Monday, May 26, 2008

Indians, Night Riders and a Lake

It's Reelfoot Lake, northwest corner of Tennessee. It was formed early
1800's by earthquake I've been told. I wasn't around so I take the word of others on that. The lake is about 13,000 acres and has its share of lore.

There is a "doomed lovers" legend about two Indians and the earthquake being the wrath of the Great Spirit. And there were very real men in hoods doing violence in the early 1900's when the lake was temporarily in private hands. Both of those things make sense to me.

A legend about Indians constructed by white folks would endure, especially if it sounds suspiciously like "The Iliad." And what kid doesn't want to hear a story about Indians, for goodness' sakes?
The same logic applies to the Night Riders of the early 20th century too. They took the lake as community property, and the fish in it were part of diets around there for generations. All of a sudden someone flashes a piece of paper that they own the lake, so no fishing. Of course there was going to be violence.

Nowadays the Night Riders are gone. The Indians are gone too, though many of the locals would likely boast of being one-sixteenth something on Momma's side. There aren't many good paying jobs in the area, people struggle to get by. I guess in that region they always have, regardless of century or skin color. But the people are still there and the lake is still there.

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