When Jim Veteto introduced me to Cherokee traditionalist, educator and linguist Tom Belt, it took only a few minutes of listening to him before I realized that this was a gifted man who had spent his adult life reconnecting Eastern and Western Cherokee to their native language and scared geography.
We arrived at the Cherokee heritage site where the 6-fingered giant called Judaculla had landed on a remarkable soapstone rock to teach the People after leaping across a mountain in the Smokies, Tom began to offer us a multi-layered “unpacking” or exegesis of the many-layered reasons that this place is a spiritual touchstone for people.
I can in no way do justice to his storytelling about the sacred site and its history. But let’s all of us who are not of Cherokee descent remember and celebrate the fact that even Western Cherokee who left North Carolina in 1838 have still kept the oral history of this sacred touchstone alive among them, as have their relatives who still reside in North Carolina.
The land can only be restored when each generation renews their-telling of such stories of sacred places for each new generation.
Brother Coyote, OEF