The following articles contain newspaper coverage of the beginning and end of the Prayer Journey for Peacemakers for Sacred Healing along the Trail of Tears, Prayer Journey published by The Calhoun Times and the Tahlequah Daily Press. Reprinted courtesy of Abbey Lennon from The Calhoun Times and Staff of the Tahlequah Daily Press.
From the Calhoun Times: Peacemakers begin pilgrimage at New Echota
- Abbey Lennon
(June 19, 2013)--A small band of seven people are on one big mission; “to help bring about national reconciliation with America’s First People.”
Traveling from places as far away as Virginia and Albany, N.Y., this small group came together Saturday, May 8 at New Echota, the first capital of the Cherokee people, along with other participants representing many cultures and ethnicities, with a plan to end their pilgrimage of peace in Tahlequah, Okla., the new capital of the Cherokee Nation, Saturday, June 15.
Known as the Peacemakers for Sacred Healing the group began the more than 1,000 mile journey, along one of the infamous Trail of Tears routes, with a ceremony in the council house at the historical site. The group listened to speakers such as Pastor Samuel Mosteller, President of the Georgia Southern Christian Leadership Conference and descendant of both Creek and Cherokee Native Americans; and Tom Bluewolf of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
The group delivered the message that in order to keep the atrocities of the past from occurring again, listening to the stories of the Native American’s journey of suffering, passed down from generation to generation, must be retold, and listened to.
“This is really about coming together as a family,” said the group’s spokesperson Rev. Claire Daugherty. “A big part of healing is listening to someone’s story. Anyone who has suffered trauma needs to talk about it. On this journey we are listening; listening and saying we are so sorry. We want to hear those stories and we want to repent and work together for a brighter future, we cannot undo the past, but the future is a blank slate. We can learn from the past.”
Tom Bluewolf performed a “song of honor through the mouth of the Sassafrass Tree,” a flute created by a fellow Native American, from the bark of the Sassafrass Tree, inscribed with ancient Creek symbols of the wind and star clans.
The group performed a symbolic “cleansing” ceremony by writing past transgressions on flash paper to be burned, leaving behind no ash, to the quiet notes of Bluewolf’s flute and the soft beat of the drum.
The group then collectively signed a declaration of peace which reads:
Peacemakers for Sacred Healing Trail of Tears Journey June 7 – 15, 2013: Georgia, Tennesee, Arkansas, Oklahoma
We, the undersigned, are the Peacemakers for Sacred Healing between Native Americans and non-Native Americans.
We free ourselves from the pain and anguish of our past.
Our committed friendship is bound on earth and in heaven in the spirit of our ancestors.
We continue to respect our sacred earth, especially our love for America and will together serve the world as one family under God, Great Spirit, Yahweh, Allah, Jehovah, Heavenly Parent, Creator, True Parents.
Amen, Aho, Aju!
After the ceremony, the group convened for a picnic of a diverse spread of food and toured the rest of the grounds at New Echota before departing to their next location.
According to Daugherty many different Native American descendants and tribes along their journey hosted the group allowing them to hear the stories of generations past.
Many groups co-sponsored the pilgrimage including the United Native American Council; The American Clergy Leadership Conference; Family Federation for World Peace; Kingmaker Magazine; Women’s Federation for World Peace; and the Sufi Order of Villa Rica.
Along their journey, the group prayed and asked for forgiveness for the wrong done to the Cherokee along the trail of tears, however this was not their first journey for peace.
Though plans for the pilgrimage along the infamous Trail of Tears route began approximately six years go, according to Daugherty, since 2007, the group has been to Jamestown, Plymouth and others have also traveled overseas to the Middle East on missions of peace.
“We are seed droppers and hopefully you will continue this type of reconciliation work. I hope that in your communities you will continue, and that as you are inspired you will do more and that the pains of this nation can be bound up and we really can live in peace,” said Daugherty. “The bible says the sins of the father are vested on the seventh generation. If you think of a generation as 25 years those seven generations have passed. 175 years, seven times 25. To me that is great news, that means now we can be freed from this painful burden. It’s not just the victim, but the perpetrator, the trauma comes back to them as well, so we must heal together.”
The group’s journey ended Saturday in Tahlequah with a sacred “Wiping of the Tears” ceremony at the new Cherokee Capital.
Daugherty says she hopes this will be an annual event to help continue to tell the story of what happened to the Nation’s First People, so that it will never happen again.
Rev. Tom Cutts, National Executive Director of the American Clergy Leadership Conference, helped bring the group to Gordon County and New Echota to begin their pilgrimage.
Read the article here.
From the Tahlequah Daily Press: Trail of Tears commemorators conclude 1,000-mile Reconciliation Trek
(June 14, 2013) TAHLEQUAH — A group of women and men prayerfully retracing one of the routes of the Cherokee 1836-’38 “Trail of Tears” will conclude their 1,000-mile journey of repentance and reconciliation with a gathering of native elders and Christian ministers Saturday morning.
Through their journey, and along the way, the group members have been offering their repentance for the atrocities of the long-ago Trail of Tears, which marks its 175th anniversary this year. The group’s effort, which the women and men who are pursuing the 1,000-mile pilgrimage call the Trail of Tears Prayer Journey, is being undertaken in the spirit of offering healing and reconciliation as they go.
On the way, the pilgrims experienced a ceremony involving native flute-playing, a deep-woods pipe ceremony, reconciliation gatherings with Native Americans, powerful emotional realizations, and vivid spiritual experiences.
The prayer pilgrimage began on June 8 at New Echota (near Calhoun, Ga.), the historical site of the former Capital of the Cherokee Nation. The Peacemakers group, traveling by car, then made Trail of Tears-related stops in Chattanooga, Pulaski, Bon Aqua, Bolivar, Memphis and Randolph (all in Tennessee); Marion, Forrest City, Little Rock, Russellville, and Fort Smith (all in Arkansas); and finally, Tahlequah.
The Peacemakers for Sacred Healing gathering will conclude the 2013 Trail of Tears journey on Saturday, June 15, at 2 p.m., at the Cherokee Heritage Center, 21192 S. Keeler Drive, Park Hill.
At the kickoff event in Calhoun, Ga., the speakers included Pastor Samuel Mosteller, president of the Georgia Southern Christian Leadership Conference and descendant of both Creek and Cherokee Native Americans. Tom Bluewolf of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians provided Native flute music and a reconciliation ceremony. Multi-faith prayers were offered for the completion of the pilgrimage.
The Prayer Journey, organized by Peacemakers for Sacred Healing, is meant to help bring about national reconciliation with America’s First People.
From 1836-’38, some 17,000 Americans who happened to be Cherokee Indians were driven at gunpoint to abandon their flourishing farms, prosperous homes, and well-developed towns and villages largely in Georgia and travel, mainly by foot, over a thousand miles to the unknown lands of Arkansas and Oklahoma, where they were forced onto reservations. One-fourth of the Native population died along the way. When they arrived at the end of the long march, there were few children and elders remaining. Unmarked graves span the length of the trail. All of this was made legal by the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
One of the historical Trail of Tears routes is being retraced by the Peacemakers group prayerfully and tearfully, repenting for these fundamental violations of the basic human rights of the first Americans.
“We will hear the stories of their descendants and honor the memory of those who suffered and died along the way,” said Peacemakers spokeswoman Claire Daugherty. “We will offer symbolic gifts to those who share their stories with us as well as to the educational institutions and museums that preserve this story so that such a tragedy can never happen again. And we will ask forgiveness of the ancestors.”
The Prayer Pilgrimage is co-sponsored by the United Native American Council, the American Clergy Leadership Conference, Family Federation for World Peace, Kingmaker Magazine, Women’s Federation for World Peace and the Sufi Order of Villa Rica.
Read the full article here.