Today we are pleased to present Dennis Tarsut as our guest poster on the topic of the Paranormal/Supernatural. Dennis is the senior account executive at a major medical supply company in Dallas, Texas. He graduated from the University of Arkansas - Little Rock in 1989. A 50-year-old father of two daughters, ages 24 and 21, he will become a grandfather for the first time in December of this year. An accomplished golfer, Dennis travels all over the country to play at the various golf courses, including the Augusta National Golf Club (The Masters). Dennis and his wife participate in rescues of dogs and cats at local animal shelters in Dallas in their free time.
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The election of Andrew Jackson in 1828, brought forth long-held desires for the lands of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw and Seminole Indians came to a head with the federal Indian Removal Act of 1830. This act allowed the forcible removal of the five tribes to new lands in the Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma). All five tribes passed through Arkansas, and many of the territory's most prominent figures made substantial fortunes from removal. It was one of the most sickening and shameful episodes in U.S. history as the U.S. federal government literally made old men, women and children go on a forced march from their sacred lands. The Native Americans had lived on this land for centuries. When given no choice, tribal leaders saw that the very survival of their tribes was in mortal danger of becoming extinct. Many of these Native Americans died on the long, arduous journey. Living in North Little Rock, I was able to venture to one of the routes taken by these people. There is a simple monument to commemorate this rape and humiliation of these Native Americans. Now, the Choctaw tribe was the first to agree to the removal treaty. It is that tribe for which this story is about. It may seem farfetched to believe. But, I have seen it with my own two eyes.
After signing the removal treaty, the Choctaw tribe began their journey to land which would be "their land into perpetuity" as they were told. The journey began in what is now called West Memphis. After arriving in North Little Rock, as the legend goes, several elders thought they should spend the night to rest. It had been harder on the Choctaw tribe than originally thought. Federal troops had their orders. They had to have this tribe on "their land" at a certain date or they would have some explaining to do. The legend continues that 14 Choctaw decided they had had enough. So, an escape was planned that night. Eight women, five men, and one child were going to make a run to a destination of where no one really knows. But, they had all they wanted of the forced march. They made their escape under a moonlit night. But, they soon found themselves surrounded on a small hill. The circumstances are not clear of what exactly happened. But, a shot was fired and then the troops fired on all 14, killing all 14 Native Americans. As it turned out, all 14 were unarmed except for one woman who had a skinning knife. Not long afterward, sightings of apparitions around the hill were reported by locals. It became known as "Slaughter Hill."
When I was a small boy, I lived about 5 miles from the purported "Slaughter Hill." There had been sightings and sounds coming from this area for over a century. But, I had never seen anything unusual for the entire 14 years of my life while living in this area. I had spent several nights camped near (no one is willing to actually camp on the hill itself) Slaughter Hill. Again, I had never heard or saw anything out of the norm camping near the hill. Two weeks after my 14th birthday, in June of 1980, we again decided to camp out near Slaughter Hill. It was myself, two of my best friends, Doug and Matt, and my little brother, Gerald, age 11. Gerald didn't really want to go. But, my dad insisted he get out of the house and camp out with his big brother. To be honest, I didn't want Gerald to go either. But, I accepted my fate with him tagging along.
We got to the site about 6PM that June night. It was hot, muggy and the mosquitoes were about to carry us off unless we started up the camp fire real quick. We had two tents with mosquito netting. That helped out a lot. We had ice, soft drinks, slim jims, chips and P&J sandwiches which we wolfed down in record time. We were camped about 20-25 feet from the actual Slaughter Hill. That was closer than we normally would camp. I was about to bring that to the attention of the guys when we heard a noise come from the direction of the hill. This was around 8PM as I recall. Matt said it sounded like a moan. He thought it came from us. But, I knew it had not. It came from the direction of the hill. We all were discussing this when we heard a subtle, but clear audible "cough." This time, we all knew it did not come from our group of four. It came from the hill itself.
We all four stood up to look at the hill this time. There was certainly some activity around the very top of the hill itself. Fog had started to move in this area. The fog was not dense. But, it was enough to send the shivers up your spine. Suddenly, and without any warning, we heard a woman SCREAM!!! We looked around in astonishment! We could see nothing except a small swirling of the fog at the top of Slaughter Hill. Then we heard voices. We only knew what was being said was not English. Matt, who has always said he was part Seminole, said it was a Native American dialect, possibly Cherokee or Choctaw. But, he did not fully understand the words. We then saw what has stuck with me for the past thirty-six years. We saw blurry, human forms began to take shape at the top of the hill where the fog had been swirling just a few moments ago. Gerald started crying and said he wanted to go home. But, myself, Matt and Doug were simply too awestruck to even move. The forms slowly took shape in the form of people, five Native American men, eight Native American women, and one Native American child, approximately 8 years old. They had solidified, they were moving as a group closer together. I could see the fear on their faces. They were not three-dimensional. The closest I could describe them was what you see from an old photo negative. You know how people's skin is dark, their hair is white, their eyes are white-grayish? That is how they looked, like a super large photo negative. They were all fearful of something and two women pointed out in a direction of something that brought terror to her and the other members of the party. Screams, shouts, arms were flailing at whatever terror they saw. Then as the voices reached a crescendo, the expected sound of gunfire broke out. The first to drop down was what appeared to be an old Native American woman. Then one after another, with screams and shouts of anger, all fell down. Just as it had suddenly begun, it ended with crickets (which had gone strangely quiet) chirping, and the ever-present mosquitoes biting us again. The scene before us had slowly disappeared. I couldn't help but think how many times had this scene taken place over the years with no one present. I'll never know, of course.
We all just stood there and looked at what we had just witnessed. I don't know how long we looked at the top of Slaughter Hill. Perhaps as much as five minutes before someone spoke. It was Doug wanting to gather up our tents and equipment and walk the five miles home. Our parents would have been upset had we left and walked home. So, after some convincing, we all stayed put for the night. No further incidents took place. But, to say we slept afterward would be incorrect. None of us could sleep. I stayed up, looking at the horrible scene we had witnessed. I thought I heard more groans and gasps that night. But, I did not mention it to any of the guys. What we had witnessed was something that had happened almost two centuries prior. Innocent people were slaughtered for no reason other than that they wanted to return to their sacred lands. I was filled with anguish for the rest of the night.
It was some time before I told my parents about what we saw that night. My mother said we must have been dreaming. I regretted telling them, especially since we were told we could not go back if we were going to scare them with such horrific tales of ghostly figures. We did go back the next summer and for summers after that. But, outside of a few groans, moans and audible coughs, we saw nothing else at Slaughter Hill. As I enter mid-life, I think back on that night. I think about a people who wanted nothing more than to be left alone to live their lives in peace and tranquility. The treatment of the Native Americans is a sin that our government has yet to fully come to terms with as of this date. They are still relegated to living on reservations, alcoholism is a problem among them all there and the mistreatment of the only true Americans continues to this day.
People still say the Legend of Slaughter Hill is just that, a legend. But, it's not a legend to me, Gerald, Doug or Matt. To us, it is all too real and will remain so, at least with this writer, until the day he dies.
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