Cherokee Chief William Holland Thomas

Thomas' Legion
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William Holland Thomas : A Cherokee Chief's Journey

William Holland Thomas
Cherokee chief William Holland Thomas.jpg
Senator and Cherokee chief William Holland Thomas

How would anyone relate and cope with the following nightmarish and traumatic situations, experiences and conditions?

Cherokee Chief William Thomas endured the most horrible series of various traumatic stressors:
Indian Agent Thomas had spent numerous stressful years lobbying Washington to secure the right for a number of Cherokees to remain in North Carolina. Senator Thomas experienced years of constant political infighting with rivals. Colonel Thomas, advanced in years, had endured four exhaustive years of combat, witnessed death and dismemberment of several comrades, handled dead bodies, absorbed the traumatic loss of comrades, evaded assassination attempts, faced imminent death, killed during the Civil War, was helpless to prevent others' deaths, endured several court-martials, and witnessed his beloved Cherokees starvation in 1864. Furthermore, by 1865, he was a defeated Rebel of the "Lost Cause," and how would the Victor, the United States, respond to Thomas and his rebellious Indians? Would his many exhaustive but fruitful years as mediator and voice of the Cherokees be crushed as the Rebellion was crushed? What will become of his rebellious Indians? Thomas and his Cherokees faced a very uncertain and questionable future. He also witnessed mumps, measles, and smallpox kill more than one hundred Cherokees (letter written by Thomas concerning smallpox).
His selflessness and profound generosity kept him in debt and on the constant brink of bankruptcy, and he also endured several lawsuits. His father had died months before his birth and while Thomas was in Washington conducting business, his adopted father, Chief Yonaguska died. Will's mother passed away on October 1, 1874, while his wife died on May 15, 1877. Furthermore, mental illnesses, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), pervaded many Civil War veterans during the Reconstruction Era.
 
During the Civil War there was no shell shock, battle fatigue, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to help explain and legitimize a mysterious condition.

Recommended Viewing: The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy (2006), Starring: James Earl Jones and Wes Studi; Director: Chip Richie, Steven R. Heape. Description: The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy is an engaging two hour documentary exploring one of America's darkest periods in which President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act of 1830 consequently transported Native Americans of the Cherokee Nation to the bleak and unsupportive Oklahoma Territory in the year 1838. Deftly presented by the talents of Wes Studi ("Last of the Mohicans" and "Dances with Wolves"), James Earl Jones, and James Garner, The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy also includes narrations of famed celebrities Crystal Gayle, Johnt Buttrum, Governor Douglas Wilder, and Steven R. Heape. Continued below...

Includes numerous Cherokee Nation members which add authenticity to the production… A welcome DVD addition to personal, school, and community library Native American history collections. The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy is strongly recommended for its informative and tactful presentation of such a tragic and controversial historical occurrence in 19th century American history.

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Highly Recommended Reading: Storm in the Mountains: Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers (Thomas' Legion: The Sixty-ninth North Carolina Regiment). Vernon H. Crow, Storm in the Mountains, spent 10 years conducting extensive Thomas Legion's research. Crow was granted access to rare manuscripts, special collections, and privately held diaries which add great depth to this rarely discussed Civil War legion. He explores and discusses the unit's formation, fighting history, and life of the legion's commander, Cherokee chief and Confederate colonel, William Holland Thomas. Continued below...

Numerous maps and photographs allow the reader to better understand and relate to the subjects discussed. It also contains rosters which is an added bonus for researchers and genealogists. Crow, furthermore, left no stone unturned while examining the many facets of the Thomas Legion and his research is conveyed on a level that scores with Civil War students and scholars alike.

 

Recommended Reading: James Mooney's History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees (768 pages). Description: This incredible volume collects the works of the early anthropologist James Mooney who did extensive studies of the Eastern Cherokee Nation (those who remained in Appalachia) at the turn of the century. The introduction is by Mooney's biographer and gives a nice overview of both Mooney and the Cherokee Nation, as well as notes on Mooney's sources. It then goes straight into the first book "Myths of the Cherokee", which starts with a history of the Cherokee Nation. Continued below...

It progresses from the earliest days, through de Soto, the Indian wars, Tecumseh, the Trail of Tears, the Civil War and ultimately to 1900. Continuing, it explores Cherokee mythology and storytellers. This book is truly monumental in its scope and covers origin myths, animal stories, Kanati and Selu, the Nunnehi and Yunwi'Tsundi (little people), Tlanuwa (thunderbirds), Uktena (horned water snake), interactions with other Nations and numerous other myths, as well as local legends from various parts of the Southeast (North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, etc). There is also a section of herbal lore. Mooney closes with a glossary of Cherokee terms (in the Latin alphabet rather than the Sequoya Syllabary) and abundant notes. We advance to the next book, Sacred Formulaes of the Cherokee, which covers a number of magical texts amongst the Cherokee Nation. This book does a wonderful job talking about such manuals, mentioning how they were obtained, going into depth about the Cherokee worldview and beliefs on magic, concepts of disease, healing ceremonies, practices such as bleeding, rubbing and bathing, Shamanism, the use of wording, explanations of the formulae and so forth. It then gives an amazingly varied collection of Cherokee formulae, first in the original Cherokee (again, in the Latin alphabet) and then translated into English. Everything from healing to killing witches, to medicine for stick ball games, war and warfare. Both books include numerous photographs and illustrations of famous historical figures, Cherokee manuscripts and petroglyphs and a map of Cherokee lands. Again, this is a truly massive book and even today is considered one of the essential writings of Cherokee religion. Anyone with an interest in the subject, whether anthropologist, descendant of the Cherokee or just a curious person interested in Native culture, should definitely give this book a read. I highly recommend it.

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