Image Source: Ashley Noelle
I am of proud American stock. Cherokee stock. My people have suffered greatly. But we remain proud.
My great-grandmother survived what we now call the Trail of Tears. Her American government passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, forcing her people to give up their land in Alabama. Many stayed, believing the land was theirs. But the government enforced a treaty that was not signed by the leaders of her people, and she was forced by bayonet to march from Fort Wayne, Alabama, to Tahlequah in the Indian Territory, or what is now Oklahoma, in 1838.
Many thousands of Cherokee died of cold, hunger and disease during the march. And when my people arrived on their new land, which they never wanted, they had nothing.
My great-grandmother survived this injustice, and remained proud of her people. And now I remain proud as we survive these difficult times. The depression worsens by the day. Henry picks up work where he can, as a blacksmith and a grave digger, but with eleven children, it is hard to provide properly. We have not enough for food, nor an extra stitch of clothes, so often Henry and I go without.
In the cities, men set up shanties in camps called “Hoovervilles” after the former President. They walk past bread lines that stretch for blocks, and in every window is a sign saying NO WORK. Both the President and Mrs. Roosevelt have said on the radio that they wish to bring federal aid to help feed children, and would that it were so. I do not mind going without myself, but leave us provide for our children.
But I remain optimistic that things will change. This country is great, in spite of shameful chapters such as happened to my great-grandmother. And her people are great. Strong, proud, people. Pride is in my Cherokee blood.