…this land wasn’t just a wilderness for the taking. People already lived here. People with a very different view of this forest world. They call themselves aniyun-wiya, the real people. But to the rest of the world, they would soon be known as Cherokee. The aniyn-wiya were bound to these forests — to mountains, to plants and animals — in many ways both practical and spiritual.
We Cherokee cannot separate our place on earth from our lives in it, nor from our vision and meaning as people. We are taught that the trees and even the plants and animals that we share our place with are our brothers and sisters. So when we speak of land we do not speak of property, territory or even the piece of ground on which our houses sit and our crops are grown. We are speaking of something truly sacred.
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