This is a true story.
When I was in college I had a VW bug. It was mostly primer and there were holes in the floorboard. I also owned a Yamaha 400 motorcycle.
I went to college at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. For those of you not in the know, Tahlequah is the capital of the Cherokee Nation. It is the end point of the Trail of Tears. So, as you can imagine there is a lot of Native American history here. The town’s street signs are written both in English and in Cherokee. And almost everybody around these parts has some Cherokee in them. My daughter is even Cherokee.
I’m not Cherokee. I’m 100 percent Scottish. I’m like the whitest person on earth.
So, one day back when I was 20 years-old, I decided to widen my horizons and go visit an old Indian cemetery. It’s where Principal Chief John Ross is buried. John Ross was chief when the Cherokee were forced to march the Trail of Tears, so he’s a pretty big deal around here.
Now, I have to tell you that a Cherokee friend did tell me not to go out to Ross Cemetery alone. He told me the spirits did not like white people walking around in their graveyard. I told him I’d be respectful.
I also took a friend with me. Her name was Diane. She was the second most whitest person in the world.
We drove my VW bug to the cemetery. I drove the Bug up a winding dirt road, through trees and past an abandoned schoolhouse. I parked my car at the top of the hill facing the graveyard and put on the emergency brake.
Diane and I walked among the graves, whispering low, being very respectful.
When we left, we walked back to where we had left the car.
It wasn’t there.
We walked around. And around. And around. I had the keys so nobody stole it. We began to walk back to town and… there it was.
It was resting peacefully at the bottom of the hill.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it rolled down the hill, easy peasy, end of story. Nope. It wasn’t even on the road. It was off in a copse of trees. It was surrounded by trees! The only way it could have rolled to where it was is if it had dodged about a dozen trees on its way down the hill.
Anyway, the car started just fine and we drove off unharmed, but spooked.
Flash forward two years. I’m telling this story to my first girlfriend, Lynn. She happens to be Cherokee and even some of her aunts and uncles lived in the area. So I decided to take her out to the cemetery because she had never been. But this time we went on my motorcycle.
I parked it at the top of the hill, this time perpendicular to the hill. We visited the cemetery. Very respectfully.
When it was time to go, my motorcycle wasn’t there.
It was at the bottom of the hill. Parked. Kickstand down. Surrounded by trees. Not a scratch on it.
I had a bad case of the heebie jeebies. Lynn took me to her aunt and uncle’s house. She told them the story. The aunt and uncle conversed back and forth in Cherokee for a while. Finally, the uncle looked at me and said, “Do not go back. The spirits have asked you to leave twice now. They will not be so friendly again.”
Suffice it to say, I’ve never been back!
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