Soul Wounds of the Cherokee

Good Friday, the Western Church and Armenia


For 20 years after 1830, American Indians were forcibly deported from the south-east of the United States to west of the Mississippi River.


(Other tribes were deported west from other parts of the eastern United States. These include the Lenni Lenape on whose land Philadelphia was built).



Among these the Cherokee depicted on that march in this painting. 1,600 of their African slaves went with them. 


The number who died is not known but is thought to hover around 4000: one quarter of the tribe. 


The trail is more than 5000 miles and covers nine states. Less than half has been designated as ‘historic’. 


It took until 2008 for the Senate of the United States to render a general apology for ‘past, ill-conceived policies’ towards Indian tribes. 


That is it. 


After the execution of these ill-conceived policies,  it was and is onwards and upwards for the majority population and all fellow travelers….somewhere over the rainbow.



Even if the colours of that North American rainbow – a rainbow which has lifted generations and generations out of poverty and misery – 


have long since begun to leach out of it into the soil of the Trail of Tears. 


Wounds of the soul visible.






This photo is from the website of the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC











Trail of Tears (Trail of Tears Series and Migrant Series), 2006, oil on four canvases with painted fabric and mixed media collage, and details. 

Benny Andrews, 1930-2006, American.

Private collection on loan to the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC in 2020





The artist built his creation from layers of painted canvas and fabric. It is part sculptural and and part painting.

  Because fabric is so familiar to us,  it is without difficulty that you imagine this awful tableau; with babies swaddled in cloth and with the animals bearing heavy loads wrapped in fabric.