Thursday, October 13, 2011

An Arrowhead and a Story

The fall of the year is when many elementary classrooms across the state discuss the Native American culture. I suppose dried cornstalks and colorful Indian corn make the perfect background for discussions, not to mention the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and the chance for children to wear feathered headbands or Pilgrim hats. Art lessons mean weaving paper strips into fake baskets. Music lessons have the beat of drums in the background. Arrowheads become the featured attactraction during show and tell.

Cherokee arrowhead
There were plenty of arrowheads in the farmland around Pilot Mountain School. For hundreds of years, this was the designated hunting grounds for two ancient tribes in North Carolina, the Cherokee and the Catawba. They traveled the South Mountains in search of food for their families and left behind many a broken arrow with its carefully honed arrowhead. Seasons changed from one year to the next and eventually the shaft rotted and the weapon shard settled into the ground beneath layers of leaf debris.

Arrowhead found in Tennessee

Until.


One day...



...when the farmer in the field turned over the sod and there, barely recognizable in the caked mud, it saw the light of day for the first time in hundreds of years.

A storeowner near Pilot Mountain collected Cherokee artifacts. I caught this story early in my interviewing process.

·        My grandfather was a collector of Indian artifacts. His collection of artifacts is now in the Cherokee museum. The kids would follow the plows and pick up the arrowheads for him. They’d trade my grandfather for candy. Being older, wiser and smarter, my brother would get out early in the morning right after it had rained. The ones barely covered up would be the ones that would be soon exposed.

Now these arrowheads fetch hundreds of dollars on internet trade, not exactly candy anymore. To me they also fetch out a certain sadness for greatness lost. I'm always looking for story. What story could you tell, Cherokee Arrowhead?

Catch of the day,

Gretchen

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