Waterloo Landing On The Trail Of Tears | Waterloo Alabama

Waterloo Landing | Waterloo Alabama

Waterloo Landing, located on Pickwick Lake (the former Tennessee River), was the site where, in July 1838, the 700-person Cherokee detachment led by Captain Gustavus S. Drane ended its 230-mile overland migration on the Trail Of Tears, boarded the steamboat Smelter, and left on the water route to Indian Territory. Here the party was united and set out on the eleventh aboard the steamboat SMELTER and two large double decked keel boats; the next afternoon they reached Paducah, Kentucky, where Lieutenant Deas left one of the keel boats which he found superfluous. He succeeded in mustering the Indians after a fashion and found that he had 489. (Grant Foreman, Indian Removal: The Emigration of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians, Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1956 (copyright 1932), p.291)

Captain G.S. Drane to Major General Winfield Scott — October 17, 1838
Cherokee Agency, Tennessee
17th October 1838

… on my arrival at Waterloo, Alabama I was ordered to muster the company out of the service, to discharge my teams & embark on board the Steamboat Smelter & proceed to Fort Gibson by the way of the Arkansas river, I believed that route unhealthy, & requested Gel Smith to allow me to take the route by Boonesville, Missouri, the route selected previous to the party’s leaving Ross’ Landing.

OTHER MANUSCRIPTS

Subsequently a few formulas were obtained from an old shaman named Tsiskwa or “Bird,” but they were so carelessly written as to be almost worthless, and the old man who wrote them, being then on his dying bed, was unable to give much help in the matter. However, as he was anxious to tell what he knew an attempt was made to take down some formulas from his dictation. A few more were obtained in this way but the results were not satisfactory and the experiment was abandoned. About the same time A‘wani´ta or “Young Deer,” one of their best herb doctors, was engaged to collect the various plants used in medicine and describe their uses. While thus employed he wrote in a book furnished him for the purpose a number of formulas used by him in his practice, giving at the same time a verbal explanation of the theory and ceremonies.

THE INÂLI MANUSCRIPT

In the course of further inquiries in regard to the whereabouts of other manuscripts of this kind we heard a great deal about Inâ´lĭ, or “Black Fox,” who had died a few years before at an advanced age, and who was universally admitted to have been one of their most able men and the most prominent literary character among them, for from what has been said it must be sufficiently evident that the Cherokees have their native literature and literary men. Like those already mentioned, he was a full-blood Cherokee, speaking no English, and in the course of a long lifetime he had filled almost every position of honor among his people, including those of councilor, keeper of the townhouse records, Sunday-school leader, conjurer, officer in the Confederate service, and Methodist preacher, at last dying, as he was born, in the ancient faith of his forefathers. On inquiring of his daughter she stated that her father had left a great many papers, most of which were still in her possession, and on receiving from the interpreter an explanation of our purpose she readily gave permission to examine and make selections from them on condition that the matter should be kept secret from outsiders. A day was appointed for visiting her, and on arriving we found her living in a comfortable log house, built by Inâlĭ himself, with her children and an ancient female relative, a decrepit old woman with snow-white hair and vacant countenance. This was the oldest woman of the tribe, and though now so feeble and childish, she had been a veritable savage in her young days, having carried a scalp in the scalp dance in the Creek war 75 years before.

THE GAHUNI MANUSCRIPT

The next book procured was obtained from a woman named Ayâsta, “The Spoiler,” and had been written by her husband, Gahuni, who died about 30 years ago. The matter was not difficult to arrange, as she had already been employed on several occasions, so that she understood the purpose of the work, besides which her son had been regularly engaged to copy and classify the manuscripts already procured. The book was claimed as common property by Ayâsta and her three sons, and negotiations had to be carried on with each one, although in this instance the cash amount involved was only half a dollar, in addition to another book into which to copy some family records and personal memoranda. The book contains only eight formulas, but these are of a character altogether unique, the directions especially throwing a curious light on Indian beliefs. There had been several other formulas of the class called Y´û´[n]wĕhĭ, to cause hatred between man and wife, but these had been torn out and destroyed by Ayâsta on the advice of an old shaman, in order that her sons might never learn them.

THE GATIGWANASTI MANUSCRIPT

Further inquiry elicited the names of several others who might be supposed to have such papers. Before leaving a visit was paid to one of these, a young man named Wilnoti, whose father, Gatigwanasti, had been during his lifetime a prominent shaman, regarded as a man of superior intelligence. Wilnoti, who is a professing Christian, said that his father had had such papers, and after some explanation from the chief he consented to show them. He produced a box containing a lot of miscellaneous papers, testaments, and hymnbooks, all in the Cherokee alphabet. Among them was his father’s chief treasure, a manuscript book containing 122 pages of foolscap size, completely filled with formulas of the same kind as those contained in Swimmer’s book.