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The Legend Of Tsali (Jah-Lee)


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#1 Spirithawk

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 06:08 PM

THE LEGEND OF TSALI - A true story of The Trail Where All Cried ( Trail of TYears )

This is the legend of Tsali. He and his family were real people who once lived in a real place. I call this story a legend because of how he became a symbol of our people. Tsali stands as a symbol of courage, loyalty, and devotion of all the Cherokee. It is a story that you should know. You can not be blamed for the mistakes of your ancestors, but you certainly can learn from them that they are never repeated.......Norm ^i^

This is as it was told to me......... Long ago, when the troubles of the Cherokee began, the ordinary Cherokee did not understand that anything was really wrong. All they knew was that their tribal chiefs traveled back and forth to the white man's place called Washington a lot more often than they used to. They also knew that upon the chiefs return there were many many quarrels in the tribal council. Now, up in the hills, where the Ani Kituhwah ( Ah-nee Kee-tuh-wah ) - the True Cherokees - lived, word of the changes came slowly. Much more slowly than to the Cherokee who lived down in the valleys. Many of those living in the hills never left their farms, and when they did they just traveled to the trading post and right back. Few travelers ever ventured into the hills, into the uplands, where the mists of the Smokies shut out the encroaching world. So when the news arived that some of the chiefs had touched the pen, and put their names and marks on a paper, thus agreeing by doing so that this was no longer Cherokee country, the Ani Kituhwah could not believe their ears. Surely, they told each other, the news must be false. No Cherokee, not even one of mixed blood, would sign away his own and his people's lands. But......that's just what the chiefs had done! The word came that the chiefs were now even more devided amongst themselves. Not all of them had touched the pen. Some were not willing to move across the Mississippi, to settle around Fort Gibson in Oklahoma. "Perhaps we should stay," thought the Ani kituhwah. "Perhaps we will not really have to move." But they knew in their hearts that false hope was the cruelest curse of mankind. One of the leaders of the Ani Kituhwah was named Tsali. The white men couldn't pronounce his name so they called him Charlie. Some called him Dutch. They were of the oldest Ani Kituhwah blood and pure 100% Ani Kituhwah. Tsali and his 4 sons worked two hillsides and the valley between them, in the southern part of the hill country. Tsali and his wife and their youngest son lived in a log house at the head of the hollow. The others lived in homes spread out along the hillsides. They grew corn, beans, a few English peas, squashes, pumpkins, tobacco and cotton. Even a bit of sugar cane and indigo. Tsali's wife kept chickens in a fenced pen away from the house. The women gathered wild hemp and spun it, as well as the wool from their sheep. They did all the work of making clothes for the family. But sometimes in the winter, when their chores were done, the men would help at the looms. Tsali and his family were not rich, in the dollar sense, not like some who lived in the valleys below. They had hardly ever seen the white man's metal money in their whole lives. But they never lacked for food, shelter, clothing or their love for each other. The missionaries hardly ever came to the high hills back then. Tsali would take his sons, their wives, and his own wife to the great dance ground where the 7 Ani Kituhwah villages gathered each month at the full moon. There they danced their prayers in time to the beating of the women's terrapin-shell rattles, around and around the mound of packed white ashes on top of which bloomed the eternal fire that was the life of all Cherokees. The occassional missionary would fuss over the children, giving them white men's names. The Cherokee listened politely to the missionaries, for the missionaries were great gossips, and by listening they would learn their news while ignoring the rest. the Cherokee were told by them that this time there was no hope. Everyone would have to move, the Georgia troopers were moving in, all would have to go west. " Never," Tsali answered. "This is our land and we belong to it. Who could take it from us? Who could even want it? Even we have a hard time farming here. Surely only the land in the lower valleys are of any use to the white man." " They want these hills more than anywhere else," answered the missionary. " Don't you see you poor ignorant Indian? They are finding gold! Gold, downstream in Kituhwah country! That means the gold washed there from up here!!!! I have seen it myself! " "You mean this yellow stuff," asked Tsali as he held up a pouch and opened it. The missionary neary went wild at the sight of the yellow dust it contained! " I only have this," Tsali told him. " because I wish to go to the trader to buy my wife some new ribbon for her dress. " The missionary pleaded with him. Then tried threatning Tsali. He wanted to be Tsali's partner. Together they could be rich. But it was all in vain. Tsali had no interest in the yellow metal, and certainly no interest in being partners with the greedy missionary in anything. So Tsali went down to the trading post to buy the ribbon for his wife's dress. And guess what happened? When the trader saw his pouch of yellow gold dust he went as mad in the head as the missionary. He too wanted to know where it came from. he too wanted, no demanded, to be Tsali's partner. Tsali told him as kindly as his patience allowed, " No, I do not wish to be rich in that kind of manor." So saying he just bought the ribbon for his wife's dress and quickly left. A month later the Georgia militia came riding up to Tsali's cabin. They demanded his wife tell them where he could be found. When she demanded to know why they were there they told her their intent was to put them off of their place. That the land no longer belonged to them and it was now open for settlement. Then pointing at the riders with him, the militia captain told her that likely one of these two men will claim it. Tsali's wife looked up and there sat the trader and the missionary glaring down at her. She pleaded that they could not do that, but her words fell on deaf ears. She was told they all would be taken down by the river, herded into the camp there and would be shipped west tomorrow morning. She sent her youngest son to tell Tsali, who was working in the fields with his other sons, the terrible news. Being assured that his wife was alright, at least when the boy left, Tsali told everyone that they would hide that night in the woods. All afternoon his wife waited. All afternoon so did the white men. When it became dark the militia made camp in Tsali's yard. The white men's women took over the house and cooked the white men's meals. Then late into the night, Tsali's wife and his son's wives , heard a soft scratching. The men had come to get them. Take nothing but only your knives they were told and quietly they all slipped away. In the morning the white men found them gone! It was spring, and the weather warm, but the rain fell and soaked the Cherokees. They had brought no food and they dared not fire a gun. One of the daughters-in-law was pregnant and her time very close. His wife was stiff and crippled with rheumatism. They gathered wild greens and the boys trapped small animals and birds in string snares the women made by pulling out their hair and twisting it. In time, they hoped, the white men would give up and go away. But it was not to be so. One of the white men had brought a dog with him. It led the white men to the cave where the Cherokee were hiding. The white men captured the Cherokee and tied the men's hands behind their backs. then they bound them all together. Thus they herded the men and women through the woods, back to Tsali's house. There the Cherokee could not believe their eyes. The troopers had plundered the garden, trampled the plants they didn't eat. The door to the kitchen was ripped from it's frame. another door hung by one hinge. Clothes and bedding lay in filthy piles around the yard. What the militia men could not use.....they ruined! Tsali's wife asked what they intended to do with them and was told they all would be taken down to the river to be sent west. Tsali refused to go! Our orders are to shoot all who resist he was told. " Shoot me then!" was his answer. " I will not go" he said quietly " You - nor you - nor you - nobody can make me go." His wife, Amanda, screamed, " If you shoot him then shoot us both! I would not wish to go on living without my husband and I too can not bear to leave my home." Tsali's four sons stepped close to their father. "We die with our parents" they told the captain. Even the youngest boy stood by his brother's sides. But Tsali told him he was too young to die, everyone else had lived a good life but his was still ahead of him. He pleaded with the captain not to shoot the boy. " Very well" said the captain. " He can't do too much harm if he lives. Let him go take care of his sisters on their way west." Turning to his men the captain told them to take the boy and young women away. To keep them untill the boats came then load them all aboard. The young boy and women, stunned and silenced, were driven down the road before they could even say goodby, nor would the troopers allow them to look back. Tears streamed from their faces....as behind them they heard the shots........so says, Spirit Hawk ^i^

#2 Phil

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 05:31 AM

Powerful lesson Norm. Makes me shudder to think of the similarities to what patriotic conversitive Americans are facing as "Elected Chiefs" are traveling to Wash.DC and signing away our rights & heritage.....God give us the courage of Talsi !Posted Image
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