Today, in the US, we are celebrating Columbus Day. To me, a conflict arises, as I think of the Indigenous People who were affected by this event. The arrival of white Europeans meant the beginning of the end of the lives of the Native American people. In North Carolina, the Cherokee people were force off their land and driven to the Oklahoma desert land to live. It became known as the Trail of Tears. Many died on the long march west. Some hid in the North Carolina mountains and a refused to leave. There is still a Cherokee presence in the Great Smokie Mountains.
When we visited Banner Elk a couple of years ago, we saw symbols of Indian heritage in the stone walls erected in the center of town. This was very interesting to me, since I read that there are numerous gated communities in the Banner Elk area. I would guess that very few, if any, of those residents are Cherokee.
Banner Elk stone walls
Remind us of tears shed
Fall brings bright colors
Photos: Dwight L. Roth
Frank Tassone, at d’Verse asked us to write a poem for Haibun Monday using the word indigenous. I decided to take the viewpoint of the displaced Cherokee people who once lived in the NC mountains.
In 1977 participants at the United Nations International Conference on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations in the Americas proposed that Indigenous Peoples’ Day replace Columbus Day. Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognizes that Native people are the first inhabitants of the Americas, including the lands that later became the United States of America. And it urges Americans to rethink history. While Columbus day remains the Federal Holiday, many communities in the US celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day this year.
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