Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trail of Tears

This morning I awoke to more snow if you can believe it, and a feeling of content with whatever lot God chooses to send our way. Now I just have to get out of bed. Hehehe It amazes me that I can ever forget that the Father is looking out for me, even more than I ever care and provide for my children. He is so faithful, and we can be so ugly. I truly have so little to cry about, and so much to thank Him for.
I read a little book called, "Remember My Name" by Sara Banks to prepare for the kids next History lesson, regarding the Indian Removal of 1838. It is terrible to know how greedy and wicked we can be if we want something, and actually to do those hurtful things in the name of Jesus. At that time, Georgia had many Cherokee nations within it's borders- and these Indians occupied the majority of the land that was fertile and perfect for growing cotton. To remove a people that Georgians saw as a threat, and to take possess of the best lands- they fought in legislature until they got laws passed that stated Indians could not own land or gold, and were to be removed by force- the Governor had the backing of the Federal Government, with thousands of military troops to "help" with the removal.
A sad day it was as Cherokee after Cherokee was forced from their homes and herded to stockades built in the biggest cities all over the "Deep South". Not hours later, White families would move into their homes and take over all their material belongings. Once they finally began the movement, thousands of Indians were in a forced march over thousands of miles- through Arkansas. More than half died of disease, exhaustion,or starvation, and often mothers could not even stop long enough to bury their children.(Note: this happened to many other tribes as well- Seminole, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw- in all the "Deep South" states.)
It boggles my mind to even dream of that happening today, or how anyone could move in to a home they didn't EARN OR PAY FOR as they watched the very backs of the owners walking away. But I suppose that is the importance of history, to force us to
consider decisions and motives, and learn from our successes and mistakes. Hindsight truly can be 20/20.
There was a side note in the book, regarding "The Controversial Eleven". Lead by Rev. Samuel Worcester and Dr. Elizur Butler, eleven missionaries dared to decry the wrongs against Indians, preach to the indigenous people, and translated the book of Matthew into Cherokee. Governor Gilmer of Georgia regarded this teaching of Indians to be the reason the Cherokees were so stubborn and refused to leave their lands. So they passed a law that all Whites needed to obtain a license from the Governor to live in the state, and to get that license they must recite a loyalty oath to the State of Georgia. Eleven missionaries refused to take the oath, and were tried before the County Supreme Court and indicted. They were released on bond while awaiting trial before the State Supreme Court, but Worcester was told that he would be arrested again if he remained in his home in New Echota. He reluctantly went to Tennessee to await his next trail, leaving his brand new baby, and wife Ann. But on August 14, his daughter died after never recovering from her difficult birth, and Worcester hurried home to care and comfort his grieving wife. He arrived too late for the funeral, but the Georgia Guard were waiting for him. They arrested him again, and the Elven were sentenced to four years of hard labor for supporting the Cherokee people and refusing to take the oath.
Because Gilmer did not want the Eleven to become martyrs in the eyes of the people, he offered pardon to any who would take the oath or move out of the state. 9 of the 11 agreed, but Worcester and Butler refused. They served one year and four months of their sentence before a new governor was elected and freed them.
Marian Starkey was able to report a comment of how the Cherokee people felt of the two men's imprisonment and refusal to be released under such terms. A Cherokee leader said: "That one act of courage makes the whole world braver."
One godly choice to be courageous does make a difference.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

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