In 1838, the U.S. Government relocated thousands of Cherokee people from their homeland in the southeastern U.S. west to the newly designated Indian Territory. During this brutal removal to present-day Oklahoma one-third of the evacuees died. Cherokee actress DeLanna Studi has retraced this journey along the infamous Trail of Tears and documented it in her one-person show, And So We Walked, which she brings to the Lensic Center in Santa Fe on May 23.
"My father mentioned that he had spoken to one of his great-grandmothers when he was a little boy. She was on the Trail, and all she said was that she remembered so much death." DeLanna located which part of the Trail her ancestors were on, "and then my father and I retraced the northern route of the Trail of Tears." That journey took six weeks and covered 990 miles.
In this longer version of the conversation, DeLanna explains why she asked her father, Thomas Studie, to come along with her on the Trail. "He's technically a full-blood, he's an elder, he's an old speaker -- he would bring the status, the credibility and the knowledge that I lack. And we're opening up some wounds because we're going back and experiencing everything our family lost. I really wanted my father with me."