In the early 1800's, the continuing advance of white Americans into the lands of the Cherokee Indian nation in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia were among many of the manifold pressures Native Americans had to deal with. Whether they faced unsuccessful negotiations with local governments or armed conflicts with white settlers and militia, the question faced by Native American tribes across the land was always the same - how to respond to the increasingly aggressive dealings of colonial advances that sought to push Indians further west away from their traditional homelands. It became one of the darkest and tragic moments of American history.
The situation almost changed dramatically in 1811. A fervent excitement swept Indian tribes across the East as efforts to form a great alliance among them to drive the whites back began in earnest. Indian shamans and many Indians themselves had long resisted the social seductions to give up their folkways, spirituality and culture for those impressed upon them by contact with white settlers and state governments. It was given a huge surge of support when word of a prophetic vision delivered by Tenskwatawa, the shaman brother of the great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh began to spread as well, emboldening those who favored armed warfare. Many unsettling and inexplicable occurrences that seemed to be supernatural visitations from the Great Spirit began to occur among the tribes, further bolstering the conviction that this alliance should proceed. Had this occurred, it's not hard to see - with the second British invasion of America iminent in 1812 - how American history could have been vastly different. For such a conflict to confront the young American nation on two massive fronts certainly would have changed the course of history itself - and world history as well.
So in May, 1811 the governing council of the Cherokee Indian nation could no longer ignore the issue and had to meet to consider certain visions claimed to have come to three Cherokees that advanced the same point of the Shawnee shaman and chief - the return to their former way of life and rejection of any futher white advances into their lands. The Cherokee were the most dominant and powerful of the Native American tribes of the Eastern United States and were clearly in a position to powerfully influence the smaller ones around them to proceed one way or another. Having almost 150 years of largely peaceful contact and interaction with white America, the Cherokee had come away from it profoundly influenced by many of their practical and cultural innovations from government to agriculture to trade. They were aware that such advances would help their own people grow - and had not yet come to fully believe that the United States would ever engage in the systematic expulsion of their people from the East in the debacle of the Trail of Tears.
But with the pressures at hand, tribal opinion was mixed and decidedly unsettled, and the council would be a place for the Cherokee nation to gather direction. As the accounts of the vision were discussed excitedly in the council at Red Clay in Bradley County, Tennessee (where our ministry is based), one lone Cherokee leader had serious doubts about them. Author John Ehle, in his book "Trail Of Tears" commented that Chief Ridge, a well known and well respected man among his people, listened closely as
the man among the three who had seen the vision closed by saying that if one would deny his message, the Mother of the Cherokees would strike him dead.
Ridge sat stone still as excited commentators roamed about the council house, most of them chiefs who were known opponents of acculturation with the whites; they were celebrating this revelation. Finally, Ridge got to his feet and asked for audience, and when the noise subsided, he made his speech.
"My friends, the talk you have heard is not good. It would lead us to war with the United States, and we should suffer. It is false; it is not a talk fom the Great Spirit. I stand here and defy the threat that he who disbelieves shall die. Let the death come upon me. I offer to test this scheme of impostors."
Even as he finished speaking, angry delegates assaulted him. He struck back at them and several fell; like a great bear he batted off his assailants. Eventually they overcame him, pummeling him, trying to knife him ... Ridge, once on his feet again, continued to defy the nay-sayers and their shamans. Again, furious chiefs assaulted him, but this time elder chiefs demanded order and enforced it.
Ridge, his clothing torn, bleeding from cuts, stood before them all. You see, he told them, I continue to live, so these prophets are deceivers.
"Trail Of Tears" (Anchor 1988), page 98-99
And history continues to change today as the last day deceptions of Satanic and humam design continue to get the P.R. they do as those in the position to confront and correct them utterly fail to do so, even embracing such "new truth" as divine revelation from on High.
What history have you changed today?