Pyramids were part of Cherokee Indian culture, here in North America. A part of history that somehow passed me by. I’m always gratified to learn something and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, in the town of Cherokee, North Carolina, has preserved the past of a glorious people. In one part of the museum, a voice, next to a map, reads out a long list of the tribes that were totally obliterated by measles, small pox, with help from yellow fever and malaria.
Why a Cherokee Museum in North Carolina? This is where the Trail of Tears started. And, in these same hills, those brave people who escaped forced exile from their lands hid, multiplied, and eventually fought in the white man’s courts to retain reasonable rights to some of their lands.
All cultures have pottery and basketry of some kind. This huge pot stood two feet tall.The openhearted, welcoming Cherokee supplied settlers with needed goods, pots, baskets, meat and corn. The Brits sold them inferior guns for deer hides and corn because they feared the robust Cherokee could over power them. They took so many hides, 79,000 the first year, 125,000 in subsequent years, that the deer population declined and the trade came to an end. Eventually the Cherokee became dependent on white people as their culture adapted to guns, sophisticated clothing, and white man’s ways.
Their leaders agreed to adapt. They gave up their language, attended white man’s schools, adopted their religion and signed numerous peace treaties. Nothing helped. They were gathered up like cattle and exiled anyway. Chief Yonagusta commented thus: “The bible seems to be a good book. Surprising that the white man, who have had it so long, are not better.”
This Cherokee man, who was taken to England to meet the King along with two companions commented after a long, tiring, repetitive sermon by Minister Martin. “We understand that good is up and bad is down we don’t need to hear anymore.”
Sequoyah is probably the most famous Cherokee for his invention of a written syllabary, alphabet and language of the Cherokee people.
The museum has the world best collection of artifacts. It publishes a journal and has educational outreach programs. More information can be found at: www.cherokeemuseum.org