October 21, 2007

Play about Cherokee hero

Outdoors:  Fall's great for trekking historic hiking hideawaysWhen harsh, shameful federal edicts from the administration of President Andrew Jackson directed the removal of the Cherokee tribe from their homeland, most took the westward route to Oklahoma known as the Trail of Tears. A rebellious remnant, led by a young brave named Tsali, chose to stay behind. His story is well known, thanks to the long-running outdoor drama, "Unto These Hills," performed through the summer months in Cherokee, N.C. Even though the historical realities are painted with a broad brush of romance, it's a fascinating tale.

Pursued by federal soldiers, Tsali and a few companions sought refuge in the remote, rocky fastnesses of Deep Creek (now in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park). No one knows exactly where they hid, although most authorities agree it was somewhere in the cliffs high up on Deep Creek's Left Fork.

Wherever his precise hiding place may have been, Tsali eventually surrendered with the understanding that his life would be forfeited in return for the remaining Cherokees being allowed to stay in their traditional homeland. He was subsequently shot, as were his two sons and brother, on the banks of the Tuckaseigee River near Bryson City.

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