Hello, I will say right off that I am not a member of the Eastern Band, but I do know a little about local history. Your Guest Commentary writer (commentary entitled “Observations and Random Thoughts” in the July 30 issue), William Ledford, is a member but seems unaware that if he has ties to the Eastern Band he probably had ancestors who fought for the Confederacy under William Holland Thomas as part of Thomas’ Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers. Just about every able-bodied Cherokee man served in that unit. The flag from Thomas’ Legion is on display in the Museum of the Cherokee Indian today, and it looks an awful lot like the Confederate Battle Flag.
I am not aware of very many, if any, of the Eastern Band of Cherokee owning slaves in 1860. So why did they follow a white man into a war clearly not their own? Were they fighting and dying just to free the black race or might there have been other reasons that compelled these men to arms?
I am proud of these Confederate Cherokee and the Mountaineers. I would hope the Cherokee of the Eastern Band would be as well. They do not deserve to be forgotten or overlooked.
Carolyn Rice Nohria