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Trails of those who cry

Poetry By: James Gagiikwe
Editorial and opinion



Indian Removal Act and its consequences.


Submitted:Jan 26, 2008    Reads: 208    Comments: 1    Likes: 0   


Trails of those who cry



"Dedeeshkawnk juniyohoosa"

"Let us mourn those who have died",
cried the People on their trail of tears -
"Indian Removal Act":
this forced internal migration -
seventy federal treaties
bought with bribes and threats -
was still genocide;
by laws writ by Congress
and Presidential prejudice,
ethnic-cleansing on a continental scale.
Bayonets surround by day
and vigilantes killings in the dark,
many deaths driving Peoples
from their homelands.


"Dedeeshkawnk ahyoheest"

"Let us mourn those who are dying".
cried the People on their trail of tears -
dying did they,
of disease untreated,
famine from foods withheld,
and the cold winter migration -
trekking westward
to lands undesirable to woodland folk.
Dying and demoralised -
this the unspoken goal of government -
along those trails of tears.
What cultural discontinuity -
what heritage and love,
what talent and wisdom
lost -
mass death does impose.


"Dedeeshkawnk daynahnohtee"

'Let us mourn those who must endure'
cried the People on their trail of tears -
What grief they carried
forward with them,
of lands and soil deprived,
mourning those who perished
and would no longer travel
the long trails west.
Cry those who must endure
the loss of all things -
to have hope to build again
in a geographic prison
without walls
their dignity;
their people-hood retain.

James Gagiikwe © 2008

Notes: Written with thanks to some Cherokee friends.

· The Cherokee Nation is used here to represent all the Eastern Woodland Native Peoples who suffered their own trail of tears.
· The phrase "Dedeeshkawnk juniyohoosa - Dedeeshkawnk ahyoheest - Dedeeshkawnk daynahnohtee" is a Cherokee proverb from their forced removal from the southern states.
· Prejudiced and land-hungry Americans pushed the passage of the Indian Removal Act, in 1830; and with bribery, threats and murders, were able to force the signing of 70 treaties affecting all Native Peoples east of the Mississippi. The bill had the full and active support of President Andrew Jackson. The government's ethnic-cleansings were so poorly organised that they accomplished a de-facto genocide for many tribes.








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