Del "Abe" Jones  
America's Poor Man's Poet

THE NEVER ENDING TRAIL

The whites honor the "Hermitage"
And the man who once lived there
But, that leader of our Nation
Was cruel, unjust, unfair

He ordered the removal
Of the Cherokee from their land
And forced them on a trek
That the Devil must have planned

One thousand miles of misery
Of pain and suffering
Because greed of the white man
Could not even wait till spring

We should bow our heads in shame
Even unto this day
About "The Trail Of Tears"
And those who died along the way

It was October, eighteen thirty-eight
When seven thousand troops in blue
Began the story of the "Trail"
Which, so sadly, is so true

Jackson ordered General Scott
To rout the Indian from their home
The "Center Of The World" they loved
The only one they'd known

The Braves working in the fields
Arrested, placed in a stockade
Women and children dragged from home
In the bluecoats shameful raid

Some were prodded with bayonets
When, they were deemed to move too slow
To where the Sky was their blanket
And the cold Earth, their pillow

In one home a Babe had died
Sometime in the night before
And women mourning, planning burial
Were cruelly herded out the door

In another, a frail Mother
Papoose on back and two in tow
Was told she must leave her home
Was told that she must go

She uttered a quiet prayer
Told the old family dog good-bye
Then, her broken heart gave out
And she sank slowly down to die

Chief Junaluska witnessed this
Tears streaming down his face
Said if he could have known this
It would have never taken place

For, at the battle of Horse Shoe
With five hundred Warriors, his best
Helped Andrew Jackson win that battle
And lay thirty-three Braves to rest

And the Chief drove his tomahawk
Through a Creek Warrior's head
Who was about to kill Jackson
But whose life was saved, instead

Chief John Ross knew this story
And once sent Junaluska to plead
Thinking Jackson would listen to
This Chief who did that deed

But, Jackson was cold, indifferent
To the one he owed his life to
Said, "The Cherokee's fate is sealed
There's nothing, I can do."

Washington, D.C. had decreed
They must be moved Westward
And all their pleas and protests
To this day still go unheard

On November, the seventeenth
Old Man Winter reared his head
And freezing cold, sleet and snow
Littered that trail with the dead

On one night, at least twenty-two
Were released from their torment
To join that Great Spirit in the Sky
Where all good souls are sent

Many humane, heroic stories
Were written 'long the way
A monument, for one of them
Still stands until this day

It seems one noble woman
It was Chief Ross' wife
Gave her blanket to a sick child
And in so doing, gave her life

She is buried in an unmarked grave
Dug shallow near the "Trail"
Just one more tragic ending
In this tragic, shameful tale

Mother Nature showed no mercy
Till they reached the end of the line
When that fateful journey ended
On March twenty-sixth, eighteen thirty-nine

Each mile of this infamous "Trail"
Marks the graves of four who died
Four thousand poor souls in all
Marks the shame we try to hide

You still can hear them crying
Along "The Trail Of Tears"
If you listen with your heart
And not with just your ears

The preceding was partly inspired by a story told to children by John Burnett on the occasion of his eightieth birthday in 1890. It was printed in a book titled "Cherokee Legends And The Trail Of Tears", adapted by Thomas Bryan Underwood. My main inspiration, though is the shame and disgust I feel as I learn more about the atrocities perpetrated by our forefathers and the injustices which still occur to the true Native Americans. John Burnett was a Private in an infantry company which took part in the Cherokee Removal of 1838-1839. Near the end of his story he says, in part, "Future generations will read and condemn the act .....". Do we? In closing he says, "However, murder is murder whether committed by the villain skulking in the dark or by uniformed men stepping to the strains of martial music. Murder is murder and somebody must answer, somebody must explain the streams of blood that flowed in the Indian country in the summer of 1838. Somebody must explain the four thousand silent graves that mark the trail of the Cherokees to their exile. I wish I could forget it all, but the picture of six hundred and forty-five wagons lumbering over the frozen ground with their Cargo of suffering humanity still lingers in my memory. Let the historian of a future day tell the sad story with its' sighs, its' tears and dying groans. Let the great Judge of all the earth weigh our actions and reward us according to our work." If only it worked that way

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