Walking the Trail: One Man's Journey along the Cherokee Trail of Tears

Overview

One fall morning Jerry Ellis donned a backpack and began a long, lonely walk: retracing the Cherokee Trail of Tears, the nine hundred miles his ancestors had walked in 1838. The trail was the agonizing path of exile the Cherokees had been forced to take when they were torn from their southeastern homeland and relocated to Indian Territory. Following in their footsteps, Ellis traveled through small southern towns, along winding roads, and amid quiet forests, encountering a memorable array of people who live along ...
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Overview

One fall morning Jerry Ellis donned a backpack and began a long, lonely walk: retracing the Cherokee Trail of Tears, the nine hundred miles his ancestors had walked in 1838. The trail was the agonizing path of exile the Cherokees had been forced to take when they were torn from their southeastern homeland and relocated to Indian Territory. Following in their footsteps, Ellis traveled through small southern towns, along winding roads, and amid quiet forests, encountering a memorable array of people who live along the trail today. Along the way he also came to glimpse the pain his ancestors endured and to learn about the true beauty of modern rural life and the worth of a man's character.

A moving account of one man's spiritual journey along the Cherokee Trail of Tears. Initially searching for his Native American roots, Ellis discovered on the way an even deeper desire to understand the human condition. For over two months, he walked some 900 miles along lonely roads, through small towns, and among strangers.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
Many people have heard the phrase "trail of tears" without realizing what it refers to. It is an apt description of the path of those peaceful Cherokee who were forced to leave their farms in Georgia and march on a trail of death to what is now Oklahoma. Their journey has haunted American history, moving those who hear of it to more tears. It is something that permeates the memory of all the ancestors of those who survived. Jerry Ellis, of Cherokee ancestry, wished to honor those ancestors by reversing their travels from Oklahoma to Georgia (and finally to his rural home in northern Alabama). His goal was to walk and camp the whole way, taking in the land and the people as he went. Walking the Trail is not a diary exactly, nor history (although history is scattered along the way). It is more of a meditative catharsis. It is low key, yet heartfelt. "Or is he trying to tell me something else? I've been in Tahlequah only four days, but already time and space are taking on new dimensions. I was zapped by a child practicing sorcery. I was the house guest of an anthropologist whose past girlfriend could become an owl... Definitely not short on intrigue, I push down on the Trail and Tahlequah disappears around the bend" (p. 42). For those with an interest in the subject or those who enjoy personal, intimate travel memoirs, this would be a nice choice. For public and academic libraries. Category: Travels. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1991, Univ. of Nebraska, Bison Books, 256p. map., Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Katherine E. Gillen; Libn., Luke AFB Lib., AZ
Los Angeles Times

"Jerry Ellis is an ideal companion for a long ramble along the back roads of America. . . . He introduces us to a collection of characters—some of them welcoming, some of them weird—that are too vivid for mere fiction."—Los Angeles Times
Denver Post

"Ellis, like his Cherokee ancestors, treasures a good story. He writes lucidly, simply, about the people he met and the stories he was told. . . . He walked to discover himself and his ancestors; he came back with stories and with his own lessons."—Denver Post
Tony Hillerman

"Come along on the trail with Jerry Ellis. You'll love every step of it."—Tony Hillerman
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560546429
  • Publisher: Macmillan Library Reference
  • Publication date: 4/1/1993
  • Pages: 353

Meet the Author


Jerry Ellis is the author of Bareback! One Man's Journey along the Pony Express Trail, and Marching through Georgia: My Walk with Sherman.
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2010

    One of the worst books I've ever read.

    Although the author speaks about spiritual enlightenment and wanting to write this book to honor and bring attention to his ancestors who suffered and died on the Trail of Tears, he spends little time talking about his ancestor's suffering and more time talking about the women he is lusting after and what he'd like to do to them. To me he just comes off as having one thing in mind...his own physical and emotional needs as he journeys along. This book was a big waste of time. If you want to read about the Trail of Tears and the inhumane suffering the Cherokee experienced on that walk, there are much better books out there on the subject.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2007

    This is AWESOME

    I have wanted to walk the trail all my life, and this book 'Walking the trail' has touched me deeper than most other people I guess. If you are Cherokee or love things Native American, you should definitely READ THIS BOOK!!!! IT IS AN AWESOME READ!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2007

    Adventure Plus Soul Equals Outstanding Read

    Much the past decade has been written about the Cherokee Trail of Tears but Walking the Trail stands alone in its excellence as the author WALKS the 900 mile route and was the first person in modern history to do so. In revealing his Cherokee soul he also sheds light on all of mankind. The book is alive with surprizes, adventure, romance, Cherokee history, myth and traditions. I found it very inspirational and have passed on copies to my sons and daughters. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2006

    Previous reviews are over-rated

    After reading the reviews I thought this was going to be a great find. But the book is a dissapointment as nothing ever really happens. The author speaks of spiritual enlightenment but seems to spend more time oggling young women and talking of how he would like to sleep with them. It's basically a boring daily journal about a lonely guy's trip. Not many facts about the actual Trail of Tears or the suffering they bore. Barely finished it due to lack of interest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2006

    Walk this Trail of Adventure

    Far more than just a 900 mile walk, this journey is a heart-pounding look at the world of the Cherokee seen through the insighftul eyes of a Cherokee author. You come away from the end of the book, wanting it to continue. The author seems to become your closest friend, his mind and soul always open to let you enter into another world--one that empowers you and draws you closer to your deeper self.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2005

    Medicine For the Soul

    If you know anyone who is going through a hard time, needs an adventure, inspiration and is interested in Native Americans, this wonderful book is for them. Can't recommend it enough!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2005

    This Book is Soul Medicine

    If you know anyone who is going through a hard time, by all means give this book. It feeds the soul and mind. Truly inspiring. I both cried and laughed and felt like I was right there with the author all 900 miles on his walk.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2004

    Made My Soul Soar!

    Following this modern day Cherokee on his 900 mile walk along the Trail of Tears troubled me at first because of the US Army's involvement in something so cruel to move 18,000 Indians from their homes in the heart of winter. But as the author hiked the Trail, slept in woods and fields and met so many loving strangers along this infamous route my heart and soul began to soar. It was also refreshing to learn so much Cherokee mythology and lore as well as history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2003

    Book Lover now

    I am not a reader by nature but when I started reading this book I could not put it down. while reading I felt as thou I was walking with him. I am looking forward to reading more of his books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2003

    Walking the Trail: One Man's Journey along the Cherokee Trail of Tears

    My brother gave me a copy of this book for Christmas. By the time I reached the last page, my feet were sore but my heart was soaring after following the Cherokee author on his 900 mile quest. The book is woven with Native American history, fun adventure and frigthening encounters along the back roads of America. Above all, it is an inspirational book. I've passed it on to my son to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2003

    Walking the Trail: One Man's Journey along the Cherokee Trail of Tears

    I was required to read this book for my high school English class and really dreaded it because I don't like to read. But this turned out to be one great ride as I followed the writer on his long walk home along the Cherokee Trail of Tears. The history of the Cherokee removal got to me but it was the sense of excitement about being alive that really held my attention. The author was more than cool, he was brutally honest and that's hard to find. My girl friend read it too and we stayed up past midnight discussing it. She read aloud a section and then I'd do the same. Check it out and take a walk on the wild side.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2002

    Walking the Trail: One Man's Journey along the Cherokee Trail of Tears

    A friend gave me a copy of this book last Christmas and I put it aside because I thought reading of the Cherokee tragedy would upset me too much to enjoy the read. Then last week when it snowed and I couldn't go to work, I pulled it from the shelves and sat by the fire. The first page won me as Ellis confessed his fear, walking in a thunderstorm along the Trail of Tears. By the end of the book, filled with startling history and personal discovery, I had laughed and cried. This inspirationl and enlightening read is highly recommended. It's the second best book I ever read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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