Community Projects:
Voices of the Trail

"Voices of the Trail"
A Drama Written and Performed by
Kennesaw Mountain High School
Ninth Honors English Students Kennesaw. GA

May 1, 2001

Based on Pushing the Bear by Diane Glancy


I am Sequoyah. As a Cherokee, I felt it was my duty to give my people a written language. My people call this alphabet the talking leaves. It lets us express ourselves in our own language. Now that we are being forced from our land that we have worked, the white man is destroying our laws and our form of government. They won’t even let us use the language I developed. What have we done to deserve this treatment? Nothing. The whites are still angry because my people sided with the British in the Revolutionary War. Gold has also been found on our land, so that gives them enough reasons to rip us from our home, force us to walk thousands of miles to a place completely different from our homes. Along the way countless numbers of our people die and many more are very sick. From there, who knows what other promises will be broken. The talking leaves may be silenced forever.

Andrew Jackson

My name is Andrew Jackson. I am the President who made the Cherokee leave. They were taking up my land. There is gold on their land and the white citizens deserve it. Three Cherokee signed the treaty. It was called the New Echota Treaty. This treaty made them go away. I don’t hate the Cherokee. They were in my way. White people deserve the land. I had to make my country bigger. That is why I made them leave.

Major Ridge

I am Major Ridge. I am one of the three men who sold the Cherokee land to the U.S. government. I was right for doing it of course. It was going to happen eventually; it was much wiser just to take money for it while they offered it. At least we can buy all of out supplies and things that we lost. I am on the run now. I have heard rumors that several men are coming after me. I don’t want to die for doing the right thing for my people.

Maritole (in the beginning)

I am Maritole. I live here in my nice log cabin. I have an infant daughter and a husband named Knobowtee. We have beautiful fields that my husband works in. While he is working, my daughter and I watch from our front porch. In my cabin I have many things that I love. I have my grandmother’s scissors and her bone hairpin and shell beads that are on my dresser. I have the bed my father and Knobowtee made and the nutting stone and pestles he gave me when I married. My log cabin holds so many memories. Sometimes I still hear my grandmother’s voice in the cabin. I could never imagine leaving my only home, my cabin.

Knobowtee (in the beginning)

I am Knobowtee. I live here in my house on Cherokee land with my wife and daughter. I am a farmer, but I sometimes wonder if I am properly providing for my family. I sometimes wonder what I have or have to live for. I own nothing; the things around me belong to Maritole, She has it all, and I have nothing. I knew the white soldiers were coming to take us away. They wanted our land and we could not fight back. I wonder often whether I should have stayed. I may have been better than this. I could have lived in peace. I feel like the only thing I have is myself. I feel like I am nobody.

White Settlers

I am Anna-Marie Henderson. My family has just moved into an Indian cabin. We were nearly scared to death when an Indian woman burst into our house during dinner. I could see anger in her eyes. She came in screaming at us in a language I didn't understand. She knocked over our food that was cooking on the stove. What does she want? Why is she here? I wish she would get out. These Indians are savages. They burst into our homes. It is not their land anymore; it is ours.

Reverend Bushyhead

I am Reverend Bushyhead. I am a Cherokee Christian minister, both for my family and my people. This trail is terrible. Everyday I awaken to pain. I walk and preach endlessly. I know that nothing happens by accident and that the Lord has a reason for everything, but what on earth could be the reason for this? My flock is dying; every day we bury more bodies than the day before. Often I wonder how many of us will reach Indian Territory, or if even I will survive the trail. The only thing I know to do is put one foot in front of the other, take step after step, walk mile after mile. Every morning on bended knee I pray for some sign of direction and purpose. What am I doing here? Why has the Lord put me on the trail? Is it simply to show my brothers the way to salvation so that they may die the next day? Only one thing is clear: each new day is no different from the last.

Maritole’s Mother

I am Maritole’s mother. I walk on the trail, which is long and cold. I keep wondering what our people did so wrong to deserve this. At least I have Maritole and Tanner, two of my three children here with me. As we move on, I see some of the people start to fall apart. Maritole and Knowbowtee are distant, leaving me to look after her baby. I try to keep the baby warm and happy. She just keeps crying; she cries for food, warmth, and her mother and father. Perhaps we’ll both take a little rest, just until her parents return.

Maritole’s Baby

I’m a six-month-old Cherokee baby, and I don’t know where we’re going. I’m leaving my warm home and going out into the cold world. People in uniforms move other people around and won’t let them bring anything with them. My mom, Maritole, whispers to me and tells me everything will be all right. I don’t know what we’re doing or where we’re going; I start to cry. The trail is cold, and I am always hungry. I’m always being passed back and forth between all these people I recognize, but I don’t know their names. It seems like it’s getting colder and colder every day. Tonight as my grandma holds me in her arms, I fall asleep. During the night, I suddenly wake up. My grandma is really cold, but I don’t think that much of it as I fall into a deep sleep. Now I will rest forever and never be cold again.

Maritole( in the middle)

I am Maritole. We have walked so far. My legs and feet ache with pain from the long journey. I miss my mother and baby. I want them here with me. Their spirits help me continue to walk, pushing me to keep going. My husband, Knowbowtee, no longer walks with me. If only he could support me as his wife. He needs to be here, he too needs to help me along the trail.
I am still angry with the white settlers for taking my home, taking my things. I can still picture my cabin, the garden, and the home I know and love so much. If only I could be there right now. To be at home with my family, not having to worry about whether we’re going to live or die in the next snowstorm. That is all that I wish for.

Sergeant Williams

I am Sergeant Williams, an American soldier who oversaw the migration of the Cherokee from North Carolina to Indian Territory. My duty as a soldier was to make sure that the Cherokee did as they were told and walked the trail in a peaceful manner. While serving as a soldier I noticed a very beautiful Cherokee woman whom I fell in love with although she was married. We spent a lot of time together, and I even helped her and provided her with items she needed.

Knowbowtee (in the middle)

I am Knowbowtee. I am feeling very angry right now. I should have tried to fight for our land. Why did I give up what was mine so easily? I should have fought, but now there is nothing I can do. I am also feeling betrayed. My wife has left me for a white soldier. Sometimes I just do not understand her. How could she betray her culture like that and go off with a white soldier. Why couldn’t she be more like my first wife and just do what I wanted? Why does she always want to talk everything out? Sometimes I just want to be alone and why can’t she see that. Why do I have all these questions and not one answer?

War Club

I am War Club. I walk alone in a line of hundreds. I see the way people look at me. I’m not crazy. I’m just angry. I try to share my anger at the white man but my words come out different. The way a crazy person would talk. The people frown at me. I bark at them to make them stop. I tie a sack I found on the ground around my head for warmth. The white soldiers crawl around us like insects. I dream about stepping on them. There is no one left to talk to but myself. I see a white soldier frown at me. Yamph! I bark at him.


I am Tanner, brother of Maritole, husband of Luthy, and father of Mark and Ephum. I watch Knobowtee as he ignore Maritole. In our culture, if a husband does not care for his wife, it is the brother’s job to care for her, as I did for Maritole. Knobowtee should not ignore his wife, and I fight with him, trying to make him understand, but he still did not listen and stayed with his family and not Maritole. I turn away from fighting with the soldiers. I have to protect and care for my family.


My name is Mark. I’m speaking for my brother and myself. When remembering North Carolina, we cry. Our lips and fingers are split from the cold. Even the snow feels strange on our hands. Our mouths are so sore that we can hardly chew stew. We often mimic and make fun of the white soldiers. Who do they think they are anyway? Auntie Maritole often snuggles with us and tells us stories about the Trickster Turtle and Uk’ten’. Sadly, that’s one of the only good things about the trail.

White Farmers

I am a white farmer. I watch the Cherokees as they walk by my farm on their way to Indian Territory. Many of us do not want the Indians to walk on our land. Those of us that don’t want them on our farms make them pay a fee. Every Cherokee has to pay for themselves to walk over the farmland, plus money for the wagons and oxen that cross. Some of the other farmers, though, allow the Cherokees to sleep on their land. Some even give them food and blankets. Many farmers feel sorry for the Cherokees, but others like me don’t like the Cherokees and think that they don’t belong here anyway.

The Duck

Quack! Quack! I am the great white duck that has followed the Cherokee from their native land to new territory set by the white man. The ducks carry the great spirits that all animals have inside of them. All of us are bonded with the Cherokee, they are our brothers and sisters. Not many of us have followed the Cherokee, but we have watched over as many as we can. Quack! Quack! I followed them for what seemed like years. I have stayed by the Cherokee people that the great spirit has sent me to watch over. I have walked among the Cherokee, but I am shot at and rocks are thrown at me by the white man. This journey has not only been harsh for the Cherokee, but for the ducks too. We have left our native lakes and few ducks survived the harsh winter we have never encountered before. The land we now live on, has no meaning to the ducks or the Cherokee. I curse the day we were sent away by the white man. But I will serve my duty to watch over the Cherokee for the rest of my duck life. Quack! Quack! Quack!


I am the basket maker. I not only weave baskets together, but I tell stories. In some cases, stories and baskets are a little alike. The parts of the story tie in together and hold each other to make the story work. The stories weave together to create our culture and background. In my dreams, I am weaving baskets together. I dream of things I see and I weave those into my head. My dream weaving keeps my fingers warm and my fingers are not chapped like the others. Some believe baskets come from the earth or the sky; I believe baskets come from stories. I think of stories and create stories on the trail to try to bring my mind away from the horrors of the trail. I believe we are allowed to make up our own stories and I dream my stories up.

The Bear

I am the bear. A long time ago, the Cherokee forgot we were a tribe. We thought only of ourselves. Our hair grew long and we crawled on hands and knees. We forgot how to speak. We forgot we had a language. So, I was made. I am from a part of the Cherokee when we were in trouble. Now we are in trouble again. I am with the Cherokee; I will not leave even though they try to push me away like their trouble.


I am Thomas, Maritole's brother. My people have been led away from their homeland. Everything familiar has been stolen. I am one of the few who escaped the removal. I distanced myself from the white soldiers by running and hiding in the woods. They did not attempt to capture me. Yet, my family was included in the unfortunate removal. I feel a sense of guilt that I too wasn't taken away on the long trip to the Indian Territory. I know I am lucky to have escaped the grasp of the white man, avoiding the months of hardship and loss. But living without my family is almost equally as bad. I have no one now. No Maritole, Tanner, mother, father. Not even my dear nephews. I hope they all are strong and brave enough to endure the harsh trail they are to travel upon.

Knobowtee (in the end)

I am Knobowtee. I’m feeling better now that the trail is over and we have reached our new territory. I gave Maritole till October to forgive me and now we are back together. I hope to start a new life here. Now we will not be moved again, and we can permanently settle. Maritole and I have adopted two orphan children, and hope to raise them as our own. With our two children, we will live and survive here.

The Land

As each of the Cherokee walks, I feel their pains. They are the ones who respect the land. Their hurts, their moans, and their sickness are just as painful to me. I carry their weight as they push onward to their new homes. When the Cherokee cry out, I embrace them. I give them strength to survive. The Cherokee are not alone, for they will always have me to guide them. They walk, and I carry them along. I only wish I could do more.

Quaty Lewis

I am Quaty Lewis. I expected the soldiers to come every day to take us away. In Late September 1838, they came. I left my white husband to take care of my land. It was agreed that he would stay. I watched old men being struck down by the ruthless soldiers. They had left their spirits in North Carolina, in the hills, while their body walked. I heard the cries of families who had lost a member to the frigid cold or the sorrow of a mother who lost a child in the night. On the trail, I saw Maritole’s family split as a result to her relationship with the white soldier with light colored eyes. I made fun of her and she replied, "You had a white husband who stayed on your farm when the soldiers took you. Everyone knows it." I stood stunned while people around us gasped. However, I could not deny the fact; it was true. I often laid awake in the night thinking, "Why didn’t my husband join me? He could have." Now, in February 1839, we finally arrived at the small Fort Gibson. I stand on this land, with the others, not knowing what to do. I want to tell my husband that I arrived at the New Territory, but he is far away. But, no matter, I can rebuild my life in this new land.

Maritole (in the end)

I am Maritole. At night I often awake to dreams that I was back on the trail. I can almost feel the cold wind blowing all around me. Once more I can hear the bear growl as clearly as I did when we were walking. With great relief I realize that I am in my bed in my cabin in the new land that we farm. I realize I am safe in this cabin. Knobowtee and I adapted an orphan boy and girl whose parents had died on the trail. The four of us are a family. Knobowtee and I act as mother and father to them. Maybe one day we can act again as husband and wife. I sit on the steps to our cabin and I can hear the voices of the spirits all around me. I know my father, mother and even baby whisper their words to the wind for me to hear. All around are the voices of the spirits. One has only to listen. The memory of the trial is one I will always carry with me. I will tell all the generations to come of the journey we made. My memory will become theirs so that the people who died on the trail will not really be gone. They will live on forever in the memories of the people that listen to my tale.



Home | Curricular Program | Thematic Content
Classroom Resources | Community Projects | Who We Are


© 2000-2001KCAC
No materials on this website should be copied or distributed
(except for classroom use) without written permissions from KCAC.
Questions? Comments? Contact KSU webmaster Jim Cope.


a project funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Discover more
about the works
of Diane Glancy.