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Friday, 14 November 2014

Cherokee myth concerning Medicine

Hi dear friends and followers, bellow is a short introduction to the Native American legends and myths 

Tennessee was the home to the Cherokee People, a highly advanced nation that was functioning quite well, long before its first contact with white people. That contact likely took place in 1540-41 when Hernando de Soto led an expedition into northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee.

The Cherokee were one of the largest of five Native American tribes who settled in the southeast portion of what was to become the United States. The tribe came from Iroquoian descent. They had originally been from the Great Lakes region of the country, but eventually settled closer to the east coast.

Despite popular folklore, the Cherokee actually lived in cabins made of logs instead of the stereotypical tee pee. They were a strong tribe with several smaller sections, all led by chiefs. The tribe was highly religious and spiritual. When the American Revolution took place, the Cherokee supported the British and even assisted them in battle by taking part in several attacks.

Eventually around the 1800s, the Cherokee began to adopt the culture that the white man brought to them. They began to dress more European, and even adopted many of their farming and building methods.

Gold was discovered in Georgia in the 1830's. Outsiders were already coveting Cherokee homelands and a period of "Indian removals" made way for encroachment by settlers, prospectors and others. Ultimately, thousands of Cherokee men, women and children were rounded up in preparation for their "removal" at the order of President Andrew Jackson in his direct defiance of a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court ("[Justice] John Marshall has made his decision; let him enforce it now if he can." - Andrew Jackson).

The Cherokee were herded at bayonet point, into a forced march of 1,000 miles on what is known as the Trail of Tears, ending with their arrival in "Indian Territory", which is today part of the state of Oklahoma. Thousands died in the internment camps, along the trail itself, and even after their arrival, due to the effects of the journey.

When all was said and done, about 4,000 Cherokee lost their lives on the journey. Today, the Cherokee have a strong sense of pride in their heritage. The Cherokee rose is now the state flower of Georgia. Today, the largest population of Cherokee live in the state of Oklahoma, where there are three federally recognized Cherokee communities with thousands of residents.

A Proud Heritage

Since the earliest contact with European explorers in the 16th century, the Cherokee people have been consistently identified as one of the most socially and culturally advanced of the Native American tribes. Cherokee culture thrived many hundreds of years before initial European contact in the southeastern area of what is now the United States. Cherokee society and culture continued to develop, progressing and embracing cultural elements from European settlers. The Cherokee shaped a government and a society matching the most civilized cultures of the day.


Following their removal and the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee soon re-established themselves in their new home with communities, churches, schools, newspapers and businesses. The new Cherokee capital of Tahlequah, along with nearby Park Hill, became a major hub of regional business activity and the center of cultural activity.

The Cherokee adopted a new constitution in September of 1839 and in 1844 the Cherokee Advocate, printed in both Cherokee and English, became the first newspaper in Indian Territory and the first-ever published in a Native American language. The Cherokee Messenger was their first periodical or magazine.

The tribe's educational system of 144 elementary schools and two higher education institutions - the Cherokee Male and Female Seminaries - rivaled, if not surpassed all other schools in the region. Many white settlements bordering the Cherokee Nation took advantage of their superior school system, actually paying tuition to have their children attend Cherokee schools.

Reading materials made possible by Sequoyah’s 1821 creation of the Cherokee Syllabary led the Cherokee people to a level of literacy significantly higher than their white counterparts well before Oklahoma became the country's 46th state in 1907.
The Cherokee rebuilt a progressive lifestyle from remnants of the society and the culture left behind in Georgia. 

The years between the removal and the 1860’s have often been referred to as the Cherokee's "Golden Age,” a period of prosperity ending in tribal division over loyalties in the Civil War.

Unfortunately, even more Cherokee lands and rights were taken by the federal
government after the war in reprimand for the Cherokee who chose to side with the Confederacy. What remained of Cherokee tribal land was eventually divided into individual allotments, doled out to Cherokees listed in the census compiled by the Dawes Commission in the late 1890s. It is the descendants of those original enrollees who make up today’s Cherokee Nation tribal citizenship.

Here is a Cherokee myth concerning the Origin of Disease and Medicine

In the old days the beasts, birds, fishes, insects, and plants could all talk, and they and the people lived together in peace and friendship. But as time went on the people increased so rapidly that their settlements spread over the whole earth, and the poor animals found themselves beginning to be cramped for room. This was bad enough, but to make it worse Man invented bows, knives, blowguns, spears, and hooks, and began to slaughter the larger animals, birds, and fishes for their flesh or their skins, while the smaller creatures, such as the frogs and worms, were crushed and trodden upon without thought, out of pure carelessness or contempt. So the animals resolved to consult upon measures for their common safety.

The Bears were the first to meet in council in their townhouse under Kuwâ'hï mountain, the "Mulberry Place," and the old White Bear chief presided. After each in turn had complained of the way in which Man killed their friends, ate their flesh, and used their skins for his own purposes, it was decided to begin war at once against him.

Someone asked what weapons Man used to destroy them. "Bows and arrows, of course, cried all the Bears in chorus. "And what are they made of?" was the next question. "The bow of wood, and the string of our entrails," replied one of the Bears. It was then proposed that they make a bow and some arrows and see if they, could not use the same weapons against Man himself. So one Bear got a nice piece of locust wood and another sacrificed himself for the good of the rest in order to furnish a piece of his entrails for the string.

But when everything was ready and the first Bear stepped up to make the trial, it was found that in letting the arrow fly after drawing back the bow, his long claws caught the string and spoiled the shot. This was annoying, but someone suggested that they might trim his claws, which was accordingly done, and on a second trial it was found that the arrow went straight to the mark.

But here the chief, the old White Bear, objected, saying it was necessary that they should have long claws in order to be able to climb trees. "One of us has already died to furnish the bowstring, and if we now cut off our claws we must all starve together. It is better to trust to the teeth and claws that nature gave us, for it is plain that man's weapons were not intended for us."

No one could think of any better plan, so the old chief dismissed the council and the Bears dispersed to the woods and thickets without having concerted any way to prevent the increase of the human race. Had the result of the council been otherwise, we should now be at war with the Bears, but as it is, the hunter does not even ask the Bear's pardon when he kills one.

The Deer next held a council under their chief, the Little Deer, and after some talk decided to send rheumatism to every hunter who should kill one of them unless he took care to ask their pardon for the offense. They sent notice of their decision to the nearest settlement of Indians and told them at the same time what to do when necessity forced them to kill one of the Deer tribe.

Now, whenever the hunter shoots a Deer, the Little Deer, who is swift as the wind and can not be wounded, runs quickly up to the spot and, bending over the blood-stains, asks the spirit of the Deer if it has heard the prayer of the hunter for pardon. If the reply be "Yes," all is well, and the Little Deer goes on his way; but if the reply be "No," he follows on the trail of the hunter, guided by the drops of blood on the ground, until he arrives at his cabin in the settlement, when the Little Deer enters invisibly and strikes the hunter with rheumatism, so that he becomes at once a helpless cripple.

No hunter who has regard for his health ever fails to ask pardon of the Deer for killing it, although some hunters who have not learned the prayer may try to turn aside the Little Deer from his pursuit by building a fire behind them in the trail.

Next came the Fishes and Reptiles, who had their own complaints against Man. They held their council together and determined to make their victims dream of snakes twining about them in slimy folds and blowing foul breath in their faces, or to make them dream of eating raw or decaying fish, so that they would lose appetite, sicken, and die. This is why people dream about snakes and fish.

Finally the Birds, Insects, and smaller animals came together for the same purpose, and the Grubworm was chief of the council. It was decided that each in turn should give an opinion, and then they would vote on the question as to whether or not Man was guilty. Seven votes should be enough to condemn him.

One after another denounced Man's cruelty and injustice toward the other animals and voted in favor of his death. The Frog spoke first, saying: "We must do something to check the increase of the race, or people will become so numerous that we shall be crowded from off the earth. See how they have kicked me about because I'm ugly, as they say, until my back is covered with sores;" and here he showed the spots on his skin.

Next came the Bird--no one remembers now which one it was--who condemned Man "because he burns my feet off," meaning the way in which the hunter roasts birds by impaling them on a stick set over the fire, so that their feathers and tender feet are singed off.

Others followed in the same strain. The Ground-squirrel alone ventured to say a good word for Man, who seldom hurt him because he was so small, but this made the others so angry that they fell upon the Ground-squirrel and tore him with their claws, and the stripes are on his back to this day.

They began then to devise and name so many new diseases, one after another, that had not their invention at last failed them, no one of the human race would have been able to survive.

The Grubworm grew constantly more pleased as the name of each disease was called off, until at last they reached the end of the list, when some one proposed to make menstruation sometimes fatal to women. On this he rose-up in his place and cried: "Wadâñ'! [Thanks!] I'm glad some more of them will die, for they are getting so thick that they tread on me." The thought fairly made him shake with joy, so that he fell over backward and could not get on his feet again, but had to wriggle off on his back, as the Grubworm has done ever since.

When the Plants, who were friendly to Man, heard what had been done by the animals, they determined to defeat the latter's evil designs. Each Tree, Shrub, and Herb, down even to the Grasses and Mosses, agreed to furnish a cure for some one of the diseases named, and each said: "I shall appear to help Man when he calls upon me in his need." Thus came medicine; and the plants, every one of which has its use if we only knew it, furnish the remedy to counteract the evil wrought by the revengeful animals. Even weeds were made for some good purpose, which we must find out for ourselves. When the doctor does not know what medicine to use for a sick man the spirit of the plant tells him.

Thank you again for dropping by to read this Native American legend. I would appreciate knowing what your thoughts are on it, thank you and have a wonderful weekend.

ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Lady

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