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Cherokee Memories

Tall I stood.
Proud I stood.
Like a majestic redwood tree.
Like my father before me.
Like his father before him

Men and women alike,
Wrestled with the soil,
Attacking it with hoes
Until it split
And swallowed up the seeds.

Stalks of corn shot upward
Up, up, up, seeking the sun
While their roots roamed

Beneath the ground,
Thirsty for water.
Then luscious ears of corn
Appeared juicy and yellow.

We chased the deer
Bows and arrows in hand.
Hungry for its flesh.
Lusting after its skin.
Venison to feed our families.
Deerskin to warm our bodies.

Then came the Europeans.
Then came the guns,
Smallpox and sickness.
We traded deerskins for their guns.
We replaced our clothes with their clothes.
Then they replaced us with white men.
Uprooted from our homes,
Forced from our land.
Made to follow a Trail of Tears.

© Barbara Dudley

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