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Prayer We Will Give . . . and often

It was April 2010. I was homeless and living in the Western North Carolina Mountains. A couple had invited me to camp out inside their unoccupied vacation cabin in the Tuskeegee community near Fontana Lake.  Tuskeegee is in Graham County, North Carolina.  Graham is a breathtakingly beautiful place, completely walled in by some of the Eastern United State’s highest mountains.  Its county seat, Robbinsville, is closer to seven other state capitals than it is to Raleigh, North Carolina’s capital. After moving from a tent in the Nantahala Mountains into the cabin on the side of a small mountain, my immediate question was, “What is the name of one of the principal tribal towns of the Creek Confederacy doing in the Great Smoky Mountains?”  The Tuskeegee town site was in short walking distance from the cabin.  Its Cherokee name was Taskegi.1 The original Creek version of the name was Tvskeke. The remnants of some mounds are visible. Its invisible inhabitants evidently were delighted to have a kinsman and his herd dogs visit them. The dogs appeared to be playing with children at the town site, but I couldn’t see anything.  Most people in Graham County didn’t like going there because they said that it was haunted by unfriendly Indian spirits, especially at night. Locals would just smile sympathetically to the crazy, homeless man, when he told them that Tuskeegee was the Anglicization of the Creek word, Tvskeke, which means, “Piliated Woodpecker People.”   They knew for a fact that it was a Cherokee word.  Folks had just forgotten what it meant.  If this fellow was so smart, how come he was...

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