Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stalking Turkey

Oconostata, from the official seal of the
Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

Happy Thanksgiving! Speaking of pilgrims, Indians and turkey, have you ever seen the Indian in the official seal of Nashville and Davidson County?

The official seal - reproduced in its entirety in the official city/county flag - features Chief Oconostota, a Cherokee "king" also known as Stalking Turkey.

And even though the seal was designed less than a half century ago, it contains elements of the seal used by the city much earlier in its history. As a result, no one knows why Chief Oconostota is featured in the seal, much less why he is holding a skull. Or even if that is really him.

Here's the leading theory, courtesy of the Friends of Metro Archives:
The brave is the symbol of America and is holding a skull and his implements of war which he and the great white father, Gen. James Robertson, buried between them at the ceremony of peace.

The tobacco is the Indian's gift to the white man and the source of wealth and cultivation of our land. The eagle, only bird that neither flees nor fights a storm, but flies above it, symbolizes superiority, judgment and strength in the face of danger.
Leaves you wondering, though, doesn't it? Like something is still unexplained.

Has Betsy Phillips written a ghost story about this yet?
The official seal of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

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