For Te-Lah-NayFriday, June 09, 2006
Av and I visited Tom Hendrix, who has built the largest monument to a Native American woman, which is also the largest monument to any woman in the United States. It's also the largest unmortared stone wall here.
Tom lives in Lauderdale County, Alabama, and was moved to build the wall in honor of his Yuchi (Euchee) great-great grandmother, Te-lah-nay, who was forcibly removed from this area of Alabama in the 1830s to be sent to the Indian Nations in Oklahoma. She later walked all the way back from Oklahoma to Alabama. She is the only person known to have successfully returned home.
Tom tells the story of his grandmother in If the Legends Fade. The book is sold from his home (also on the web and through mail-order) but not in bookstores because *all* the money from it goes to Oklahoma, where Yuchi girls are learning their native language - and these girls will also be sent to college with help from the funds. There are only a handful of people right now that know Yuchi language, so it is vitally important that it be passed down.
The book is really enjoyable, and I think would be a great story to read to children especially. It can be ordered from Tom here.
Here are some pictures from our visit...
A section of the wall - Tom's been building the wall for about seventeen years now:
Tom has rocks from every state and over 120 countries built into the wall.
Just to give an idea of how long the wall is, I made two movies - one is the part of the wall signifying Te-lah-nay's walk to Oklahoma, and the other, which begins on the other side of Tom's driveway, represents her walk home to Alabama.
This is Tom. He is someone who is *so* genuine. Someone you want to know and get to be friends with:
This is the prayer circle that he built. People are invited to come and just spend time in the prayer circle if they like.
When we left, Tom offered for us to take a couple of small stones as a remembrance:
Tom's philosophy is that anyone who should find this place, will. I won't put directions to it (we found it on our own, too), but visitors can get more information from Tom's website, here.