A Stranger in America The Cherokee Nation
By : Hatem Dhwibi
The weather is changing. Someone can tell that the spring is knocking on the doors. Spring time is freedom, joy. Spring is life and its good features. Two main things I love to do during the spring; party and travel. I decided to start my spring fantasies a little bit earlier than usual. The country sides, the wild world, the natural scenes are my best destinations, but I am already in Arkansas, so as a change, I have decided to run after the tribal life.
A short trip with a friend to Sallisaw – Oklahoma was my passion refresher. Sallisaw is a small beautiful little town known by the Cherokee language which is basically using the Sequoyah letters.
Sequoyah was born in 1776 in Tennessee. He was a silversmith who invented a simple form of writing consisting of 86 symbols in 1809. The Cherokee people have been consistently identified as one of the most socially and culturally advanced of the Native American tribes. The Cherokee language is part of the Iroquoian language group. Nowadays, there are three federally recognized Cherokee tribes: the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, the United Keetoowah Band and the Cherokee Nation which are both in Oklahoma.
It was a long drive from Fort Smith to the Cherokee Nation Museum, but it was worth it. The place was simply inspirational as I didn’t pay attention to what our tour guide was saying. The sound of nature enslaved my instincts, if your soul is in grief, that place would be a remedy. Shacks, mud houses, clay houses, I do not know exactly what to call them but they were constructed the same as they used to be ages ago, same as everything else inside and around them. There was a tiny Smoke House which I admired. Before refrigeration, spoilage of food challenged people to find ways to preserve food. Salt, sugar, vinegar and oil can preserve some foods. Early hunters discovered drying thin strips of meat over a low fire prevented spoilage. Later it was discovered that large pieces of meat could also be preserved through a long period of smoking in a structure built to intensify the smoke. The smokehouse made seasonal preparation of smoked hams possible. Venison, turkey, fish, sausage, and other meats can also be dried in the smokehouse. They are neat.
They had stores that function exactly as they are today. They sell food, medicine, household supplies, tobacco, coffee, tea. The store owner might serve as a banker and often allowed customers to make purchases on credit, knowing who could be trusted to pay debts. Stores often served as a post office as well. In 1841 the Cherokee Nation opened its first free compulsory co-educational public school. Cherokee reading was spurred on by the development of Sequoyah’s syllabary.
Woods and rocks are the primary material for a lot of tools and crafts, boats, stone knives, bow-arrows.
It was a good sunny day.