We went back to Cherokee again yesterday.
Just so you know, I am not Cherokee*. And not one of my Indian ancestors was a princess, just so you know. Or a Chief, at least to my knowledge. Just plain old Indians here.
We went back to get some more photos of the bears of the Cherokee Bear Project. If you look at my profile photo on this blog, that is one of them, Patriot Bear. Since I am Bear clan and I serve my country, that bear in particular speaks to me.
Anyway, the Cherokee Bear Project began in 2005, and I was there in 2008 to take pictures. I wasn't able to find all of the bears, and when we were there earlier in the week, I noticed some new ones. So my wife patiently helped me track down as many of the remaining bears as we could, like this one, Winter Bear, by artist Jenean Hornbuckle:
Sadly, a lot of the bears have been broken or damaged and had to be removed. Some I have pictures of from before, some I do not. This one, for example, is Trail of Tears and 7 Clans Bear by Mario Esquivell. It touches me because I have an ancestor who died on the Trail. But the bear is gone.
And since this was likely my last trip to Cherokee for a long time (at least the next three years), it is unlikely I will be able to take pictures of the rest.
Which of course makes me think of all the other things I will miss once I leave the country. Chances are I will not make another trip to Folly Beach, my favorite place on the planet, before I return from my tour. I will likely not return to SC at all before then. And yesterday, we visited a few waterfalls (Mingo and Soco) here in Cherokee country that I will not see again. Below is a shot of Mingo Falls.
We went to the Qualla Arts Co-op, where I picked up a couple Cherokee pots made in the Cherokee style. (The Cherokee potting tradition had died, and the pots they made for tourists were in the Catawba style thanks to the government briefly trying to relocate the Catawba to Cherokee (they're traditional enemies...it didn't go so well) and the few women who married in teaching their children how to pot...but back when I was at UNC, Brett Riggs organized training for the potters by Tammy Bean, a well known non-Indian potter who makes beautiful museum-quality replicas of Indian pots. She taught them to make traditional Cherokee pottery, and the result has been a resurgence in Qualla-style pots.) At any rate, I probably won't visit the Co-op again for a long time, and I was glad to be able to support the artists there one last time before I leave.
Today we'll head into Asheville for my last visit to the town for a while. I like Asheville...this is definitely a place I could consider retiring to if NC gets marriage equality by then (you have 13 years guys, you can do it! I believe in you!).
But the thing I'll miss the most when I leave in two weeks is my wife. I won't see her again until Christmas. And I won't live with her again until January or February.
And that sucks.
* I DO have one Cherokee ancestor. She married a Catawba man, and violating all tribal traditions, moved with him to his people instead of the other way around. I am convinced her mother cursed the Indian men in that line.