“…The Anglo-Saxon race should build a towering monument to this woman who died a martyr to childhood and who lies buried in an unmarked grave far from her Native home….I can truthfully say that neither my rifle or my knife are stained with Cherokee blood…. However, murder is murder whether committed by the villain skulking in the dark or by uniformed men stepping to strains of martial music. Murder is murder and somebody must answer, somebody must explain the streams of blood that flowed in the Indian country in the summer of 1838. Somebody must explain the four thousand silent graves that mark the trail of the Cherokees in their exile. I wish I could forget it all but the picture of six hundred and forty-five wagons lumbering over the frozen ground with their cargo of human suffering still lingers in my memory….”
- Lieutenant John G. Burnett, December 11, 1890
My mother and I found Mama Loach’s unmarked grave at dusk. The result of this discovery is Unmarked Grave - a fiction that marks the grave of my Cherokee great-grandmother, Madge Watts. As my great-grandmother’s descendant, I have given voice to a woman who endured the terrors that went with the territory of her mixed marriage to my great-grandfather and the
tragedy that befell her family subsequent to his death in The Great Flu Epidemic….Into her complex weave of memory, I have also responded, as an Anglo-Saxon, to an old soldier’s request with a very belated act of remembrance. Lieutenant John Burnett assisted in the Removal of the Cherokees to the West in 1838. In his eye-witness account of the trail of tears journey he recalls “the 4,000 graves that marked the trail of the Cherokees in their exile,” and recounts the actions of a Cherokee woman, Mrs. Ross, who died enroute. “Her uncoffined body” he says, lies far from her Native home. The lieutenant tells his family on his birthday in December, 1890, that “the Anglo-Saxon race should build a towering monument in remembrance” of her act of compassion. The lieutenant called on the future, and in Unmarked Grave I have made my answer.
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A Story From the Earth
I am very much enjoying reading "Giants." You are quite a splendid writer. I guess it comes as naturally as your father's arm. I have still not formulated the final approach on the film, but I would like to talk to you in the future, when the time is right, and once the film "Nixon" opens. Best wishes to your Dad.
Giants & Heroes: A Daughter’s Memories of Y.A. Tittle celebrates a modern day sports hero. Hall of Fame football quarterback, Y.A. Tittle, is the only inductee to the National Hall of Fame who never won a national championship. Dianne employs the victory songs of the Western World’s first sports writer, the lyric poet, Pindar, to set the record straight. By recreating an ancient victory song for a modern day athlete as opposed to writing a traditional celebrity memoir, Dianne is obliged to name the victor within the framework of her story, and does....
Lt. John G. Burnett was an American soldier who assisted in the removal of the Cherokee Indians to Indian territory in 1838. He recalls a snowy night on November 17, 1838, when the wife of the Cherokee chief gave her blanket to a sick child and died from exposure before dawn. In his eye witness account, he calls on the Anglo Saxon race to build a "towering monument" to her act of compassion.
In response, Dianne has created a series of figures from natural elements that recalls the Trail of Tears and serves as her "monument" for an American Hero.
"For the longest time, from ancient Greece through the Middle Ages and into modern times, writers have poured enormous quantity of ink over the subject of “Ars imitatur naturam in sua operatione,” or "art imitates nature in its own way of working." You have managed to reverse the process and made nature imitate art. I was stricken by the immediacy and intimacy of your figures, the genuine message they send. I know how important peer review is among artists and you have all my acknowledgement and recognition."
Massimo Masson, painter
"The night was a black rose at your shoulder..."
Inspired by the praise songs of the ancients who sang the praises of their gods, their heroes, and the earth, these poems are a variation on a theme.
It is said that Virtue, or Arete, has her dwelling place
above high rock cliffs hard to climb.
Yet she is not to be seen by every eye
But only by one who with sweat and determination
Climbs to the peak
I take it! The coming to stillness, the angle of Shade
I take it! The bird's throat and the sky wearing her necklace of sound
I take it! This day
And the worship left in my body
Like raindrops pooled in stone...
A visual poem of America's red rock country and verse for a relatively unknown American hero, Quattie Ross
The Arete Storybook of Myth, Hope, and Fable
This audio storybook is a book of myth and story that dignifies the right of a young person to imagine and to know the hero as that best friend of one's best thoughts.
Included in storybook are myths, fables, and stories, some of which Dianne has adapted and performed over the years to the accompaniment of the harp. Among them, a Homeric Hymn to inspire a budding environmentalist, some of the lesser known fables by Aesop that characterize racial intolerance and ignorance, and a true myth about the meeting between the legendary Heracles and Virtue, or Arete at the Crossroads.