A 101-year old Cherokee Indian, Joseph Teskigi, and his grandson, Matthew, arrive at the Walton’s from a reservation in North Carolina. When Zeb takes Joseph up to the mountain, they reminisce about old times, former loves, and the tragedy of the mistreatment of Native Americans by the white man. Looking around, Joseph recognizes key landmarks from his people’s original settlement, and declares that the Waltons’ barn is smack dab on the actual site of an Indian burial ground. When he and Matthew attempt to burn the structure down, John has the old man arrested. At court, the judge hears Joseph’s impassioned memory how his father was never fitfully buried anywhere as he marched on the infamous Trail of Tears, never to be heard from again. Joseph dies soon after, and a guilt-stricken John, after seeing proof that the barn indeed is on the burial ground, reconsiders some of his earlier rash behavior. All agree to bury Joseph up on the mountain next to the Walton’s own forbears, with the understanding that all who lived and prospered on the land also deserve to rest in peace there.
Potentially hokey episode (that ancient Indian looks like a Gunsmoke extra) reliably becomes a hanky-drenched affair by the end credits. Again, the trend continues with just a few cast members showcased per episode – in this case, Zeb, John and Elizabeth (and no subplots, if you don’t count Myrtle the goat’s illness, which is tied to Matthew’s homeopathic healing abilities). Another history-based offering, this is the first episode to deal with the plight of Native Americans – and Joseph has two monologues here that do give one pause regarding that dark chapter in United States history.
Olivia has only two brief scenes in this episode.