(text is from a Poetry & Pictures book insert)
Cherokee Bill is an autobiographically created character from a poem I wrote in 1995. He is a "white man" with a hint of Cherokee in his family history. He is a seeker and student of nature and spiritual matters, and has respect for those Native American traditions which harmonize man, nature, and the spiritual into a wholeness which seems to elude the "white man."
The mission of Cherokee Bill is dedicated to my maternal grandmother, through whom our Cherokee lore descended. She lived a dirt poor and troubled existence. As a child I was afraid when we went to visit her, for the conditions of her life and surroundings were those which were foreboding to a middle class youngster. As a young adult I left the geographical area of my childhood, and never returned to visit. She died August 11, 1976 without ever having received the love and respect from me which she deserved as my grandmother. Without her life I would not know life.
Today, having grown spiritually, and in maturity, I see my grandmother as the child of God which she is. And though I cannot go and tell her so in this world, it is to honor her and our family heritage that I carry forward Cherokee Bill as an integral part of a touch of william.
HISTORY OF . . . Cherokee Bill's Trade Center
For the last few years I have been giving a little background, one per newsletter, on each of my DBA's. The fifth heartbeat (aspect) of a touch of william is Cherokee Bill's Trade Center (originally: Cherokee Bill's Trade Center & Counsel House*)
Many years ago I was told by my mother that my maternal grandmother had told my sister that we were part Cherokee. I was also told that my sister researched it when she was considering colleges to see if we qualified for any grants, but that we were one generation too distant. Today, nobody seems to recall any of this.
For a long time I accepted a partial Native American heritage without much thought one way or the other. I told my family, however, I thought maybe they had confused the tribes, since the Cherokee were not indigenous to the Michigan area. I suggested perhaps we were Chippewa, since they both started with CH. But, I never bothered to look into it.
From 1985, when I began my spiritual searching in earnest, through 1994, when I left my State Farm career to do what I do today, Cherokee "coincidences" seemed to crop up with some regularity. One such "coincidence" occurred when Donna and I were traveling through Missouri. I decided on a whim to stop and read a historical marker along the road we were on. It was a commemorative marker showing where the Trail of Tears had passed through that area of Missouri. That piece later played into how my name came about.
I knew that the Cherokee were a southeastern United States tribe. So, when I received a scholarship in 1995 from the Billy Graham Training Center (The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina) to attend a seminar there, I prayed to God about all the "Cherokee stuff" that had been cropping up. I offered that if I was supposed to be paying attention to this, and there were a place where I could learn about the Cherokee close to where I was going, I would stop there to see where it lead. As it turned out, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians is located 50 miles from where I was, and practically right on my way home.
That first visit to Cherokee, North Carolina was not all that impressive. It is a very touristy place. But, I did manage to find the museum, Occunaluftee Village, the Qualla Arts and Crafts co-op, and a few other things which gave me more accurate information about the Cherokee, and their (our) history. But, the Center was only just beginning at that time, so I had no idea if God's plan included any of this.
In June 1995 a chance occurrence created the name Cherokee Bill. Step by step, my Native American connection came to be a major part of a touch of william. Like all of the aspects it has changed or been adjusted frequently as I attempt to find my own way along this path. But, it has become a very joyful part of what I do. Not necessarily the historical aspects, which are more often than not, very tragic. Yet, on the whole, I enjoy both learning about and sharing the history, the heritage, the philosophies, and the creativity of the Cherokee, and other Native American tribes.
While I have never taken the time to verify the blood connection, it would likely not change much. I see Cherokee Bill as a called, God ordained, spiritual path, even if the blood of the ancestors does not dance within me.
* Counsel House was originally a part of the name as a play on words. The Council House was where Cherokee leaders gathered to govern. That part of the name was dropped however to avoid the impression that I was a licensed counselor. In 2010, I reaffirmed the primary teaching and sharing intent of CBTC by changing the legal name to Cherokee Bill's Teaching & Trade Center when the DBA (assumed name) certificate came up for renewal.