Cherokee Treatment of Worms

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Cherokee Treatment of Worms: To Treat Them When Something Is Causing Something To Eat Them.

Listen! Ha! I am a great ada´wehi, I never fail in anything. I surpass all others-I am a great ada´wehi. Ha! It is a mere screech owl that has frightened him. Ha! now I have put it away in the laurel thickets. There I compel it to remain.

Listen! Ha! I am a great ada´wehi, I never fail in anything. I surpass all others-I am a great ada´wehi. Ha! It is a mere hooting owl that has frightened him. Undoubtedly that has frightened him. Ha! At once I have put it away in the spruce thickets. Ha! There I compel it to remain.

Listen! Ha! I am a great ada´wehi, I never fail in anything. I surpass all others-I am a great ada´wehi. Ha! It is only a rabbit that has frightened him. Undoubtedly that has frightened him. Ha! Instantly I have put it away on the mountain ridge. Ha! There in the broom sage I compel it to remain.

Listen! Ha! I am a great ada´wehi, I never fail in anything. I surpass all others-I am a great ada´wehi. Ha! It is only a mountain sprite that has frightened him. Undoubtedly that has frightened him. Ha! Instantly I have put it away on the bluff. Ha! There I compel it to remain.

Prescription for Worms

Now this is to treat infants if they are affected by crying and nervous fright. (Then) it is said that something is causing something to eat them. To treat them one may blow water on them for four nights. Doctor them just before dark. Be sure not to carry them about outside the house.

Explanation of Cherokee Formula for Worms

The Cherokee name for this disease is Gunwani´gistâi´, which signifies that “something is causing something to eat,” or gnaw the vitals of the patient. The disease attacks only infants of tender age and the symptoms are nervousness and troubled sleep, from which the child wakes suddenly crying as if frightened. The civilized doctor would regard these as symptoms of the presence of worms, but although the Cherokee name might seem to indicate the same belief, the real theory is very different.

Cherokee mothers sometimes hush crying children, by telling them that the screech owl is listening out in the woods or that the De´tsata-a malicious little dwarf who lives in caves in the river bluffs-will come and get them. This quiets the child for the time and is so far successful, but the animals, or the De´tsata, take offense at being spoken of in this way, and visit their displeasure upon the children born to the mother afterward. This they do by sending an animal into the body of the child to gnaw its vitals. The disease is very common and there are several specialists who devote their attention to it, using various formulas and prescriptions. It is also called atawi´nehi, signifying that it is caused by the “dwellers in the forest,” i.e., the wild game and birds, and some doctors declare that it is caused by the revengeful comrades of the animals, especially birds, killed by the father of the child, the animals tracking the slayer to his home by the blood drops on the leaves. The next formula will throw more light upon this theory.

In this formula the doctor, who is certainly not overburdened with modesty, starts out by asserting that he is a great ada´wehi, who never fails and who surpasses all others. He then declares that the disease is caused by a mere screech owl, which he at once banishes to the laurel thicket. In the succeeding paragraphs he reiterates his former boasting, but asserts in turn that the trouble is caused by a mere hooting owl, a rabbit, or even by the De´tsata, whose greatest exploit is hiding the arrows of the boys, for which the youthful hunters do not hesitate to rate him soundly. These various mischief-makers the doctor banishes to their proper haunts, the hooting owl to the spruce thicket, the rabbit to the broom sage on the mountain side, and the De´tsata to the bluffs along the river bank.

Some doctors use herb decoctions, which are blown upon the body of the child, but in this formula the only remedy prescribed is water, which must be blown upon the body of the little sufferer just before dark for four nights. The regular method is to blow once each at the end of the first, second, and third paragraphs and four times at the end of the fourth or last. In diseases of this kind, which are not supposed to be of a local character, the doctor blows first upon the back of the head, then upon the left shoulder, next upon the right shoulder, and finally upon the breast, the patient being generally sitting, or propped up in bed, facing the east. The child must not be taken out of doors during the four days, because should a bird chance to fly overhead so that its shadow would fall upon the infant, it would fan the disease back into the body of the little one.

Cherokee Original

GÛnWANI´GIST´I ADANU´nWÂTI

Sge! Ha-tsida´weiyu, gahus´ti aginúl’ti nige´sûnna. Gûngwadag´anad’diyû´ tsida´wei´yu. Ha-Wahuhu´-gwû hitagu´sgastane’hei. Ha-nâ´gwa hu’kikahûnû´ ha-dusu´’gahi digesû´ni, iyû´nta wûn’kidâ´histani´ga.

Sge! Ha-tsida´wei´yu, gahu´sti aginu´l’ti nige´sûnna. Gûngwadaga´nad’diyû´ tsida´wei´yu. Ha-Uguku´-gwû hitagu´sgastane´hei´ udâhi´yu tag´u´sgastane´hei´. Ha-na´gwadi´na hûnkikahûnnû´. Ha-nânâ´hi digesu´ni iyû´nta wûn’kidâ´histani´ga.

Sge! Ha-tsida´wei´yu, gahu´sti aginu´l’ti nige´sûnna. Gûngwadaga´nad’diyû´ tsida´wei´yu. Ha-Tsistu-gwû hitagu´sgastane´he´iudâhi´yu tag´usgastane´hei´. Ha-nâ´gwadi´na hû´nkikahû´nnû. Ha-sunûnda´si iyû´nta kane´skawâ´dihi digesû´ni, wûn’kidâ´histani´ga.

Sge! Ha-tsida´wei´yu, gahu´sti aginu´l’ti nige´sûnna. Gûngwadaga´nad’di´yû tsida´wei´yu. Ha-De´tsata´-gwû (hi)tagu´sgastane´hei udâhi´yu tagu´sgastane´hei. Ha-nâ´gwadi´na hûnkikahû´na. Ha-udâ´tale´ta digesû´ni, iyû´nta wûn’kidâ´histani´ga.

(Degâ´sisisgû´ni)-Hia´-skini´ unsdi´ya dikanû´nwâti tsa’natsa´yihâ´i tsaniska´iha´i; gûnwani´gista´i hi´anûdi´sgai´. Ama´ dûtsati´stisgâ´i nû´’ki tsusû´hita dikanû´nwâti Ulsinide´na dakanû´nwisgâ´i. U´ntsa iyû´nta witunini´dasti yigesâ´i.

 



MLA Source Citation:

Mooney, James. Sacred Formulas Of The Cherokees. Published in the Seventh Annual Report, Bureau of Ethnology, pp. 301-399. 1886. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 21 October 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/cherokee-treatment-of-worms.htm - Last updated on Jun 10th, 2013


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