Cherokee History Timeline
2013 Commentary
 

I believe it was President Lyndon Johnson who said that "deciding to do the right thing is not difficult.  Deciding what is the right thing to do is what is difficult."  After replying to Walter Knapp's email, I went online to see what I could find about the Cherokee Freedmen.  As is not untypical of the magic of the Internet, the amount of information out there about the issue was overwhelming.  Even sifting through the half a dozen sources I chose to examine was daunting.  Deciding how much of it to try to distill into workable entries for the timeline became a significant task in itself. 

I try to present the information in the timeline in an unbiased manner, with as little commentary as possible.  It is the reason I even write references to myself in the third person.  But, as I delved into the information, I found myself in the same quagmire as I imagine those Cherokee leaders dealing with the issue are finding themselves.  As a person who can usually discern both (or multiple) sides of something, I could see how a totally closed door allows those with racist agendas to perpetuate the wrong of slavery, but a completely open door allows those solely with greed as their motivation, who have no real interest in Cherokee culture, history, or community, to take advantage of the situation.  Beyond the whole sovereignty issue, the question of what does citizenship really mean rises to the forefront for me.  Is it solely a right of birth, or does it carry with it some responsibility?  How do we respect individual freedom in the midst of it all?  In my presentation, using my Cherokee heritage display, introducing people to the history and culture, I usually make the point that being Cherokee was more like being Jewish than like being an United States citizen.  One could simply be born Cherokee, of course, just as someone can be born an American.  But, there was more to it than that.  It was not just a matter of geography or lineage, but of culture, a way of living and viewing reality.  But, is it still?  How does what they call in the east duyuktv (the right way) play into all of this?  How does simple fairness and truth apply here?  As a person whose undocumented Cherokee family heritage is about seven generations removed from me, none of this is actually relevant to my personal situation.  But, since I see all things as being related, and connected as a whole, I have spent much time and thought on this. 

Interestingly, my entire end of 2013 seems to be centering around the topic of slavery.  In addition to this project, I had a number of Abraham Lincoln DVDs which I had finally started to watch.  Then one day, a month or so ago, I flipped on the TV during my lunch and happened to see Christine Caine speaking.  She is one of the founders of the A21 Campaign combating slavery (much of it sexual) today around the world.  Did you know there are more people in bondage today than at any other time in the history of the world?  I did not, until visiting their website.  In the midst of working on the timeline, I have been reading her book "Undaunted."  So while the Cherokee struggle with a remaining legacy grown from the evils of slavery, it still exists, and surrounds us, invisible to most of us too comfortable or too busy to notice.  Too content, afraid, or simply not wanting to be bothered, we are happy to ignore it.  But should we?  In the big picture, can we really afford to?  

The oppressed do not see too much difference between those who would keep them down and those who do nothing to help.  There is no in-between.  
                                                                                                                 Christine Caine

I have endeavored to include enough of the Cherokee Freedmen information in the timeline to create a relatively solid picture and give it the justice it deserves.  Undoubtedly, some will think I have overemphasized it, while others will deem my entries unduly edited and slight.  I see my job as one of providing basic awareness and a good foundation to work from.  There is an abundance of additional information available on the Internet if you wish to explore it further.  And, by all means, if you are in a position to offer wisdom or possible solutions which would be fair to all, please do so.  Also, do not turn a blind eye to the still prevalent issue of slavery.  For more information about that, and what you can do, see the A21 Campaign link in my links pages (Christian, Expression, and Miscellaneous), or simply do an online search. 

In a week we celebrate the birth of the One who came to set us all free from whatever binds us.  May your journey be blessed with His freedom and mercy.  Be well.  Help others.  Thank you again for visiting my website and allowing me to share with you. 

God's peace, william
Acts 5:29

 

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