Sunday, March 10, 2013

tears of injustice

Cherokee Chief Whitepath (standing)
Cherokee Chief  Fly Smith (with bowed head)
Trail of Tears Park, Hopkinsville, Kentucky

The Trail Goes On 

The trail goes on.
But they stand at the end of their journey shivering in the cold
Shaking with sickness that no leader should endure
The trail goes on.
But they stand upon this ground,
One with head bowed in silent acceptance, leaning on his stick
The other with hands outstretched
Asking the Great Spirit to help him know the reason
For the grieving and the suffering of his people,
The women and children cry in their camp by the river
Stung by the frost aching from the lack of food
They look to their chiefs for answers
And in their eyes see only expressionless despair.

The trail goes on.
But two chiefs lie here in the stillness
Unable now to help their people
Throw off the oppression of the white man and his manifest destiny
Their pain lives on in these figures
Silent now beneath the sun and the stars.
And the trail goes on.

    ~Thomas E. Morris, Jr., December 17, 1989
     Trail of Tears Commemorative Park, Hopkinsville, Kentucky

Cherokee Chief Whitepath 

On our travels we are following along the Trail of Tears, in the footsteps of Chief Whitepath. Whitepath was born in 1761 near Ellijay, Georgia, our home town, in the area of the county that is now known as 'Whitepath'. He lived in this log cabin built by his parents:

This cabin was moved from the Ellijay area to Gainesville, Georgia on the site of the Northeast Georgia History Center, another connection we have to this chief, as this museum was built by Buddy. 

Now we are near Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and followed the signs to the Trail of Tears park there where we found the final resting place of Chief Whitepath, who became ill and died like so many Cherokees along the Trail of Tears. 

A Journey of Injustice:  Remember and commemorate the survival of the Cherokee people, forcefully removed from their homelands in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee to live in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. They traveled by foot, horse, wagon, or steamboat in 1838-1839.

The park was deserted, the visitor's center closed up tight, the graves of the two chiefs are behind strong bars and looking neglected. It is a sad place, and not just because of the history, but it looks as those buried there are gone and forgotten. 


Jim Harmon said...

Well written history on Chief Whitepath. I have visited the cabin in Gainsville and other historic Cherokee places in GA. Such a sad piece of our history. I have a you tube video on old Cherokee buildings in GA. Thanks for sharing.

Jim Harmon

Gypsy Quilter said...

This is very interesting. How long is the trail? Are you on your way to Oklahoma? Hope the weather cooperates for you.

motherkitty said...

I left a comment but it disappeared. Here's effort #2.

We live about 50 miles from Hopkinsville and the Trail runs right through Marion, KY toward the Ohio River. If we had known you were there . . .

Mumbles said...

Places like this break my heart, and even more so when they're neglected. When I lived in the west, I spent a fair bit of time exploring the Nez Perce Trail.

Thank you for sharing this.


Anonymous said...

I shared this with my friends. Because during Thanksgiving , instead of celebration of the Pilgrims . I went to Hopkinsville, Ky to honor the memory of the Trail of Tears and to show respect for the real meaning of Thanksgiving was the death of many Native Americans Indians who lost there lands . The meaning to me had a different truth.