Importance Attached To Names in Cherokee Formulas

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In many of the Cherokee formulas, especially those relating to love and to life-destroying, the shaman mentions the name and clan of his client, of the intended victim, or of the girl whose affections it is desired to win. The Indian regards his name, not as a mere label, but as a distinct part of his personality, just as much as are his eyes or his teeth, and believes that injury will result as surely from the malicious handling of his name as from a wound inflicted on any part of his physical organism. This belief was found among the various tribes from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and has occasioned a number of curious regulations in regard to the concealment and change of names. It may be on this account that both Powhatan and Pocahontas are known in history under assumed appellations, their true names having been concealed from the whites until the pseudonyms were too firmly established to be supplanted. Should his prayers have no apparent effect when treating a patient for some serious illness, the shaman sometimes concludes that the name is affected, and accordingly goes to water, with appropriate ceremonies, and christens the patient with a new name, by which he is henceforth to be known. He then begins afresh, repeating the formulas with the new name selected for the patient, in the confident hope that his efforts will be crowned with success.




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. 31 March 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/importance-attached-to-names-in-cherokee-formulas.htm - Last updated on Jun 11th, 2013


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