At first glance it may appear that I am once again diverging from my nature theme by writing about this sad moment in American history, but bear with me.
There are many atrocities involving death and incredible injustices to groups of people that should never be repeated, and the Trail of Tears is one of them. It is a name given to the forced relocation and movement of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The removal included many members of the Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations, among others who were all living peacefully in areas in the southeast. When that land became prime for new settlers, the Indians were forced to walk from their homelands to Indian Territory, located in eastern sections of the present-day state of Oklahoma. Many Native Americans suffered from exposure, disease and starvation en route to their destinations and many died, including 4,000 of the 15,000 relocated Cherokee.
The Legend of The Cherokee Rose holds that when the Trail of Tears started, the mothers of the Cherokee were grieving and crying so much, they were unable to help their children survive the journey. The elders prayed for a sign that would lift the mother’s spirits to give them strength. The next day a beautiful rose began to grow where each of the mother’s tears fell. The rose is white for their tears; a gold center represents the gold taken from Cherokee lands, and seven leaves on each stem for the seven Cherokee clans. The wild Cherokee Rose grows along the route of the Trail of Tears into eastern Oklahoma today.
Because of my Cherokee heritage, I was deeply touched to find some of the roses growing along the fence across the road from me. I didn’t know what they were at first, but my neighbor clued me in. The roses don’t bloom every year, and I had not seen them for several in a row. Imagine my delight when I saw them blooming this year. They were deep in a thicket, so I could not get close enough to capture the center, but HERE is a picture that shows the details of the rose.