Red Nations Remembering 1998
A Cherokee Honoring of the Trail of Tears
March 8, 1998
In Houston, Red Nations Remembering on Sunday, March 8, 1998, commemorating the lives of those who walked the "trail where they cried" was a powerful event this year. The day before, members of the Cherokee Cultural Society of Houston excitedly prepared for the events of the next day by preparing the event's park grounds. That evening, under cool clear skies, the stars shown brightly as a Cherokee stomp dance stirred the air and startled small night owls in the nearby Shaky Hollow Stomp Grounds. 50 to 60 participants, mostly from all parts of Texas and Oklahoma helped in the songs and tangled the people in twisting line dances that night. During the dancing we watched the stars and hoped the weather would hold for our Second Annual Red Nations Remembering event the next day. Somehow we knew that it would not.
As the day dawned windy and overcast, members of the Cherokee Cultural Society of Houston, honored speakers and vendors steadily prepared for the events of the day. The rain that we had feared did not come, but the wind and the cold did. Blasts of bone chilling cold whipped through blankets and sweaters as people huddled under awnings. Somehow it was fitting for the day. Black armbands had been passed to the elders and children in the crowd. We wanted people to understand the depth of the loss for our ancestors. J.C. High Eagle opened our event with prayer, reminding us with words what we had all been feeling in our hearts. This day was very much like the days in 1838 when our ancestors too had stood in the cold and began their walk. For them, this would have been a "good day". As we began our memorial "trail of tears" through West Montgomery County Park, the Cherokee words to Amazing Grace lofted over the trees like feathers caught in a strong breeze. Those that walked at the end of the line wearing a black armband and were proud of the people walking before us--and the ones who had walked long before us.
Later, we heard stories from the voices of Sequoyah, John Ross, Major Ridge, Sarah Ridge, Sam Houston, Richard Fields and Nancy Ward. Native American flute music and dancing interspersed the day as people stayed as long as they beared, warming themselves how ever they could. It was a day we will not forget. It was a powerful day.
Red Nations Remembering is on the second Sunday in March each year (The third annual event is on March 28, 1999). People from all tribes are invited to participate in their local communities or join the Cherokee Cultural Society in Houston at our annual event. Our purpose is to share our stories with the young so that we will never forget.
A special thanks to those communities who took this on with us this year. To name the few we heard from: Ohio, Tennessee, New Jersey, Idaho, New Mexico, and two islands of Hawaii: Kauai and The Big Island. Blessings to all who participated and those we didn't hear from as well. We would love to hear about all the events.
Cherokee Cultural Society
Board of Directors