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Updated on July 7, 2013

Civilized Indian Woman Managing Her Household

Photo of Painting by Edith Laffoon
Photo of Painting by Edith Laffoon | Source

A Civilized Tribe

She was sitting in the corner of her North Carolina plantation home weaving the vividly colored rug to warm the wooden floor in the colder months ahead. Her children nearby playing quietly.

On her mind, the news that forceful removal of her people was imminent. She wondered if the new land the White man promised was really better and full of promise. Most of what they promised already were lies.

Four years before, the Choctaw had to walk the "trail where they cried".

Out of 15,000 Creeks who marched, 3,500 died. The news was not looking good.

Andrew Jackson, the White man's president, signed the "Indian Removal Act" though. We will leave what we know, what is familiar, all behind.

Without further notice or time for preparations of moving, there were horses coming. They are here already to take us. Breaking through the door with guns aimed at her husband, the White man shows they mean business and they grab a blanket and go.

Looking back, they see the home torched, the garden trambled, and the horses stolen.

Strength of Bronze, Heart of Gold


Trail They Cried On

They herded us in forts not fit for animals. We waded through dung and they took the blankets we brought as we hurried at gunpoint.

We are hungry. My children are hungry. I give what I can of mine to them.

Abused and brokenhearted, hungry, some died because Creator had mercy and some are near death now. The White man shows no mercy for the sick, the hungry or the weak.

Through many seasons we march, often too weak so they chain us together. When we finally do stop for a rest, it is an effort to make fire and fix a place to sleep. Some are sick with stomach issues. Those who had shoes have worn them off their feet and are now equal to those of us who had none. Our feet are cold in the snow. The trail is easy to see because we leave blood from our sore feet behind.

Days at a time it rains and we march. Days at a time the temperatures are freezing cold. We encourage each other to keep going so as not to freeze, usually with a silent look. But many die anyway.

Wickedness prevails throughout the cold camp. Women are taken against their will. We have no belongings left. Even what we wear is worn to the skin. We are cold and hungry.

The trail will be long today, for this morning, one of my children died and I wanted to bury him but they forced me at bayonet to leave the body for the wild beasts and march on.

We are at the river. It is time to cross. Many have died and many will die during the crossing, already weak, cold and hungry, we will not have the strength to arrive at the promised land. We hold out hope because we are strong as bronze and we have hearts of gold, more valuable than the gold the White man worships, more valuable than all of the yellow rock he can own in his lifetime. We are strong with love for our people. We are crippled in bondage. We are brokenhearted, but our spirits cannot be broken. There is a difference.

Depiction of The Trail of Tears


TRAIL OF TEARS....... a poem by Tammie Clifton

They stole our homes with gun and knife.
And stole from us our way of life.
Though down and out with what we faced
We gave pride back to the human race.

The hunger pains, the cold, the heat.
The rain, the snow cold on our feet.
We journeyed on with stoic look.
With only a short drink from the brook.

We got sick and oh, some died.
Some looked on and others cried.
We faced the rough road up ahead.
As we helped the ill and buried our dead.

Ropes and chains, but braver still
The whips and guns couldn’t break our will.
The sharp points of the bayonette
To leave their baby in the ditch.

But still we held on to the hope
Even when it was hard to cope.
Promised life on the other side
Through the Mississippi swelling tide.

They stole our homes with gun and knife.
And stole from us our way of life.
Though down and out with what we faced
We gave pride back to the human race.

Written by Tammie Clifton
October 1, 2012

Used with permission

Cherokee Nation Heritage Center Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Cherokee Nation Heritage Center Tahlequah, Oklahoma | Source
Cherokee Nation Heritage Center Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Cherokee Nation Heritage Center Tahlequah, Oklahoma | Source
Cherokee Nation Heritage Center Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Cherokee Nation Heritage Center Tahlequah, Oklahoma | Source

60th Annual Powwow, Tahlequah, OK



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    • BuffaloGal1960 profile imageAUTHOR

      T. Clifton 

      5 years ago from Buffalo, Missouri

      Thank you.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Powerful and strong in style...thank you for sharing this with us.


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