I'm struggling in writing part 2 of this post because it deals with the local American Indians. I'm conflicted by some of the things I recently learned and some of the things I thought I knew.
Specifically the tribes from this area. Collectively they were known as the "Five Civilized Tribes".
I would imagine the Hopi, Navojo, Nez Perce and other Indians may object to that title. But you have to dig deeper into why they were called that by the Whites.
To get that information you can visit the local Cherokee Indian Museum. It is a well organized museum that takes you from the beginning about their creation tales all the way to their relocation to the Indian Territory (Oklahoma).
I will summarize the ending as best as I can without getting to deep. In the 1820's and 1830's, the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee started eyeing the lands that had been given to the Five local tribes. Most of these Indians had long before adopted many of the White ways which is why they were called "civilized". They adopted the White ways so well, they even owned black slaves (collectively, according to the 1860 census, they owned about 10,000). But the main thing that the states wanted was the land. Therefore they approached the U.S. government and on a close vote, Congress passed the Indian Relocation Act of 1830 and President Andrew Jackson signed it into law. It still took many years for it to be implemented because the federal government needed to make new treaties with each tribe to settle things. While most of the tribes objected and delayed acting, the states and locals began an harassing campaign to "encourage" the Indians to leave on their own. Finally treaties were signed and the tribes were relocated. Federal troops rounded them up and forced marched some of them all the way from here to Oklahoma. Others were transported by wagon train or ship. During the relocation, large percentages of the population died. By some accounts, nearly 15 to 20 percent of the population never made it to Oklahoma. By comparison, if 15% of the U.S. population were to die for whatever reason, that would equal 45,000,000 people. I think we would be pissed.
The Indians were allowed to take their slaves with them during the relocation. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was still 30 years in the future. This created problems for the tribes already in the Indian Territory from the plains and elsewhere. It also created friction between the Five tribes because each tribe treated their slaves differently. In fact, the Seminoles treated them as equals and allowed them to own property and carry weapons. Many of the Seminole slaves took on the appearance and traits of the Seminoles. The slaves from the other four tribes looked on with envy at the Seminole slaves and created problems. Eventually the Seminoles were forced, by the other four tribes, to move farther west in the territory so as to be out of sight of the other slaves. It sort of burst the bubble on some of the misconceptions of the American Indian and also show how brutal one people can be to another people.
Today, here in the town of Cherokee, North Carolina, the streets are lined with businesses selling blankets, beads and moccasins. Some even have Indians dancing out front on sheets of plywood trying to attract business. I was conflicted when I first saw this. It appeared demeaning. It seemed to equate the role of the Indian to that of the street barkers in New Orleans trying to get people into the juke joints. As I was talking this evening with the owner of the campground, she said the outfits are not authentic to any of the local tribes and most of the dancers are not even real Indians, most are Mexicans. There is also a large Indian Casino in the area that is taking care of the local Indian population on the Reservation.
I've rambled enough on this subject. I still need to think on it some more, but I will not post on it again.
As I said in part one of this post, tomorrow is a travel day. The night before each travel day is a combination of excitement, concerns, worry and happiness. It is the essence of wondering what is around the next curve or over the next hill.
It reminds me of a quote from the movie Shawshank Redemption. The movie isn't even one of my favorites, but I like the quote. The quote is made by Red (Morgan Freeman), as he is on the bus heading to Mexico to join up with Andy. He is looking out the window as the bus begins to pull out and he thinks to himself, "I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain."
We all lead a large part of our lives on a set schedule. I think we need a little more uncertainty in our lives. I'm giving it a try and will let you know how it goes.
I leave you with one of my favorite pictures from the Great Smoky Mountains.
Ya'll take care of each other. Cya.