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Video: Cherokee Elder Tells of a Simpler Life, Nickel Pop, and Trekking to School

Cherokee Elder Lelah Mae Cummings didn’t start going to school until she was around 8 years old because she and her family lived so far away.
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Cherokee Elder Lelah Mae Cummings didn’t start going to school until she was around 8 years old because she and her family lived so far away. “My mom didn’t want us to walk that far,” Cummings says in a video. It wasn’t until her father purchased land closer to school that she and her siblings started attending, and then learning English as well. They spoke only Cherokee at home.

She talks about swimming, and catching crawdads in the creek, and how her mom would cook by the creek.

“When we moved closer… we had a store a few blocks away from where we lived… that was really exciting, to go in the store,” she says in the video.

How much is a can of soda or pop today? Cummings says it was maybe a nickel when she was young. “Dad would give us a quarter for the day,” she says.