A historical marker on the court house lawn at Bryson City, NC reads:
“Tsali, Cherokee brave, surrendered to General Scott to be shot near here, 1838, that remnant of tribe might remain in N.C.”
The thrilling story of Tsali highlights “Unto These Hills,” America’s most popular outdoor drama. In 1838, 17,000 Cherokee Indians were forced by General Winfield Scott to struggle on foot from Western North Carolina to Oklahoma. More than 4,000 died on that terrible “Trail of Tears.” Some 1,000 Cherokees, however, had hidden in the Great Smokey Mountains.
In the conflict before that cruel removal, Tsali’s wife had been murdered by a drunken United States soldier. As a result, Tsali and some of his family killed the soldier. To avoid capture they escaped into the depth’s of America’s largest forest.
General Scott made a proposal which was carried to Tsali by a trusted friend.
It stated that if Tsali and those involved in the soldier’s death would surrender to be shot, the remainder of the tribe could stay in the beautiful land of their birth.
After days of anguish, Tsali with his kinsmen walked unescorted into Bushnell to face certain death. What brought him? White soldiers could never have found him in his cave near Clingman’s Dome. Despite a burning desire to live, his love for his people brought him there to die. The rifles rang out – three brave Indians died. A thousand Cherokees were free to remain in the great Smokies. Tsali’s love and sacrifice for the sake of his tribesmen is unsurpassed in American Indian history. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
Just like the Cherokees of 1838, each of us face a huge problem.
We are told many times in the Bible that God is holy. We, however, have all disobeyed God. We have all sinned. (Romans 3:23). The great question is, “how can a sinful man face a Holy God?” How can we escape hell and reach heaven?
God, in His wonderful grace, has provided a way. He commands all men everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30). This involves changing our minds about sin, turning from our evil ways and receiving God’s forgiveness. All through the Old Testament, animals such as bulls, lambs, and goats were offered as a sacrifice for sinner man. They all picture (as does Tsali) a substitute dying for the benefit of someone else. Tsali, in love for his suffering people, willingly offered himself as a sacrifice. Likewise, Christ in love for us poor guilty sinners, gave Himself as our substitute and sacrifice, and willingly died for us. This was prophesied many times in the Old Testament. For example, in Isaiah 53 we have many details of one who was to be “wounded for our transgressions.” The New Testament confirms this truth in numerous places. “Christ…suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us unto God.” (I Peter 3:18). Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures (Old Testament prophecies), He was buried and rose again on the third day, according to the scriptures. (I Corinthians 15:3,4).
By dying for us, Christ provided the way of deliverance from a worse fate than the terrible Trail of Tears.
Hell is described as an eternal lake of fire where there is continual weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Our Lord made provisions for an eternal home far more beautiful than the Great Smokey Mountains. He invites us to turn from our sins and trust (receive, believe, have faith in) Him. If we do this, God forgives our sins and receives us as children into His holy family. (John 1:12).
Dear Friend, will you respond to this wonderful invitation, receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, and meet me in heaven some day?
This tract was written by Clayton Davis of Maggie Valley, NC, under the title, “Tsali, An Illustration Of The Gospel.”