A Valley man remembers his Native American heritage through rocks - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

A Valley man remembers his Native American heritage through rocks

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28 years ago Tom Hendrix of Lauderdale County felt inspired to do something for his great grandmother, Te' Lah Nay.  She was a Native American woman who lived in the area in the 1800's.  What he did to remember her involved 6 and a half million pounds of rock, and the size of 5 football fields.  Hendrix wanted the legacy of his great grandmother to be remembered for a long time.

The idea for the memorial was inspired by a woman who was from the same tribe as his great grandmother.  Hendrix said, "She said Brother Hendrix you shall pass this earth, only the stones will remain, we honor the ancestors with stones, I came back home and knew what I was going to do."

He says he has built the largest memorial to a Native American woman, also the largest unmarted stone wall in the country.  What he did has taken much of his time and strength.  "I have worn out 3 trucks, over 20 wheelbarrows, over 1,000 pair of gloves, two dogs, and one old man," said Hendrix.

The mission to remember his Native American ancestry began with stories told by his grandmother.  She shared how Te' Lay Nay was forced from Lauderdale County to Oklahoma.  "When my grandmother got out there to the Indian nation, she went to listen to the river and streams, she knew she would die there if she stayed, " said Hendrix.

So a 5 year journey by foot brought her back to Alabama.  This journey is represented by 2 walls, the left side representing her journey from Lauderdale County and the right the journey back home.

Hendrix said, "This will be a memorial to her, and all Native American women who suffered through the trail of tears."

There is a stone from every state, and 127 countries, territories, and islands.  Most of the rocks came from Lauderdale County.

"Some of the men come to look at the work I have done, but most women come and look at it as a spiritual place," added Hendrix.

Hendrix says he's not done adding rocks to the memorial.   He encourages the public to come there and reflect.  You can add a rock to the memorial if you want.  The wall is located near the intersection of the Natchez Trail Parkway and County Road 8 in Northwest Lauderdale County.

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