Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears
From the year of Eighteen ninety,
survives a sad birthday tale.
As told by Private John Burnett,
eighty years old when it was told.
Of needless deaths of Cherokee,
inflicted by relocation.
In Eighteen hundred thirty eight,
President Jackson did decree,
all the Cherokee must move west,
and give up their lands to white men.
Even though he, Junaluska,
had saved Jackson’s life in battle.
On chill morning of October,
six hundred forty five wagons,
took the twelve thousand Indians.
Chief John Ross led all in prayer.
They were literate, Christians all,
with written language, newspaper,
and Constitution like our form.
Morning, November seventeen,
terrible storm of sleet and snow.
No fire to warm the ground below.
Dying of pneumonia from the cold,
a trail of death, four thousand souls.
Heart wrenching grief for those alive.
Eighteen ninety, still near the deed.
Too near for young people to know,
the enormity of the crime.
“Murder is murder however,
or whomever perpetrated.
By the villain skulking at night,
or to martial music by day.”
“Murder is murder and who answers.
Who must explain the streams of blood,
flowing through Indian country.
Who will mourn the four thousand graves,
which silently are trail markers.
I wish I could forget it all.
Thus ends my birthday story here.”
Based on a true record of John Burnett’s story of his life with
the Cherokee and his accompaniment on “The Trail of Tears”.
© May 14 2010 For Deborah’s” theme of western movement” contest
Copyright © Charles Henderson