The History of the Apache Nation

The Apache Nation has their roots buried deep in the dry, red soil of the southwestern United States. Their roots flourished and grew, even though the land was a desert. They knew their land, loved their land, and protected their land when their enemies came to take it from them. Let me teach you about this nation and the lessons of bravery and endurance we can learn from them.

“Apache” is not the name this tribe gave themselves. It is a Spanish version of the Zuñi word for enemy. In their Athabaskan-rooted languages, the Apache called themselves the simple name of people.

Around 1100, it is believed that the Apache Nation moved from the region we know as British Columbia, a Canadian Province, to the lands we know as Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, and sections of the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora. Even though they were not originally from that land, it became the Apache’s homeland. The land became known as Apacheira.

 There were many tribes within the Apache Nation. Apache tribes include the Mescalero, the Lipan, the Chiricahua, the Jicarilla, the Mimbreño (also called Chinnchene, meaning red paint people), the Cibecue, the Coyotero, the Northern Tonto, and the Southern Tonto. Some Apache joined the Kiowa tribe. They were called the Kiowa Apache. The tribes claimed locations around Apacheira to dwell in. (Later, in the eighteenth century, the Apache that lived in Kansas decided to move further southwest to live closer to the other Apache tribes after white men came to take their land.) The Jicarilla, Lipan, and Kiowa Apache (or Plains Apache) tribes dwelt in Texas, and most of the other tribes lived in the mountains of New Mexico and Arizona.

The Apache lived a simple life in their homes made of sticks. They ate whatever they could hunt or gather, including venison, rabbit, antelope, buffalo, elk, turkey, beans, nuts, herbs, melons, corn, berries, and even the mescal cactus and the saguaro cactus. There were some things Apache would not eat though, including pig and fish. Such things were considered unclean.

Apache families worked together as a unit, living with their relatives. Apache men provided and protected their families. Apache women busied themselves with cooking and sewing for their families. Apache children helped their parents with planting and gathering, but they also had time for war games and contests. Even babies were expected to learn lessons of quietness and self-control. When the boys were old enough, they hunted with their fathers. Twice a year Apache men would ride to the plains on buffalo hunts, since there were no buffalo in the Southwest.

As soon as they were able, Apache boys would start training to become braves. They would swim in freezing water, run with water in their mouths, roll in snow, stay up and guard for two days and two nights straight, learn how to make weapons and how to dodge them very skillfully, learn how to be silent, learn how to handle heat, cold, and thirst, and learn how to run very long distances without a single stop. Then the Apache boys would each take a two-week trip to the desert and would live off whatever they could find. After all of that training, they went to war to run errands for the fighting men. Then the boys were finally braves; they were finally men.

The Apache tribes had particular customs that they lived by. Important warriors often took more than one wife. When a man took a wife, he left his own tribe and joined his wife’s tribe. Although he was among his wife’s people, a man was supposed to avoid his mother-in-law forever. Sometimes he even avoided his wife’s father and grandmother! The Apache also practiced the custom of burning dead people’s things, including their homes. There in the Southwest the Apache practiced their customs and religion undisturbed for centuries.

In the late 1500’s, the Spaniards came into Mexico and claimed it as their own. The Apache who lived in parts of Mexico were chased northward as hostility between the Apache Nation and the Spaniards began. Raiding between the two nations became quite common. Soon it was more than just stealing cattle and horses during the raids; many Apache and Spaniards were captured or killed.

As the centuries passed, the enmity between the Apache and the Spaniards continued. A Mexican civil war added to the terrible toll on the Spaniards. Between 1820 and 1835, five thousand Spanish lives were lost in war. The Spaniards learned the results of war and cruelty the hard way, as did the Apache. In 1835, an Apache scalp was worth one hundred pesos in Sonora. Soon, Chihuahua was offering pesos too.

In the mid-nineteenth century, some of the greatest, most powerful Apache braves came to leadership in Apacheira. One such brave was Mangas Coloradas (Spanish for “Red Sleeves”), a headman of the Mimres band of the Ahaia, or Chiricahua, tribe. Though he was over fifty years old, he was still a brave and fierce fighter, like nearly every Apache man. There was also bold Victorio, chief of the Mimbreño tribe. The most prominent of all the Apache chiefs was Cochise, Mangas Coloradas’s son-in-law. He was the chief of the Chokonen band of the Chiricahuas, and later became chief of the entire Chiricahua Apache tribe. He was always honest, and he punished those who were not. It was these brave leaders who were there to lead when another enemy entered Apacheira: the white men.

The white men had already encroached on Apache land in Kansas one hundred years earlier. Now they wanted all of Apacheira, and were first seen at the Santa Rita Copper Mines in 1846. Mangas Coloradas and his warriors met up with the white men and their general, Stephen Kearny. The white men had come from capturing Santa Fe from the Spaniards. The Apache agreed to peaceful relations, but the white men were hesitant to make peace. Kearny’s scout, Christopher “Kit” Carson, told Kearney that he would not trust the Apache at all.

After the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the United States was in charge of much of Apacheira. In 1851, the U.S. boundary commission, headed by John Russell Bartlett, came to Apacheira to create a definite border between Mexico and the U.S. The Apache men watched, not knowing what the white men might be doing. The interpreter for the boundary commission, John Cremany, had this to say about the Apache people:

No amount of cold, hunger or thirst seems to have any appreciable affect upon an Apache. Whatever his sufferings, not complaint or murmur is ever heard to escape his lips.1

Soon after that, miners started arriving in Apacheira. They panned for gold, which was sacred to the Apache. The Apache braves started attacking these new enemies. Then settlers from the East arrived and started farming in Apacheira. Land that the Apache people once farmed was slowly being taken over by others. The Apache attacked the settlers too. But the takeover of Apache land did not end there. Soon the white men were setting up telegram wires. Then a stage coach ran through Apache Pass carrying mail and passengers. White man inventions filled the land.

The Apache did not take kindly to these encroachers and their inventions. The Apache rose up to defend their land, the land they had lived on for centuries. U.S. soldiers were sent to Apacheira. They came in like a rush of wind, more than the Apache could ever count. They settled themselves in forts such as Fort Bowie and Fort Buchanan. They fought with the Apache as unrest and violence continued.

The Apache always fought in secret. Hardly ever did they let their whereabouts be known to the U.S. Army. The U.S. soldiers, on the other hand, were quite noisy, but Apache scouts (traitors) helped them track other Apache down.

In 1852, Mangas Coloradas and some other brave warriors signed a treaty protecting traveling Americans. It was heeded by most Apache men. Cochise, the chief of the smallest but strongest Apache tribe, the Chiricahuas, saw no way his tribe could stand up to the swarms of U.S. soldiers. He met with a soldier named Colonel Steen and made peace in 1858. It was around this time that a superintendent named Dr. Michael Steck promised homelands, also known as reservations, for the Apache.

Cochise’s Chiricahua tribe stayed peaceful until 1860 when a child named Micky Free was kidnapped by the Pinal band of the Coyotero Apache. The Pinals framed the Chiricahua tribe. The soldier put in charge of the case, Lieutenant Bascom, refused to believe that Cochise had been framed. He insisted that Cochise was responsible for the kidnapping. Violence escalated when U.S. soldiers attacked, killed, and captured some of Cochise’s family during a peace meeting. In retaliation, Cochise captured some white men, wanting to trade them for his family. Bascom refused the trade again and again, saying he would only trade the Apache for Micky Free, the boy Cochise did not have. In the end, both sides killed their captives, excluding Cochise’s wife and son who were released. Cochise called for war. His first attack was an ambush on Stein’s peak.

The Apache Wars were in full force. Years of fighting, attacking, raiding, and killing continued as the Apache stood up to defend their land and people. Many brave battles were fought, including the Battle of Apache Pass in 1862 where Mangas Coloradas and his warriors attacked a group of soldiers riding through the pass.

During the 1860’s, the busiest time of the Apache Wars, the U.S. Army’s attention turned from the bloodshed of the Southwest to the horror of the Southeast, as the Civil War raged. But after the war was over, the U.S. Army’s attention returned to the Southwest.

In 1863, while Mangas Coloradas was waiting to begin a peace conference, he was murdered by U.S. soldiers. Geronimo, his most prominent warrior, took his place. David Roberts had this to say about Geronimo, the new leader:

We know that Geronimo may have helped torture to death the hostages Cochise hoped to trade for his relatives in 1861; we know with reasonable certainty that Geronimo fought in the crucial battle of Apache Pass in 1862, that he was part of the council that begged Mangas not to go to his doom in Pinos Altos in 1863.2

By 1866, two thousand Apache women and children were held captive by the U.S. Army. One county in Arizona offered two hundred and fifty dollars for every Apache scalp they received.The Apache warriors sometimes numbered less than two hundred people. Apache moved their homes often, feeling like no place was safe.

The white men were unable to get mail through Apache Pass. Rider after rider had been killed. In 1866, a bold man named Thomas Jonathan Jeffords went to visit Cochise. Jeffords traveled carefully and openly, not wanting Cochise to think he was his enemy. (No white man had lived to tell of seeing Cochise since the kidnapping of Micky Free.) Jeffords’s plan worked. He and Cochise became fast friends, and Jeffords’s riders were safe.

In 1871, while a large group of Arivapia Apache were sleeping in huts outside Fort Grant, waiting to make a peace treaty, Apache enemies came and clubbed them to death. President Grant called for a trial. One hundred and four Mexicans, Americans, and Papago natives were declared innocent. Americans were appalled by the situation, and started to realize how cruelly the Apache and other natives were treated by all those around them. President Grant was more than eager to stop the Apache Wars because of the toll the Americans had paid. Forty million dollars had been sent to Arizona already, and one thousand lives had been lost.

Victorio agreed to live on a reservation called Warm Springs. The reservations, which sprouted up all over the Southwest, were run by white men called Indian agents, most of whom were not experienced with Native Americans. Cochise soon agreed to live on a reservation too, thanks to the help of Tom Jeffords and “The Christian General” Oliver Otis Howard, who made peace with Cochise in 1872. Jeffords became the agent for Cochise’s reservation, the San Carlos Reservation. In 1877, Victorio managed to escape from his reservation with twenty people, but was soon sent back.

The years dragged on and by 1881, Cochise and Victorio had died. Almost every tribe was on a reservation except for one–Geronimo and his band of Chiricahua Apache who had refused to be subdued. Geronimo had agreed to be on a reservation for several months, but in 1881 he escaped and ran to Mexico where many Apache had hidden in the past. He was full of determination, skill, and strength; fighting his enemies constantly. But Geronimo and his people were rounded up once more by the U.S. Army and Apache scouts. Things were not looking good for the Apache.

In 1886, Geronimo and Naiche (the chief of the Chiricahua Apache and Cochise’s son) had a conference with the U.S. Army about surrender. General George Crook wanted the Apache to go to prisons in the East for two years, but the Apache wanted to be in the Southwest. Both parties agreed to two years of prison, then a return to the Southwest. The officials in Washington, however, did not agree to this deal. President Cleveland said that he did not want the Apache to ever return to their homeland. After hearing that the deal was rejected, Geronimo, Naiche, and their band ran away to Mexico under the false impression that someone wanted to kill Geronimo.

On September 4, 1886, the Apache met with General Nelson Miles, a new superintendent, and surrendered. Geronimo was tired of war. Plans were promptly made to send the Apache to prison in the East. General Miles assured Geronimo that the Apache could return to Arizona in two years.

At Holbrook, Arizona, the trip began. Ten old coach cars were filled with 383 Apache. It was said that the Apache were filthy and had very little clothing. There was no clean water and no toilets. Their food was not fit to be eaten. Geronimo and his tribe all became sick. Because there was so much vomiting, the coaches were hosed out in the middle of the trip. Knowing that Geronimo’s tribe would be a big attraction, two Florida cities, Pensacola and Saint Augustine, argued over who would get to have that tribe in their prison. Pensacola won. Once the long ride was over, the 383 Apache were loaded into Fort Pickens on Pensacola’s Santa Rosa Island. The Apache became extremely popular. On one day, 459 tourists came to see them.

Castillo de San Marcos, also called Fort Marion, in Saint Augustine was given occupancy of 502 obedient Apache who had stayed on reservations and served as Apache scouts. The fort had been made to hold only 150 soldiers. Sickness was rampant in Fort Marion because of the crowded conditions, the visiting public, and the humid climate that the Apache were not used to. By September, 152 Apache were treated for malarial fever. Since the conditions were so terrible at Fort Marion, many Apache were sent to the already crowded Fort Pickens. Deathly sickness continued strong among the diseased Apache at both forts as neither fort had proper food and water.

Around this time, the Americans sent Apache children to the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Highly contagious diseases such as pneumonia, malaria, and tuberculosis spread among the children at the school. By 1888, twenty-seven Apache children had died from these diseases.

As children were being shipped to the north, the adults moved slightly northward as well, to Mount Vernon, Alabama, rather than being shipped back to the Southwest as General Miles had claimed. Sadly, sickness followed them. Conditions at Mount Vernon were even more terrible than those in the Florida forts. Disease spread like wildfire among the Apache. No one knew what they should do with all of the sick Apache. One Apache stated:

We had thought anything would be better than Fort Marion with its rain, mosquitos, and malaria, but we were to find out that it was good in comparison with Mt. Vernon…we didn’t know what misery was till they dumped us in those swamps.3

Twelve years had passed and the Apache were grieved that they were not allowed to return to their home in the Southwest. Geronimo confronted General Miles about his lie. Miles said, “I did lie to you…but I learned to lie from you, Geronimo…”4

Then, finally, the Apache found a way to escape the swampy Southeast. The Kiowa Apache, who had received an Oklahoma Reservation in 1867, and the Comanches, who shared the reservation with the Kiowa Apache, agreed to give up some of their reservation land to the other Apache. The Apache were promptly sent to the Fort Sill Reservation in Oklahoma. The conditions in Oklahoma were much better for the Apache because Oklahoma was drier than the swamps of the Southeast. The Apache farmed and made money. They even had some time for pleasure in Oklahoma–gambling, games, races, and contests. The Apache had become extremely famous by the time they moved to Oklahoma. Although it angered some people, Geronimo was even allowed travel to Washington D.C. to ride in Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential parade. The Apache lived in Oklahoma into the twentieth century. Unable to return to Arizona, his beloved homeland, Geronimo died in Oklahoma in 1909, but his nation lived on.

Apache began to thrive on their reservations. Some reservations had natural resources which were used as moneymakers for the tribes. In 1913, the Apache living on the Fort Sill Reservation were given the choice of moving to the Mescalero Apache’s reservation in New Mexico or staying in Oklahoma. One third of the Apache chose Oklahoma and two thirds chose New Mexico. In the 1980’s, the Kiowa Apache were given the more proper title of “Apache Tribe of Oklahoma.” In 1990 a census showed that there were 50,000 Apache. That number soared and in the beginning of the twenty-first century, 100,000 people were recognized as Apache. The Apache are finally recovering and thriving after the years of unrelenting war. They proudly remember their ancestors, and continue in their footsteps, working to make a better future for their tribe.

~Faith Williams, March 5, 2019

WORKS CITED

1. John C. Cremony Life Among the Apaches. Tucson, AZ: Arizona Silhouettes, 1915 reprint of 1868 edition, p. 33.

2. David Roberts. Once They Moved Like the Wind: Cochise, Geronimo, and the Apache Wars. New York: Simon & Schuster Touchstone, 1993, p. 120.

3. Eve Ball. Indeh: An Apache Odyssey (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988), pp. 138-139.

4. Roberts, p. 307.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

American Indians, 1995. Volume I
    “Apache,” Patricia Masserman, pg. 38-41
    “Apache Tribe of Oklahoma,” Michael G. Davis, pg. 41-42
    “Apache Wars,” pg. 42-43
    “Cochise,” pg. 181-182
    “Geronimo,” Kimberly Manning, pg. 300-30

American Indians, 1995. Volume II
    “Naiche,” pg. 51

American Indians, 1995. Volume III
    “Victorio,” pg. 82

Apache. https://school.eb.com/levels/high/article/Apache/7968 (accessed 2018).

Hermann, Spring. Geronimo. Springfield, NJ: Enslow Publishers, Inc., 1997

MacDowell, Susan. Traditional Foods of the Apache People. https://www.ehow.com/info_8171670_traditional-foods-apache-people.html (accessed 2018)

McGovern, Ann. The Defenders. New York: Scholastic Inc. 1970

Spring

As spring returns
Her gentle, warm breeze
Blows through the treetops
Of bright, new green leaves

Spring’s gentle showers
Pour down on the field
Soon every dry grass blade
And bare tree will yield

To spring’s gentle prompting
As she comes to take
Every last breath
Of cold in her wake

The dry leaves succumb
To new leaves, fresh and green
With so many fresh leaves
The dry ones aren’t seen

Spring coats the valley
In glorious array
With flowers innumerable
That grow every day

Spring’s gentle rain
Fills the river with joy
The brook she sends rushing
O’er boulder and ploy

Spring fills with gladness
Every hill and dale
And high overhead
The chirping birds sail

Springtime brings hope
Of things yet to come
Springtime brings memories
Of laughter and fun

Springtime sends life
To a sleeping world
There’s no one alive
Who hasn’t yet heard

That winter is over
Spring’s here now–hurray!
Everyone loves
The sunny spring days

Spring is a gift
From Yah up above
Who light up our lives
And shows us His love

Yah’s Precious Book

Here are the lyrics to a song I wrote this week. (By the way, “Yah” is short for Yehovah, God’s name.) Enjoy! ~Faith

Give me another
Oh, give me another
Please give me another word of truth
Give me a chapter
Or give me a verse
Please give me a breath of life anew

I want one more foretaste of heaven above
I want one more message, a message of love
So that I can read of the things He has done
So that I can know of how He sent His Son

Give me another
Oh, give me another
Please give me another moment to read
Just one more sweet promise
Just one more wise word
Just one more dear letter from Yah to me

Yehovah, I thank You that You’ve let me look
At the words of wisdom in Your precious book
So that I can know what You want me to do
Thank You for Your precious message of truth

A New Beginning Chapter 3

Hello! I am here to announce that my story, A New Beginning, is going through some changes. Sometimes writers get new inspirations and have to completely rework their stories. Here is an updated version of A New Beginning Chapter 3. You can find the first two chapters here. I did not have to update them.

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One chilly night, while all of the children were sleeping, Mr. Walsh came inside with a load of wood in his arms. Mrs. Walsh was washing dishes. “George, what are we going to do with Nina?’ she asked suddenly.

“Well, I have been praying about her–”

“Yes, and so have I, but I do not feel any direction as to where she should go,” Mrs. Walsh said, her face showing an exasperated look. “I do know one thing though, she cannot stay here. She has been having the grandest of times with Annamarie and Katherine and she is quite taken by Susan and Charity. I do not want to tear her from them but it seems we must. I do not know what to do!”

“Elsie, do you realize you interrupted me?”

“Oh, no, I did not,” she answered. “What were you going to say?”

“I was going to say that I have prayed about her and I think I know what we should do.”

“You do?”

“Yes, I think maybe we should send her to live with the Cromwell family from church. It seems to me like they always need more help around their fancy house.”

“The Cromwells? They have several other servants already, and I am not sure if Nina would get along with them. The Cromwells are nice people though, and I am sure they would take care of Nina. What other choice do we have?

“There is one more thing. What if Nina refuses to go to the Cromwells? She tried to run away from me when I first found her.”

“We could just explain to her that we cannot keep her and we do not want to send her to an orphanage. She will simply have to go.

“That should work. She will certainly understand.”

“Good, we can tell her in the morning.”

**************

The next morning Nina woke up and looked around. She saw Mrs. Walsh flipping flapjacks over the fire. “Sorry if I am in your way, Mrs. Walsh,” Nina quickly said, grabbing her blanket and sitting up.

“Do not worry,” Mrs. Walsh said. “You were not in my way.” Then Mr. Walsh came through the door with another armful of wood.

“We never have enough wood to burn at this house!” He said jokingly, even though it was mostly true. So much wood was needed to keep the fire burning. Then Mr. Walsh turned toward Nina and said, “Nina, my wife and I have decided where we want to send you.”

“Where?” Nina said, looking up at Mr. Walsh’s tan, wrinkled face.

“The Cromwell family from our church owns a fancy house at the other side of town,” explained Mr. Walsh. “We were thinking maybe you could go and work for them.” Nina gulped. I do not want to leave the Walshes, she thought. But I should have known I would not get to stay here. She said nothing.

“We will take you to meet the Cromwells as soon as we can,” Mrs. Walsh said. “If they agree to take care of you, then so be it. If not, then you shall stay with us longer until we can find someone else to care for you. Does that sound good to you?”

“Yes,” said Nina, rather hesitantly.

Mrs. Walsh, sensing her hesitation, said, “Do not worry Nina. You will like the Cromwells. They are very nice.” Nina smiled rather weakly and headed out to the horse field. She ran up to Ranger and stroked his nose, trying not to cry. She had really bonded with Katherine, Annamarie, and Ranger during their races across the field. It made her very sad to think of leaving them. The Walshes had been so kind to her and showed her a love she had not known since her parents had died.

Soon Annamarie came in and called cheerfully, “It is time for breakfast, Nina!”

“Okay,” Nina replied halfheartedly.

“What is wrong?” Annamarie said, wondering what was troubling her friend.

“Your parents want to send me to the Cromwells,” Nina said. “I shall miss you all terribly.”

“Oh, we shall miss you very much as well,” Annamarie said, tears rising to her eyes as the two friends hugged. “I hoped Mama and Papa would let you stay, but I guess it was not meant to be. We will see each other at church though, if the Cromwells were to take you in.”

Later at the breakfast table, Mr. Walsh announced, “Children, I believe we have found Nina a home. We are going to see if the Cromwell family will take in Nina.” The girls looked down at their plates sadly and picked at their food. “You girls should see yourselves!” Mr. Walsh chuckled. “Your faces look as though we are going through a famine, but we have an abundance of food in front of us.”

“We are just sad that Nina has to leave,” Annamarie said.

“Do not be sad,” Mr. Walsh said cheerfully. “We will see her at church, and maybe she could even come and visit us sometime. Now let us enjoy having her here instead of thinking about her leaving.” And everyone did just that.

“Evelyn”~ a character sketch

My two-year-old friend Evelyn, or Evie, is very busy and seems to have an inexhaustible supply of energy. She runs, plays, and always wants to be where everyone else is. Evie is generally cheerful unless she doesn’t get her way. She has a mind of her own and can sometimes be rather stubborn. Evie never likes to have her hair bows or hair bands in for long, and when her mommy braids her hair, she will yank the braids loose and run around with funny-looking, little kinky waves. Evie is very cute. She has light brown hair, big brown eyes, flushed cheeks, and an adorable cleft chin. And Evie is very smart and inquisitive. She is always asking me, “Whatcha doin’ Faify?” Evie is a joy to all those around her–an Evelyn Joy.

Without Yehovah

Without Yehovah I would stumble and fall
I’d be like a blind man and crash ‘gainst a wall

Without Yehovah my life would be bleak
With nothing to hope for and nothing to seek

Without Yehovah, oh how beastly I’d be
There’d be no distinction ‘tween animals and me

Without Yehovah there’s no reason for being
Nothing to hope for, nothing worth seeing

Without Yehovah I would stumble and fall
Without Yehovah I’d be nothing at all

The General

Here is a paragraph that I wrote for school. It is a character sketch of a fictional character in our LEGO town named General Rose Icee Wilkins Spinner. Enjoy!

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    A stern, impenetrable look is pasted on her face and she speaks with a voice that demands attention and obedience. Hard work and determination have brought her to where she is, and she expects nothing less from those under her. She always takes charge and can not stand anyone who is indecisive or cowardly. She is bold and never afraid to be in the midst of a conflict, whether it be a war or a simple disagreement. Any disrespect or disobedience is absolutely forbidden–it never was accepted and it never shall be. She is unflappable, unchangeable, and to some people she is confusing or exasperating. She refuses to concede to anyone, and that stubbornness can sometimes be a fault.  She is proud of her rank, prestige, title, and cause–never shall she let someone take them from her. She sees things as they are–no exceptions, no allowances. What is right or wrong, fair or unfair, useful or useless is decided firmly in her mind, and once she has made up her mind, no one can change it. She always wears a mask of seriousness, and only those who truly know her can ever see behind that mask and know her true feelings. Everyone else only knows one thing about her–she is the general.

My Heart is in the Mountains

Hello! Today I am pleased to unveil a short story that I have been working on for a long time. Between studying, writing, and editing three times, this has been a lot of work. But now I can say that I have successfully completed a short story that I can be proud of, so all of that editing was worth it. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing it! Anyway, without further ado, I present to you…

My Heart is in the Mountains

One summer evening in 1837, as the sun was shining brightly through the trees of the Appalachian foothills, a Cherokee girl named Ama sat with her family on the grass beside their cozy home made of chestnut logs. Ama, her grandparents, her parents, her two sisters Tallalla and Ahyoka, and her brother William were all enjoying dinner together. Ama’s baby sister Jane was sleeping in a wrap on Mother’s back. As they ate, they all listened attentively to Ama’s grandfather who spoke somberly in their native tongue of how the white men had taken and settled more than half of the Cherokee land, had sold the remaining portion in the Cherokee Land Lottery, and had forced their family to move from their home near the Chattahoochee River to the home they had now.

“Then, two summers ago, some of our own tribesmen signed a treaty to have us removed from our homeland forever. I am certain it will happen soon,” he said with disappointment in his eyes. “Nothing has been the same since the white men came.” Ama looked up at her wrinkled yet strong grandfather. She could not help but agree with him.

“We must forgive the white men, though,” Ama’s grandmother reminded wisely, “for that is what God would want us to do.” Everything was quiet for a few minutes as they all thought about forgiveness. Ama and her family were Christians, having learned about their God and Savior at one of the many missionary schools that had been built throughout the Cherokee land. “It was the white men who told us about God,” Grandmother said thoughtfully.

“That is true,” Grandfather said firmly, his face as stern as always. “But I wish that the white men would act like Christians and not just say that they are Christians.” Ama thought about that. Often the white men did not act like Christians around the natives. The white men even called the Christian Cherokees “savages.”

“Are they really going to make us go to Indian Territory, Grandfather?” William asked, looking up from his bowl of soup.

“They will. Just wait,” Grandfather said assuredly. Ama’s eyes grew big at those words. She could not imagine having to leave her homeland, the land that had belonged to her ancestors for centuries.

——————————————–

Harvest time arrived, sending Ama and Ahyoka to the colorful trees on the hillside where they gathered nuts. Ama loved the sound of the dry leaves crunching under her bare feet and the feeling of the cool wind blowing through the trees. She also loved to hear the crack of the hickory nuts, acorns, and chestnuts as they they fell from the tall trees. All of these delights made harvest time Ama’s favorite season.

This year though, the delights of harvest time were cut short. One day, as Ama was helping her family pick beans in their garden, neither she nor her family knew how close they were to calamity. Ama picked the beans off the vines and placed them into the colorful basket that she had woven and dyed with the juice of strawberries and blackberries. The ground was wet from recent rainstorms, and Ama loved to feel the soft, cool mud ooze between her toes.

“Ama,” Mother said, “please go down to the river and see if the acorn meal is ready.” Ama hurried to do as she was told.

Moss, tree roots, and leaves covered the path to the river. Short plants tickled Ama’s feet as she ran fleetly down the forest trail. She ran carefully to prevent her cloth dress from being torn by thorns along the path. Buckskin did not get torn as easily, but cloth dresses were one of the sacrifices the Cherokees made to try to be like the white men and befriend them. After running down the mountainside trail about five minutes, Ama turned to go down the rocky slope of the mountain. The slope was slippery from the rain, and Ama grabbed onto young, flourishing chestnut and sassafras trees as she skidded down.

At the bottom, she balanced upon the slippery rocks until she reached the river. She smiled as she heard the sound of the nearby waterfall. Dipping her feet into the cold water and trying to keep her balance on the slimy and even more slippery river bottom, Ama reached her hands into the water and picked up the basket of acorn meal that had been lying in the river. She tasted the meal to see if the tannins, a bitter substance in acorns, had been removed from the acorn meal by the power of the river current. One taste was all she needed to know that the acorn meal was not ready. She set the basket down in the river again and left. Often Ama would play in the river with her siblings, but today was not a day for play. After climbing up the mountain, she ran back up the trail.

Ama decided to take the long route home so that she could see the waterfall. Soon she was at the cliff, looking down at the waterfall. It was at the peak of its glory, having been fueled by all the rain. Little did Ama know that this would be the last time that she would ever see the waterfall or the river that she loved. She happily breathed in the cool, misty air. Seeing a sassafras tree nearby, she grabbed some leaves. Ama loved the delicious and nourishing taste of the leaves. After casting one more glance at the falls, Ama hurried up the last leg of the path.

As Ama ran out from the woods to the garden, her life was forever changed. There in front of her was her family, from Grandfather to little William, lined up like captives, for thus they were, with two blue-coated American soldiers pointing guns at them. Her mouth fell open in shock. Why would the white men do this to us when we have tried for decades be their friends? she wondered, not able to speak a word. She stared in awe at their unhindered meanness.

“Get in line, girl,” a third soldier said in English, pointing his gun at Ama. Ama stood by Ahyoka and reached for her hand.

“March!” A soldier commanded, in English once more, as the guns were pointed at their backs. Ama and her family watched in horror as an American family standing nearby clapped and cheered at their demise.

“Now the land we bought at the lottery is finally ours!” the strong father of the family cheered, then he, his wife, and their little boys and girls ran happily to Ama’s house to claim it as their own. Ama let her tears fall as they were marched down the dirt path. She did not even get to say goodbye to her home.

Ama’s family, along with many other Cherokee families, were packed into Fort Payne, an army base near Willstown. There, and in many similar stockades, the Cherokees were held captive until they could be sent west to Indian Territory. The following winter was the worst winter the Cherokees had ever known. Cold, hunger, thirst, sickness, and malnutrition were constant among the Cherokees. It was during this terrible winter that Jane, Ama’s baby sister, and many other Cherokees died from sickness and disease. Grief and sorrow prevailed among the Cherokees, but also an unyielding courage.

Spring came, but the Cherokees were not able to enjoy it, for they were still locked up in the stockades. Ama, covered in bites, sores, and scabs, lay on a blanket in the fort, and asked Grandfather, “Why do the white men refuse to be our friends? We are trying to accept their ways. We even made our own constitution and alphabet just like them. They promised that we could stay here; what changed?”

“They refuse to be our friends because they want our land and we fought with the Englishmen against them in the war long ago,” Grandfather said, his voice solemn and quaky. “But it is not all their fault. There were a few Cherokees who signed the removal treaty.”

Summer arrived, and everything outside the fort was bright and green. Inside the fort, darkness and sickness remained. That summer, Ama’s family heard that Cherokees in other stockades had been sent by riverboats to Indian Territory. They wondered when the looming day of their departure would arrive.

Two months later, word came to the Cherokees that their brothers’ trip by boats had been miserable and hot. More Cherokees had died. Chief John Ross asked that the remaining Cherokees be allowed to travel in cooler weather. The petition was granted. They would leave when the summer was over.

Harvest time came in all its beauty, but this year the Cherokees were not outside to greet it. Other people harvested from the Cherokees’ fields and ate from their bounty. During this time, a young lady covered in sores and clothed with a torn dress and moccasins, stepped out of Fort Payne. It was obvious that this girl had seen much for her years. She was Ama. She was much different than she had been the year before. Her wandering brown eyes gazed longingly at the dry leaves and colorful chestnut trees that she loved. She would never see them again. Behind Ama stood Ahyoka, weak, skinny, and malnourished. William and Tallalla stood nearby, looking as ragged as their siblings. Grandfather looked like he could be one hundred years old. Grandmother did not look much better than him. Father stood there bravely, his weathered hands resting on his son William’s head. Mother, who was much more wrinkled that she had been the year before, wiped tears from her eyes. Ama was certain that she was thinking about baby Jane, who had been with them the year before. There they all stood, looking longingly at the land around them–the land that had been stolen from them, the land they had to leave. Their eyes turned toward the path they would soon march down. None of them knew what lay ahead, but they were determined to face it together.

“Out!” shouted a gruff soldier in English as the other Cherokees were shoved out of the fort behind Ama’s family. Ahyoka gripped Ama’s hand fearfully as the two of them and the other Cherokees were herded onward like animals. Ama gazed once more at the beautiful world around her and felt once more the breeze blowing through the chestnuts. She tried not to think of how much she would miss this land, the land known by the white men as “Alabama” but by the Cherokees as “Our Land,” “Our Forefathers’ Land,” or simply “home.” With soldiers behind them, the Cherokees were driven from their land–onward, onward, toward the setting sun.

Ama looked at the hundreds of Cherokees, her brothers and sisters, who were all walking down the trail with her. Some of the youngest children and oldest men and women were able to travel in wagons, but not Ama’s family. Most of the Cherokees were forced to walk.

The sad, sick, yet brave Cherokees trudged onward. As the fall threatened to leave, cold winds blew, reminding them of the unpredictable winter ahead. One November day, Ama looked behind her. She could no longer see the hills where she had been born. Almost everyone around her was crying, including Ahyoka, who still clung stubbornly to Ama’s hand. Ama held back her tears. It was not her time to cry because her brother William, who had contracted measles a few days before, was still alive.

Three days later, measles claimed her little brother’s life. As Father quickly buried William in a small grave beside the trail, Ama freely let her tears fall. At least William does not have to handle the constant hunger and thirst anymore, Ama thought. As she looked around at her grieving family, she wondered how they would make it to the end of the trail.

As they kept traveling westward, a harsh, early winter overtook them. The Cherokees hardly had any food, for their provisions from Fort Payne had almost run out. The snow began to fall, freezing Ama’s feet.

The winter grew fiercer every day. More and more graves were quickly dug at the side of the trail as the Cherokees were forced to walk through thick snow, sometimes for three days straight, with nothing but skimpy clothes and thin blankets to shelter them. Ama’s beloved Grandfather had the privilege of leaving his misery during this time. He was one of the many who were buried at the side of the trail. Ama would often think of his parting words: “I am going to Jesus in heaven. I am leaving you behind in this sinful world. Tell our brothers who are still here of the hope that kept me going–that kept me alive–until this very minute when Jesus is going to relieve me of my sorrows. It is the only hope we have. Never let the Cherokee name die.” With these words he left, and received the promised eternal life that had been his hope during the terrible journey.

Although many of the Cherokees had become Christians back in the old land, they did so in order to be like the white men and get English lessons at the missionary schools. Those insincere Christians often continued to do pagan practices associated with their old religion. While facing the terrors of the trail, Ama’s family and the other true Christians shared the hope of salvation with their brothers. Some Cherokees refused God’s word, but others realized that their old religion gave them no hope. Many received Jesus because, as Ama’s grandfather had said, Jesus was the only hope that the Cherokees had. Physically, the harsh journey made Cherokees weaker, but spiritually, it made them stronger.

All of the Cherokees longed for the spring, and after many terrible months, it finally came. What a welcome sight it was to the poor, frozen Cherokees! For once in what seemed like forever, Ama heard her sister Ahyoka laugh among the spring flowers. Tallalla, as ragged as ever, thanked Ahyoka for a pretty purple  flower. Ahyoka gave a flower to Ama as well. Holding the spring flower was like holding a dream that had manifested itself after the long months of miserable cold. Those first days of spring were answered prayers.

The impoverished Cherokees finally arrived at Indian Territory. They made wooden houses and planted gardens, but no matter how similar their new houses and gardens were to the old ones, Indian Territory was not home. The Cherokees were extremely grateful to have shelter, food, and water, but they kept thinking of their real home back East.

One day, Ama, her sisters, and her mother were in their new garden, pulling weeds among the squash, cucumbers, and other vegetables. Ama looked out at the Ozark mountains in the distance and the flat, treeless plains all around her. She missed the hills and trees back home so much. She closed her eyes and tried to visualize her home–the river, the waterfall, the forest, and the cozy, warm log home. Ama could almost hear the roar of the waterfall and the crack of the hickory nuts, chestnuts, and acorns as they dropped with surprising force to the ground beneath.

She turned toward Mother, who was weeding with the newest member of Ama’s family, baby Kamama, wrapped up on her back. Kamama was such a blessing to her family since they had lost three loved ones in the past two years. Ama smiled at her baby sister and knelt to work beside Mother.

Ahyoka, who was weeding nearby, sang a cheerful song in the language of her forefathers and it flew like a bird throughout the garden. While with her family in a garden full of food, Ama almost forgot how terrible “nunna-da-ul-tsun-yi,” or in English, “the trail where they cried,” had been. But Ama could never forget what had happened to her family and their fellow Cherokees, nor did she ever want to forget. Ama looked over at her mother and said solemnly, “I have a home, good food, and my family here in Indian Territory; what more could I want? But I still think of and love the old land. My heart is in the mountains.”

June 25, 2018

One hundred and eighty years had now passed since Ama’s family had been forced to leave their homeland. The Cherokee land was full of people who never thought of the nation that had lived in the land for centuries before them. Another girl stood upon the cliff and looked out at the waterfall that Ama had loved. Her name was Faith.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” Faith rhetorically asked her sister Alison, shading her blue eyes from the sun.

“Oh, yes,” said Alison, her deep blue eyes and little brown freckles seeming to pop from her excited face. Then she deepened her tone of voice and called, “General Rose Wilkins is ready to kayak down the waterfall!” Thus saying, she ran away, her long, blonde ponytail swinging. Alison often liked to imagine she was random people doing various things, and usually Faith would play with her, but this day Faith just wanted to look out at the waterfall and the rest of the the beautiful Alabama world around her.

“Let’s go on to the river,” Miss Annie said. Miss Annie and her daughter Ashley were friends of Faith’s family.

A short boardwalk led to a dirt trail. They walked on the tree roots and moss on the very trail Ama had run countless times. Miss Annie, with her curly almost-black hair popping out of the back of her ball cap, led the way down the path.

“Try this; it is edible,” Alison said as they walked down the trail. “It is a sassafras leaf.” Faith took the leaf and bit into it.

“It is bitter,” Faith said, throwing the rest of the leaf to the side of the trail.

“You must have eaten a bad leaf,” Alison said. “They are not bitter! They are so delicious; I can not seem to get enough of them!”

Twenty minutes later, they arrived at the decent to the river. It was not a slippery slope as it had been in Ama’s day, because stone steps had been carved down the mountainside. Faith, her sister Alison, her brother Chris, her mom, and Miss Annie and Ashley, all carefully walked down the long staircase. At the bottom, they walked over the slippery rocks until they reached the river.

“Oh!” Faith called, stepping into the brown-hued water. “Even in the summer this water is cold!” Faith struggled not to slip on the slimy rocks that the river rushed over. “Mom, can we get into the water?”

“I can clean your clothes; go ahead!” Mom said. Faith carefully waded deeper into the water. Alison walked in silently, but her pursed lips and wobbly steps gave away that she was not thrilled with the slimy rocks and cold water.

“Oh boy, it’s cold!” Ashley said, gently sliding her legs into the water. She smiled tensely, showing the neatly-lined braces on her teeth. Chris walked into the water with ease, unlike the wobbly, chattering girls. Mom and Miss Annie sat at the edge of the river, dipped their feet in the water, and talked about various things.

For a long time the children played in the same river where Ama had played with her siblings. They laughed and swam in the cold water and climbed on two rocks that  stood tall in the midst of the river. Faith and Ashley eventually managed to completely submerge themselves in the cold water.

After about an hour, the children came out of the river. Faith looked down at the soaking wet blue dress she was wearing and saw that it was covered in stains. They sat down on the rocks beside the river and ate some snacks from two backpacks they had brought with them. After eating, they all walked up the trail to the waterfall, where they sat on some stone benches by the overlook and ate the rest of the food they had brought.

After finishing lunch, Faith walked over to the split-rail fence along the cliffside and looked out at the waterfall. Unlike Ama, no one was herding her family to captivity or forcing her to leave her home. But like Ama, the forests and hills of Alabama were her home. Unlike many girls her age, she did not forget the Cherokees or that they had lived in this land first. She remembered those who had loved the land even more than she did, those who had been forced to leave their homes, those who had walked the terrible Trail of Tears, and those who were now living in their Oklahoma reservation. As she looked out at the waterfall, she decided that she was going to tell their story.

Pet Photo Shoot #2

Hello! it is time for more pictures of cute pets. Today I want to introduce you to a cat you’ve never met before.

1. Montana Crow

Montana is our (sort of) third cat. He’s a stray who came to our house and claimed us as his owners. He’s really sweet, and would sit on your lap for forever if you let him.

Above: Montana being sweet. Below: Montana being playful.

Montana eating with his “sissy cat”, Texas. Eating is Montana’s favorite pastime.

2. Texas Cheyenne

Yes, I have to share some more cute Texas photos. Since it is winter, her fur is longer, softer, and fluffier than ever. Here she is with my sister.

Me with my ball of fur!

3. Dixie

Here are a few more cute pictures of my brother’s dog Dixie. She came to visit us again! Below is a picture of her with our little three-year-old friend who loves playing with Dixie so much.

Dixie loves to nap on the recliner. I think she considers it her throne.

4. Rendy

Are you wondering who Rendy is? He is our pet goldfish. We’ve had him for a month, and I just love him! Something about looking in the fishbowl at a cute, little fish with a tiny white mouth that opens and closes all of the time is so calming to me.

He likes looking into a little mirror that we taped to the side of his bowl.

5. Georgia Cherokee

Last, but definitely not least, is my Georgia (also known as Georgie or Cherry Pie). She thinks that she is the queen and can not stand anyone who defies her authority (especially Montana). Below is a selfie “she” took.

Here is what Georgia looks like from up above.

Georgia’s favorite thing to do is look in our door and beg for anything she wants at the moment. Isn’t she the cutest?

And finally, a picture of my two cats when they were cute, little kittens!

That’s all for the latest pet pictures! Thanks to my siblings for taking the photos. Good bye!

~Faith

The Reverend’s Daughter, Chapter 6 “Reunited”

Marilyn stayed busy going to school, attending church, and playing with the Reckley children. She enjoyed everything about Cumberland, except one thing–she missed her grandparents terribly. Often Marilyn would think of the things they had done together in Greensburg: shopping, taking drives in the country, and cleaning Uncle Crawford’s grave. She missed those times with a deep longing.

But one spring day, Marilyn got some good news. She came home from school and marched into the kitchen. “Hello, Mother. Hello, Dad!” she happily greeted, as she sat in one of the wooden chairs and set her red plaid school bag on the floor beside her.

“How was school today?” Mother asked, taking a tray of cookies out of the oven.

“Oh, just fine,” Marilyn answered.

“How long till school is out, Marilyn?” asked Dad, looking at her over the top of his newspaper.

“One more month,” Marilyn replied sadly, knowing she would miss her friends at school.

“Oh, my,” Dad said, setting down his newspaper. “It’s coming sooner than I thought. We’d better make plans for your summer trip.”

“Summer trip?” Marilyn gasped, her mind spinning.

“Yes,” Dad replied. “Instead of visiting your grandparents for a week, your mother and I have decided that you may spend the whole summer with Mum and Pa.”

“Oh, Daddy!” Marilyn squealed, leaping out of her chair and hugging Dad fiercely. Dad returned to his newspaper as Marilyn gave Mother a quick squeeze before sitting down to eat two hot cookies and a half glass of milk. She ate far too quickly as she excitedly thought of her trip.

“Marilyn, slow down.” Mother reprimanded. “Eat like a lady.” Marilyn obediently slowed down, but her excitement continued to show as she swung her legs.

“Stop kicking the chair, Marilyn.” Mother chided again. Marilyn heard a faint snicker from behind the newspaper.

When school let out, Marilyn waited until the following week to leave for Pennsylvania. She wanted to attend the annual Sunday School picnic that Saturday. Marilyn loved the food and fun that the picnic had to offer. She also enjoyed watching Dad play baseball with the men and older boys, namely Delbert Cogill, Bob Wetzel, and John Clark. When Dad got up to the plate, even the ladies stopped what they were doing to watch. He was an excellent ball player, and regularly hit the ball far over the outfielders’ heads. As a youth, Dad had aspired to be a professional baseball player, but when he got saved, he gave up worldly things. Marilyn was proud of her dad’s decision to follow the Lord.

On Monday Marilyn’s parents took her on the long ride to Pennsylvania. Marilyn could not sit still. She slid from one side of the back seat to the other as she viewed the beautiful Allegheny Mountains around her. Finally they arrived in Greensburg. Marilyn was full of excitement and joy as she saw all the places that she remembered so clearly: the farmer’s market, McCurry’s Five and Ten Cent store, the corner on which Dad had preached, the cemetery where Uncle Crawford was buried, and finally the three-story apartment building where her grandparents lived. Marilyn pushed the heavy car door open, leaped from her seat, and ran up the sidewalk. She pushed open the big wooden door, and then scaled three flights of steps as quickly as she could. Knocking quite loudly on her grandparents’ apartment door, she bounced impatiently. When Mum opened the door, Marilyn sprang into her arms. “Little Marilyn,” Mum cooed, and to Marilyn it seemed that everything was right again.

Dad and mother stayed for one night. They left the next day so that they could be home in time for the Tuesday night fellowship. Marilyn was sad to see them go, knowing she would not see them for the rest of the summer. But Marilyn put those thoughts behind her; she was excited to spend her summer in Pennsylvania.

The days passed pleasantly in Greensburg as Marilyn and her grandparents formed a weekly routine. On Sunday morning they attended Sunday school and church. On Sunday afternoon, Marilyn spent time with Mum while Pa went to minister to the inmates at the Westmoreland County Jail. Then the three of them would go back to church for the Sunday evening service. Every weekday, Marilyn would stay home with Mum while Pa went to work at the glass factory. Almost every afternoon, Mum and Marilyn would walk to the corner market and buy groceries. On Wednesday night, they went to church for the prayer service. Saturday, when Pa was off work, the three of them would go clean Uncle Crawford’s grave.

Marilyn enjoyed playing with Garnet Shaw, a girl who lived in her grandparents’ apartment building. Marilyn and Garnet decided that they were going to learn to swim, so they each paid ten cents at the YMCA and swam for an hour every weekday morning. Both girls did indeed manage to learn how to swim.

When the summer was over, Marilyn was sad to leave her grandparents, but she was delighted to see her parents and the Reckleys again. It was great to be home.

That fall there was a new girl named Doris Marshall in the first grade class. Every day at lunch she would ask various girls for a bite of their sandwiches. Often she would ask Marilyn. One such day, Doris asked, “May I have a bite?” Marilyn looked down at her pickled hot pepper and cheese sandwich. Her parents bought jars of pickled hot peppers just for her, and she did not want to give up one single bite of her delicious sandwich.

“Yes,” said Marilyn begrudgingly, extending her sandwich to Doris. Doris took one bite. As she started to chew, her eyes got big, her face turned red, and she charged to the other side of the cafeteria where the water fountain was. Marilyn could not help but laugh inside. She was sure she would not have to give up any more precious bites to Doris.

One day Marilyn saw a poster announcing auditions for an upcoming school play. After talking to her parents about it, she decided that she would audition. Many of the other children were nervous, but not Marilyn. She sang at church often so she was not afraid to perform. Much to Marilyn’s delight, she was given the lead role in the play. Even though many of the children had trouble memorizing their lines, and Marilyn missed several practices due to sickness, the play was a success. Marilyn looked forward to the next year’s play.