http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgLeeAnn Dreadfulwater of Park Hill, Oklahoma, reads the biography of her great-great-great grandmother Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell during an Oct. 28 memorial ceremony at Snell Cemetery near Grove. The Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association hosted the ceremony to honor Trail of Tears survivors Johnaky Snell, Akie (Sharp) Silversmith and Ahnawake. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
LeeAnn Dreadfulwater of Park Hill, Oklahoma, reads the biography of her great-great-great grandmother Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell during an Oct. 28 memorial ceremony at Snell Cemetery near Grove. The Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association hosted the ceremony to honor Trail of Tears survivors Johnaky Snell, Akie (Sharp) Silversmith and Ahnawake. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Ceremony honors 3 Trail of Tears survivors

Bob Fields, of Diamond, Missouri, reads the biography of his great-great grandmother Akie (Sharp) Silversmith during an Oct. 28 memorial ceremony at Snell Cemetery near Grove, Oklahoma. Silversmith was one of three Trail of Tears survivors to be honored that day. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The descendants of Johnaky Snell surround his tombstone during an Oct. 28 memorial ceremony at Snell Cemetery near Grove, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Chapter of the Trails of Tears Association attached a plaque honoring his endurance during the forced removal. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association hosted an Oct. 28 memorial ceremony at Snell Cemetery near Grove, Oklahoma, to honor Trail of Tears survivors Johnaky Snell, Akie (Sharp) Silversmith and Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell. A plaque was attached to each of the survivor’s headstones and their biographies were read during the ceremony. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Bob Fields, of Diamond, Missouri, reads the biography of his great-great grandmother Akie (Sharp) Silversmith during an Oct. 28 memorial ceremony at Snell Cemetery near Grove, Oklahoma. Silversmith was one of three Trail of Tears survivors to be honored that day. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
11/20/2017 08:00 AM
GROVE, Okla. – Nearly 100 descendants and friends gathered for a memorial ceremony on Oct. 28 at Snell Cemetery to honor three Trail of Tears survivors.

The Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association honored Johnaky Snell, Akie (Sharp) Silversmith and Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell.

The biography of each survivor was read and metal plaques were attached to their headstones. The plaques read: “In honor of one who endured the forced removal of the Cherokees in 1838-39.” It also includes the Cherokee Nation and TOTA seals.

“We are marking the graves of people who came on the forced removal from the East. I think it is very appropriate that we remember the people that came so we don’t forget the forced removal and what they did by enduring the Trail of Tears and if they had not done that we would not be here. One of the purposes we mark graves is to let people know this is their ancestor that came on the forced removal and to bring them together as a family,” National TOTA President Jack Baker said.

In 1993, TOTA formed to aid the National Parks Service in “protecting and preserving” the Trail of Tears routes, which Congress recognized as a national historical trail in 1987. In 1996, nine state TOTA chapters were organized in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Chapter member David Hampton said each state chapter works on projects, mostly locating and marking trail segments. However, because the removal trails ended at the Arkansas border, the Oklahoma Chapter didn’t have trails to mark.

“Since the Trail generally ended at the Arkansas border and people disbanded when people got into the Cherokee Nation, the Oklahoma Chapter picked marking the graves as one of its projects from the very beginning, so we have been doing that over the last 18 years,” Hampton said.

The Oklahoma Chapter has marked 153 graves in the CN and is looking for more Trail survivors, as well as accepting applications from people wanting ancestors’ graves marked.

“We have specific criteria of what a Trail of Tears survivor is. It started after the roundup in May 1838. If you came (to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma) before that we are currently not marking those people’s graves. They (survivors) also came on a Cherokee detachment that disbanded in early 1839,” Hampton said. “We verify if they’re eligible, and if there are other people in that same cemetery that are eligible…we mark them, too.”

Steven Snell, of Grove, attended the ceremony with his family to honor Johnaky Snell.

“I didn’t realize my heritage going back to the Trail of Tears actually had people buried here in this cemetery. It’s just really nice they’re being recognized like this and being shown some respect,” he said.

Bob Fields, of Diamond, Missouri, attended to honor his great-great grandmother Akie (Sharp) Silversmith. He read her biography during the ceremony.

“I appreciate the Trail of Tears Association for doing this. It was a good ceremony, and I am glad they did it to recognize her life and her endearment on the Trail of Tears and the fact that she got through it. She would have never thought of her family would be here over a hundred years after she died, so I think that’s pretty good deal,” Fields said.

LeeAnn Dreadfulwater, of Park Hill, read the biography of her great-great-great grandmother Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell.

“I think it’s a wonderful honor. She was just a little girl when she was on the Trail coming with all her brothers and sisters and her family. I can’t imagine what she must of seen, encountered and endured. It makes me really proud to come from someone like that who went on to live a really incredible life, a very full life where she was able to make a good home in a new land and to live into the new century, which must have been really incredible, too,” Dreadfulwater said.

To nominate an ancestor who survived the Trail of Tears, mail a request to Oklahoma TOTA Chapter President Curtis Rohr at 24880 S. 4106 Road, Claremore, OK, 74019 or call 918-341-4689.

Johnaky Snell

Johnaky Snell was born about 1826 in Cherokee Nation East, most likely on Shooting Creek in what is present-day Clay County, North Carolina. His father was Goo-tah-skah, also known as Pickup in English, and his mother was Wah-li-sah. He had four known siblings or half siblings: Ah-to-he, Oo-yi-yah-sah-nah-ske, Lah-chi-le and Kah-se.

As a young man, he endured the forced removal to the west in a currently unknown detachment.
On July 25, 1865, he married a Cherokee, Katy Schrimsher. They were parents of eight children surviving to adulthood: Jane (Snell) Bushyhead, Ida (Snell) Six Mitchell Scraper, Lulu (Snell) Gourd, Joe Coon Snell, Charles Snell, Alexander Snell, Nona (Snell) O’Fields and Nancy Snell, as well as one daughter who died in infancy, Mary Snell.

During the Civil War, Johnaky served in the Union Army in Company H of the Second Indian Home Guard. After the war he returned to his farm near the Honey Creek area in what is present-day Delaware County, Oklahoma. He died on July 4, 1902, and was buried in the Snell Cemetery.

Akie Sharp Silversmith

Akie Sharp was born about 1829 in Cherokee Nation East. She was the oldest of four children to Ah-ne-kah-yah, also know as “Sharp” in English, and Nancy.

As a young girl, Akie and her family were forced on the removal west in the Oldfields/Forman detachment, which left the East on Oct. 10, 1838, and arrived on Feb. 2, 1839. The family then settled in what became the Delaware District of Cherokee Nation, present-day Delaware County, Oklahoma.

By 1851, Akie mothered a daughter by the name Ah-li, who died in childhood. Ah-li’s father was unknown. In 1852, Akie married Albert McGhee, a white man, and the pair had one daughter, Sarah (McGhee) Fields. After separation from Albert, Akie married Wilson Silversmith, a Cherokee. They had two children, John Silversmith and Bettie (Silversmith) Fields. During the Civil War, Wilson died and Akie and her family supported themselves by farming east of Grove in the Delaware District. She died on July 9, 1895, and was buried in Snell Cemetery.

Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell

Ahnawake or Annie Spirit was born about 1826 on the Etowah River, Cherokee Nation East, near present-day Rome, Georgia. Her father was known as “The Spirit,” and her mother was Chah-wah-yoo-kah. Annie had three full siblings and two half sisters from her mother’s previous marriage to George Vann.

Together the family traveled on the forced removal to the West in the George Hicks detachment, which left the East in September 1838 and arrived in March 1839. Her father was a teamster in the detachment.

After arrival, the family initially settled in the Flint District, present-day southern Adair or northern Sequoyah County, Oklahoma. Spirit appears to have died within a few years after removal.

In 1848, Annie married Samuel Mayes, a white man. They were parents of Sarah (Mayes) Ballard, Elmira (Mayes) Finn Gladney and William (Penn) Mayes. After the Mayes family moved to the Saline District, near Grand River, Samuel died in 1858. In 1862, Annie married Simon Snell, a Cherokee, who was serving in the Union Army. The pair settled in the Delaware District and had one son, Charles Snell. After Simon’s death in 1877, Annie maintained the farm near Honey Creek. She died on Feb. 20, 1910, and was buried near Simon in Snell Cemetery.
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Culture

BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
05/18/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Every year on May 7 the Descendants of the Cherokee Seminaries Students Organization hold its annual reunion at Northeastern State University where it awards two NSU students with scholarships. This year’s recipients were Cherokee Nation citizens Bryley Hoodenpyle and Marilyn Tschida. Both students received a $1,000 scholarship based on their GPAs, activities and interviews. Hoodenpyle said her fourth great-grandmother’s aunt and two cousins attended the Cherokee Male and Female seminaries, which she discovered through online research and NSU’s archives. She said after college she plans to attend NSU’s optometry school. “It means a lot to me to receive this scholarship just because this university has given so much to me and has helped me grow personally,” Hoodenpyle said. “NSU has developed me as a student and as a leader so its really awesome to me that my family played a part in that story however many years ago.” Tschida is an education graduate student and plans to graduate in December. She said she found her grandmother’s name in the Cherokee Female Seminary roll book in NSU’s archives and decided to apply for the scholarship. “I am really proud to accept it, I think she would be very proud for me to have gotten something on her behalf,” Tschida said. On May 7, 1889, the Cherokee Female Seminary reopened north of Tahlequah after a fire destroyed it two years earlier. So, no matter what day May 7 falls on, the descendants of students who attended the Cherokee Male and Female seminaries gather to honor their ancestors and their time at the schools. DCSSO President Rick Ward said the reunion is the oldest tradition on NSU’s campus, accruing annually for 167 years with the exception of one year during World War II. “It started out as a picnic, but it wasn’t the descendants getting together it was the actual students of the seminaries coming together, bringing food and visiting out in front of the sycamore tree,” he said. After noticing the number seminary students fading away, Jack Brown established the DCSSO in 1975. Brown served as the executive vice president of the Cherokee Seminaries Students Alumni Association for years. He wanted to get the descendants of the alumni involved in the activities of the association as well as keep the tradition alive. In 1984 the name officially changed to the Descendants of Cherokee Seminaries Students Organization. The state bought the Female Seminary in 1909, which now serves as Seminary Hall and the centerpiece of NSU. DCSSO Secretary Ginny Wilson said she wants to keep the reunion tradition alive for her grandmother, who was a student at the Female Seminary. “I do this for my grandmother. We used to bring her up here to this reunion. It was always the one thing in her life she wanted to do,” Wilson said. Wilson said the DCSSO follows the same format as their ancestors did during their reunions, which consists of the organization’s meeting, lunch, a speaker, the Cherokee choir and Miss Cherokee. “We follow that format as close as we can to just do the same thing. It’s gotten a whole lot smaller, but that’s what we do as descendants in memory of those people,” she said. Since the DCSSO established a scholarship for students who are descendants in the early 2000s, its goal is to continue to provide that scholarship. “Our biggest plan is to increase our scholarship amount. That’s the most important, but also to keep the (May 7) tradition going at Northeastern. Otherwise it will die,” Wilson said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/16/2018 12:00 PM
SALLISAW – Enjoy a day of traditional Cherokee art, music and more, honoring legendary statesman and inventor of the Cherokee syllabary, Sequoyah. The event will be held in conjunction with Cherokee Nation’s Traditional Native Games. Sequoyah Day begins at 10 a.m. on May 19 at Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum. “We are proud to bring to life an event like Sequoyah Day. It’s a unique daylong celebration of Cherokee history and culture at the home of the man who pioneered the Cherokee syllabary,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Now that Cherokee Nation owns and operates the Sequoyah Cabin Park, we can organize these types of family-driven events that are both educational and fun for all.” The event runs until 4 p.m. and features live performances, activities for children and cultural demonstrations such as pottery, flint-knapping, bow-making, stone carving and graphics. The event includes multiple performances from the Cherokee National Youth Choir and a special language presentation at 1:30 p.m. Sequoyah built the cabin in 1829 and welcomes more than 12,000 visitors each year. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and a National Literary Landmark in 2006. The homestead includes a one-room cabin and nearly 200 acres. Prior to reopening under CN management in 2017, Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum received much-needed repairs and renovations. The museum now features large displays that share the story of Sequoyah, his development of the Cherokee syllabary and the Cherokee language today. The museum also features a retail space offering Cherokee Nation apparel, gifts and souvenirs. The museum is located at Highway 101, 7 miles east of Highway 59. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/09/2018 12:00 PM
PARK HILL – Explore the messages of John Ross in his correspondences with fellow tribesmen and political allies throughout his 38 years as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. “The Letters of John Ross” is the tribe’s first digital exhibit and allows guests to view documents that are usually off view and housed in collections at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. Featured writings address topics such as delegation nominations, potential resolutions, rumors of assassination plots and the possible removal of Cherokee people to Mexico. “This is the first exhibit of its kind for Cherokee Nation, and we are eager to see how the public responds,” Travis Owens, Cherokee Nation Businesses cultural tourism director, said. “The digital format enables guests to focus on their specific interests in an interactive and engaging way.” The exhibit runs May 4 through Jan. 31 at the John Ross Museum, which highlights Ross’ life and legacy and houses exhibits and interactive displays on the Trail of Tears, Civil War, Cherokee Golden Age and tribe’s passion for education. The museum is housed in an old, rural school building known as School #51 and sits at the foot of Ross Cemetery, where Ross and other notable CN citizens are buried. The museum is located at 22366 S. 530 Road. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call -1877-779-6977 or visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/09/2018 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Speakers Bureau will be held Thursday May 10, 2018 from 12:30 – 4 p.m. We will meet in the Community Ballroom that is located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokee. All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. If you want to bring a side dish or a dessert, feel free to bring it. Come speak Cherokee and enjoy food and fellowship. For further information about the event, please contact: the Language Program at 918-453-5151. Tsalagi aniwonisgi unadatlugv dodvnatlosi Nvgineiga Anisgvti 10, 2018, ganvsulvi 12:30pm adalenisgi 4 p.m. igohida. Na Anitsalagi tsunalisdayetiyi tsigotlv unaditli wayvsdi onadilvyvi utani kanvsula dodvnatlosi. Naniv Anitsalagi aniwonisgi otsitayohiha uniluhisdii. Alisdayvdi ayohisdi yodulia. Dodayotsadatlisani ale dodayotsalisdayvna hilutsvi. Ugodesdi tsadulihesdi tsadelayohisdi hiina wigehiyadvdi: Tsalagi Gawonihisdi Unadotlvsv 918- 453-5151.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/08/2018 08:00 AM
BENTONVILLE, Ark. – The Museum of Native American History will host storytelling and a beadwork class on May 12. The museum is located at 202 S.W. “O” St. Admission is free, and the events are open to all. From 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., MONAH staff will share traditional Yup'ik (Alaska) and Cherokee stories about how berries came to be just in time for berry season. “Our stories for the day include ‘Berry Magic,’ written and illustrated by Teri Sloat and Betty Huffmon, and ‘The First Strawberries: A Cherokee Story,’ retold by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Anna Vojtech. Stick around after the stories to make a self-portrait using nature and try akutaq, a traditional Yup'ik dish made with berries,” MONAH Director Charlotte Buchanan-Yale said. Storytime is geared toward ages 4 and up, but kids of all ages and their adults are welcome. A Creative Visions artist will host and teach a “Beadwork for Beginners” class beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the museum. Join Cherokee beadwork and jewelry artist Carolyn Chumwalooky for an in-depth introduction to the intricate art of beading. This hands-on workshop will lead participants through the process of creating a beaded keychain to take home. Registration is free and required. Supplies and refreshments will be provided. For more information, call the museum at 479-273-2456 or visit <a href="http://www.momah.us" target="_blank">www.momah.us</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/04/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – According to a Cherokee Nation press release, the tribe has started interior renovations of the Cherokee National Capitol building that are expected to help prepare it to serve as a museum in future years. “We are beginning the interior restoration of our most iconic building,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Because so much critical history has happened on those premises, it’s important we take the proper steps to ensure its preservation for future generations. This historic structure will soon begin a new chapter as a museum that will educate Cherokees and visitors alike about the powerful and inspiring story of the Cherokee people.” According to CN Communications, Cherokee Nation Businesses is funding the project and Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism is managing it. Officials said the estimated budget for renovations is $2.3 million. The project consists of plaster restoration, new public restrooms, new flooring, a new geothermal HVAC system and the addition of an elevator and second stairwell, the release states. “Preservation projects are one of the most rewarding investments we can make,” CNB CEO Shawn Slaton said. “Once renovations are complete, this iconic building will serve as a museum and further expand the tribe’s impressive tourism offerings within the Cherokee Nation.” The release states that Builders Unlimited, a TERO-certified company, is performing the work while being managed by Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism. Renovations are slated to be complete in early 2019, according to the release. “We’ve had a longstanding commitment to the preservation of our historic sites,” CNB Executive Vice President Chuck Garrett said. “This project, along with the many others we’ve completed, is another way of keeping our history and culture alive and gives us an opportunity to share our Cherokee story with the world.” This is the latest of several preservation projects to take place at the Capitol. In 2013, a replica cupola was constructed to bring the building back to its 1870s appearance. A few years later, the building underwent a masonry restoration in which more than 2,000 bricks were replaced to strengthen the structure. That work also included removing paint from the existing brick to help return the building to its historic look. Additional restoration work throughout the years has included roof repairs with new decking and historic era shingles, restoration of soffits and fascia, a gutter system and updated doors and windows. The Capitol building was built in 1869, and all three branches of the CN government occupied it prior to statehood. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a National Landmark.