Skip to comments.We Shall Remain - PBS American Experience
Posted on 04/20/2009 9:09:34 AM PDT by AuntB
Last Monday began the PBS Series, "WE SHALL REMAIN" with their first Episode "After The Mayflower".
The ones that will get my attention begin next week, Monday April 20th, 2009, and especially the April 27th "Trail of Tears" episode which will feature "The Ridge", the Cherokee leader and his clan who I wrote about in "Jesus Wept" An American Story.
It will be VERY interesting to see how PBS deals with this situation or if they will be overtaken with the usual political correctness and historical rumor. My story is taken from documented records as well as family letters saved from the time. I sincerely hope PBS's story is also as factual. We shall see. It's a story worth telling.
From PBS: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weshallremain/
"Though the Cherokee embraced civilization and won recognition of tribal sovereignty in the U.S. Supreme Court, their resistance to removal from their homeland failed. Thousands were forced on a perilous march to Oklahoma."
'We Shall Remain': From Plymouth to Wounded Knee, a Tale of Survival
"The episodes devoted to Tecumseh and the Trail of Tears are the most emotionally powerful, and achieve the best balance between reenactment and standard documentary style. In "Trail of Tears," the third episode, distinguished Native American actor Wes Studi stars as Major Ridge, a prosperous Cherokee landholder who decided it was in the interest of his people, and his own prosperity, to give up an independent Cherokee homeland in the southern Appalachians in hopes of peace and resettlement in land west of the Mississippi. It is one of the most vile and shameful chapters in the history of U.S. relations with Native Americans, and Studi captures well the anguish of his conflicted character.
The filmmakers don't shy away from internal conflicts within native societies, and these conflicts were often exploited by outsiders. It was the Mohawks, loyal to the English, who turned on King Philip and defeated him. After Major Ridge, who owned black slaves and sent his son to boarding school in Connecticut, signed a desperate treaty with the Americans he was viewed as a traitor. He and his son were killed by their own people."
I saw it and have my DVR set to record all of the series. I’m a Wes Studi fan, and he’s going to be in one of the upcoming episodes.
“I saw it and have my DVR set to record all of the series. Im a Wes Studi fan, and hes going to be in one of the upcoming episodes.”
Studi will portray “The Ridge”, a Cherokee leader named Major Ridge by President Jackson.
Following is a snip of a letter written by John Ridge, Major Ridge’s son.
All Nations have their rises & their falls.
This has been the case with us.
Within the orbit the U. States move the States
& within these we move in a little circle,
dependent on the great center.
We may live this way fifty years and then we shall
by Natural Causes merge in & mingle with the U. States.......
Cherokee blood, if not destroyed,
will win its courses in beings of fair complexions,
who will read that their ancestors became civilized
under the frowns of misfortune
& the causes of their enemies.” -
John Ridge , letter to Albert Gallatin,
member of Thomas Jefferson’s staff - February 27, 1826
I still remember Wes Studi from Dances with Wolves.
His most unfortunate role was as "The Sphinx" in Mystery Men...
Here are some photos, etc. from the show of Studi.
Seventy tribes attacked them but, by the guidance of God, they were victorious. The last warrior of their attackers, Ner-du-er-gi, was on top of a mountain overlooking their camp in the deep valley below. This warrior saw a smoke arising from the camp which “extended up beyond Heaven”. The smoke was divided into three parts and in that there was an eagle holding arrows. When the warrior and his followers saw this, he ordered them not to attack the Indians for they were God’s people and powerful and if they attacked they would be destroyed.
When God created these people he gave them great, mysterious power to be used for the best interests of the people. They lived in large cities with tall buildings. Some wise men began to use their power different than was intended which troubled the people. God instructed them to take their white fire and move away from that place. Some went to Asia, some to India, and others to North America leaving the wise men behind. After they had gone to other countries, these large cities were destroyed when the ground sank and are now under the ocean. God turned to the people that came to America and gave them wisdom and guided them.
There came a time when the people began to violate their teachings - committing crimes against each other, committing murders, and feuding between the seven clans. The people met with their medicine men around their fire to ask God for guidance. The medicine men were inspired to go up to a high mountain, one at a time on each of seven days.
On the seventh day, they heard a noise over them and a light brighter than day appeared and a voice said, “I am a messenger from God. God has heard your prayers and He has great passion for your people and from now on you shall be called Keetoowah. Go back to your fire and worship. There is a white ball from way east, who is your enemy, coming and your grandchildren’s feet are directed west. They shall have great trials on the edge of the prairie. They shall be divided into different factions and their blood shall be about only on half. Families shall be divided against each other and they shall disregard their chiefs, leaders, medicine men, and captains. But if these younger generation should endeavor to follow your God’s instruction there is a chance to turn back east and if not, the next move shall be west, on to the coast and from there on to the boat and this shall be the last.”
Following is an excerpt of a poignant letter written by John Rollin Ridge, the grandson of Major Ridge (portrayed by Wes Studi) describing the assassinations of his father and grandfather.
In 1837, my father moved his family to his new home. He built his houses and opened his farm; gave encouragement to the rising neighborhood, and fed many a hungry and naked Indian whom oppression had prostrated, to the dust. A second time he built a schoolhouse, and Miss Sawyer again instructed his own children and the children of his neighbors. Two years culled away in quietude but the Spring of 1839 brought in a terrible train of events. Parties had arisen in the Nation. The removal West had fomented discontents of the darkest and deadliest nature. The ignorant Indians, unable to vent their rage on the whites, turned their wrath towards their own chiefs, and chose to hold them responsible for what had happened.
John Ross made use of these prejudices to establish his own power. He held a secret council and plotted the death of my father and grandfather, and Boudinot, and others, who were friendly to the interests of these men. John Ridge was at this time the most powerful man in the Nation, and it was necessary for Ross, in order to realize his ambitious scheme for ruling the whole Nation, not only to put the Ridges out of the way, but those who most prominently supported them, lest they might cause trouble afterwards.
These bloody deeds were perpetrated under circumstances of peculiar aggravation. On the morning of the 22nd of June, 1839, about daybreak, our family was aroused from sleep by a violent noise. The doors were broken down, and the house was full of armed men. I saw my father in the hands of assassins. He endeavored to speak to them, but they shouted and drowned his voice for they were instructed not to listen to him for a moment for fear they would be persuaded not to kill him. They dragged him into the yard, and prepared to murder him. Two men held him by the arms, and others by the body, while another stabbed him deliberately with a dirk twenty-nine times. My mother rushed out the door, but they pushed her back with their guns into the house, and prevented her egress until their act was finished, when they left the place quietly. My father fell to earth but did not immediately expire.
My mother ran out to him. He raised himself on his elbow and tried to speak, but the blood flowed into his mouth and prevented him.
In a few moments more he died, without speaking that last word which he wished to say. Then succeeded a scene of agony the sight of which might make one regret that the human race had ever been created. It has darkened my mind with an eternal shadow.
In a room prepared for the purpose, lay pale in death the man whose voice had been listened to with awe and admiration in the councils of his Nation, and whose fame had passed to the remotest of the United States, the blood oozing through his winding sheet, and falling drop by drop on the floor. By his side sat my mother, with hands clasped, and in speechless agony— she who had given him her heart in the days of her youth and beauty, left the home of her parents, and followed the husband of her choice to a wild and distant land. And bending over him was his own afflicted mother, with her long, white hair flung loose over her shoulders and bosom, crying to the Great Spirit to sustain her in that dreadful hour. And in addition to all these, the wife, the mother and the little children, who scarcely knew their loss, were the dark faces of those who had been the murdered man’s friends, and possibly, some who had been privy to the assassination, who had come to smile over the scene.
There was yet another blow to be dealt. Major Ridge had started on a journey the day before to Van Buren, a town on the Arkansas River, in the State of Arkansas. He was traveling down what was called the Line Road, in the direction of Evansville. A runner was sent with all possible speed to inform him of what had happened. The runner returned with the news that Major Ridge himself was killed. It is useless to lengthen description. It would fall far short of the theme.
From Chapter 4 “Retribution” Blood Vendetta, The Cherokee Civil War, Jesus Wept An American Story
My ancestors were from the area of Rome, Georgia and New Echota, the capitol of the Cherokee Nation.
Families shall be divided against each other and they shall disregard their chiefs, leaders, medicine men, and captains.
Indeed. And history does repeat itself.
Did you see the first episode, blackie? It seems they’re handling it well so far.
Here are some photos, etc. from the show of Studi.
Maybe it’s the acne scars, but Wes Studi reminds me strongly of Edward James Olmos, who is an America-hating traitor!
Thanks for the info on Major Ridge and the excerpt from his son’s letter.
Part of it...when is the next installment on? I’ll set the DVR to record it.
Episode 3 on April 27th will cover the political turmoil within the Cherokee tribe and removal to Indian Territory c. 1838.
This is an excerpt from a military report on the Trail of Tears.
Private John G. Burnett of Captain Abraham McClellan’s Company, penned his observations of the Cherokee Indian Removal. This description is of another contingency which took months longer and did not fare as well as the Bells.
“I saw the helpless Cherokees arrested and dragged from their homes, and driven at the bayonet point into the stockades. And in the chill of a drizzling rain on an October morning I saw them loaded like cattle or sheep into six hundred and forty-five wagons and started toward the west....On the morning of November the 17th we encountered a terrific sleet and snow storm with freezing temperatures and from that day until we reached the end of the fateful journey on March the 26th 1839, the sufferings of the Cherokees were awful. The trail of the exiles was a trail of death. They had to sleep in the wagons and on the ground without fire. And I have known as many as twenty-two of them to die in one night of pneumonia due to ill treatment, cold and exposure.
From Chapter2 - The Trail where they Cried
From the book “Jesus Wept” An American Story
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