From the First Rising Sun: The Real First Part of the Prehistory of the Cherokee People and Nation According to Oral Traditions, Legends, and Myths

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AuthorHouse, Aug 10, 2011 - Social Science - 416 pages
While in medical school (which I did not have the privilege of completing), once a week we had a small group discussion class called Focus On Problems. Each group had a leader, a member of the medical school staff or someone closely associated with the school, usually an MD or Ph.D. Our group leader was Dean of the Medical School, H. David Wilson, MD. One class period focused on working with patients of different ethnic backgrounds. Dr. Wilson asked me what were some of the traditions of my tribe in regard to medicine that would be helpful for a doctor to know. My reply was that I had been raised like a white, that I had grown up learning about various herbal and natural remedies, but that I knew nothing about the specific medical traditions, ceremonial or secular, of my people.I had always longed to know of the traditions of my people before that, but circumstances of my family history had not allowed it. That question in the Focus On Problems class caused that longing to intensify into a sharp pang of longing that would not be satisfied until many years later. While in the first two years of medical school as a nontraditional student, I was in an environment that encouraged the development of the knowledge of Native American traditions. We had Native American speakers that came and elaborated on Native American traditions. One area that was lacking was tribal histories, but what academics label prehistory. I commented to her that when white man came, they did all they could to destroy our social and religious fabric, so the old traditions were not passed down to most of the remaining members of the tribes. Now we know nothing of our old history. There is nothing left. The white side of my family history is easy to know, but not my Cherokee and Choctaw side. She replied by saying that, yes, many of our peoples have lost their old traditions, and it is sad.

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About the author (2011)

Charla Jean Morris was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma just across the line out of the Cherokee Nation in Creek Nation in 1950. She came to life in the old Brick Muskogee General Hospital, a stout brick building that succumbed to termites and was torn down a few years ago. The building was just a few blocks from her first childhood home on K Street of that town. It was only two or three blocks, as the bird flies, from Spaulding City Park, where the citizens swam in a spring fed pool bordered with cypress trees all around the continuous stone step accesses to the pool until a cement pool as built across the street in the largest area of the park. The thing that impressed her about that old spring fed pool, now relegated to pond status, was that there was, and still is, an exact scaled down copy of Miss Liberty, our nation’s Statue of Liberty, in the middle of the shallow end. Her dad had joined the National Guard before she was born, but was allowed to come home at her birth. It wasn’t long until his Unit was drafted by the president for the Korean War of M.A.S.H. fame. While he was training as a radio man, including operation and repair, the family moved to Augusta, Georgia. When he was shipped off overseas, she and her mother moved back from Georgia into a duplex a few blocks down K Street from her Grandma Coodey’s house. When her dad came back, they moved forty miles to Tahlequah, where her dad completed his B.A. in Physics with a minor in English. They moved to various towns in Oklahoma while her dad taught in Adair public schools. Their residences included a country home east of Pryor, a house in Vinita, a house in Adair, and then a house west of Adair. While living there, her dad was asked to go teach for a church academy in Nebraska. There they lived in a rural setting on campus near Shelton, Nebraska. Next they moved to Las Vegas, New Mexico, where her dad finished his Masters in Math and Science. They had spent a summer before that in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and another summer in Emporia, Kansas, due to National Science Foundation Grants that allowed him to start on his Masters. The National Science Foundation also provided a grant for him to finish his Masters at Las Vegas. After that it was off to Roswell (yea, THE famous Roswell) New Mexico, where her dad taught math first in junior high and then in high school. All these moves are mentioned because during that time, no matter where they were at, her dad and mom made sure that all the children became close to nature, the Creator’s second Bible, the one thing that white schools could not train out of them from their Cherokee heritage. She learned some tiny bits of Cherokee culture at yearly family reunions. Other than that there was a great void in her personal knowledge of Cherokee culture. In Junior High in Roswell, she learned how to write in 9th grade journalism class. She was having difficulty getting things down on paper, and the teacher, Charlotte King, asked Jean to tell the story to her verbally. After listening to that, she suggested, “Write it like you just told it.” That suggestion started her first good ventures into writing. After that the privilege of becoming News Editor and then Assistant Editor of that school paper, the Sierra Eagle, came her way. After starting to attend Ozark Academy in Gentry, Arkansas, Assistant Editor was her job on the Mountain Echo the first year. The next two years, the job of Editor-in-Chief was passed to her. During the summers back home, several articles were written for the Southwestern Union Record, the voice of the Southwestern Union Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists. While at Gentry, her guidance counselor asked her, “Have you considered a career as a writer?” Replying yes, she added that her main goal for the future was to become an M.D. He dropped the subject then. Years later, after having her children, and then pursuing her medical goals as a non-traditional student to obtain an M.D., she was stymied by developing COPD due to years of having undiagnosed asthma, never having used tobacco products at all. After realizing that it would take years for her blood oxygen to return to normal, if ever, she once again picked up her pen to use for something besides churning out school assignments. Additional background is given in the book’s Introduction.

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