Preface and first 2 chapters

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Summer rain: Getsikahvda Anitsalagi (The Removal of the People)

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Preface and first 2 chapters

  1. 1. Preface<br />This journey will bring the reader into a typical Cherokee village in early 1800s Georgia, where a young girl and her best friend become old enough to realize that there are strangers who stand poised to take land and home away from not only the Cherokee, but also neighboring tribes. They witness the birth of the new written language of Tsalagi in the year 1821 and the printing press in the year 1827; not only does the Nation begin to grow in regard to literacy, but also the growth would prove be financial and would mark the first newspaper to ever be printed and circulated by a Native American tribe.<br /> <br />In addition to being a youth witnessing the literacy advancements within the Nation, Rain falls in love with a white boy and is then forced into making the decision of whether to follow her heart and save her own life—or to remain loyal to her family, knowing that in doing so, she could lose not only her true love, but her very life as well.<br /> <br />Welcome to the life of a young Cherokee girl named Rain as she grows into maturity just as the Trail of Tears begins.<br />Chapter 1<br />1820<br />Cougar felt himself crouching over the woman who was piercing the cool night air with her screams. His eyes could see her lying on the dirt floor, but in a sudden lapse of common sense, the man had no idea what he was doing with her.<br /> Blaming the extreme pain she felt searing a pathway through her entire body and stealing her very breath, Song Bird offered an instinctive push in her lower belly in a futile attempt to dismiss what seemed to claim every inch of her insides.<br />            With a mass of dark hair clinging to the back of her neck in heavy, wet clumps, she was oblivious to the fact that she was soaked in her own sweat; she felt her mind spin with faint thoughts of what was happening to her.<br /> The only thing the young woman wished for was to go to sleep and wake up some days later, for it was nearly too much to bear.<br /> Almost not conscious of anything at the moment, Song Bird clutched Cougar’s warm hand and gave it yet another tight squeeze. Her own small hand was moist with nervous perspiration, and she was not aware that she was digging her fingernails into his flesh. <br /> Glancing into his soft brown eyes, she could not quite grasp her husband’s struggles of the event that was being presented before them, but sensed he felt absolutely helpless in the storm that was about to come.<br /> Cougar had borne witness to many births in his lifetime, and when he was only nine moons, had assisted his own mother to deliver her fifth and final child—a quiet little bronzed baby girl that he was allowed to call Duhi.<br /> Snowbird.<br /> He could still remember the chill in the night air, looking into those observant little eyes that were the color of the Great Creator’s earth and thinking that one day she would prove herself to be a mighty and strong Cherokee woman that would be praised and spoken of long after her departure from this earth.<br /> This new person, his own sister—he had seen her very entrance into life, and although she had not even been in this world for more than a few beats of his heart, already he knew his love for her would be endless.<br /> And it was true, for Snowbird and Cougar grew to be the closest in their family, sharing every detail of their hearts and dreams. They ran together, played together, and grew into adulthood together.<br /> But the woman before him was Song Bird, his own beloved wife. And this was their first child, which made this birth far more different than any other.<br /> “Help me!” she cried out.<br /> Their day had begun as any other, but by mid-afternoon, the skies had gathered many dark clouds and Song Bird’s stomach began tightening in a way that she had never felt before; it would soon be time.<br /> Song Bird tried to stand up, and tried to move forward toward the strength of the cave’s wall only a few footsteps ahead, but she could not. It seemed to her that she could almost feel the searing flashes of light from outside, ripping through her entire body. Each time the night sky was sliced through, she caught a glimpse of the tall maple trees swaying in the wind through the heavy rainfall. With each passing heartbeat, the crashing thunder rolled closer and closer until finally the cave itself shook.<br /> She tried to hold her breath, and tried not to allow the damp, musky smell of wet rock and rotted leaves to creep into her nostrils; her eyes closed and a hand reached down under her belly as she attempted once more to complete the final three steps to reach the wall. With a cry, she collapsed after the first step.<br /> They seemed to keep perfect time with one another—first the lightning and rumbling thunder, which only irritated her more, and then the pains that caught her breath away and refused to give it back to her. Combined with the smells that only pregnancy can multiply, Song Bird only wished for the spinning to stop in her head so she could sleep.<br /> Cougar felt himself creeping too close to the side of panic; he did not know what to do to ease the suffering of his wife.<br /> If only he would have listened to Duhi, and had thought to bring the black cherry with him today...she had told him several times not to leave home without some of the inner bark, just in case they needed to stop and make a tea for Song Bird.<br /> Just the day before, while Song Bird napped, Duhi and Cougar had even spent a few hours gathering the red-brown bark, talking about names for the new baby and all the things that a first child brings.<br /> Duhi found her calling in the way she made hot teas from the wild cherry plant, and she had calmed the pains of many of her Cherokee sisters with its medicine. In fact, she had reminded Cougar three times in the past week alone that he should carry some with him just in case Song Bird felt the child coming too quickly and he could not call for help.<br /> He was so excited to see that child! It was to be their first since that cold winter’s day, when Cougar made Song Bird his best friend for all eternity.<br /> Song Bird had been a part of Cougar’s life from the day she was born, since his parents and her parents, who were from another nearby clan, had been dear friends since they were themselves children. He was older than she was, his arrival being at the worst time ever, as his parents were not with family or anywhere near their own village when he had come.<br /> Cougar’s mother, Morning Star, had spent a rather restless pregnancy with him, and she missed her own sister deeply during those nine months. So to bide her time, she made a few skin blankets for her sister’s family. She spent many impatient evenings stitching tiny, fragile beads onto the skins, careful to remember favorite colors so each of the blankets would reflect their new owners. They were traveling on foot to her sister’s village to deliver those blankets, when more than halfway there, Cougar had given signs of entering the world.<br /> Just before Cougar caused his mother’s birth pains to begin, Brown Bear had suggested that they stop for a bit, spread out a blanket, and eat some lunch of apples and the corn dough bread he had prepared the day before. He was anxious to get his wife’s approval, as this was his first time making the bread that his wife had long since perfected.<br /> Morning Star was able to eat only part of her lunch, saying that the baby was taking up all the room and there was none left for food. She smiled and leaned over on her side, propping herself up on an elbow. She giggled as she looked down. “Brown Bear? Do I still have two feet down there? I have not seen them in so long, I sometimes wonder if they are still attached, if it were not for the fact that my moccasins feel too small for my big feet!” <br /> She shook her head and asked if she could have something to drink, when she felt that first instant cramping. She pursed her lips, pulled her eyes tight, and held her breath until her chest hurt, and she had to let the breath out heavily.<br /> “Morning Star! What is happening to you?” Brown Bear knew what was happening! He just did not know what to do about it—true, he would have known what to do if it had been one of his brother’s wives, but he was suddenly struck with fear and began to lose control of his own senses. He pressed heavy thumbs into his eyes and forced himself to think clearly.<br /> “Morning Star, can I help you to your feet? We are not far from the village now; the women’s lodge is where you need to be,” he almost begged.<br />             It was only by chance that Morning Star’s brother-in-law happened to be training his son in the arts of rabbit hunting, when he saw Morning Star and Brown Bear inching closer to the village—and to the help he could see that Morning Star desperately needed!<br /> “Run!” he called to his son. “Find your mother and tell her to come quickly!” he spit out as he nearly tripped in his footsteps to reach Song Bird before she gave birth right there in the middle of the woods.<br /> Whether it was out of obedience, respect, or simply not wanting to be caught in the whole event of watching his aunt giving birth, the young boy scampered off without delay, wipingdamp clumps of hair out of his eyes along the way. He almost skidded out on the grass as he rounded the clearing where his cousin had kissed his sweetheart a week ago.<br /> He saw his mother scooping up some of the family’s belongings to take inside, probably to scold the children for not doing so when she had asked it of them earlier.<br /> “Etsi, nula! Mother, hurry!” he called out from the distance.<br /> “They are here and Song Bird is ready with her baby!”<br /> This was to be her sister’s first child! Her heart pounded with a wild beat as she waved her arms at some of the other women and pointed toward the women’s lodge.<br /> Morning Star’s strength finally gave out, and she allowed herself to relax into the arms of her sisters.<br /> That is how Cougar, of the Wind Clan, came to be. He was born at the village of his aunt, of the Deer Clan, and some say that her eyes are the first ones he ever focused on.<br /> Cougar had already begun learning how to fish with his father on High Rock Lake, when he learned that his parents approved of the idea of his being married someday to Annewake’s first-born daughter.<br /> “I do not want to be married,” he said boldly. “Why do I need a wife? I know how to feed myself!”<br /> Brown Bear only smiled; he knew that one day his son would feel differently.<br /> Brown Bear, for one, was looking forward to the birth of the child that would one day change his son’s stubborn mind...if only Annewake’s stomach would grow and bring the child forth.<br /> It was as Cougar was about to enter into his fifth year that Annewake’s belly did begin to grow.<br /> She could not sleep most of the time and spent many nights by the fire outside in the dark, wondering what the child would look like…wondering if the child would be a girl. <br /> Most men would want a boy to come first. But in this case, Annewake well knew that the child had to be a girl in order to please her husband.<br /> He was a good man and would certainly not bring harm to her if the child were a boy, but she deeply loved her husband and wanted nothing more than to please him. She stared up at the stars many nights and asked—if she never asked for anything else—for the child to be a girl.<br /> A blinding strike of lightning flashed before Cougar’s eyes, pulling him back into the present, and he realized that Song Bird was calling out to him in her deepening pain. Her face was pleading with him to help her, and as he reached down for her, she screamed out and bent forward.<br /> “I need my mother,” Song Bird whimpered.<br /> Cougar could see the look of disgust on the face of Duhi in his mind’s eye. “Yes, yes, I know—the black cherry bark!”<br /> He wished with his whole heart that Song Bird’s mother were here with them; she would know what to do, she would offer that familiar smile in her eyes and make everything alright again, as she had the habit of always doing. But Cougar knew in his heart that Song Bird’s mother taught her daughter well, for Song Bird was a caretaker of every living thing; she had a love in her heart that Cougar had never seen before in anyone else.<br />         From the first moment he’d looked into the eyes of his wife, Cougar knew in his heart that she had become the only real joy of his existence.<br /> “Aaaaugh!” Song Bird was soaking wet with perspiration and looked more uncomfortable than Cougar had ever seen her.<br /> He had already bent down to her and was now propped up on his knees beside her, wiping the mane of dark hair from her eyes. He had just swiped a thick strand of wet chestnut-colored hair from her eyes, when Song Bird called out to him through clenched teeth.<br /> “Cougar! Aaaaugh!”<br /> Within the hour, Cougar was helping Song Bird deliver their first child. She was so small, so sweet. She had the largest brown eyes they had ever seen! A baby girl!<br /> Song Bird, exhausted from the delivery, was unable to keep her eyes off their new daughter—or the look in her husband’s eyes as he held the child close to his face.<br /> “So there you are, my little daughter,” Cougar whispered to the tiny person through the tears that swelled up in his throat. “I have waited all my life to see you.”<br /> As a flash of lightening bolted through the sky, the rain poured down as if the sea had ruptured above their heads. The rains had been very heavy the entire night, and now the thunderous sound of raindrops splattering against the roof of the cave brought a melody that eased Song Bird’s head from the pounding sensation she had been feeling for the past several hours.<br /> “Rain,” Cougar whispered to his daughter.<br /> “Rain,” he said to his wife, as he turned his attention to her.<br /> “That will be the name of our daughter.”<br />Chapter 2<br />1823<br />Brown Bear stood in the doorway of his home while Morning Star prepared the morning meal, and he looked out over all the land that lay in front of him. These mountains, these trees—they had been a part of his life since birth, and now they were just as much a part of his son’s life.<br /> And his granddaughter’s life. Rain loved the gentle grass when it squeezed between her little toes, loved to bounce about in the chilly streams, and almost seemed to cause the flowers to bloom where they never had before. Her young life of just three years was right here. He could not picture her laughter playing anywhere else.<br />No matter what the unegas said, Brown Bear would never allow them to take any of this life from his People. Never! He would die before he allowed that to happen!<br />They had been arriving in droves, those whites. One wagon after the other, and they were all filled with more whites and their kin. The wheels on their wagons wore ruts into the ground, separated the deep grass covering the earth with ugly dirt stripes following them wherever they went, as if they owned the land and had the right to do as they pleased with it.<br />          They would leave fires still glowing as they rolled from one place to the other. They would kill animals and take only some of the meat—none of the remaining parts—with the carcass to lie in the open sun and gather flies as if the life of the sacred animal meant nothing. They allowed their children to look at the Cherokee with smug humiliation and never even realized that they were the ones who should be pitied.<br />Their chief would say one thing, would say they were only coming into this land to make life easier for the Cherokee, teaching how to become what they called “civilized.” The unega tried to teach their religion, which, according to them, was the only proper way to show respect for the Great Creator.<br /> Brown Bear shook his head and caught the attention of his wife, who was mostly a quiet woman. This morning, though, she was not.<br /> “They will not go away because you are watching them, you know.”<br /> He turned to his wife but did not look her in the eye. He was concerned about the future of his family, of his village, of his People.<br /> These unegas had been infiltrating the Cherokee lands as well as the neighboring tribes for several generations already.<br /> It was not a new event; Brown Bear remembered his own parents’ concern for the People and their ways. He remembered the council meetings from his own youth and how the elders had tried to comfort those who attended; they had talked about the unegas becoming bored with the land, of them finally going back to where they came from in the first place.<br /> Brown Bear traced an invisible shape on the door with a chunky finger, staring blankly at nothing.<br /> “You are right, Morning Star. There are times when I fear the forked tongue of the white man may never go away. They expect our People to believe in them, in their law, in the god that they come in representation of. It is because of this deceit that we must have nothing to do with any of them.<br /> “Perhaps we cannot make them leave us alone, but we can make the time they are among us miserable and we can make them think about what they are doing to each one of us. One day, we will learn how to speak to them on their own terms and make them see—really see—what we are saying.”<br />He paced the floor, waiting for their son to return from his morning walk with his family, eager to get to the Council House and get the meeting under way. It had been a very busy week with the council meetings scheduled and so many family members coming in from great distances to participate in them. Morning Star always looked forward to having her sister and her sister’s family as guests in her home, spending considerable time in preparing many gifts for each member of her extended family.<br /> The children always knew they would receive some wonderful gift from Morning Star and looked forward to the Council House talks and the long journey to her home.<br /> On the first evening of their arrival, the children would eat their meals in huge gulps and were even eager to help clear the table, for they knew that once the dishes had been cleared and the children were sitting in quiet groups, Morning Star would pass out each child’s gift and then Brown Bear would speak great stories about animals and ancestors as they played with their new toys.<br /> The older children of Morning Star’s sister especially enjoyed winter meeting times, because then their uncle would light a fire in the fireplace and they would snuggle at his feet as he told his stories.<br /> On the last visit, a teenaged niece of Morning Star had inquired of her uncle if girls were allowed to become storytellers, for she had many great things to say to the People and to their children. This pleased Brown Bear so greatly that he told her he would see to it himself that she would live that dream out and see it become a reality.<br />         Reflecting back on that conversation with his niece, Brown Bear stood next to his wife, who was preparing food for the large group of family members that would be there at any time, streaming back into her kitchen. She had been in anticipation of the event for weeks; she and Song Bird had put away so much extra food, Song Bird wondered if it would all be eaten…especially considering she knew Morning Star’s sister would also be bringing some of her family’s favorite foods.<br />Morning Star had been looking forward to her family’s arrival for weeks. She and Song Bird prepared many meals in advance by drying meats and berries and spent two full days baking different types of breads for their guests.<br /> “Every meal will be a feast!” Morning Star announced to her husband, whose mouth was now watering at the fresh blueberry bread she was slicing as she sat at the table. He placed a hand on her shoulder and smiled; what a good woman he had chosen so many years ago!<br />Morning Star filled cups with milk and set down bowls of warmed hominy that always tasted so good with blueberry bread, and Brown Bear finally came to sit with her until Cougar and the rest of the family returned from their morning walk.<br />Morning Star’s sister gave a gentle pat to her son’s head, sent him out to play, and smiled as she reached for the blackberry loaf. “I always liked this one best.” She smiled as she stuffed a small piece into her mouth. “Do you remember that Mother made it all the time and we would try to pick the berries out and save them for last? I have missed her more than anyone knows.”<br />She trailed off quietly as she began packing the breads into cloth-lined baskets.<br />Allowing her sister to have a moment to herself, Morning Star asked Brown Bear about the special talk session planned for the day. She still could not grasp the full reasoning of those unegas, hard as she tried to.<br />          It was not as if intrusion by the white man were a new problem, for Brown Bear’s parents also had to deal with the growing number of intruders, as did their parents. Since the 1670s— some 150 years building up to this day—the Cherokee had been forced to compromise themselves to the white man in one way or another. If it was not being traded as slaves to the white man by the Catawba, Congaree, Shawnee, and the Savannah Indians, then it was the white man lying and saying that he would protect the Cherokee from the very ones who traded them to the white man.<br />“We will never leave this land,” she almost whispered, with eyes that were not in the slightest manner being disrespectful to her husband. “My mother—our mother,” she said, glancing over her shoulder to her sister, who had moved toward the table, “is buried on this land, Brown Bear, and I promised her that I would never leave her behind, no matter what the unegas said or did to us. I intend to keep my promise.”<br />A warm spoonful of hominy flavored with honey, crispy bacon and tender green onions slid down the back of his throat, and comfort filled his heart as he lifted his eyes to his wife. He offered a slight grin and shoved another bite into his mouth, proud of Morning Star for standing firm in her convictions. She was one tough woman when the time was right and yet the most tender and compassionate person he had ever known.<br />Just as Morning Star stirred some salt into her bowl of hominy and her husband was about to tell her how much he appreciated her hard work, Cougar came bounding through the door, carrying two of his young nephews on his sturdy back. The beading on his shirt left an imprint on the left cheek of the youngest one, showing that he had pressed his face close to Cougar. Probably, as Brown Bear figured, because Cougar had been running with the children on his back for an extra bit of fun.<br />Rain darted in the door straight to Morning Star, her tiny hands already smudged with soil and full of flowers that she had picked for ugilitsi, her grandmother.<br />“They are beautiful, Rain, just like you!” Grandmother told her as she accepted the small red flowers with the yellow centers.<br />Grandmother’s hands were callous with time, but the flowers in them softened their appearance. Gathering her sweet little granddaughter into her lap with her free hand, Morning Star breathed in the scent of Rain’s hair. Rain had already taken her bath, for she smelled of fresh lavender and lilac. Her hair was still damp and clung to her neck as Morning Star brushed her lips against it to kiss her clean neck.<br />As the children climbed down from their uncle’s back, Cougar was already sniffing the air in the kitchen. He followed his nose and sneaked a slice of the blueberry bread as Morning Star turned to greet the children and shuffle them toward the breakfast table.<br />Cougar took a chair from under the eating table and scooted it back. “Song Bird would like your help getting in the door, if you don’t mind,” he let his father know.<br />Cougar remembered when he and his father made that table; it was only three weeks before he married Song Bird and while they worked on it, Brown Bear gave some last minute advice to his son about marriage.<br />As soon as Brown Bear was up and moving toward the door, a quick grin spread across Cougar’s face and he placed a single finger to his lips. When his daughter cocked her head to one side in confusion, he grabbed his father’s bowl and spoon and dug in.<br />Rain laughed and pointed at her father.<br />Cougar just grinned, which caused Rain to laugh even harder when she saw the giant piece of green onion stuck between his teeth. “Grandfather, look!” she squealed.<br />Brown Bear pretended to be angry and stormed his son, feigning a blow to Cougar’s head while he swiftly yanked the spoon and bowl away. He made a growling sound and bent down to his granddaughter, asking her, “Do you know what becomes of a man who steals a bear’s breakfast?” Rain cupped all of her tanned little fingers over her mouth and squealed again. “No!” she said out loud.<br />“This is what!”<br />And all of a sudden, Brown Bear had his grown son on the hardwood planked floor with both of them rolling and laughing, leaving Morning Star wondering if they would break anything this time.<br />“Would the Peace Chief like to bring a little to his own house?” she called out to her favorite two men.<br />Morning Star just shook her head at their antics and finished her own food before it got any colder. She leaned over and whispered to Rain with a wave of her hand, “This is going to be one of those days.”<br />~~~<br />Cougar admired his father; the same man who no more than an hour ago held him in a mock headlock to amuse his grand- daughter now stood at the head of the village council with all the authority granted to a chief.<br />As with many other council talks, this session was called to order to discuss the white man’s governmental demands that the Cherokee—as well as several other tribes such as the Choctaw—voluntarily give up the land that their forefathers had grown up on.<br />Each time Brown Bear stood in front of his people as their representative, he could see the look of fear mounting in their eyes. They knew not, from one session to the next, what the news would bring. It was a scary time for families, for villages, for all.<br />Finally, after many weeks of anticipation, this was to be the morning that a new announcement was to be made. The villagers wondered among themselves if the unegas had finally decided to leave them alone and go away or if this announcement would be more bad news; they never knew from one meeting to the next what would become of the People.<br />Either way, though, villagers who traveled far distances to be present for today’s talks would huddle close to those who lived closer to the Council House; together, they would decide the best way to look at and handle the demands of the white man and his government. It was the Cherokee way to include all villages in any announcement that could affect any member of the tribe.<br />Being the center of communication, the Council House was the most important building in each village, and they were always built large enough to accommodate each and every member of the village—men, women, and even the smallest child. The fact was that a meeting at the Council House could attract as many as a few hundred people. When an announcement was to be made, it was taken seriously by all; whether a family was fortunate enough to arrive in fancy carriages, on horseback, or only by foot, it was an important gathering for every single Cherokee.<br />The gathering provided a double occasion; first, the business at hand in the meetings. Second, these gatherings sometimes proved to be the only times that friends and family from far off could have the opportunity to visit, so the meals and accommodations were planned far in advance. And now all those weeks were behind them; they were all gathered together and ready to hear the announcement that brought them here.<br />“Brothers, we have come together again to discuss the white man’s ‘decision’ that the People sell this territory, as they have come to call our land.” Brown Bear shook his head and glanced downward.<br />“In the year that the unegas call 1540, DeSoto and his men set foot on these lands and claimed that they ‘discovered’ both it and the people who had been living on it. We have lived alongside the Alibamu and the Creeks, the Choctaws as well as the Catawbas, who have shared our boundary lines for many years.<br />And now the Spanish, English, and all those who have become their allies now covet our land for their own use. It is the united plan of the unegas that we sell the grass our children and grandchildren play on every day, the grass that our beloved ancestors now rest underneath. Of course, they tell us that they are willing to pay English money for what they covet.”<br />“The white man confidently offers great sums of their worthless paper, as if our People have any use for it!” shouted a short man from the left-hand side of the room. The scowl on his face seemed to reflect the mood of other men in attendance as they chimed in with their own opinions of the white man and his paper money.<br />Brown Bear held up one hand and brought the group back into silence without saying a word. “Brothers, it is agreeable to all present that we are having great difficulty in understanding what the unegas are telling us. They say one thing to the Cherokee who live in this village and something else to the village on the other side of the mountain, and this makes their promises empty to us all, for none of their words hold any truth.”<br />Cougar sat with his arms folded, always amazed at the way his father was able to maneuver a conversation.<br />“But let us be fair, brothers, when rendering an opinion about these men. Do we know that what we hear is actually what they have said? Do we know that words are translated with correct meanings? We cannot read their words, and up until now—” Brown Bear paused and set one chunky brown finger pointed on the table in front of himself as he skillfully finished the sentence. “Until this moment, we have not had a written set of our own words.”<br />Eyes shifted one and all, while everyone looked around the room. Up until now? Silence covered the room as Brown Bear began to speak again.<br />“We all know Sequoyah,” he began, arms outstretched as if to group them together in thought. “Or have known who he is. He is one of us, and he has become tired of watching the People struggle against the white man. Sequoyah our brother has devised a way for the Cherokee to speak in a lasting and correct manner, in a manner that can be proven to be truthful throughout the years. Brothers of the village council, today you will begin to learn how to read and write your own language!” he almost shouted out of sheer pride, despite the lump forming at the back of his throat.<br />          Every person who could stand shouted as one, slapping each other on the shoulder and pounding their feet on the floor. There were a few people who had been late in arriving to the talk session and walked into what looked almost like a party beginning, not a series of important talks!<br />Brown Bear related to those in attendance that Sequoyah came to realize when he was in the war of 1812 how much the People were missing out on, simply because they could not read the white man’s words.<br />The Cherokee who were enrolled in the United States military were expected to carry out certain orders and understand what to do, just as any other military enrollee. The trouble came when the Cherokee—or any other man, for that matter—could not carry out what was expected of them because they frequently did not understand what those orders were.<br />So many times, the white men laughed at the Cherokee, calling them illiterate or stupid. They were punished when orders were not carried out as specified, and it upset Sequoyah that the People could not express themselves in writing as the white man could.<br />While the other men were comforted in war time by the letters they received from their wives and loved ones, the Cherokee men had no such comforting letters. No pictures drawn by their children. It was not even made known to their families how to send a picture. Envelopes would have been useless even if they would have been made available.<br />          Sequoyah also thought it was not right that the Cherokee had no talking leaves (as he called the white man’s books), and he knew that if his People were taught to read and taught to put their words down in print, it could be the most important thing they had ever accomplished.<br />“Once the war of 1812 saw its end and the men had all gone to their homes again,” Brown Bear stated, “the work of Sequoyah’s literacy program for the Cherokee saw its birth.”<br />For twelve years, Sequoyah studied the letters of the Hebrew, English, and Greek alphabets, although he never personally learned or used any of them. After studying the various shapes of each alphabet, Sequoyah created the syllabary characters and taught them to his daughter, Ayoka. Together, they made a game of learning their language so it could be taught to many more.<br />           “Our words are now represented sound by sound, which are called syllables. Using the sounds together with the characters, we are now able to create a complete and new system, adapted to thousands of words from Tsalagi—the language of the mighty Cherokee Nation!” Brown Bear took a step backward as if to allow the Council House to explode in conversation between themselves for a moment or two before he continued.<br />           Tears welling in up in Cougar’s eyes reflected pride in his father’s ability to lead this village effectively, to lead the People themselves. He knew this was an important day in the history of the Cherokee and that their lives were about to be changed forever.<br />Thank you so much for your interest in Summer Rain, and thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read the first two chapters. I welcome all feedback and look forward to hearing what you have to say!<br />Robyn<br />

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