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Amazing Grace as the Cherokee National Anthem

Not long after the first publication of Amazing Grace with the New Britain melody, the relocation of the Cherokee peoples from the Southeastern U.S. to present-day Oklahoma occured. In what is now infamous known as “The Trail of Tears”, most of the Cherokee population was forcibly removed from May 1838 to March 1839. From Cherokee Sunset by Samuel Carter III ([Carter 1976]):

Then … there came the reign of terror. From the jagged-walled stockades the troops fanned out across the Nation, invading every hamlet, every cabin, rooting out the inhabitants at bayonet point. The Cherokees hardly had time to realize what was happening as they were prodded like so many sheep toward the concentration camps, threatened with knives and pistols, beaten with rifle butts if they resisted.

Many perished on the difficult journey, but because of poor conditions, the Cherokee were not always able to give their dead a full burial. Instead, the singing of Amazing Grace had to suffice. Since then, Amazing Grace is often considered the “Cherokee National Anthem”.

Here is a vocal duet sung in the Cherokee language. It is from a CD of Gospel music that was given away to visitors during the 2000 Cherokee National Holiday, and is available on the Cherokee National official web site. I have no information on the singers … please contact me if you have more information on this recording:

Cherokee-language vocal duet

Cherokee-language vocal duet.

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