Friday, September 24, 2010

The Return of the Natives

Magnet # 350:  Cherokee Indian Museum Pictograph

Material:  Resin

Purchased By:  Kim

On this day, part of the United States observes Native American Day.  It's a time where we honor and celebrate the earliest inhabitants of the Americas and our country.  The tradition of holding the observance on the fourth Friday in September goes back to 1968, when then California Governor Ronald Regan signed it into law.  And other state governments, like Montana, have followed California's example.  In San Bernardino, they are celebrating by holding the 12th annual California Native American Day celebration and around a thousand are expected to attend.  It's held at the end of a weeklong observance known as the California Cultural Awareness Conference, where the history and culture of California Indians are promoted.  Tonight's main event, which is free to the public, will include storytelling, music, dancing, and participants dressed in traditional Native American attire.  You can find out more about this celebration at  Montana State University is also holding a Native American Heritage  Day, where their performers will also don traditional outfits, but they will play music not usually associated with their culture, like rap.  By doing so, they are hoping to teach onlookers that they are a diverse group that has assimilated elements of modern society into their culture.  And, on the other side of the nation, the Choctaw Indians are celebrating Native American Day with a three day Cultural Arts Festival, complete with crafts and speeches, in Choctaw, Mississippi.  Clearly, although this observance is still somewhat new, it's gaining popularity around the nation.

I'm not sure if the Cherokee Indians of the Southeastern United States are join in today's festivities, but I thought this would be a great time to post this magnet from their museum nonetheless.  Awhile back, I had mentioned on here that I had passed through Cherokee with my folks on a vacation, but that I didn't have enough time to do any shopping there, not even at the Cherokee Indian Museum, who had some attractive magnets on their website.  And Kim must have been reading those words, as she bought this very cool magnet for me when she was able to visit.  Thanks, Kim, for the magnet and following my blog!  As for the Cherokee, they are an ancient people who may have reached the South Appalachians as early as prehistoric times.  They kept mainly to the Great Smoky Mountains and at first they simply traded goods with the European settlers in Virginia, including Indian slaves.  They later joined with the British to expel the French from their territory.  They also continued fighting with other tribes and smallpox wiped out a great deal of the Cherokee, almost half of their population.  But, unlike many other Native Americans, the Cherokee did not wage a full-scale battle against the United States, even joining in to help Andrew Jackson's forces to win the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.  However, their land was still encroached upon, and many left the area voluntarily before their removal was ordered.  Along with the Chickasaw, the Choctaw, the Creek, and the Seminoles, the Cherokee were forced to move to present-day Oklahoma as part of the Trail of Tears. While many have heard of this horrible, forced migration, the details are often glossed over.  The government provided hardly any food for these people, who were often barefoot and lacked adequate clothing for the winter weather they traveled in.  They were forced to personally pay exorbitant travel fees, were herded away from towns, given blankets used by smallpox victims, and, on occasion, were murdered by the locals.  Some were even lost by incompetent guides.  Thousands died before making it to their final destination.  Regardless, they carried on until he Civil Rights Movement helped restore some of their rights.  Some even helped by serving as code talkers during World War II, helping to keep information from being decoded by the enemy.  And many Cherokee have been able to return to the Great Smoky Mountains, where they have their own land set aside at Cherokee, North Carolina, the headquarters for the Eastern Band of their tribe.  Today, the Cherokee are the largest group of American Indians in the United States.  They have come a long way and it's worth celebrating them on this day.  Hopefully, state governments across the nation will continue to follow California's lead by observing Native American Day and celebrating the culture and traditions of the earliest settlers of our land.


  1. Wish I'd been able to get you a good Indian magnet from Oklahoma. But this one is really nifty!

  2. Yes, it is - and I always appreciate how you enable my obsession!