The Legend of the Cherokee Rose (nu na hi du na tlo hi lu i)

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More than 175 years ago, gold was discovered in the mountains of North Carolina and Georgia and as thousands of new settlers invaded the area, it spawned tensions with the American Indian tribes.

As a result, President Andrew Jackson established the Indian Removal Policy in 1830, which forced theCherokee Nation to give up its lands east of the Mississippi River and migrate to Indian Territory (now present day Oklahoma.) This is the legend of why the wild Cherokee Rose can be found all along the Trail of Tears from North Carolilna to Oklahoma.

Picture of Cherokee Rose 

The forced march, which began in 1838, was called the “Trail of Tears,” because over 4,000 of the 15,000 Indians died of hunger, disease, cold, and exhaustion. In the Cherokee language, the event is called Nunna daul Tsuny — “the trail where they cried.”

Along the way, the Cherokee mothers cried and the elders prayed for a sign that would lift their spirits to give them strength. One night along the trail, the old men spent in the evening in powerful prayer, asking the Great One to help them with their suffering and save the children to rebuild the Cherokee Nation.

The Great One responded to the elders by saying: “Yes, I have seen the sorrows of the women and I can help them to keep their strength to help the children. Tell the women in the morning to look back where their tears have fallen to the ground. I will cause to grow quickly a plant, which will grow up and up and fall back down to touch the ground where another stem will begin to grow.

The next day when the Cherokee continued their journey, the elders advised the mothers to look behind them. In each place where the mother’s tears fell, a beautiful white rose began to grow. As the women watched the beautiful blossoms form, they forgot to cry and felt strong. By the afternoon they saw many white blossoms as far as they could see.

It’s rose’s gold center is said to represent the gold taken from the Cherokee lands, and its seven leaves on each stem signifies the seven Cherokee clans.