WARREN, PA — Living off the grid is no easy task, and in this day and age, has become increasingly rare.
But Charlie "Cat " Redeye did it. He lived that way for almost 20 years.
"It's where I wanted to be, you know. I went all over the place and worked, built me a business, got rid of it, because that wasn't me, you know. Here is where I want to be," Redeye said.
His land is located in the Allegheny territory of the Seneca Nation. He was born there and lived in this exact spot with his family, until they and over a hundred families were forced off it for the construction of the Kinzua Dam.
But Cat says that living in a new house never dimmed memories of his first home.
"I always was down here, no matter what. Either I'd walk or I'd peddle my bike, but I was always down here, I couldn't leave," he said. "When I started having children, a family, they loved it down here, don't get me wrong, but for a couple nights camping, you know? I didn't want to leave."
Cat raised a great family and had a successful business, but the need to return to the land was overwhelming and eventually, he did so, building a cabin on the same soil his family had been wrongly evicted from so long ago. The land, though changed, still provided.
"We had all the fish, we had all the meats by November, so we were pretty much filled up, whatever we needed, whatever I needed," he said.
As a writer, Redeye found that the land nurtured him in other ways.
"When I go to write something, I can sit on my porch, I can sit over there, and it comes to you, you know? I don't need a computer or a laptop, just a pen that works."
Unfortunately, vandals burned Cat's cabin to the ground a couple of years ago. For a year, he couldn't bear to visit his land. Now, he vows to rebuild and return — for good.
"I used to live in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and man, I couldn't understand how them people could live there," he said. This is "the best way to live because what else can be done to you? Besides being chased farther back, what else can be done to you? Like i said, I'm the 'freest' guy around."