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Tennessee Myths and Legends: The Indian Legend of the Lovers’ Leap

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 663
  • Category: Love Myths

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There are many different stories of Lovers’ Leap’s around the world. This Cherokee Indian legend took place many years ago in Rock City, Tennessee. According to the legend, the Chief of the Cherokees had a beautiful daughter named Nacoochee, which means “Evening Star.” Sautee was a handsome, strong brave from a rival Indian tribe. He and Nacoochee fell in love the first time they saw each other. He was determined to be with her, and she longed to be with him, despite the fact that both of their families would certainly reject their relationship. The only way the two young lovers could be together was to leave their families behind and elope. Nacoochee not only gave up the shelter, love and support of her family, she also knew that she could not enjoy the shelter, love and support of Sautee’s family because she was Cherokee, and would never be accepted into their tribe. But she was so in love with Sautee, she was willing to give up everything to be with him. She knew he was a very brave man and would do everything he could to take care of her. Sautee and Nacoochee found a cave located in the side of Lookout Mountain. The entrance to the cave was partially concealed by bushes, and there was plenty of high grass for which to make a bed in the cave. There were plenty of birds and other animals that provided Sautee a bountiful hunting ground. A stream was nearby that supplied fresh water. They had everything they needed to begin their new life together.

When Nacoochee’s father found out that she and Sautee had eloped, he was enraged. He vowed to find them and take out his anger on Sautee. Many young Cherokee braves who had longed for the chance to win Nacoochee’s love also volunteered to join the Chief of the Cherokees in his search. With so many people searching, it didn’t take them long to find Sautee and Nacoochee. Sautee was suddenly attacked by a multitude of angry Cherokees. Nacoochee’s father immediately gave the younger braves the order to kill Sautee by taking him to the top of Lookout Mountain and throw him over the edge of the cliff. Her father insisted that Nacoochee be present on top of the mountain to witness Sautee’s death. He was deeply hurt and disappointed that his daughter had loved a brave from a rival tribe more than her own people and family. Standing on the edge of the mountain, Sautee stood proud and looked his rival braves in the eye. With a clear, loud voice, he sang his death song. His voice echoed back between the mountain rocks.

While Nacoochee’s heart was breaking, she was also very proud of Sautee’s bravery. He did not waver though he was facing certain death. Two Cherokee braves suddenly picked up Sautee, raised him high in the air, and threw him over the edge of the cliff. The Chief and his braves’ attentions were focused on what had just occurred, so they did not notice where Nacoochee was or what she was doing. She ran as fast as she could and jumped over the edge of the cliff at the same spot from which Sautee had just been thrown. As she was falling to her death, her last words were “Sautee! Sautee!” When her father and his braves rushed to the edge of the cliff, they saw Nacoochee and Sautee, lying side by side, 100 feet below, not moving. It was then that the Chief realized how much his daughter had loved Sautee, and likewise, how much Sautee had loved his daughter. He was overcome with grief and remorse for what he had done, so he buried the couple together. They would spend eternity together in the beautiful valley below Lookout Mountain.

Works Cited

“Tennessee Myths and Legends, Native Americans, Tennessee Postcard Collection.” Undated. Tennessee State Library and Archives. 19 February 2013.

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