1838: More than Tears

Elizabeth Hawthorne, guest writer

uest Frozen snow and lifeless leaves crunched under her feet, but Adsila kept walking. Even though her calloused feet were broken, she kept walking. Even though her and her back ached with every step, she kept walking. Even though thorns and briars had penetrated her tender skin,  she kept walking. She had to keep walking; it was the only movement keeping her alive. Her brother, Adahy, had stopped walking early that winter. She desperately missed his soft smile, and the comforting sound of his laughter. She regretted all the childish phrases she had spoken to her father about tending to him.


            “Please, Edoda,” don’t make me assist Adahy, allow me to frolic with my friends. He is young and immature, and all of the other girls don’t have to watch their siblings.”

            “My Little Blossom, the other girls do not watch their siblings because they do not love them. Remember your name, ‘you are the flower that blooms in adversity’, what you are makes you the rarest and most beautiful flower of all'” (Walt).

            “That doesn’t make sense! Why should I have to to do all the boring chores while the other girls get to go and explore?” Adsila exploded. She had had enough of the role of babysitter. Ever since her brother had come into her family’s life, she was no longer the main focus. Her brother had ruined her life, and she wished he was gone.

            “I wish Etsi and Edoda had never had that little brat,” Adsila mumbled bitterly.

            “Adsila.” Her mother had heard her, and she had a disappointed look on her face.


Adsila realized she had stopped walking when a tall pale-faced soldier prodded her in the back with the tip of his gun. She was so exhausted from walking that she didn’t even put up a fight. As quickly as her sore feet could carry her, Adsila hurried to where her father was helping her mother walk. With so little food, and little protection from the elements, her mother wasn’t faring well. Adsila knew that the removal had taken a toll on everyone, even the strong young warriors in the tribe.

Edoda frowned when his daughter stopped walking. He realized she was lost in her thoughts and almost called her to bring her back to the present. He knew his wife didn’t have long to live, and he didn’t have many moments left with her. The pale-faced soldiers had taken everything except the clothes on their backs, and had taken most of the food. The little food that was left was not hearty, such as stale bread, and a small bit of meat did little to appease their appetite. So many people had died already, and he knew he didn’t have many days left. They were forced to bury their dead on the trail, and the soldiers that forced them to keep moving did not allow for the tribe to mourn their family members.

Adsila remembered vividly when the pale-faces forced her family out of their home at gunpoint and recalled all of the screaming and crying that accompanied the raid.


            “Adsila! Where are you?” Her mother called for her. Adsila was holding her brother close, and she headed for the trees. Adsila found her mother, who was now screaming for Adahy.


Etsi felt her legs give out. Her daughter Adsila and her husband Edoda rushed to her side. They quickly supported her from both sides and helped her keep moving.

“I’m fine, really, you can let me go,” Etsi tried to persuade her family members, who just shook their heads and kept her between them.

“You are not fine Etsi, even I can see that,” Adsila retorted.

“Adsila is right, Etsi. You don’t need to be strong all the time. Ever since we lost Adahy, you have gotten it into your head that you need to be strong for everyone. Please just allow us to take care of you,” Edoda said.

The little family marched on, and occasionally a soldier would come up and prod them in the back to make them move faster.


Weeks had passed and Adsila was the only one from her family left. Her mother had passed away during one of the nights when the soldiers had allowed them to rest. Adsila and her father buried Etsi under a large oak tree, and kept moving. Her father had become inconsolable. Edoda became a shell. He did not speak or eat. He just stared at his feet as he walked. After a few months of silent mourning, he slowly stopped walking and finally collapsed. Adsila buried her Edoda under a Hickory tree and said goodbye one last time.


The tribe had been reduced to almost nothing, and everyone knew it. There were several different trails that led to the same area; “the Cherokees were herded into groups of 1,000 but a lot of people died from malnutrition, pneumonia and exhaustion” (Wright).  Adsila was now 17 years old, and they had yet to make it to wherever they were going. The soldiers had only said that they were going to go to a place just for them, and that each tribe would have their own land and that the land that the government provided would not be taken away from them. The soldiers were all in a bad mood because of the prohibition law passed early that year. Alcohol had became a banned substance, and very little people were happy about it.

Adsila missed her family. She was the only one left, and knew that she had to arrive at the reservation. She had to do it for her family. Adsila remembered the last words her father said to her.


            Adsila held her father’s hand as he coughed. She knew his time had come, and she wanted to spend as much time as she could with him.

            “Adsila? I love you my little Rose. Be strong, and never give up.” Waya said as he struggled to catch his breath.

            “Edoda, save your breath. It’s going to be alright. I’m here.” Adsila said as she held back tears.

            “I don’t have much left in me Adsila. Remember who you are, and never ever give up the fight you have had in you since you were a baby.” Waya said and he felt himself growing colder, and settled down for his final rest.

            “I have lost everyone Edoda, Please do not leave me here.” Adsila begged her father.

            “It is time for me to join your Etsi and your brother. I love you.”

            “I love you too Edoda, goodbye.”


            Adsila sighed. It had been many years since she and what little tribe was left had arrived to the reservation in Oklahoma. She had heard about the New Echota treaty in North Georgia and wished that her family had been part of the tribe that stayed.  Maybe they would all be alive. They would all be together and happy. Adsila remembered hearing about the Second Seminole War, where the Seminole people refused to bend to white people; the Iowa territory being created and was effective. In the foreign land, the tribe started over. Adsila got married to one of her childhood friends, Mohe, who was lucky as her to be alive. They both lost all of their families, who had been friends since before Adsila had been born. Adsila and her husband began their life together, and tried to rebuild what their families had both stood for. She told her grandchildren about what she had gone through, and what had really happened. They tried to move past what had happened to their people, and tried to move forward. The tribe grew, but never forgot what their ancestors had gone through.

Cherokee Roses grew along the Trail and rumor has it that “everywhere a tear fell, a rose grew” (Legend). The roses still grow all around the trail, and the Cherokees pain would never be forgotten. Adsila and Mohe still remembered all the pains they both went through.


“Adsila?” Mohe asked her while she knelt on the ground next to where her father was buried.

            “Yeah?” She said softly. Adsila had tears crawling down her face. She knew that Mohe had lost all of his family as well, but it didn’t ease the pain.

            “I know you are hurting, and I get that you may want to be alone, but we need to stick together if we want to see tomorrow. Come on, lets get back with the group.”

            “No! Leave me alone!” She replied.

            Mohe knew Adsila would never be the same, and respected her wishes. Adsila sat beside her father’s grave for what seemed like hours, but was finally pulled gently away by Mohe.

Adsila hoped that her parents final resting place would never be disturbed, and prayed that they were happy wherever they were, and not in anymore pain.


            Adsila lived to be eighty-eight years old, and a few months later, Mohe followed his wife. The difference between their deaths and their parents deaths, were that Adsila and Mohe were surrounded by family, and happy.

Works Cited

“Indian Removal Act.”Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. History: War.Gale, 2009. Student Resources                 in Context. Web.

“Legend Of The Cherokee Rose.”Powersource. Retrieved 2011-12-05. Web.

Southeast Indians: The Cherokee.UXL Multicultural: A Comprehensive Resource on African                     Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native North Americans, UXL, 2003. Student                   Resources in Context. Web.

Walt Disney Company. “Quoteable Quote.”GoodReads. Web.

Wright Jr., J. Leitch. The Only Land They Knew. New York: The Free Press, 1981. Print.


“Andrew Jackson Signs the Indian Removal Act: May 28, 1830.”Global Events: Milestone                        Events Throughout History, edited by Jennifer Stock, vol. 6: North America, Gale, 2014.              Student Resources in Context.Web. 5 Apr. 2017.

“Cherokee Removal – The Trail Where They Cried.”Powersource. May 24, 2017. Web.

Kidwell, Clara Sue. “The Effects of Removal on American Indian Tribes.” National Humanities               Center. Web.

“What Happened on the Trail of Tears.”National Park Service. Web. 5 April 2017.