In the Smokey Mountains so high
where you can reach up and touch the sky,
there is a town to be found
that's Cherokee Indian ground.
When Cherokees were made to leave this land
they held to these mountains making a stand.
Ancestors died on the trail of tears,
but their spirits still lingers here.
Great Chief Junaluska had spoken for peace
to live along side the white man and fighting should cease.
The braves and warriors took heed
but in the white man's heart was greed.
Cherokees for years had walked this ground,
The Great Spirit was all around.
Cherokee Mountain Indians, brave and proud
honored this land in the clouds.
But there came a plan
to take their land.
The white man said, "trust us".
But for the Cherokees there was no justice.
The Indians could no longer stay
making a trail of tears along the way.
Forced from their land without care,
their sorrow so hard to bear.
By the Great Spirit these mountains were given
but out of this land the Cherokees were driven.
A trail of tears was shed
as their brave hearts bled.
They were hunted down
til none could be found.
It seemed the Great Spirit no longer heard
their plaintive words.
No matter how hard they strived
many lost their lives.
One band was held against their will
with the threat to kill.
But out of the land there came
one whose honor burned like a flame.
Tsali, a Cherokee Indian brave,
his noble life he gave.
He walked tall that day
as his life was taken away.
His people he did save
as his life he bravely gave.
Look unto these hills
as in your eyes tears fill
It was Tsali's choice.
Now these mountains speak with his voice.
Tsali's spirit lives all around
this Cherokee Indian ground
It is present in the night's foggy mist
and the mornings dew kissed.
In these old mountains so high
Tsali's spirit floats free in the sky.
Everywhere is Tsali's face
as his spirit is embraced.
In the valleys, mountains, rivers and streams
Tsali comes to his people in their dreams.
His descendants eagle dance still
with an unbroken will.
Tsali's name and spirit remains honored yet
as the Cherokees will never forget.
Tsali's very life and soul did he give
so that his people might live!
© 2003 used with permission
You can see this story unfold every summer
in Cherokee, North Carolina,
in an outdoor drama called "Unto These Hills".
Acted out by the Cherokees,
some are actual descendants of Tsali's.