the legend of the burning belt

A story is told that, in the Fall of 1776, most towns in the Little Tennessee region were burned by American soldiers and militia men, but one town was spared. It was Chota, the home of Nancy Ward. 

According to "The Legend of the Burning Belt," a Sacred Belt (or adela) was laid over a crossbeam in Nancy Ward's home and a prophesy told; that the problems of the Cherokee stemmed from their having left the traditional path. If they obeyed tradition, they would be all right as long as the Belt survived. The Belt then burst into flames, but the structure remained, ". . . as if the fire had burned around the strings which held the beads together." The event was interpreted as the Belt being indestructible. like the "Fire People" (the Cherokees) themselves. 

Around the time of removal, the Belt disappeared and was thought destroyed. Later, the Belt was found in the possession of the Western Band Cherokees in Oklahoma and is still there today. 


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