(13 October 1977)
Writer: Joan Scott.
Director: Ralph Senensky.
Music: Alexander Courage.
"Most of us tend to be convinced of the rightness of our heritage, our traditions, our way of life, until some event happens that shakes our deepest beliefs to their foundations. On a day in 1939 two strangers came to our mountain. As a consequence of their visit we were to learn that others had roots there which reached deeper than our own".
Elizabeth worries about Myrtle because she is not eating her normal amount of food. As John looks over the goat, two Indians appear at the barn door. The boy introduces himself as Matthew Teskigi and his grandfather as Joseph Tekigi. The grandfather suggests the goat is suffering from bloat and recommends treating the animal with the plant golden seal. The pair needs a place to stay the night and John offers them the barn. While serving them a warm meal, Elizabeth listens to a childhood tale from Mr. Tekigi about a cup his mother made for him. Because he did not like goat’s milk his mother said if he did not drink from the cup he would remain the same size as the stick figure on the side of the cup.
The family discusses the Cherokee tribe, from which the Tekigi’s are members. The Cherokees lived all over the Appalachian Mountains but were driven west to the Oklahoma territory by white settlers. Grandfather Tekigi believes sacred burial grounds of his tribe are located somewhere nearby. He is looking for a great stone that is set on a mountainside, framed between two pine trees, and shaped like an arrow. Grandpa ponders the description and blurts out ‘Indian Rock’. The next morning, Grandpa takes the elderly Indian to the rock where the Indian believes writings will direct him to his ancestors’ place of rest. Grandfather Tekigi finds the ancient signs on the rock. Later John observes Mr. Tekigi return and announce to Grandpa and Elizabeth that he was directed to the barn by the ancient writings. Mr. Tekigi states that the barn must be torn down to purify the land. John flatly refuses to even listen to such an outrageous idea. That night, Grandpa says that the question of who owns the land has been in dispute for hundreds of years. John insists that their land will remain in Walton hands. Grandpa confides in John that being old like Mr. Tekigi, he can understand the need to be buried alongside ancestors, in land set aside as sacred. The next morning, on a ridge holding their profiles against the blue of the sky, Grandfather Tekigi states to his grandson, ‘The white man has told me where to live. I will not let him tell me where to die!’
That night Jason arrives home to find the barn on fire. As family puts out the fire Matthew takes out the animals. Afterwards, the elder Tekigi admits he started the fire and that the next time he will not fail. John tells Jason to summon the sheriff. With Mr. Tekigi in jail, Judge Parrish and Sheriff Bridges discuss what should be done with the old man. Later, Jim Bob drives Elizabeth into Rockfish so she can speak with Mr. Tekigi. Elizabeth tells the old man she is sorry that he is in the jail. She also apologizes for what the whites did to the Indians. She tells the Indian that she was always told that all the Indians did was ‘scalp and go on the warpath’. Now, after knowing him and his grandson, she understands the Indians are not like that at all. Grandfather Tekigi relates a story whose meaning is ‘Man cannot always understand man”.
During the trial, John states that the damage has already been done. All he wants is to ensure that Mr. Tekigi does not come back on his land. When the accused says he will return to destroy the barn in order to purify his ancestor’s burial ground, the judge says he will not be allowed to ‘pillage and plunder and go on the warpath like his ancestors did when the first settlers of Virginia came’. With a glance back at Elizabeth, Grandfather Tekigi says that a young person came this morning to state she found ‘me to be a human being and not a salvage’. He adds that for a Cherokee to rest in peace he must be buried in sacred grounds. That is all he wants when he dies. As he turns and says ‘I’m sorry’ to John, he drops to the floor in pain.
John and the boys tear burnt boards off the barn while Elizabeth cares for Myrtle. Elizabeth asks Grandpa, ‘Do you think the Indians are really here?’ Grandpa says, ‘There is only one way to find out.’ He begins digging through the dirt floor. After four feet down, he finds Indian pottery. John says that does not prove anything. But a moment later, Grandpa finds a skull proving this, indeed, is an Indian burial ground. Erin walks in to say that Sheriff Bridges just told her that Grandfather Tekigi has died.
John cannot sleep thinking about what has happened. He believes he caused the man’s death. Myrtle then bellows out and when John enters the barn he sees Matthew leaning over a fire. After mistaking his intentions, John battles with the young Indian. Matthew tells John that he simply came back to boil golden seal to help the goat. John admits the burial ground is beneath the barn. John tells Matthew, ‘Every burial ground begins with one grave’ and suggests they bury his grandfather on an unspoiled spot on the Mountain. At the funeral, Matthew asks for ‘blessings on this mountain land’ and asks the land be ‘allowed to be a honored Cherokee burial ground’. He crushes his grandfather’s cup and Elizabeth places wild flowers on Grandfather Tekigi’s gravesite.
"Who owns the land? Only the land knows. We mortals are passers-by and our lives are but a brief moment in the great span of time and space. We are born, we live out our lives, and most of us do the best we can with it. But the wind is forever, and the rivers flow forever to the sea, and all the seasons of the weathers will come and go after we are gone. But the earth endures, the earth is eternal".
Grandpa: Yes, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: When Indians die do they go to the same Heaven as we do?
Grandpa: Very definitely, yes.
Grandpa (cautiously): Ye-es?
Elizabeth: If you get there ahead of me, will you look up Grandfather Joseph?
Grandpa: I certainly will.
Elizabeth: Just tell them Wirrol and me, will be along one day.
Grandpa: Ha I'll do that!
Grandpa: Goodnight Elizabeth!
Grandfather Joseph Tekigi is 101 years old. He has outlived four wives. His first marriage occurred when he was seventeen years old.
It was well known that the Cherokee’s were good hunters and the first Indians with a written alphabet. . One of their great chiefs, Sequoia, had the giant redwood trees in California named for him.
Grandfather Tekigi and his grandson Matthew live on an Indian reservation in North Carolina.
Richard Eastham appears as Judge Parrish in this episode. He later appears as the father of Paul Northridge, Erin’s future husband, in the year-nine-episode The Lumberjack.
Grandfather Joseph Teskigi (Gerado DeCordovier); Matthew Teskigi (Ernest Esparza III); Judge Parrish (Richard Eastham; Public Defender Cross (Tom Bellin); Sheriff Ep Bridges (John Crawford).