May 4, 2010

Tasalagi Tale (7/9)

   "Then the white man came (probable first contact 1539 De Soto), things changed. Quickly, they started breaking our people's spirit and our ancient ways: eventually our brothers in the west walked another path than ours. They built fences, made treaties and deals they didn't keep, poisoned us with war and whiskey. We fought many battles for the white man for we still believed in his lies and his friendship. We defeated the Shawnees for them (1756), but then they turned on us and attacked us. Longknife Montgomery attacked villages by surprise like a coward and burned them, then torched the fields and the orchards after killing all of our people (1760). Thus died the village of little Keowee and many many of the lower towns. This brought fire into our hearts and showed us the white man's true face. Many brothers gathered and defeated longknife Montgomery as he headed for the middle and upper towns and we made him run away like the coward he was."

   "Next came long knife Grant (1761) with our enemies the Chickasaws and the Catawbas, we fought bravely but they were too many and too well equipped. The middletowns burned, the lands we cared for burned, many brothers were killed and our horses stolen. We had to hide in the upper towns and go back to our old ways for food and clothes because there was no more trade. These were hard times but worse were yet to come. Many small battles were fought and war lingered. But then a great number of white fighters with long guns came from all around us (a concerted attack supported by all the surrounding states) following many white leaders (1776). We fought with much courage and did many great deeds were done in vain. They burned and killed and stole almost everything. Some us managed to flee here: into the Smokies. We had spread from the sacred mountains and we had returned there in utter defeat. We could fight no more and so signed a peace treaty but the whites continued to attack us and their diseases appeared among us (chicken pox, flu...). We signed many treaties (13) with no meaning other than the white man would take more land (within the 13 treaties there were 16 occurrences of this), and the war went on for many years (until 1798 approximately). It was during this time that some our people decided to go west towards the Rockies."

   "Then came a time of relative peace, our people grew and we adapted our ways to that of the whites and became farmers. Our youngsters began to believe and hope again, but the elders knew that the clouds had only parted for a short time. In eighteen-fifteen a young man of our people found the cursed yellow metal and it is said that he had a vision of the pain would bring his people and so cursed it and hid it deep in the mountains. Many good things were done in the following years. We had a government and a constitution (1827) for our people. Hicks and John Ross spoke with the white men for us. This new government little to us in our hearts for we had had a true government for many ages before, but the white couldn't hear its words. I think it was foolish, our true government couldn't speak to the white men and our official government could but its word fell upon dead white ears. It was at this time that Seloquay (a.k.a. George Guess) made the talking leaf (written lang. with 85 letters approved by the chiefs in 1821) for the a-ni'-tsa-la'-gi (plural of Cherokee)."