking Jackson would listen to
This Chief who did that deed.

But Jackson was cold, indifferent
To the one he owed his life to
Said:  "The Cherokee's fate is sealed
There's nothing I can do."

Washington D.C. had decreed
They must be moved westward
And all their pleas and protests
To this day still go unheard.

On November the seventeenth
Old Man Winter reared his head
And freezing cold sleet and snow
Littered that trail with the dead.

On one night, at least twenty-two
Were released from their torment
To join that great Spirit in the Sky
Where all good souls are sent.

Many humane, heroic stories
Were written 'long the way
A monument for one of them
Still stands until this day.

It seems one noble woman
It was Chief Ross's wife
Gave her blanket to a sick child
And in so doing, gave her life.

She is buried in an unmarked grave
Dug shallow near the "Trail"
Just one more tragic ending
In this tragic, shameful tale.

Mother Nature showed no mercy
Till they reached the end of the line
When that fateful journey ended
On March 26, 1839.

Each mile of this infamous "Trail"
Marks the graves of four who died
Four thousand poor souls in all
Marks the shame we try to hide.

You still can hear them crying
Along "The Trail of Tears"
If you listen with your heart
And not just with your ears.

Del "Abe" Jones


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