This blog entry is from the Introduction to my newest book, “No Indians in Tennessee”. The book will be available to purchase on October 31, 2012, but you can pre-order now and save!
In March 2012 while doing a photo shoot in West Virginia, I was contacted by a prospective client who told me a fascinating story about a small group of Indians in Clarksville, TN that was fighting to keep the traditions and stories of the ancestors alive.
Since I knew that Tennessee had an official public policy of not recognizing tribes and that the Cherokee in Oklahoma had a history of feeling they were the only true Natives worthy of recognition, I knew there was a story to be told.
Arriving in Clarksville on October 1, 2012 I was welcomed into the homes, community and fellowship of the Native Cultural Circle.
Their largest project is to put Native story books into public schools and libraries throughout the state. The annual powwow supports this project.
The powwow is held annually on land adjacent to the Port Royal Historic Site. This site is the location of the last encampment in Tennessee when Indians were forcibly removed from their historic and traditional homelands on the march that became known as The Trail of Tears.
Indians today still face persecution and prejudice. The Trail of Tears is partially blocked by barb wire by a landowner who refuses to allow 50 Indians to traverse sacred ground as they honor their ancestors who were torn from land and families almost 200 years ago. At the same time, Rednecks in pickup trucks drive past the powwow grounds yelling racial slurs and inane remarks.
Many in the community are supportive though and the support shows the second weekend in October when the Natives gather to honor the ancestors and keep the traditions and stories alive.
I’ll always be grateful to my hosts in Clarksville, Chrissie and Red; I’ll carry deep appreciation to Kat Dehring who first told me about the Native Cultural Circle; and the warm days and cold nights that I spent on the powwow grounds will be among the thoughts shared when I’m old and gray.
As you look at the photographs in this book try to imagine yourself at the powwow. Meeting new friends, enjoying an autumn day on the rolling land and sitting around the bonfire as the spirits of the ancestors smile and nod in approval.
- Enjoy the NCC Powwow, right in your backyard (journeyamerica.wordpress.com)
- Native Cultural Circle in Tennessee (journeyamerica.wordpress.com)
- The 1% has been around a long time; capitalist vultures did it to the Cherokee (journeyamerica.wordpress.com)
- Port Royal and The Trail of Tears (journeyamerica.wordpress.com)
- There Are No Indians in Tennessee (ireport.cnn.com)