A Story of the Cherokee Removal as it might have been seen through the eyes of a seven year old boy
Chapter 1 of 19
Young Bear looked around him. He wondered why they had to be here. Why did they have to leave their warm, comfortable, home and come to this place called Red Clay? Many things he did not understand. Why had the soldiers shot and killed his father, Otter Skin? He had not been guilty of any crime. Were they not free? Otter Skin had taken his son Young Bear and his wife Spring Doe, and attempted to leave in the middle of the night. he could have gotten away easily if he had been alone. As they were running across the field Young Bear's mother had slipped and fallen. Spring Doe was heavy with child. Young Bear was to have a new brother or sister when the grass turned green and the trees ended their sleep and came to life again. When Spring Doe had fallen something had happened. She had experienced an unbearable pain. Unable to hold her breath and bare the pain she had screamed. It was a loud ear piercing scream. The soldiers were alerted and came running. Otter Skin Turned and picked up his wife, cradling her high in his arms. He told Young Bear to run. Carrying Spring Doe in his arms Otter Skin also started to run. As he neared the thicket which offered safety from the soldier's muskets a shot rang out.
Otter Skin felt a horrible pain in his back. The pain rapidly spread to his chest. he knew he must reach the thicket at all costs. he must protect his wife and his young son. The pain grew worse. He could feel his back and his chest getting wet. Strange, he thought. It was not raining. The moon and stars were growing dim. It was as if they were disappearing. If the clouds covered the stars he would not be able to find his way. he thought something was wrong with his legs. He could hardly put one foot in front of the other. He was a very fast runner but now he could hardly move. He turned his head and looked back at the soldiers. he could see the flash of the soldiers muskets but he could not hear them. Silently he asked The Grandfather to protect his wife and his son.
Otter Skin could no longer run. He could not even stand. The young man felt himself falling. He saw the flash of a musket. He did not feel the musket ball strike him in the head. The first musket ball that hit him hit him in the back had gone in, through his heart, out through his chest and entered Spring Doe's abdomen. Only Otter Skin's power and determination to remain in the mountains that he loved had kept him moving. He was dead before the second ball had struck him. He fell to the ground with Spring Doe still in his arms. Again, Spring Doe screamed.
Young Bear ran back to his father and his mother. he tried to lift Otter Skin, urging him to get up. The soldiers came running up and roughly pushed Young Bear to the ground. They looked at the body of the Indian who had tried to escape. No one had to feel for a heart beat to know he was dead. He must have been bent over when the second ball had hit. It had entered low on the back of his head and left high on his forehead. They picked up the body of Otter Skin and carried it away.
Young Bear turned to his mother. Spring Doe was lying on the ground where she had fallen. She was moaning with pain. Young Bear managed to turn her over onto her back. He cradled her head in his arms. He saw that she was bleeding. He pulled the cloth band from around his head, folded it, and gently pressed it to the wound, holding it in place with his hand. By this time many of the tribal members had gathered around. One of the elders took the boy aside and told him his mother would be taken care of by the women. The Elder, Old Beaver Tail, took him back to one of the many fires in the camp. They sat on a log and Old Beaver Tail began talking to Young Bear. He told him of The Grandfather and of the spirit trail. He told him his father, Otter Tail had been taken to the spirit trail and had walked on. Young Bear understood little of what the old man was telling him. He understood only that his father was dead and he would not see him again. He would not be there to teach him to hunt and to fish as all young boys should be taught. He told himself he would not cry. But as hard as he tried he could not keep the tears from escaping his eyes and running down his cheeks. He was told the white soldiers had already buried his father. They would be leaving tomorrow before the sun awakened and there would be no time so it must be done immediately. Old Beaver Tail kept the boy with him that night. Young Bear had silently cried himself to sleep. The next morning before it was even light, Old Beaver Tail awakened Young Bear. After a meager breakfast he took Young Bear to see his mother. He found he would no longer have a baby brother or sister in the spring. The musket ball that went through Otter Skin taking his life, and entered the abdomen of Spring Doe,
had taken the life of the unborn baby. Spring Doe was placed in a wagon. Young Bear walked beside the wagon carrying his mother. After only a short time riding in the wagon over the rough trail, Spring Doe's wound began to bleed. She had lost much blood when she had lost the baby. Now the bleeding must be stopped. Although the soldier tried his best he could not stop the bleeding. the wagon must be stopped so that the would could heal. That would be the only way the bleeding could be checked. The white soldiers would not stop the march until darkness came upon them. By this time Spring Doe was very weak. She could no longer eat. During the night the soldier doctor was able to stem the flow of blood. At daybreak Spring Doe was again placed in the wagon. After a very short time of being jolted in the wagon
the bleeding started again. By midafternoon Spring Doe was unconscious. She would never open her eyes again.
On the morning of the third day Spring Doe was again placed in the wagon. Shortly before midmorning Spring Doe's spirit took the spirit trail to be with her husband Otter Skin. The wagon was stopped long enough to remove the body and then the wagon moved on. The soldiers buried Spring Doe in a shallow grave. There was only a thin blanket to cover her. As the soldiers started to bury his mother Young Bear was snatched up and placed in the wagon. Mercifully, he did not have to see the dirt as it fell onto his mother's face. Once again, the silent tears traced a furrow in the dust on his cheeks. All that Young Bear could do now was to wonder ...Why?...Why?...Why?
The trail to Oklahoma was very long. It was marked with to many shallow graves, too many tears, too much anguish, and too much heartbreak. Too much of everything except being treated as humans.
Its name was very well earned and is known as The Trail Of Tears.
The Saga of Young Bear is a copyrighted creation of Dick One Eagle AKA Comanche.
This story may not be copied or used in any way without the express written permission of the author.