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Good Morning and Welcome to MOT-Morning Open Thread

There is a sacred place in the Tennessee River area of northwest Alabama near the small town of Waterloo adjoining the Natchez Trace Parkway.  It is a mile long rock wall - 8.5 million pounds of rock - placed one by one with incredible loving tenderness by a man honoring his great great grandmother's walk along the 1,000 mile route known as the Trail of Tears.

Te-lah-nay, which means 'Woman with Dancing Eyes" in the Yuchi (Euchee or Uchee)   language, is that ancestor and Tom Hendrix, 80 is the man who wore out three trucks, 22 wheelbarrows, 3,700 pairs of gloves and three dogs - and one old man as he likes to say with a grin - who theoretically believes that the wall contains a stone for every step she made along the Trail of Tears.

Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act of 1830 targeted the southen Native American tribes - Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee-Creek Seminoles and other smaller tribes - forcibly relocating them onto federal territory in the west. The 'Trail of Tears' consisted of an estimated 46,000 to 60,000 American Indians who traveled by foot or wagon along the 1,000 mile route with thousands of them dying during the journey.

Tom, who has become an accomplished story teller, says he was in the fourth or fifth grade when his paternal grandmother began telling him the story of his great-great-grandmother.

“My grandmother said, ‘You’re young, you listen. When you’re older, you can talk.’ That’s what I do. My grandmother made me one thing, ‘Onae.’ That’s the Euchee word for storyteller,” says Hendrix, who also answers to Stonetalker.
Tom Hendrix beside a portion of the wall he built to honor his great great grandmother's trek down the Trail of Tears.
In the beginning the two young girls Te-lah-nay (believed to be between 16 -18 at the time) and her sister, Whanna-le were briefly saved by a quick thinking grandmother who placed them in a canoe and sent them downstream where they hid in an abandoned root cellar.  Before much time passed soldiers and locals discovered the sisters and others and assigned them numbers before sending them on their way to Oklahoma - Te-lah-nay was assigned number 59 and her sister received number 60.  

Te-lah-nay spent several months at the camp in Oklahoma.

"She believed she would die if she remained," Hendrix said. Te-lah-nay, like all the American Indians from the Tennessee Valley believed there was a woman in the river who sang to them. Te-lah-nay and the river were sisters.

Hendrix, in his best storytelling voice, recounts Te-lah-nay's reasons for making the desperate journey back to her home and the river.

"When I was born, my grandmother took my birth cord and put it in the river and that made the river my sister," Hendrix said, speaking for his ancestor. Also, Te-lah-nay had a recurring dream of her grandmother beckoning her back home.

"When I got to the nation (in Oklahoma), I listened to the river and there were no songs. I knew then, I would die."

Official records in Oklahoma state that Number 59 died there on the reservation, but the truth is that one morning she just slipped away - slipped into the morning mist and began an almost five year walk back through Oklahoma, Arkansas and Mississippi to get home to where she could once again hear her singing river sister.  Tel-lah-nay's walk was a trek like no other as she was forced to endure the harsh exposure to the elements, loneliness, physical hardships, hunger, and the most dangerous risk of being captured.

Once back to Lauderdale County, Te-lah-nay was adopted by a white woman by the name of Ferguson who changed her name to Mary in order to have her recorded in the census. Te-lah-nay settled near Little Cypress Creek with her husband, Jonathan Levi Hipp where she began her work as a medicine woman and healer.

Tom met a Yuchi spirit woman in Oklahoma over 25 years ago and spent three days with her telling his grandmother's tale and expressing his desire to build a wall to honor her.  Tom says the spirit woman was able to see through to his soul and discern that his heart was open.  She advised Hendrix to think of Te-lah-nay's footsteps when he put each rock in place.

“She said, ‘We shall all pass this earth. Only the stones will remain. We honor our ancestors with stones,’” Hendrix says.
Shortly after his retirement in 1983, Tom began work on the wall which he erected on a 5 acre tract near his home.  He used no particular design plan nor did he use any mortar or dirt.  He said:
"I would just put a stone somewhere, and if it rolled down and stopped, I'd decide it didn't want to be up there.  If it stayed, it was supposed to be there."
Hand built stone prayer circle built by hand by Tom Hendrix to honor his great great grandmother's walk on the
The Prayer Circle at Ishatae . . . a quiet place
The wall has come to be known as 'Tom's wall', but Hendrix prefers that people not call it that. He says it is not his wall, but his grandmother's wall.  It is 'Ishatae', he says which in the Yuchi language means 'a quiet place'.

The centerpiece of the Ishatae is without a doubt the prayer circle where Tom prays every morning.  It consists of four tiers that represent birth, life, death and rebirth.

After walking the length of the wall, Charlie Two Moons, a spiritual person, explained it this way:

"The wall does not belong to you, Brother Tom. It belongs to all people. You are just the keeper. I will tell you that it is wichahpi, which means 'like the stars'. When they come, some will ask, 'Why does it bend, and why is it higher and wider in some places than in others?' Tell them it is like your great-great-grandmother's journey, and their journey through life--it is never straight."
In 2000 Tom Hendrix published his book entitled If The Legends Fade telling of Te-lah-nay's jouney, the book is now in it's eighth printing.

Tom has entertained and welcomed visitors from around the world who have left such things as fool's gold from Nova Scotia, Canada; a petrified clam from the Sea of Galilee; petrified Tyrannosaurus Rex teeth and a chunk of meteorite from the heavens.

There are stones from 127 countries, territories and islands including all 50 states many of which are like the wall itself, they come with a story.

During the Great Depression, a man didn’t have money to buy a ring for his intended. He searched for three days and found a heart-shaped rock.

“He told her, ‘I can’t afford a ring, but I can give you my heart,’” Hendrix says.

That man’s widow was 94 when she walked through the monument to Te-lah-nay. She returned with her wedding rock, so it and her love story could join the wall.


If The Legends Fade - ordering information for the book

Te-lah-nay's Wall - American Profile featured article with a video I was not able to embed

Neverending legacy for Te-lah-nay - Times Daily story featured in Indigenous People's Literature

'A quiet place': Stone wall in Alabama tells powerful stories - Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal article

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good Sunday Morning MOTliteers (16+ / 0-)

    Come and watch the sunrise with me...

     photo imagesqtbnANd9GcRI5pwvMcl3ybmnWUEBf.jpg

                  ...I brought you a chair

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Sat Mar 23, 2013 at 03:04:38 PM PDT

  •  Chinon 506SMXL (4+ / 0-)

    The Chinon 506SMXL was a Super 8 sound camera.

    If I had to do it again, I wouldn't have gotten that white elephant. The lack of support from family, friends, and school really tripped me up.

    I would have gotten a rough and running Hawk or Bullet-Nose with that money and had change to get the Centuri Super Fleet and friends.

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 03:40:25 AM PDT

  •  She Just Walked Home (5+ / 0-)

    there is something about that so "base" and at our core I don't know what to say.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 03:42:43 AM PDT

  •  g'day MOTiers trying to see if I stay awake this (5+ / 0-)

    time around or if I just have time to check mail before nodding off again

  •  Lovely story. (8+ / 0-)

    Though I often think we are all living in the land of the homeless. Home is now a temporary construct, subject to the whims of the market. I tried to make one and lost it to divorce and the Republican Recession. I have no idea at my age of how to make another. My parents lived in four different houses during my childhood. I'm just another neo-hunter/gatherer. Moving from one camp site to the next.

    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

    by PowWowPollock on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 04:19:19 AM PDT

  •  Morning JD, morning mots . . . (5+ / 0-)

    . . . gotta go find a happy story somewhere to counteract how I feel whenever I read about how the white European immigrants in this nation treated the native populations. And there's still a large swath in this nation that still don't get it.

    "They'd still be livin' in tee pees and shootin' arrows at each other if we hadn't saved 'em", I once heard one say. So now Native Americans can live on reservations and watch white European immigrants shoot each other with guns. We got it so wrong.

    It's 32° and overcast here this morning (can't confirm the overcast since it's still dark). There's an 80% chance of snow and a high of 36°, so no accumulation (less than an inch). Come on Spring!

    Have a good Sunday, everyone.

    - Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.
    - Frank Zappa

    by rudyblues on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 04:23:21 AM PDT

    •  Well That Is Just Sad. Here Is A Happy (6+ / 0-)

      thought. I live a few miles from the Cahokia Mounds. I bet you never heard of the place. At its height it was a larger city than Paris or London. Even to this day people can't wrap their minds around the shit they had going on. Oh it all happened in rural southern Illinois.

      Wikipedia has a good entry here:

      Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (pron.: kəˈhoʊkiə) (11 MS 2)[2] is located on the site of an ancient Native American city (c. 600–1400 CE) situated directly across the Mississippi River from modern St. Louis, Missouri. This historic park lies in Southern Illinois between East St. Louis and Collinsville.[3] The park covers 2,200 acres (890 ha), or about 3.5 square miles, and contains about 80 mounds, but the ancient city was actually much larger. In its heyday, Cahokia covered about 6 square miles and included about 120 man-made earthen mounds in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and functions.[4]

      Cahokia was the largest and most influential urban settlement in the Mississippian culture which developed advanced societies across much of what is now the Southeastern United States, beginning more than 500 years before European contact.[5] Cahokia's population at its peak in the 1200s was as large as, or larger than, any European city of that time, and its ancient population would not be surpassed by any city in the United States until about the year 1800. Today, Cahokia Mounds is considered the largest and most complex archaeological site north of the great Pre-Columbian cities in Mexico.

      They had their own Stonehenge, but made out of wood. They traded with out other tribes as far away as current day Maine and Louisiana.

      Some of their structures, although not made out of stone were the size of the Great Pyramids. Larger even in sheer mass.

      Nobody know what happened to the folks. They just kind of dropped off of the face of the earth. But I try to go the site a few times a year cause it makes you ponder.

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 04:37:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hey webranding, as an Illinois native/resident ... (6+ / 0-)

        . . . I am amazed at the Cahokia site, as well as all the other Mississippian sites in the Midwest. Just like the other Native American cultures (including those in Central and South America) the Mississippians were far more "advanced" than what we recorded in the early American history books. I haven't been down in that area for a long time (went in high school years) so it may be a fun summer road trip this year.

        Thanks for reminding me about it. {sudden sense of renewed purpose} I need to make a swing south this summer!

        - Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.
        - Frank Zappa

        by rudyblues on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 04:51:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Morning, rudy. I'm sorry. I didn't intend (5+ / 0-)

      the story to be a bummer for anyone.  You are right though...

      We got it so wrong.

      As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

      by JaxDem on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 04:59:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Morning. Clear and calm, 28.0 °F (5+ / 0-)
    Overcast with snow, then rain in the afternoon. High of 41F. Breezy. Winds from the NE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation 80% with accumulations up to 1 in. possible.
    Monday Night
    Overcast with snow in the evening, then mostly cloudy. Low of 28F with a windchill as low as 21F. Winds from the North at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of snow 70% with accumulations up to 2 in. possible.
    •  Thank you, OPOL (5+ / 0-)

      I'm glad you enjoyed it.  

      Peace and Blessings, my friend.

      As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

      by JaxDem on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 05:02:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Like your sig line and agree with it. (5+ / 0-)

      Obama has handed out fewer pardons than any President I can recall.  Some reporter wrote a brief article about that the other day.  He has been bending over backward to avoid even more controversy and vitriol than he has already drawn.  Makes me wonder if that is the reason, or if he is just more "Law & Order" than he appeared to be in his campaign material.

      The second thing is, now that he is a lame duck President and will have no more need to negotiate or be nice to his opponents, if at the last minute, he will hand out a whole bunch of pardons.  

      Roger Shuler got himself banned for CT and being annoying, but give this to him, he was a bulldog when it came to staying after the Bush era US Attorneys.  A lot of the stuff Roger got blamed for CT wasn't.  It was real because I know some of the back story on those cases Roger wrote about. It just seemed like CT because Alabama and Mississippi legal politics is so bizarre as to be unbelievable to somebody who never experienced it.

      One of my attorney friends in Mississippi said the prosecutions of Dickie Scruggs, Paul Minor and Don Siegelman had Karl Rove's fingerprints all over them. That was back when the cases just started. I know every one of the key players in that soap opera personally, except for Don Siegelman.

      Let's keep our fingers crossed that before he leaves office, Obama does the right thing for everyone who was targeted by Rove & Company.  

      The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

      by Otteray Scribe on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 05:55:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good Morning (4+ / 0-)

    Only read a couple of sentences, but you found a great topic ! I'll go finish it

    it's 43° here this morning with a little break in the rain, it won't getting any warmer & continue to rain much ofthe day. Looks like it will be a nice day tomorrow though !

    Hope everyone has a decent Sunday.

  •  Morning everybuddy. (6+ / 0-)

    Hope everyone has a good day today.  We  have rain and fog in the mountains.

    Slept kind of late this AM for a welcome change.  Went to a law enforcement training seminar yesterday afternoon with youngest kidling. She had to be rectified for mace and handcuffs.  I forgot the most basic rule for being around CS/CN spray.  When it is being sprayed outdoors, there are two rules to remember:

    Rule #1: Stand upwind from where the spray is being deployed.

    Rule #2: Refer to Rule #1.

    I was about eight feet from where the instructor was giving the new officers their official demonstration spray.  The purpose of the requirement is to make them understand that stuff is serious business and not to be used lightly. Anyway, I knew that one patrol car bumper-width was close, but was not paying attention to which way the breeze was blowing.  OQPS!

    Thanks to my glasses, it did not get in my eyes, but I was coughing, hacking and sneezing until bedtime last night. My cheeks are still burning this morning. The good part was I got six hours of continuing education and did not have to be sprayed.  If the demo is with a Federal/State certified instructor, the certification is actually a license and good for lifetime. However, the classroom part has to be renewed every two years.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 05:34:40 AM PDT

    •  "There's something very important . . . " (4+ / 0-)

      ". . . I forgot to tell you."


      "Don't cross the streams."


      "It would be bad."

      - Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.
      - Frank Zappa

      by rudyblues on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 05:49:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh no! You got hit with mace! (5+ / 0-)

      And yesterday it was your daughter worrying about it...little did you dream it would be you getting a face full of it.

      Geez, and it's still impacting you.  

      I carry a small purse size pepper spray canister.  It is my hope that if I should ever need it I will remember I have it and that I not spray myself in the face instead of the person who is richly deserving.

      Have a great day today, OS!

      As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

      by JaxDem on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 05:54:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  She would not have needed to go through it (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eeff, JaxDem, exlrrp, Aunt Pat, Joy of Fishes

        except the previous instructor was not Federal/State certified as an instructor. Therefore not certified to issue the permanent license.  The term in the law for issuance of a license is the subject has to be "contaminated" with the spray.  The instructor knew she had gotten way too much last time, and told her so.  He would find a way to meet the legal standard, and go easy on her at the same time.  

        Instead of spraying her in the face, he assigned her to help the victim officers sprayed get to the sink and help him clean up--especially get it out of their eyes and make sure the were not in respiratory distress.  After just a few minutes, she was gagging, coughing, her eyes and nose running and her face red. The instructor finally yelled at her to get out of the cleanup room and go outside to get some fresh air. By helping others, she met the official legal criteria for "contamination" without having to get the whole load directly in the face. She did get that stuff all over her, and on her clothes. I brought her home so she could get out of her contaminated clothes and take a shower.

        The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

        by Otteray Scribe on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 06:12:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  JaxDem, thank you so much ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... for telling us about Te-lah-nay, "Woman with Dancing Eyes."  I think this strory will stay with me a long time.

    Dwell on the beauty of life. ~ Marcus Aurelius

    by Joy of Fishes on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 07:50:55 AM PDT

  •  Morning, MOTlies. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Got interrupted earlier, so I came back.

    Yesterday midday was just glorious.  40 degrees, snow melt rivulets, bits of green here and there where the ground is now showing, snow drops blooming, red color in most of the deciduous trees from leaf buds swelling, & a flock of cranes overhead.  And today back to overcast and light snow ...

    I have bread on its last rise.  Lunch will be fresh bread and brie.  

    Have a good day, everyone!

    Dwell on the beauty of life. ~ Marcus Aurelius

    by Joy of Fishes on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 08:42:30 AM PDT

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