“A Way to Honor Native Americans”: Local Man Leads Way for Warrior’s Path Project | News

GREYSON When local man Max Hammond spoke to the Grayson City Council earlier this month, the information he presented concerned the Warrior’s Path, an ancient trail winding through Kentucky.

“The path stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes,” Hammond said. “And for our great fortune, the warrior’s path runs through the heart of eastern Kentucky.”

Hammond said the Paleo Indians, the Adena and the Hopewell were the first to walk this path, adding that the path was so ancient that indigenous people followed the juggernaut on it. “But the path for me begins with the War of 1812.”

Hammond said that a few years ago a man approached him and told him he had artifacts that had been passed down to him from generation to generation.

The man’s great-great-great-grandfather arrived in the area in the 1700s and had a son. This son became Colonel Plummer. At the start of the War of 1812, a group of miners had been sent to Carter Caves, to a particular cave known as Saltpeter Cave. And as miners began digging, they uncovered some remarkable artifacts, Hammond said. It was Colonel Plummer who ordered the miners to keep these artifacts rather than toss them aside.

Colonel Plummer was the long scout for the miners, searching for places where gunpowder components might be found. As he searched, Hammond said Colonel Plummer would look for these things under rocky outcrops and natural shelters throughout Carter County.

“He found things that have no comparison in the known world,” Hammond said. What he found, Hammond said, are things the Smithsonian Institute would like to have. Colonel Plummer found sites that had not been looted or undergone any kind of archaeological excavation.

“He found items lying on the ground and on rocks,” Hammond said. “He found them as if the Native Americans had just moved away from them.”

The gunpowder they made from saltpeter and bat guano was used in the War of 1812, Hammond told the council.

“We don’t talk much about the War of 1812, but other than World War I and World War II, it was probably the most important war for the state of Kentucky,” Hammond said. “The reason it’s important to Kentucky is that it started at Fort Boonesboro around 1778. It started when a British general and a Shawnee chief marched from Chillicothe to Fort Boonesboro and besieged it. And from then on, it was a constant war between the British, the Native Americans and the Kentuckians.

Hammond said Kentuckians figured prominently in that war and had suffered heavy casualties, including war crimes amounting to murder by the British and their allies. In total, Hammond said 64% of the known casualties suffered during the War of 1812 were suffered by Kentuckians who fought as far north as Detroit and in Canada. In addition to gunpowder made from Kentucky materials, 468 Kentucky-made cannonballs were used in the last battle of that war, the Battle of New Orleans.

“This path will celebrate that,” Hammond said. “And it’s the first path in Kentucky that also honors and celebrates Native Americans.

“When Mr. Plummer came to me with all these amazing artifacts,” Hammond said, “I thought the best way to get a museum to display these artifacts was to get a trail that celebrated Native Americans. “

Hammond said, unbeknownst to him at the time, that there was a marker in southern Kentucky showing the warrior’s path. Once he was introduced to the woman who had been looking for him, Hammond said they asked the National Parks Service for a trail that would go from Cumberland Gap to the Ohio River.

“It’s a way to honor Native Americans and tell the whole story of Kentucky,” Hammond said.

“It’s a story about pioneers and Native Americans,” he said. “The good the bad and the ugly. We’re not going to take any beating, and we’re going to kick out the myth that we were all taught in school that no Native American ever lived in the state of Kentucky .

Hammond said the Warrior’s Path project has been approved by the National Park Service and the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission. They are working with 20 counties and other agencies on the project, Hammond said.

“The National Park Service has said they intend to make this a nationally recognized trail, if we meet a few conditions,” he said, adding that those conditions were things the group had already planned to do.

“One condition is that it will be a multi-use trail,” Hammond said. The group plans to make it a motorized trail, a walking trail, a mountain biking trail, a kayaking trail and a horseback riding trail. And one day perhaps link it to its southern and northern roots.

Hammond said the various stages of the Warrior’s Path may also become significant from a tourism perspective, but its most significant contributions will be historical and cultural.

“It was a very important area for so many Native Americans,” Hammond said. “It was a hub of culture and commerce that many forgot or chose not to remember. And we have to change that.

Visit warriorspath.org for more information.

Nohemi M. Moore