Cherokee

Cherokee: (n) American Indian people of the southeastern US

Some things are just embarrassing.

When you realize how embarrassing they are, you can either pretend you did not believe them–or you can own up to the fact that your
ignorance has shown up drunk to dance at the party.

When I got the information today that I was going to be writing an essay on “Cherokee,” I scanned my brain for thoughts I had about this noble tribe other than the bizarre portrayal provided through the American Western.

After a few moments, the only thing that came to my mind was Paul Revere and the Raiders. You may or not remember this rock and roll band, which squeezed its way into the late 1960s and early 1970s with a few hits.

Their only Number 1 hit was called “Cherokee People.” The lyrics were so bold, brazen and audaciously rebellious that I, of course, loved the song, viewing myself to be of some sort of hostile tribe also. (That tribe would have been “TeenAger.”)

         Cherokee people

         Cherokee tribe

         So proud to live

         So proud to die

And of course, I remember the last line of the song, which was:

        And maybe someday when we learn

        Cherokee people will return

The song was then interrupted with an elongated organ solo, closing out with a loud rock and roll chord.

Every time I listened to that song, I did a little fist pumping. For a brief moment I was a Cherokee, even though I did not know what that meant and I knew absolutely nothing about the customs. Music, sentiment, defiance and freedom drove me nearly wild with enthusiasm.

So I must apologize to the Cherokee people–but I was not going to quickly research them on Wikipedia so as to appear knowledgeable.

I will thank Paul Revere and the Raiders for bringing the plight of the Cherokee Nation to the attention of a very white Midwestern boy.

 

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