The Cherokees

The earth was covered with water, and the animals lived in a rocky place. They called a council, because they wanted to live in the water. A water beetle went to check it out. He came back with mud and it grew and grew, until it finally became earth. Then a great buzzard passed by to check that the soil was good. It then made valleys. When the earth dried the animals came down. The humans came. The first man was Kanity "lucky hunter" and the first woman was selu "corn". They were called Ani Yunwiya "real" or "Principal" and they lived in the center of the earth.

The Cherokees lived in huts in what is now Virginia, West Virginia, parts of North and South California, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. The Cherokees were made from the seven clans. Each town had about thirty to sixty houses. The most important house was the town house. It was built right next to the square where special ceremonies happen. They had summer and winter houses. The summer houses were made of logs, clay and tree bark. The winter houses were made of thick walls. They had a chief for each town after the white men came.

The Cherokee men were strong warriors. They wore loincloths and moccasins. They were in charge of organizing the ceremonies. They also played stickball but before they did they danced to give the men courage. The men used a blowgun, early stone ax and stone hatchet to fight.

The Cherokee women were part of the government. They had a ghigauor, "beloved woman". Each clan selected a woman who would go to the gathering of the towns. They were in charge of the entire house hold. They wore leather skirts, but when the white people came they wore cotton shirts and cotton jackets. Some of the women were warriors, they were called War Women or Pretty Women.

The young kids learned about their history by their elders during special ceremonies. They were taught to ignore their hunger and pain. At the age of ten the boys went to the group of the elders. The boys learned how to hunt, be a warrior and about ceremonies by their mother's brother. The girls learned how to do the household duties by their mother or mother's sisters. They took care of errands and siblings.

The Cherokee people believed everything had to be balanced. Their ceremonies were done to keep harmony on earth. Of these celebrations the most important one was the Green Corn ceremony. This was the ceremony for a new year. The women got rid of old clothes and furniture. They also drank a black liquid that made them vomit and get the bad things out of their system. All sins were forgiven except murder. Before killing a animal they said a prayer, if not the hunter might get sick. The Cherokees had healers to take care of them when they were sick.

Things got worse when white men came because they brought diseases. Also, they took away land, by making the Cherokees sign treaties. What hurt even more was that the Cherokees helped the English fight the Americans but the English didn't protect them. The Cherokees were really mad because they lost land often and, could not hunt and had to farm. Pretty soon there were many people of mixed blood.

The Germans tried to convert Indians to Christianity. At first it didn't work but then people converted to it but most did not learn English or how to write. But then a mixed blood called Sequoya invented an alphabet. This way people were able to learn their own language. The Cherokees later developed a printing press. They made church books and other things in their language.

Thomas Jefferson encouraged the Cherokees to become white people. In 1809 they had a central government for the tribes. Then the Cherokees were told to give up their land but refused. When a mixed blood named John Ross discovered gold, the Cherokees were forced to leave. They were not able to get gold and the whites kept taking their land. Finally, the chief John Ross made the government give them 5 million dollars so they could get the land back. At first the whites refused, but then in 1836 they signed a treaty.

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