The Terrorist Attacks And The Cherokee Theory Of Violence

894 words - 4 pages

The Terrorist Attacks and the Cherokee Theory of Violence

Like most Americans, I have spent many moments since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 trying to grasp both the acts themselves and the seemingly endless chain of depressing events following in their wake. Although many have rediscovered faith communities or a renewed social activism in their search for understanding, I have immersed myself in the lessons of Cherokee culture and history. This history teaches me to situate September 11th in the context of other tragedies that have occurred on American soil. For example, as many as 10,000 Cherokee people perished as a result of the forced march to Oklahoma known as the Trail of Tears B or, more accurately, the nuna dat suny, which literally translates as "they were crying in that place." Cherokee oral tradition is replete with stories acknowledging the trauma of what historians euphemistically call "removal", and its physical, spiritual and social wounds may never be completely healed. Other stories, and particularly those in the genre known as origin narratives, illuminate both 9/11 and Removal by enabling the emergence of a distinctly Cherokee critical theory of violence.

One story tells of the time when animals, fishes, insects, plants and humans lived with each other in peace and friendship (see Mooney, pp. 250-252). Eventually, however, humans began to crowd and crush their animal partners out of carelessness and contempt. Even worse, they invented weapons of mass destruction such as the blowgun and the spear that allowed them to kill animals indiscriminately. Each animal nation then called a council and decided to invent diseases inflicting pain and death upon their human victimizers. Under the able leadership of their leader Little Deer, for example, the deer nation voted to send rheumatism to every hunter who killed one of them unless he respectfully asked forgiveness for his offense. The fish nation determined that they would afflict humans with nightmares about eating decayed food so they would lose their appetites. The birds, smaller animals and insects each in their turn spoke about human cruelty and injustice. The birds condemned humans because Athey burn our feet off@ B meaning that hunters impaled them on sticks over the fire and singed off their feathers and Atender feet.@ Along with the smaller animals and insects, the birds began to devise so many new diseases that if their inventiveness had not faltered, not one human would have survived. When the plants (who were friendly to humans) heard what had happened, they decided to help by furnishing a cure for each disease. Through this, they...

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