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My Family History (Culture Diversity Course)

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I was born on the Indian Reservation in North Carolina in 1967 to the Cherokee Tribe of Native American Indians. My parents were both full-blooded Cherokee and I was being raised to speak both my native tongue of Cherokee and English. Tsalagi (Tsa-la-gi) is an Iroquoian language and is spoken by 22,000 Cherokee people. The Tsalagi language in North America is at a great risk of becoming extinct. There are some government policies that were placed in the 1950’s that enforce the removal of Cherokee children from Tsalagi-speaking homes, which reduced the number of bilingual Cherokee children from 75% to less than 5% today. (2006)

There is a story that has been told through the years of the migration from my great-great grandfather’s home to the reservation. The president at the time had declared Justice Marshal and now let him enforce it. The arm was then sent it to enforce the new law. Many crimes were committed and many were killed in cold blood. They were driven from their homes because the government thought there was gold on the Indians land. Many of the men were taken from the fields and women were taken from their homes, my great- great grandfather was forced to watch the execution of his relatives and was arrested the following day and was taken west, he and others did not even have a chance to grab any of their belongings before being forced from their homes. (Burnett, Dec. 1890)

There was this widowed mother and her three children in one home that were forced to move to the west. She had the infant strapped to her back and her hands out for her other two children when her heart stopped and she passed on to the Spirit world leaving her children to fend for themselves.

During their travel west they encounters freezing temperatures which began in the beginning of November of 1838 and ended in March of 1839 which signified the end of their journey. They were made to sleep on the ground without a fire or even blankets to help keep them warm. Many of my people died on their journey to the west, sometimes as many as 22 a night died due to the miss treatment and freezing temperatures. Some of the ones that died were children and women and at times some of the soldiers would give the women and children there overcoats while on duty to help the stay warm. The ones that died were buried in shallow graves with nothing to mark their final resting place. There were over 4000 unmarked graves that went from the foothills of the Smokey Mountains to Indian Territory in the West. (Burnett, DEC 1890)

The soldiers would take some of the young girls and women to their wagons to help keep them warm and the others would sing their mountain songs. These women could not be classed as prostitutes because of their kind nature and their soft hearts. Some of the soldiers tried to protect the Cherokee on this journey only to end up in a confrontation amongst the soldiers. Most of the soldiers felt that the Indians were no better than their dogs and needed to be treated no better than you would treat a wild animal.

There were many crimes that were committed against our ancestors; these crimes have been buried deep within the history of the Cherokee people. My grandpa had stated before he passed away, “Murder is murders, and someone must answer for those crimes committed against us. Someone must explain



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