Just over two centuries ago Daniel Boone was one of the first adventure into the unknown lands west of America’s East Coast settlements but he soon found himself struggling through a daunting wilderness mile upon mile of forested ridges and valleys an ancient chain of mountains that runs all the way down the eastern side of the continent the Appalachians yeah.
Yeah yeah as Daniel Boone fought his way westwards through the Cumberland Gap he found himself in an endless forest teeming with wildlife he was passing through some of the richest temperate forests anywhere on the planet blow whose news but this land wasn’t just a wilderness for the taking people already lived here people with a very different view.
Of this forest world they call themselves onion.
We’re the real people but to the rest of the world they would soon be known as Cherokee the onion where were bound to these forests to the mountains plants and animals in many ways both practical and spiritual also young we are here oh it’s a league.
And God though here no God no Eagle he down we Cherokee cannot separate our place on earth from our lives in it nor from our vision and meaningless people we are taught that the trees and even the plants and animals that we share a place with are our brothers and sisters so when we speak of.
Land we do not speak of property territory or even a piece of ground upon which our house is set and our crops are grown we are speaking of something truly sacred the Cherokee have an ancient relationship with these mountains according to their own history they came here a long time ago from a world above this one in the beginning the Cherokee were and Goliath a whore heaven.
And peeps who were hold down to see the earth at this time the earth was.
Nothing but wet shapeless mud so they sent turkey vulture the great Buzzard to find somewhere.
Dry enough for the Cherokee to live and as he flew over the land.
Looking for dry land he became tired and his wings began to touch the earth which scooped up and formed the mounds in which the Cherokee lived today the southern Appalachians Ridge piled upon rage like waves in a sea of trees raised by the buzzards wings but the creation story that geologists tell is just as wonderful.
Once these mountains rivaled the Himalayas but time hundreds of millions of years of it.
Have worn this once mighty chain down to its roots roots that are ancient beyond comprehension some.
Of the rocks here are more than a billion years old nearly a quarter of the age of the earth itself these ancient rocks were.
Pushed into towering peaks 250 million years ago when.
Africa collided with North America a time when all the continents were fusing into a single supercontinent called Pangaea but this mountain chain is not just ancient it’s also vast.
It stretches from Georgia and Alabama in the south to Newfoundland in the north and on the ancient continent of Pangaea it went further still as the supercontinent broke apart it carried fragments of the great mountain chain around the globe today those lost sections of the Appalachians from the mountains of Scandinavia and Scotland and 250 million years later perhaps that’s why scots-irish immigrants felt so at home in these mountains they were moving from one end.
Of the ancient Appalachians to the other here in isolated homesteads their own.
Traditions began to evolve and help shape the unique culture of modern Appalachia life was hard for the first settlers in these remote valleys but there were rewards like the breathtaking spectacle of an Appalachian for a season of abundance for people and world life but for a long time there were few settlers here to witness Appalachia’s passing seasons the endless ridges and valleys.
Were simply too inaccessible the Cherokee could still travel unheeded through their vast hunting territory all the way from modern Georgia to Kentucky they found fields along the river valleys but also relied.
On the abundance of the forests large animals were hunted with bows but for small game they used a blowgun made from river cane deadly up to 30 meters Hunter and hunted are bound by intimate ties for a Cherokee there is no distinction between the practical and the spiritual because the Creator has imbued all life in this forest with a divine.
Soul so a hunter should always say a prayer for the hunter and in return animals will give up their lives to respectful hunters the Cherokee year begins in the fall which.
All too soon turns to the season they call the sleep time autumn becomes winter a stark sunrise through skeletal trees heralds the harshest time of the year for all life here people plants and animals turkey vultures seen by the Cherokee as distant descendants of the great.
Buzzards that made these mountains now gather in roosts to pass the cold nights they greet each dawn without spread wings to warm themselves ready for flight and the daily search for food someone else’s hardship is the vultures good fortune turkey vultures find food by smell so have little trouble finding even the smallest casualties of a freezing night.
Many animals from a chipmunk mr.
bears are hidden in winter dens but a few ghostly shapes still move through the freezing fog where the Sun it’s in winter that the remote peaks and valleys feel most isolated the high ridges are often shrouded in cold damp clouds a hard time for wild turkeys and white-tailed deer searching for the last of the full harvest but winter doesn’t last forever the slightest hint and spring.
On a chilly March evening and life begins to stir on the forest floor but the slow return of warmth is only one ingredient.
In the alchemy of spring the other is rain the first wet night in March and the forest floor is alive with males spotted salamanders they’re all heading downhill certain.
That they’ll eventually run into one of the forest pools that are filled with early spring rain a few nights later and the females joined despite near freezing water a mass spying a salamander orgy is underway and on the next wet night they were all abandoned the pond.
And disappeared back into the forest leaving their eggs to whatever fate awaits them.
As much becomes April warmer days begin to.
Rouse the forest itself way.
Go away you drowsy sleepers wake awake it is almost day the dead Gray’s of winter are now suffused with living green those that pass the coal season in warm dens begin to wake you know the black bear is special to the Cherokee he was once.
A Cherokee child that spent so long living in the forest that he grew long black hair and slowly turned into a bear every spring since then Jana has introduced a new generation of bears to the mountain forests Cubs are born in January in their mothers winter.
Den and that has been their whole world until now less than a week out of the den.
Life in the forest is new and exciting spring comes first to the valley floors and sweeps up the mountains as.
A green tide while the valleys bask in late spring the higher ridges are still shaking off the last.
Winter and now the Appalachians put on their most flamboyant display carpets of wildflowers soak up the spring sunshine before the light is cut off by awakening trees but this display of plants is not just a dazzling spectacle it’s nature’s pharmacy traditionally the Cherokee knew medicinal or practical uses for more than 700 different varieties of plants in these mountains and more importantly still plants helped maintain the delicate.
Practical and spiritual balance between the Cherokee and the animals they hunted when the Cherokee first came upon the earth they were welcomed by the animals and the plants but after the Cherokee began to expand then they became arrogant and began to think that.
Was placed there for them we were given prayers to say and ask permission to kill the animals but we forgot those prayers then the animals had a Council each.
Of the animals came in front of the bear and wolf who chiefs to voice their complaints and as a result the animals then in order to get back up on the Cherokee each.
One of the animals had a specific disease in which they gave to the Cherokee but the plants who were friends with.
The Cherokee saw this and then begin to.
Offer themselves as medicines to cure those those illnesses and the plants seemed to have been as good as their word modern medicine has found some 250 different drugs in.
Grant’s growing in the southern Appalachian many generations of Cherokee have lived their lives here tuned to the pulse of the seasons a rhythm of life more ancient by far than even the Cherokee people every spring for years beyond.
Reckoning rain has filled the forest pools and every spring a succession of creatures emerges from the forest to breed him American toads are among the last to.
Arrive by now the spotted salamander spawn is ready to hatch the eggs have turned green pelted with algae that help provide oxygen to the growing embryos.
But the toes don’t seem to like this particular pond they can sense chemicals in the water that tell them it’s a bad idea to spawn here chemicals from these tadpoles of wood frogs the wood frogs spread even earlier than the salamanders.
And the pond is now swarming with their tadpoles but these cute.
Little tadpoles are killers they devour the spawn of other amphibians but they’re especially fond of toads born the occasional tow does make a mistake and it’s.