Most people associate graffiti with vandalism; however, people have been leaving their mark in places for centuries. In western Europe’s Franco-Cantabrian region, prehistoric drawings were found in a cave. The same is true in caves in the district of Maros in Indonesia. The writings in these caves are believed to be over 40,000-years-old. Many ancient civilizations, including the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians left behind random inscriptions, which helps us to understand better what life was like back then.
Native American Inscriptions
In Alabama, researchers have been able to decipher cave markings that helped them to understand what life was like for the Cherokees 200-years-ago. The Cherokees are indigenous to the United States. Back in 1650, it is believed that 22,500 Cherokee were living over 40,000 square miles of the Appalachian Mountains. Today, this patch of
The First Records
The first records of the Cherokee came from a Spanish expedition dating back from the mid-16th century. The explorers reported that they encountered people who used stone tools such as knives, chisels, and axes. They also mentioned how
The First Cherokee Towns
Before the 18the century, Cherokee town made up of 60 houses. There was also a meeting house where residents gathered to burn sacred fires. Unfortunately, life was about the change for the Cherokee people. They were about to align themselves with the British colonists who would implement their scorched-earth policies of the 1750s. Despite the trouble that the British brought, the Cherokee continued to support them during the American Revolution from 1765 to 1783. By the 1800s, the Cherokee began to adopt some aspects of European culture. They started dressing differently, using new ways of building and adapting new farming techniques.
Sadly, the peace between the Cherokee and the British didn’t last. When prospectors discovered that there was gold on the Cherokee land, Congress passed an act in 1830 that allowed the forcible removal of the Cherokee from their homes. This started the mass displacement of the indigenous people known as the Trail of Tears.
After being forced from their homes, the Cherokee had to find a new place to settle. Many walked for thousands of miles to find a new home. Sadly, over 4,000 people died during the trip as a result of hunger, disease, and exposure. Those who survived settled in Missouri, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Georgia. They began to settle in Alabama in the 1780s. By 1800, the Cherokees had spread across farmlands in the region. They had civilization policies that encouraged the men to farm and the women to do domestic work, such as weaving. In Alabama, the Native Americans settled in Fort Payne, but back then, it was known as
Manitou Cave is located close to Fort Payne. There is a grotto that is nestled in a hillside forest, and the caverns reach 50-feet tall. There is also a Great Spirit Mountain formation that is 40-feet tall. This was a meeting place for the Cherokee people because they considered caves to be spiritual. Sadly, the Cherokee people were forced out of this area as well when it became a saltpeter mine. This was essential during the American Civil War because you need saltpeter to make gun powder. They did leave something behind. Mysterious tribal inscriptions were found deep in a cave. Now experts have deciphered their secrets.
About 20-years after the Civil War ended, Manitou Cave became a tourist attraction. It was open to the public until the early 1900s. It reopened in the ’60s, but not for long. It remained unused until 2014 when Annette Reynolds visited the site. She heard about it from relatives and wanted to check it out. She liked the peacefulness and the beauty of the caves. The caves were for sale, so she found investors to help her buy it. She wanted to save it for the cultural and historical value.
Within the cave are markings that are believed to be over 200-years-old and left by the Cherokees. The inscriptions were symbols that couldn’t be translated into phrases. The language was written by a Cherokee scholar named Sequoyah. Some of the letters were inspired by the English language so that printing presses could be used for publications. It was also a secret way for the Cherokees to communicate.
What Did They Say?
A study concluded that the markings detailed ceremonial, secluded activities of the Cherokee people living close to the cave. They also talked about the Cherokee people being under threat. Had Annette Reynolds not found the caves and the markings, we might not have this amazing information about the history of our country.