Myths of the Cherokee

DiscoverHistoryMyths of the Cherokee
Myths of the Cherokee

Author

James Mooney

About this book

Extract from the Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology

Contents (148)

I—INTRODUCTION
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II—HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE CHEROKEE
The Traditionary Period
The Period of Spanish Exploration—1540–?
The Colonial and Revolutionary Period—1654–1784
Relations with the United States
FROM THE FIRST TREATY TO THE REMOVAL—1785–1838
THE REMOVAL—1838–39
THE ARKANSAS BAND—1817–1838
THE TEXAS BAND—1817–1900
THE CHEROKEE NATION IN THE WEST—1840–1900
THE EASTERN BAND
III—NOTES TO THE HISTORICAL SKETCH
IV—STORIES AND STORY TELLERS
V—THE MYTHS
Cosmogonic Myths
1. HOW THE WORLD WAS MADE
2. THE FIRST FIRE
3. KANA′TĬ AND SELU: THE ORIGIN OF GAME AND CORN
4. ORIGIN OF DISEASE AND MEDICINE
5. THE DAUGHTER OF THE SUN
6. HOW THEY BROUGHT BACK THE TOBACCO
7. THE JOURNEY TO THE SUNRISE
8. THE MOON AND THE THUNDERS.
9. WHAT THE STARS ARE LIKE
10. ORIGIN OF THE PLEIADES AND THE PINE
11. THE MILKY WAY
12. ORIGIN OF STRAWBERRIES
13. THE GREAT YELLOW-JACKET: ORIGIN OF FISH AND FROGS
14. THE DELUGE
Quadruped Myths
15. THE FOURFOOTED TRIBES
16. THE RABBIT GOES DUCK HUNTING
17. HOW THE RABBIT STOLE THE OTTER’S COAT
18. WHY THE POSSUM’S TAIL IS BARE
19. HOW THE WILDCAT CAUGHT THE GOBBLER
20. HOW THE TERRAPIN BEAT THE RABBIT
21. THE RABBIT AND THE TAR WOLF
22. THE RABBIT AND THE POSSUM AFTER A WIFE
23. THE RABBIT DINES THE BEAR
24. THE RABBIT ESCAPES FROM THE WOLVES
25. FLINT VISITS THE RABBIT
26. HOW THE DEER GOT HIS HORNS
27. WHY THE DEER’S TEETH ARE BLUNT
28. WHAT BECAME OF THE RABBIT
29. WHY THE MINK SMELLS
30. WHY THE MOLE LIVES UNDERGROUND
31. THE TERRAPIN’S ESCAPE FROM THE WOLVES
32. ORIGIN OF THE GROUNDHOG DANCE: THE GROUNDHOG’S HEAD
33. THE MIGRATION OF THE ANIMALS
34. THE WOLF’S REVENGE—THE WOLF AND THE DOG
Bird Myths
35. THE BIRD TRIBES
36. THE BALL GAME OF THE BIRDS AND ANIMALS
37. HOW THE TURKEY GOT HIS BEARD
38. WHY THE TURKEY GOBBLES
39. HOW THE KINGFISHER GOT HIS BILL
40. HOW THE PARTRIDGE GOT HIS WHISTLE
41. HOW THE REDBIRD GOT HIS COLOR
42. THE PHEASANT BEATING CORN; ORIGIN OF THE PHEASANT DANCE
43. THE RACE BETWEEN THE CRANE AND THE HUMMINGBIRD
44. THE OWL GETS MARRIED
45. THE HUHU GETS MARRIED
46. WHY THE BUZZARD’S HEAD IS BARE
47. THE EAGLE’S REVENGE
48. THE HUNTER AND THE BUZZARD
Snake, Fish, and Insect Myths
49. THE SNAKE TRIBE
50. THE UKTENA AND THE ULÛÑSÛ′TĬ
51. ÂGĂN-UNI′TSĬ’S SEARCH FOR THE UKTENA
52. THE RED MAN AND THE UKTENA
53. THE HUNTER AND THE UKSU′HĬ
54. THE USTÛ′TLĬ
55. THE UWʼTSÛÑ′TA
56. THE SNAKE BOY
57. THE SNAKE MAN
58. THE RATTLESNAKE’S VENGEANCE
59. THE SMALLER REPTILES—FISHES AND INSECTS
60. WHY THE BULLFROG’S HEAD IS STRIPED
61. THE BULLFROG LOVER
62. THE KATYDID’S WARNING
Wonder Stories
63. ÛÑTSAIYĬ′, THE GAMBLER
64. THE NEST OF THE TLĂ′NUWĂ
65. THE HUNTER AND THE TLĂ′NUWĂ
66. UʻTLÛÑ′TĂ, THE SPEAR-FINGER
67. NÛÑ′YUNU′WĬ, THE STONE MAN
68. THE HUNTER IN THE DĂKWĂ′
69. ATAGÂ′HĬ, THE ENCHANTED LAKE
70. THE BRIDE FROM THE SOUTH
71. THE ICE MAN
72. THE HUNTER AND SELU
73. THE UNDERGROUND PANTHERS
74. THE TSUNDIGE′WĬ
75. ORIGIN OF THE BEAR: THE BEAR SONGS
76. THE BEAR MAN
77. THE GREAT LEECH OF TLANUSI′YĬ
78. THE NÛÑNĔ′HĬ AND OTHER SPIRIT FOLK
79. THE REMOVED TOWNHOUSES
80. THE SPIRIT DEFENDERS OF NĬKWĂSĬ′
81. TSULʻKĂLÛ′, THE SLANT-EYED GIANT
82. KĂNA′STA, THE LOST SETTLEMENT
83. TSUWE′NĂHĬ: A LEGEND OF PILOT KNOB
84. THE MAN WHO MARRIED THE THUNDER’S SISTER
85. THE HAUNTED WHIRLPOOL
86. YAHULA
87. THE WATER CANNIBALS
Historical Traditions
88. FIRST CONTACT WITH WHITES
89. THE IROQUOIS WARS
90. HIADEONI, THE SENECA
91. THE TWO MOHAWKS
92. ESCAPE OF THE SENECA BOYS
93. THE UNSEEN HELPERS
94. HATCINOÑDOÑ’S ESCAPE FROM THE CHEROKEE
95. HEMP-CARRIER
96. THE SENECA PEACEMAKERS
97. ORIGIN OF THE YONTOÑWISAS DANCE
98. GAʼNA’S ADVENTURES AMONG THE CHEROKEE
99. THE SHAWANO WARS
100. THE RAID ON TĬKWĂLI′TSĬ
101. THE LAST SHAWANO INVASION
102. THE FALSE WARRIORS OF CHILHOWEE
103. COWEE TOWN
104. THE EASTERN TRIBES
105. THE SOUTHERN AND WESTERN TRIBES
106. THE GIANTS FROM THE WEST
107. THE LOST CHEROKEE
108. THE MASSACRE OF THE ANI′-KUTA′NĬ
109. THE WAR MEDICINE
110. INCIDENTS OF PERSONAL HEROISM
111. THE MOUNDS AND THE CONSTANT FIRE: THE OLD SACRED THINGS
Miscellaneous Myths and Legends
112. THE IGNORANT HOUSEKEEPER
113. THE MAN IN THE STUMP
114. TWO LAZY HUNTERS
115. THE TWO OLD MEN
116. THE STAR FEATHERS
117. THE MOTHER BEAR’S SONG
118. BABY SONG, TO PLEASE THE CHILDREN
119. WHEN BABIES ARE BORN: THE WREN AND THE CRICKET
120. THE RAVEN MOCKER
121. HERBERT’S SPRING
122. LOCAL LEGENDS OF NORTH CAROLINA
123. LOCAL LEGENDS OF SOUTH CAROLINA
124. LOCAL LEGENDS OF TENNESSEE
125. LOCAL LEGENDS OF GEORGIA
126. PLANT LORE

I—INTRODUCTION

The myths given in this paper are part of a large body of material collected among the Cherokee, chiefly in successive field seasons from 1887 to 1890, inclusive, and comprising more or less extensive notes, together with original Cherokee manuscripts, relating to the history, archeology, geographic nomenclature, personal names, botany, medicine, arts, home life, religion, songs, ceremonies, and language of the tribe. It is intended that this material shall appear from time to time in a series of papers which, when finally brought together, shall constitute a monograph upon the Cherokee Indians. This paper may be considered the first of the series, all that has hitherto appeared being a short paper upon the sacred formulas of the tribe, published in the Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau in 1891 and containing a synopsis of the Cherokee medico-religious theory, with twenty-eight specimens selected from a body of about six hundred ritual formulas written down in the Cherokee language and alphabet by former doctors of the tribe and constituting altogether the largest body of aboriginal American literature in existence.

Although the Cherokee are probably the largest and most important tribe in the United States, having their own national government and numbering at any time in their history from 20,000 to 25,000 persons, almost nothing has yet been written of their history or general ethnology, as compared with the literature of such northern tribes as the Delawares, the Iroquois, or the Ojibwa. The difference is due to historical reasons which need not be discussed here.

It might seem at first thought that the Cherokee, with their civilized code of laws, their national press, their schools and seminaries, are so far advanced along the white man’s road as to offer but little inducement for ethnologic study. This is largely true of those in the Indian Territory, with whom the enforced deportation, two generations ago, from accustomed scenes and surroundings did more at a single stroke to obliterate Indian ideas than could have been accomplished by fifty years of slow development. There remained behind, however, in the heart of the Carolina mountains, a considerable body, outnumbering today such well-known western tribes as the Omaha, Pawnee, Comanche, and Kiowa, and it is among these, the old conservative Kitu′hwa element, that the ancient things have been preserved. Mountaineers guard well the past, and in the secluded forests of Nantahala and Oconaluftee, far away from the main-traveled road of modern progress, the Cherokee priest still treasures the legends and repeats the mystic rituals handed down from his ancestors. There is change indeed in dress and outward seeming, but the heart of the Indian is still his own.

For this and other reasons much the greater portion of the material herein contained has been procured among the East Cherokee living upon the Qualla reservation in western North Carolina and in various detached settlements between the reservation and the Tennessee line. This has been supplemented with information obtained in the Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory, chiefly from old men and women who had emigrated from what is now Tennessee and Georgia, and who consequently had a better local knowledge of these sections, as well as of the history of the western Nation, than is possessed by their kindred in Carolina. The historical matter and the parallels are, of course, collated chiefly from printed sources, but the myths proper, with but few exceptions, are from original investigation.

The historical sketch must be understood as distinctly a sketch, not a detailed narrative, for which there is not space in the present paper. The Cherokee have made deep impress upon the history of the southern states, and no more has been attempted here than to give the leading facts in connected sequence. As the history of the Nation after the removal to the West and the reorganization in Indian Territory presents but few points of ethnologic interest, it has been but briefly treated. On the other hand the affairs of the eastern band have been discussed at some length, for the reason that so little concerning this remnant is to be found in print.

One of the chief purposes of ethnologic study is to trace the development of human thought under varying conditions of race and environment, the result showing always that primitive man is essentially the same in every part of the world. With this object in view a considerable space has been devoted to parallels drawn almost entirely from Indian tribes of the United States and British America. For the southern countries there is but little trustworthy material, and to extend the inquiry to the eastern continent and the islands of the sea would be to invite an endless task.

The author desires to return thanks for many favors from the Library of Congress, the Geological Survey, and the Smithsonian Institution, and for much courteous assistance and friendly suggestion from the officers and staff of the Bureau of American Ethnology; and to acknowledge his indebtedness to the late Chief N. J. Smith and family for services as interpreter and for kind hospitality during successive field seasons; to Agent H. W. Spray and wife for unvarying kindness manifested in many helpful ways; to Mr William Harden, librarian, and the Georgia State Historical Society, for facilities in consulting documents at Savannah, Georgia; to the late Col. W. H. Thomas; Lieut. Col. W. W. Stringfield, of Waynesville; Capt. James W. Terrell, of Webster; Mrs A. C. Avery and Dr P. L. Murphy, of Morganton; Mr W. A. Fair, of Lincolnton; the late Maj. James Bryson, of Dillsboro; Mr H. G. Trotter, of Franklin; Mr Sibbald Smith, of Cherokee; Maj. R. C. Jackson, of Smithwood, Tennessee; Mr D. R. Dunn, of Conasauga, Tennessee; the late Col. Z. A. Zile, of Atlanta; Mr L. M. Greer, of Ellijay, Georgia; Mr Thomas Robinson, of Portland, Maine; Mr Allen Ross, Mr W. T. Canup, editor of the Indian Arrow, and the officers of the Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, Indian Territory; Dr D. T. Day, United States Geological Survey, Washington, D. C., and Prof. G. M. Bowers, of the United States Fish Commission, for valuable oral information, letters, clippings, and photographs; to Maj. J. Adger Smyth, of Charleston, S. C., for documentary material; to Mr Stansbury Hagar and the late Robert Grant Haliburton, of Brooklyn, N. Y., for the use of valuable manuscript notes upon Cherokee stellar legends; to Miss A. M. Brooks for the use of valuable Spanish document copies and translations entrusted to the Bureau of American Ethnology; to Mr James Blythe, interpreter during a great part of the time spent by the author in the field; and to various Cherokee and other informants mentioned in the body of the work, from whom the material was obtained.