Guest Writings do not necessarily reflect my own opinions. I am trying to create an open forum. I reserve the right to include any submitted article or not, with or without saying why. If you wish to reproduce any of these writings you must ask permission of the author. At the bottom of each article will be contact information for the author when it is available. 

Del "Abe" Jones-October, 2003

The land of Winding Waters
In the place known as Oregon -
Sacred land deeded to them
At the first rising of the sun -

These Nez Perce, people of Joseph
Were the heart of their homeland -
Where the great eagle soared the sky
Above treetops of forests, grand -

Where ponies grazed the green glade
And naked boys, mounted bareback
Laughing and shouting happily
Raced to some certain place and back -

Young bodies glistening with droplets
Of crystal, cool water that cools -
Bronze skin drying in bright sunlight
On sandbars of eddying pools -

A land of peace and contentment
Where man could walk, proud and free -
Where his roots grew deep into the Earth -
Where heart and soul would always be -

They would fish for the great Salmon 
On their homeward river run 
Bound, with great determination
To where their life had first begun -

Something in their blood akin to mans'
When he has long been on the roam -
Some compelling force within
That leads him back to his home -

They seemed insurmountable -
Those obstacles to be leapt -
But only death would stop his trek
To where heart and soul were kept.

The Salmon jumped high from the water -
Buried 'neath the Earth the Camas roots -
Herds of Buffalo across the mountains
Known as the Bitterroots

It truly was a land of plenty -
Blessed by the Great Chief in the sky
And loved by the Nez Perce people
Born there to live until they'd die -
It was home, their heritage -

Where their forefathers' wisdom
Echoed from the Burial Grounds
Which was listened to and done -
Around campfires Chiefs told stories

Of the paleface searching for the sea -
How, Chief Twisted Hair drew a map
To show them where it might be -
They returned with tales of conquests
Which still live until this day -

Of how this Indian Nation helped
Lewis and Clark find their way.
A peaceful tribe like most
Who tried to share with the white man -

Until the forked-tongued ones 
Tried to force them from their land -
Under the flag of truce -
Fired on by those in blue -

Chief Joseph gave the war cry
Of the battle that ensued -
Nearly three months of fighting
As the Nez Perce tried to flee

To the safety of Canada
Where they hoped they could be free - 
But the bluecoats kept on coming -
And despite their valiant fight
Joseph bowed in surrender

On one cold September night.
He said, "Most of our Chiefs are killed
And too many Braves lay dead."
As he cast down his rifle

He raised his blanket o'er his head -
He said, "My heart is sick and sad.
Our children freeze in the weather.
From where the sun now stands,

I will fight no more, forever."
Placed on far-off reservations
And finally back to the Northwest -
Never to return to Wallowa

The land they loved, the best -
One hundred-fifty of them left
Sent to the Colville Reservation -
Sentenced to a life of poverty
Was another Great Indian Nation.

In the year of nineteen hundred-four
Chief Josephs' Spirit did depart -
And a doctor who examined him
Said, "He died of a broken heart."

In this story lies a moral
And a shameful legacy
That to this day defiles the words,
"The Land Of The Free!"

     The above was inspired by the book with the same title by Robert Penn Warren ("ALL THE KING'S MEN"), Mr. Warren was kind enough to critique it for me before his death. 

We whites honor the "Hermitage"
And the man who once lived there -
But, that leader of our Nation
Was cruel, unjust, unfair -

He ordered the removal
Of the Cherokee from their land
And forced them on a trek
That the Devil must have planned -

One thousand miles of misery -
Of pain and suffering -
Because greed of the white man
Could not even wait till spring -

We should bow our heads in shame 
Even unto this day
About "The Trail Of Tears"
And those who died along the way. 

It was October, eighteen thirty-eight
When seven thousand troops in blue
Began the story of the "Trail"
Which, so sadly, is so true -

Jackson ordered General Scott
To rout the Indian from their home -
The "Center Of The World" they loved -
The only one they'd known -

The Braves working in the fields
Arrested, placed in a stockade -
Women and children dragged from home
In the bluecoats shameful raid -

Some were prodded with bayonets
When, they were deemed to move too slow 
To where the Sky was their blanket
And the cold Earth, their pillow - 

In one home a Babe had died 
Sometime in the night before -
And women mourning, planning burial
Were cruelly herded out the door -

In another, a frail Mother -
Papoose on back and two in tow
Was told she must leave her home
Was told that she must go -

She uttered a quiet prayer -
Told the old family dog good-bye -
Then, her broken heart gave out
And she sank slowly down to die -

Chief Junaluska witnessed this -
Tears streaming down his face -
Said if he could have known this
It would have never taken place -

For, at the battle of Horse Shoe
With five hundred Warriors, his best -
Helped Andrew Jackson win that battle
And lay thirty-three Braves to rest -

And the Chief drove his tomahawk
Through a Creek Warrior's head
Who was about to kill Jackson -
But whose life was saved, instead -

Chief John Ross knew this story
And once sent Junaluska to plead -
Thinking Jackson would listen to
This Chief who did that deed -

But, Jackson was cold, indifferent 
To the one he owed his life to 
Said, "The Cherokee's fate is sealed -
There's nothing, I can do." 

Washington, D.C. had decreed
They must be moved Westward -
And all their pleas and protests
To this day still go unheard.

On November, the seventeenth
Old Man Winter reared his head -
And freezing cold, sleet and snow
Littered that trail with the dead

On one night, at least twenty-two
Were released from their torment
To join that Great Spirit in the Sky
Where all good souls are sent -

Many humane, heroic stories
Were written 'long the way -
A monument, for one of them -
Still stands until this day -

It seems one noble woman
It was Chief Ross' wife -
Gave her blanket to a sick child
And in so doing, gave her life -

She is buried in an unmarked grave -
Dug shallow near the "Trail" -
Just one more tragic ending
In this tragic, shameful tale -

Mother Nature showed no mercy
Till they reached the end of the line
When that fateful journey ended
On March twenty-sixth, eighteen thirty-nine.

Each mile of this infamous "Trail"
Marks the graves of four who died -
Four thousand poor souls in all
Marks the shame we try to hide - 

You still can hear them crying
Along "The Trail Of Tears"
If you listen with your heart
And not with just your ears. 

      The preceding was partly inspired by a story told to children by John Burnett on the occasion of his eightieth birthday in 1890. It was printed in a book titled
"Cherokee Legends And The Trail Of Tears", adapted by Thomas Bryan Underwood.

     My main inspiration, though is the shame and disgust I feel as I learn more about the atrocities perpetrated by our forefathers and the injustices which still occur to the true Native Americans.

      John Burnett was a Private in an infantry company which took part in the Cherokee Removal of 1838-1839. Near the end of his story he says, in part, "Future generations will read and condemn the act .....". Do we?

      In closing he says, "However, murder is murder whether committed by the villain skulking in the dark or by uniformed men stepping to the strains of martial music.
Murder is murder and somebody must answer, somebody must explain the streams of blood that flowed in the Indian country in the summer of 1838. 

     Somebody must explain the four thousand silent graves that mark the trail of the Cherokees to their exile. I wish I could forget it all, but the picture of six hundred and forty-five wagons lumbering over the frozen ground with their Cargo of suffering humanity still lingers in my memory.

     Let the historian of a future day tell the sad story with its' sighs, its' tears and dying groans. Let the great Judge of all the earth weigh our actions and reward us according to our work." 

If only it worked that way!

Del "Abe" Jones

White Bluff, TN

Abe's 9/11 Memorial page 
More of Abe's Poetry

Abe's first e-book, "THE WORLD, WAR, FREEDOM, AND MORE", 
(re: Vietnam, Gulf War, and all Vets, Native American, Trail of Tears and
Chief Joseph, ) available for FREE in .zip or .exe format. Just ask for it.

Artwork on this Page-
Chief Joseph-photograph by E Curtis-see article on E Curtis
"Shadow of the Owl"-John

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