While attending an educational event at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Vonore, TN, a tourist asked, “Where is Indian Country?” A re-enactor expertly portraying Cherokee Emissary Capt. Henry Timberlake quipped, “Madame, you are standing in it.”
The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum is situated several miles from the former Cherokee villages of Tanasi and Chota. The museum is also a nearby neighbor of the Fort Loudoun State Historic Area, which boasts excellent living history events in its reconstructed fort.
The original fort, built in 1756 during the French and Indian War, was to protect Cherokee allies and to counter French influence in the area. Four years later, the British garrison surrendered to the Cherokee after a series of misunderstandings and violence.
This riveting story is the subject of a new documentary from Nolichucky Pictures, a Knoxville based creative cinematic media company who also produced the award-winning documentary The Mysterious Lost State of Franklin. [Disclaimer: Nolichucky Pictures owns KnoxZine.com.]
Fort Loudoun: Forsaken By God and Man will be broadcast live on East Tennessee PBS on Tuesday, August 6, at 8:00 pm. In addition to the half-hour film, a special feature about the archaeology of Fort Loudoun and the former Cherokee Overhill will be shown, along with a short film about the period attire and accoutrements presented by the historian portraying Attakullakulla, a famous Cherokee diplomat.
This documentary is the first time Attakullakulla and his rival, The Great Warrior, Oconostota have been prominently featured in a film. Historian and re-enactor Fielding Freed says he participated in this film because, “I wanted to do my part in preserving the Colonial history of both Tennessee and South Carolina. I also feel strongly that the Native American history of the era is poorly understood by most Americans, and any film that sheds light on Cherokee History is of great personal interest.”
The film is supported by two educational consultants and five renowned Cherokee history and British military history scholars, including Dr. Julie Reed, who is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and an Associate Professor of Native American Studies at the University of Tennessee.
The large cast consists of volunteer French and Indian War re-enactors from Tennessee and 10 other states. The majority of the cast members are regulars at living history events at Fort Loudoun. Several families participated, including many teenagers who have been re-enacting together since they were small children. A newcomer to the re-enacting scene, and a nearby Fort Loudoun neighbor, is Arabella Sarver, who appears in the film during the surrender and massacre scenes. Sarver’s mother, Tammy, says she and her husband, “wanted to give Arabella a unique and special experience, and for her to see the history she has heard about for the past seven years come to life.”
Funding for this film was made possible by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, a generous donation from the Fort Loudoun Association, and contributions from individuals. East Tennessee PBS has a three year agreement to broadcast Fort Loudoun: Forsaken By God and Man. An encore presentation of the film’s live broadcast will occur on Monday, August 12 at 9:30 pm.
Visit Fort Loudoun State Historic Area on Saturday, August 10 and Sunday, August 11, for its 1760: Cherokee Victory event. This exciting event is free to the public. Vonore, TN, is approximately one hour from Knoxville.
Cover image by Charlie Rhodamer.
© Debra Dylan, 2013.