Topic: Cherokee

Cherokee Bear Song

This song, obtained from A’yû´nini in connection with the Cherokee story of the Origin of the Bear, as already mentioned, is sung by the bear hunter, in order to attract the bears, while on his way from the camp to the place where he expects to hunt during the day.

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Plants Used in Cherokee Medicine

The results obtained from a careful study of this list may be summarized as follows: Of the twenty plants described as used by the Cherokees, seven (Nos. 2, 4, 5, 13, 15, 17, and 20) are not noticed in the Dispensatory even in the list of plants sometimes used although regarded as not official. It is possible that one or two of these seven plants have medical properties, but this can hardly be true of a larger number unless we are disposed to believe that the Indians are better informed in this regard than the best educated white physicians in the country. Two of these seven plants, however (Nos. 2 and 4), belong to genera which seem to have some of the properties ascribed by the Indians to the species. Five others of the list (Nos. 8, 9, 11, 14, and 16) are used for entirely wrong purposes, taking the Dispensatory as authority, and three of these are evidently used on account of some fancied connection between the plant and the disease, according to the doctrine of signatures. Three of the remainder (Nos. 1, 3, and 6) may be classed as uncertain in their properties, that is, while the plants themselves seem to possess some medical value, the Indian mode of application is so far at variance with recognized methods, or their own statements are so vague and conflicting,...

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The Cherokee Religion

It is impossible to overestimate the ethnologic importance of the materials thus obtained. They are invaluable as the genuine production of the Indian mind, setting forth in the clearest light the state of the aboriginal religion before its contamination by contact with the whites. To the psychologist and the student of myths they are equally precious. In regard to their linguistic value we may quote the language of Brinton, speaking of the sacred books of the Mayas, already referred to: Another value they have… and it is one which will be properly appreciated by any student of languages. They are, by common consent of all competent authorities, the genuine productions of native minds, cast in the idiomatic forms of the native tongue by those born to its use. No matter how fluent a foreigner becomes in a language not his own, he can never use it as does one who has been familiar with it from childhood. This general maxim is tenfold true when we apply it to a European learning an American language. The flow of thought, as exhibited in these two linguistic families, is in such different directions that no amount of practice can render one equally accurate in both. Hence the importance of studying a tongue as it is employed by natives; and hence the very high estimate I place on these “Books of Chilan Balam”...

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The Inâli Manuscript

The Inâli Manuscript In the course of further inquiries in regard to the whereabouts of other manuscripts of this kind we heard a great deal about Inâ´li, or “Black Fox,” who had died a few years before at an advanced age, and who was universally admitted to have been one of their most able men and the most prominent literary character among them, for from what has been said it must be sufficiently evident that the Cherokees have their native literature and literary men. Like those already mentioned, he was a full-blood Cherokee, speaking no English, and in the course of a long lifetime he had filled almost every position of honor among his people, including those of councilor, keeper of the townhouse records, Sunday-school leader, conjurer, officer in the Confederate service, and Methodist preacher, at last dying, as he was born, in the ancient faith of his forefathers. On inquiring of his daughter she stated that her father had left a great many papers, most of which were still in her possession, and on receiving from the interpreter an explanation of our purpose she readily gave permission to examine and make selections from them on condition that the matter should be kept secret from outsiders. A day was appointed for visiting her, and on arriving we found her living in a comfortable log house, built by Inâli himself,...

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Other Manuscripts Used in Cherokee Formulas

Subsequently a few formulas were obtained from an old shaman named Tsiskwa or “Bird,” but they were so carelessly written as to be almost worthless, and the old man who wrote them, being then on his dying bed, was unable to give much help in the matter. However, as he was anxious to tell what he knew an attempt was made to take down some formulas from his dictation. A few more were obtained in this way but the results were not satisfactory and the experiment was abandoned. About the same time A’wani´ta or “Young Deer,” one of their best herb doctors, was engaged to collect the various plants used in medicine and describe their uses. While thus employed he wrote in a book furnished him for the purpose a number of formulas used by him in his practice, giving at the same time a verbal explanation of the theory and ceremonies. Among these was one for protection in battle, which had been used by himself and a number of other Cherokees in the late war. Another doctor named Takwati´hi or “Catawba Killer,” was afterward employed on the same work and furnished some additional formulas which he had had his son write down from his dictation, he himself being unable to write. His knowledge was limited to the practice of a few specialties, but in regard to these his...

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Ceremonies for Gathering Plants and Preparing Medicine

There are a number of ceremonies and regulations observed in connection with the gathering of the herbs, roots, and barks, which can not be given in detail within the limits of this paper. In searching for his medicinal plants the shaman goes provided with a number of white and red beads, and approaches the plant from a certain direction, going round it from right to left one or four times, reciting certain prayers the while. He then pulls up the plant by the roots and drops one of the beads into the hole and covers it up with the loose earth. In one of the formulas for hunting ginseng the hunter addresses the mountain as the “Great Man” and assures it that he comes only to take a small piece of flesh (the ginseng) from its side, so that it seems probable that the bead is intended as a compensation to the earth for the plant thus torn from her bosom. In some cases the doctor must pass by the first three plants met until he comes to the fourth, which he takes and may then return for the others. The bark is always taken from the east side of the tree, and when the root or branch is used it must also be one which runs out toward the east, the reason given being that these have imbibed...

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The Cherokee Alphabet

The sacred Cherokee formulas had been handed down orally from a remote antiquity until the early part of the present century, when the invention of the Cherokee syllabary enabled the priests of the tribe to put them into writing. The same invention made it possible for their rivals, the missionaries, to give to the Indians the Bible in their own language, so that the opposing forces of Christianity and shamanism alike profited by the genius of Sikwâya (Sequoyah). The pressure of the new civilization was too strong to be withstood, however, and though the prophets of the old religion still have much influence with the people, they are daily losing ground and will soon be without honor in their own country. Such an exposition of the aboriginal religion could be obtained from no other tribe in North America, for the simple reason that no other tribe has an alphabet of its own in which to record its sacred lore. It is true that the Crees and Micmacs of Canada and the Tukuth of Alaska have so-called alphabets or ideographic systems invented for their use by the missionaries, while, before the Spanish conquest, the Mayas of Central America were accustomed to note down their hero legends and priestly ceremonials in hieroglyphs graven upon the walls of their temples or painted upon tablets made of the leaves of the maguey. But...

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Cherokee Formula to Frighten Away A Storm

Cherokee Formula for This Is To Frighten A Storm Yuhahi´, yuhahi´, yuhahi´, yuhahi´, yuhahi´, Yuhahi´, yuhahi´, yuhahi´, yuhahi´, yuhahi´-Yû! Listen! O now you are coming in rut. Ha! I am exceedingly afraid of you. But yet you are only tracking your wife. Her footprints can be seen there directed upward toward the heavens. I have pointed them out for you. Let your paths stretch out along the tree tops (?) on the lofty mountains (and) you shall have them (the paths) lying down without being disturbed, Let (your path) as you go along be where the waving branches meet. Listen! Explanation of This Is To Frighten A Storm This formula, from A’yû´nini’s book, is for driving away, or “frightening” a storm, which threatens to injure the growing corn. The first part is a meaningless song, which is sung in a low tone in the peculiar style of most of the sacred songs. The storm, which is not directly named, is then addressed and declared to be coming on in a fearful manner on the track of his wife, like an animal in the rutting season. The shaman points out her tracks directed toward the upper regions and begs the storm spirit to follow her along the waving tree tops of the lofty mountains, where he shall be undisturbed. The shaman stands facing the approaching storm with one hand stretched...

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Importance Attached To Names in Cherokee Formulas

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...

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Cherokee Formula for Song For Painting

Cherokee Formula for Song For Painting Yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi. I am come from above-Yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi. I am come down from the Sun Land-Yû´nwehi. O Red Age’yagu´ga, you have come and put your red spittle upon my body-Yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi. And this above is to recite while one is painting himself. Explanation of Song For Painting This formula, from Gatigwanasti, immediately follows the one last given (For going to water), in the manuscript book, and evidently comes immediately after it also in practical use. The expressions used have been already explained. The one using the formula first bathes in the running stream, reciting at the same time the previous formula “Amâ´yi A´tawasti´yi.” He then repairs to some convenient spot with his paint, beads, and other paraphernalia and proceeds to adorn himself for the dance, which usually begins about an hour after dark, but is not fairly under way until nearly midnight. The refrain, yû´nwehi, is probably sung while mixing the paint, and the other portion is recited while applying the pigment, or vice versa. Although these formula are still in use, the painting is now obsolete, beyond an occasional daubing of the face, without any plan or pattern, on the occasion of a dance or ball play. Cherokee Original (YÛ´nWE´HI UGÛ´nWA’LI II.) Yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi. Galû´nlati, datsila´i-Yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi. Nûndâgû´nyi gatla´ahi-Yû´nwehi. Ge’yagu´ga Gi´gage, tsûwatsi´la gi´gage...

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1817 Cherokee Reservation Roll

A listing of Cherokees claimants applying for a 640 acre tract in the East in lieu of removing to Arkansas. This was only good during their lifetime and then the property reverted back to the state. This is only an index of applicants, in most instances the people listed here did not receive the reservation they requested.

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Cherokee Burial Customs

Far to the southward, occupying the beautiful hills and valleys of eastern Tennessee and the adjoining parts of Georgia and Carolina, lived that great detached Iroquoian tribe, the Cherokee. Here they lived when the country was traversed by the Spaniards in 1540, and here they continued for three centuries. But although so frequently mentioned by early writers, and so often visited by traders, very little can be learned regarding their burial customs. Nevertheless it is evident they often placed the body on the exposed surface, on some high, prominent point, and then covered it with many stones gathered from the surface. Such stone mounds are quite numerous, not only on the hills once occupied by the Cherokee, but far northward. Many of the western towns of the Cherokee, often termed the Overhill Towns, were in the vicinity of Blount County, Tennessee. Many stone mounds were there on the hilltops. and these may justly be attributed to the Cherokee, but all may not have covered the remains of the dead. ” Leaving Chilhowee Valley and crossing the Alleghany range toward North Carolina, in a southeast course, having Little Tennessee River on my right, and occasionally in sight from the cliffs, my attention was called along the road, to stone heaps. After an examination of the objects and a talk with Indians and the oldest inhabitants, I came to the conclusion...

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The Texas Cherokee 1820-1830

By the year of 1812, about one-fourth of the Cherokee Nation east had emigrated to the Arkansas territory between the Arkansas and White Rivers. John Bowles, a chief, and a large number from Running Water Town, on the Mussel Shoals of the Tennessee, had left in the year 1874 and emigrated to the St. Francis River country in southeast Missouri. During the winter of 1811-12 this branch moved to the Arkansas Territory, where they were domiciled until a survey of the Cherokee Nation, Arkansas was made by the United States Government in 181Q in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty of 1817. Bowles’ village was located between Shoal and Petit Jean Creeks, on the south side of Arkansas River, outside of the stipulated Cherokee Territory, on account of this fact and in compliance with the wishes of his followers to locate in Spanish territory, he, with sixty families, migrated in the winter of 1819-20 to territory that was claimed to have been promised them by the representatives of the Dominion of Spain, on Sabine River and ex-tending from the Angelina to the Trinity Rivers in the Province of Texas. Settlement was made north of Nacogdoches, then an expanse of waste and ruin, the result of warfare waged between the American and Spanish forces of Long and Perez. The climatic conditions auguring favorable to the pursuits of agriculture, stock-raising...

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The Emigration From Georgia

Under the provisions of the treaty of 1835 and the congressional acts to carry it into effect the Cherokee Nation was entitled to $6,537,634. By the treaty $600,000 were set aside from this amount to defray the expenses of removal. The detachments were placed under the following conductors: No Conductor Started Arrived west  Days on road 1 Hair Conrad August 28, 1838 January 17, 1838 143 2 Elijah Hicks Sept. 1, 1838 January 4, 1839 126 3 Rev. Jesse Bushyhead Sept. 3, 1838 February 27, 1839 178 4 John Bengi Sept. 28, 1838 January 11, 1839 106 5 Situwakee Sept. 7, 1838 February 2, 1839 140 6 Captain Old Field Sept. 24, 1838 February 23, 1839 153 7 Moses Daniel Sept. 20, 1838 March 2, 1839 164 8 Choowalooka Sept. 14, 1838 March 1, 1839 162 9 James Brown Sept. 10, 1838 March 5, 1839 177 10 George Hicks Sept. 7, 1838 March 14, 1839 189 11 Richard Taylor Sept. 20, 1838 March 24, 1839 186 12 Peter Hildebrand Oct. 23, 1838 March 25, 1839 1544 13 John Drew Dec. 5, 1838 March 18, 1839 1042 The number of emigrants turned over to each conductor was kept by Captain Page of the United States army and Captain Stephenson of the United States army made the official report of those that were mustered out in the west. No. Page’s Stephenson’s...

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