Manataka American Indian Council




Legend of the

Cherokee Rose

3 different versions
version 1
Seven Petals
Seven petals for seven tribes
growing on the trail 
where they cried.
Center of gold
for the land white men stole.

Four thousand
of my ancestors died.
The trail was long,
the journey harsh
crossing a thousand miles
of mountain and marsh
and in the place
where proud people
those cried the tears
that watered Cherokee Rose.
Oh Spirit Wolf, oh Spirit Owl
hear the winter winds that howl.

Oh Spirit Eagle, oh Spirit Deer
why did so many
have to die here?
One nation prospered,
one nation fell.

One went to heaven,
one was sent to hell.

Cherokee Rose
that blooms in spring
reminds us of the songs
they sing.
White petals,
a sign of those tears
that still wet the ground
after a hundred fifty years
remind us all of what was lost
from proud people
who bore the ultimate cost.
Seven petals for seven tribes
growing on the trail
where they cried.
Center of gold
for the land white men stole.

Four thousand
of my ancestors died.
~share from my friend Trueheart~
version 2
The Legend of the Cherokee Rose
More than 100 years ago, the Cherokee people were driven from their
Home mountains when the white men discovered gold in the mountains of Tears. Some of the people came across Marengo County in West Alabama.
It seems that after they had left the mountains, they came this far
South so not have to climb more mountains.
It was early summer and very hot, and most of the time the people had
To walk. Tempers were short and many times the soldiers were more like
Animal drivers than guides for the people. The men were so frustrated
With the treatment of their women and children, and the soldiers were
So harsh and frustrated that bad things often happened. When two men
Get angry they fight and once in a while men were killed on the trip.
Many people died of much hardship. Much of the time the trip was hard
And sad and the women wept for losing their homes and their dignity.
The old men knew that they must do something to help the women not to
Lose their strength in weeping. They knew the women would have to be
Very strong if they were to help the children survive.
So one night after they had made camp along the Trail of Tears, the old
Men sitting around the dying campfire called up to the Great One in
Galunati (heaven) to help the people in their trouble. They told Him
That the people were suffering and feared that the little ones would
Not survive to rebuild the Cherokee Nation.
The Great One said, "Yes, I have seen the sorrows of the women and I
Can help them to keep their strength to help the children. Tell the
Women in the morning to look back where their tears have fallen to the
Ground. I will cause to grow quickly a plant. They will see a little
Green plant at first with a stem growing up. It will grow up and up and
Fall back down to touch the ground where another stem will begin to
Grow. I’ll make the plant grow so fast at first that by afternoon
they’ll see a white rose, a beautiful blossom with five petals. In the
Center of the rose, I will put a pile of gold to remind them of the
Gold which the white man wanted when his greed drove the Cherokee from
Their ancestral home."
The Great One said that the green leaves will have seven leaflets, one
For each of the seven clans of the Cherokee. The plant will begin to
Spread out all over, a very strong plant, a plant which will grow in
Large, strong clumps and it will take back some of the land they had
Lost. It will have stickers on every stem to protect it from anything
That tries to move it away.
The next morning the old men told the women to look back for the sign
From the Great One. The women saw the plant beginning as a tiny shoot
And growing up and up until it spread out over the land. They watched
As a blossom formed, so beautiful they forgot to weep and they felt
Beautiful and strong. By the afternoon they saw many white blossoms as
Far as they could see. The women began to think about their strength
Given them to bring up their children as the new Cherokee Nation. They
Knew the plant marked the path of the brutal Trail of Tears. The
Cherokee women saw that the Cherokee Rose was strong enough to take
Back much of the land of their people.
version 3
Legend of the Cherokee Rose
(nu na hi du na tlo hi lu I)
When gold was found in Georgia, the government forgot its treaties and
Drove the Cherokees to Oklahoma. One fourth of them died on the journey
West. When the Trail of Tears started in 1838, the mothers of the
Cherokee were grieving and crying so much, they were unable to help
Their children survive the journey. The elders prayed for a sign that
Would lift the mother's spirits to give them strength. God, looking
Down from heaven, decided to commemorate the brave Cherokees and so, as
The blood of the braves and the tears of the maidens dropped to the
Ground, he turned them into stone in the shape of a Cherokee Rose. The
Next day a beautiful rose began to grow where each of the
mother's tears fell. The rose is white for their tears; a gold center represents the gold taken from Cherokee lands, and seven leaves on each
Stem for the seven Cherokee clans. No better symbol exists of the pain
And suffering of the "Trail Where They Cried" than the Cherokee Rose
The wild Cherokee Rose grows along the route of the Trail of Tears into
Eastern Oklahoma today.



Submitted by Carol Spirit Dove Henderson



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