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MAY 1, 1996



















The Cumberland River was named by Dr. Thomas Walker, after "The Duke of Cumberland" of England.

The Cumberland is 696 miles in length and drains almost 18,000 square miles in area.

It is the sixteenth longest river in the U.S.

The headwaters are marked mile 696, the mouth is mile 0.

The mouth is at Smithland Kentucky, where it empties into the Ohio River.

The headwaters are located in Harlan, Kentucky where the Poor, Martin's and Clover Forks converge.

The Barkley Canal connects the Tennessee River with the Cumberland River.

The Cumberland Falls on the upper part of the river are 60', and located in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

There are 5 dams on the river, with 5 more on it's tributaries.

Lake Cumberland is 110 miles in length. It starts at the Laurel River and ends at Wolf Creek Dam

RIVER OF LIFE  article Nashville Scene 5-8-2000

Save The Cumberland is highlighted by another webmaster named Duane Bristow. Check out his site , if you are interested in anything about Tennessee and Kentucky

Meteors of the Cumberland    River Weather   Arts & Music of the Cumberland  

 Cumberland Coalition    Cumberland Food



At the time of the French and Indian War,  it was learned that many Indian tribes from the north with their French allies had targeted the lands of Kentucky and the Cherokee Nation for total French gain. Meaning: the Chickamauga Cherokee must now decide their loyalty to either join the French or fight their advance. The French believed that the Kentucky Cherokees would join them, finding little resistance to their advance. But what the French did not realize was that bringing other tribal nations onto Cherokee Territory without a tribal agreement, would bring insult and stir the Kentucky Cherokees into defending their homelands with dire retribution. This was a mistake the French would remember for many years to come which would forever put distrust between the Kentucky Cherokee and any European who came with promises and beads.
Many Kentucky Cherokee Thunderbolt council fires concerning this threat took place with many people attending. Some of the Shawnee People who were close friends to the Cumberland River Cherokee allied themselves with the Cherokee Thunderbolts. The sacred holy fires at Ywahoo Falls, Cumberland Falls, and Eagle Falls burned with many holy council meetings of many great chiefs and great warriors and great holy people. And the decision of these councils came about to defend their Cherokee Nation first against any and all aggression, taking no sides in this white mans' war of French and English. They agreed they would fight no Frenchman or Englishman in this war but would fight anyone who raised a War Arm against the Chickamauga Cherokee Nation, whomever they may be, Indian or non- Indian.
Some allies of the south from the Choctaw, Creek, and Chickasaw nations with some friends of the river Shawnee joined with the Cherokee decision as they had also sat in these councils wondering what to do on the matter of invasion. The Thunderbolt Cherokee neighbors in McCreary county Kentucky of the Yamacraw Indian Nation also joined this decision for they attended as well. Word by runners was sent throughout the whole Cherokee Nation and its southern allies to gather all the warriors that would join and assemble along the Kentucky Cumberland River in what is now Pulaski, Wayne, and McCreary Counties in southeast Kentucky. The sacred Cherokee Thunderbolt War Hatchet calling the whole Cherokee Nation to War was sent throughout the whole Cherokee Nation, southern and Chickamaugan. The war headquarters for this huge massing of the Cherokee and its allies was to be at the northern district Cherokee commerce capital at Burnside Kentucky. Any diplomatic moves were to be counseled at "Doubleheads Cave" in Wayne County Kentucky. Its holy center was the many Falls of the Cumberland (Ywahoo, Cumberland, Eagle). As the Cherokee came from the south in other districts, many war songs and war councils echoed through out the Kentucky Cumberland River basin day and night with sacred fires burning continually. The sacred Cherokee Crystal Ark was also brought to the holy grounds of the 3 Falls and became known during this rallying as the Thunderbolt Ark of the Cherokees. Many were purified and made warriors of Great Spirit God at the sacred grounds of the 3 Falls: Ywahoo, Cumberland, and Eagle. The most sacred being Ywahoo Falls of the "Ancient Ones". But each fall area of the 3 falls had its own holiness and sacred meaning. Warriors prepared to defend their country to the last person. Many inter-tribal arrangements were decided on at Doubleheads Cave with elaborate ceremonies to bind the friendship agreements in time of need. Big celebration was seen when High Chief Moytoy himself came in aid. After all, Moytoy was the grandfather to Doubleheads wife, making this more of a personal matter to Moytoy. Moytoy became honored at Doubleheads Cave in Wayne County Kentucky.
Many "War Women" were also among the Cherokee ranks preparing to fight. One special War Leader of southeast Kentucky rallied her Thunderbolt force into a frenzied mass of power to encounter the enemy. Many songs were sung and dances performed of her prowess of determination to fight at the head of her Thunderbolts of Kentucky. Her name was She- Who-Carries-The-Sun (for her people). She was a powerful War Woman and leader who lived in southeast Kentucky but walked throughout the Cumberland Plateau. She and her warriors, male and female were of the Thunderbolt Cherokees and carried a special sign of the Thunderbolt as their markings. The painted red and white Thunderbolt of Lightning was on many of her warriors shields, armor, garments, and body. She-Who-Carries-The-Sun had many other names and titles as well but this time she adorned the title of War Woman and was allowed to wear the dressing of both the white and the red for her brightness to her people. She attended many councils of the area, including her presence at Burnside, Doubleheads Cave, and at Yahoo, Cumberland, and Eagle Falls. She was said to have given a great oration while at Yahoo Falls and drenched herself under the falling water of Yahoo Falls for her sacredness, later placing a great victory eagle feather on the Rock of the River of the Ancient Ones. She drank the black drink at Eagle Falls and sat among many high leaders in council on many matters at different locations. Deep respect and honor was highly given where ever she went. The war pole had been struck with her Thunderbolt hatchet by She-Who-Carries-The-Sun.
The Cherokee objective was now to wait and stop any enemy at the sacred grounds of the Kentucky Cumberland River. Many people from many tribes were now camped throughout all the sacred hills and valleys of Wayne, Pulaski, and McCreary Counties in a massive bond of Holy Warriors. Their nightly fires lit the sky with flames of "One" people. The smoke carried their spirits aloft in preparation of the coming battle. The Cherokee and their allies waited for the coming aggressors, white or Indian, to come into their waiting arms to feel the blow that only a Cherokee warrior could give its enemy. That only a Thunderbolt could strike its target. Among them was a young warrior called Doublehead. The War songs were sung at the council fires, the war pole had been struck by many, and the sacred Black Drink was accepted. They were ready. She-Who- Carries-The-Sun was at one of the fronts ready to strike as the lightning. Her white and red garments was said to have taken on a light of supernatural brightness.
When the battle later came the ranks of the many Cherokee warriors and their allies were lined in defense outside of the Cherokee district capital at Burnside, on both sides of the Cumberland River, with the sacred Cherokee Holy Ark in the front middle of them. Coming on and facing them were the many tribes of the north accompanied by a few Frenchmen who had swayed their invasion of Kentucky. The battle began and lasted for days up and down the Cumberland River going many a ways in every direction on both sides. Many yells and screams of its Chiefs and warriors clashing head on into each other, raw warrior against raw warrior.
She-Who-Carries-The-Sun with her Thunderbolt Cherokees fought strong through the whole ordeal, pushing their advance onward, even though her force had encountered the main body of the enemy. The enemies assault on She- Who-Carries-The-Sun was twice as strong as other fronts. Her force was outnumbered 2 to 1, but her willingness to protect her people accompanied by the bravery of her Cherokee Thunderbolt force held to the end and finally began pushing the enemy back. Some of the Frenchmen with their Indian allies was said to have run on just seeing the face of She-Who- Carries-The-Sun, others say that the Frenchmen feared the brightness of her garments. Some say that a hawk soared and screamed over her advance. Her weapons were two-fold, the ancient ball war club and the lance. Her hair was said to be long and shiny black with a length down to the back of her waist, that flowed in movement with the slightest breeze. She was known to be close kin to young Doublehead. Her beauty was also known far and wide which some say was carried over onto Doubleheads daughter Cornblossom. Her renown feature was the bronze of her skin which shone a beauty as a blazing tan, not dark nor light but bronze, which her name clearly defines : She-Who-Carries-The-Sun.
Many a bloody warrior, male, female, and children, on both sides fell those days under the ball war club, the arrow, and other instruments of Indian warfare. Sometimes a village had been entered into with many killed by the enemy. Many people died from this great holy battle of Indian against Indian on both sides, one right after the other in a river of blood and death creating a sea of exhaustion. The Cumberland River ran red that day. But in the end the Cherokee with their allies became victorious, causing any Frenchmen left with their many Indian allies to retreat all the way northward back across the Ohio River and into their own lands out of Kentucky. The battle of the Cumberland River had been fought. Their enemies vanquished and posed no threat any more. The Cherokee Thunderbolt had struck the enemy. With many Frenchmen dead, little to no recordings were made, but the story was oft times carried on by the Kentucky Cherokees.




Introduction to ‘A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf’ by John Muir (1916) - John Muir Writings

Kentucky Forests and Caves, Chapter 1 of ‘A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf’ by John Muir (1916) - John Muir Writings

Crossing the Cumberland Mountains, Chapter 2 of ‘A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf’ by John Muir (1916) - John Muir Writings

‘A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf’ by John Muir (1916) - The Writings of John Muir - John Muir Writings

‘A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf’ by John Muir (1916) - The Writings of John Muir - John Muir Writings





Cumberland River mile 175