By Mary Adair
My Passion Series is one book away from taking place during the Trail of Tears. The series started with PASSION'S VISION in the mid 1700s with New Moon, a female Cherokee warrior, and James Fitzgerald, an English agent. I enjoyed every aspect of research on that project. Same with RAVEN’S PASSION and PASSION’S PRICE.
I am now looking at a story taking place in one of our nation’s saddest and most unjust times, The Trail of Tears. In my research I rediscovered facts I had not thought about for a long time. I don’t think it is well understood today that in the early 1800s in Georgia, Cherokee families owned homes on farms and even plantations.
|Winter on the Trail of Tears|
Cherokee built roads, and sawmills, and blacksmith shops. They were lawyers and doctors and businessmen. They farmed their land and encouraged missionaries to set up schools to educate their children in the English language. They used a syllabary, characters representing syllables, developed by a Cherokee man named Sequoyah to encourage literacy while encouraging the retention of their own rich culture.
The struggle to maintain their freedom and their land was hard. In 1830 gold was found on Cherokee land and the Indian removal act was passed. In 1832, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Cherokee. Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the Cherokee Nation was sovereign, making the removal laws invalid.
The Cherokee would have to agree to removal in a treaty for such a thing to ever happen. The treaty then would have to be ratified by the Senate. Even so, 1832 saw the encroachment into Cherokee land with the land lottery. I can’t think of words that could accurately describe the pain and sorrow suffered by the brave and noble People that called this home for ages beyond memory.
In 1835 a minority, 500 out of 17,000 not truly representing the Cherokee Nation, signed The Treaty of New Echota. This act alone gave Jackson the legal document he needed to remove the Cherokee. Ratification of the treaty by the United States Senate sealed the fate of the Cherokee. General Winfield Scott arrived at New Echota on May 17, 1838 with 7000 men. Early that summer General Scott and the United States Army began the invasion of the Cherokee Nation.
|Trail of Tears|
The forced removal and the bitter journey was brutal. About 4000 Cherokee died as a result of the removal. The route they took became known as "The Trail of Tears" or, as a direct translation from Cherokee, "The Trail Where They Cried" ("Nunna daul Tsuny").
|A Cherokee Rose|
The Legend of the Cherokee Rose was born on this Trail of Tears...
The mothers of the Cherokee grieved so much that the chiefs prayed for a sign to lift the mothers' spirits and give them strength to care for their children. From that day forward, a beautiful new flower, a rose, grew wherever a mother's tear fell to the ground. The rose is white, for the mother's tears. It has a gold center, for the gold taken from the Cherokee lands, and seven leaves on each stem that represent the seven Cherokee clans that made the journey. To this day, the Cherokee Rose prospers along the route of the "Trail of Tears".