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Rated: E · Poetry · Family · #2275284
My Mother's History
My Mother’s History

One day many a year ago
My mother spoke to me
About her family’s tangled history,

She spoke to me
Of lies, half-truths, and myths
Some of which may have been true
And throughout the evening
Her history came alive.

She was born in the hills
of North Little Rock
The 10th of 11 children
Of an ancient dying race.

The Cherokees
who had run away
Refugees who fled in the hills.

Part of the lost tribe of the Cherokee nation
Part Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole
and African Americans
Who fled to the mountains
To avoid the trail of tears.

Rather than join the rest
In the promised land
Of Oklahoma.

They did not exist
I did not exist.

The BIA told us
No Indian scholarship
For you

Since you can’t prove
You are in fact
Of Native American ancestry,

I asked my mother
What does this mean?
She said

No BIA money for you,
My non-Indian son.

Her family and Bill Clinton family
Were related
Bill Clinton and I are distant cousins

When I met him
I related my family history
He concluded that we were indeed cousins
Said I could call him Cousin Bill
And he would call me Cousin Jake

And he too was part Cherokee
Irish, Scotch, French
And African American
Part of the lost tribe
Of the Cherokee nation

I told my mom
This story
She said
It was true

She was a distant cousin
Of Bill Clinton
Still did not like
The lying SOB

Her people disappeared
From history’s eyes
And DNA data banks

My history was over
As was hers

And so,
I learned at last
The painful truth

That due to the geocidal crimes
of politicians so long ago
My mother’s people

Lost their land, their culture,
and their hope
And became
downtrodden forgotten people

Hillbillies they were called
Living in the hills and mountain dales
Clinging to the dim fading memories
Of their once glorious past
As proud Cherokees

Now no one knew their name
The old ways were forgotten
And the new world never forgave them

And they never forgave the new world
As they lived on
In the margins of society
Forgotten people

And I vowed that as long as I lived
Their history would not die
As I knew the truth

And I would become a proud
And make my mother proud of me
And my accomplishments

When I am down and out
I recall her stories and her warnings
And realize it is up to me

To live my life
To let the Cherokee in me
Live his life

And in so doing
My mother’s history does not die

It lives on in me
Until the day I die

Long live the Cherokee nation
Long live my mother
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