An area of present-state Oklahoma was the final destination for the Cherokee tribe after they were forced from their home in the Eastern United States because the settlers and speculators wanted the gold and other natural resources in their mountains.
I love visiting Tahlequah because of its rich history and the citizens' love of this history. There are double street signs in Tahlequah - one in English and one in Cherokee. The Cherokee History Center there is a must-see for visitors to Eastern Oklahoma. Walk in the woods near Tahlequah and you can literally feel the spirits around you (or it may be the Little People...But that's a story for later)....
Oklahomans as a lot aren't terribly fond of President Andrew Jackson and his minions, and although we love Tahlequah and our Cherokee, we are a bit sensitive over the subject of the Trail of Tears. What was done to the Cherokee people around 1830 was nothing short of a death march sanctioned by our own government. The fact that the Cherokee flourished and prospered in Tahlequah and the surrounding area is a credit to the Cherokee people, and should never be used to diminish the travesty that was done to them at the hands of the greedy.
There are two great legends associated with the grief experienced on the Trail of Tears. One is the legend of the Rose Rock. The other, featured here today, is the legend of the Cherokee Rose. Credit for compiling and editing this story goes to Kathy Weiser of http://www.legendsofamerica.com/ . Visit this great website for more beautiful legends and stories of our past.
The Legend of the Cherokee Rose (nu na hi du na tlo hi lu i)
More than 175 years ago, gold was discovered in the mountains of North Carolina and Georgia and as thousands of new settlers invaded the area, it spawned tensions with the American Indian tribes. As a result, President Andrew Jackson established the Indian Removal Policy in 1830, which forced the Cherokee Nation to give up its lands east of the Mississippi River and migrate to Indian Territory (now present day Oklahoma.)
The forced march, which began in 1838, was called the "Trail of Tears," because over 4,000 of the 15,000 Indians died of hunger, disease, cold, and exhaustion. In the Cherokee language, the event is called Nunna daul Tsuny -- "the trail where they cried."
Along the way, the Cherokee mothers cried and the elders prayed for a sign that would lift their spirits to give them strength. One night along the trail, the old men spent in the evening in powerful prayer, asking the Great One to help them with their suffering and save the children to rebuild the Cherokee Nation.
The Great One responded to the elders by saying: "Yes, I have seen the sorrows of the women and I can help them to keep their strength to help the children. Tell the women in the morning to look back where their tears have fallen to the ground. I will cause to grow quickly a plant, which will grow up and up and fall back down to touch the ground where another stem will begin to grow.
The next day when the Cherokee continued their journey, the elders advised the mothers to look behind them. In each place where the mothers' tears fell, a beautiful white rose began to grow. As the women watched the beautiful blossoms form, they forgot to cry and felt strong. By the afternoon they saw many white blossoms as far as they could see.
Its rose's gold center is said to represent the gold taken from the Cherokee lands, and its seven leaves on each stem signifies the seven Cherokee clans. Today, the wild Cherokee Rose can be found all along the Trail of Tears from North Carolina to Oklahoma.