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 | | ||Hari Singh Bird   | |

 




"Peace comes within the Souls of Men when
they realize their Oneness with the Universe. When
they realize it is really everywhere. It is within each of us."
Black Elk, Lakota Medicine Man

"There is nothing wrong in this world if you do not hate anyone or create a superiority complex to make anyone else feel inferior."
Life According To Yogi Bhajan


Cherokee Facts



 At the time of Removal in 1838, the Cherokee had a written constitution, a bilingual newspaper, and attended Christian churches where they sang hymns in the Cherokee language.

 Nancy Ward, who always spoke for peace, was a first cousin of Dragging Canoe, who made war for Cherokee independence until his death in 1794.

 Cherokee women sent a double-weave rivercane basket to Queen Anne of England in 1725. The basket is now kept by the British Museum.

 The Cherokee name for the Milky Way galaxy is: Where the dog ran, or Gili Ulisvdanv-yi, referring to the ancient story of a cosmic dog who stole cornmeal and scattered it across the sky as he ran away.

 The Cherokee Phoenix, a bilingual newspaper published in New Echota, Georgia, was shut down by the state of Georgia in 1834.

 Contemporary Cherokee baskets are dyed with bloodroot, walnut, and butternut.

 The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians numbers about 11,000 people. Of these, about 8,000 live on 57,000 acres of land in western North Carolina.

 Native people living along the Little Tennessee River have made pottery since 500 B.C.

 Within 150 years of first contact, Native people lost 95% of their population from European diseases.

 The Cherokee are the second largest Native American tribe in the United States, with more than 200,000 members of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina.

 The Cherokee language has no curse words or obscenities.

 Some Cherokee men tied turban.

 See Trail of Tears: Another Story of American Injustice.

 See 18 Things White People Should Know.

 

Where Will Our Children Live

A lonesome warrior stands in fear of what the future brings,
He will never hear the beating drums or the songs his brothers sing.

Our many nations once stood tall and ranged from shore to shore
But most are gone and few remain and the buffalo roam no more.

We shared our food and our land and gave with open hearts,
We wanted peace and love and hope, but all were torn apart.

All this was taken; we did not know what the white man had in store,
They killed our people and raped our lands; the buffalo roam no more.

But those of us who still remain hold our heads up high,
And the spirits of the elders flow through us as if they never died.

Our dreams will live on forever and our nations will be reborn,
Our bone and beads and feathers all will be proudly worn.

If you listen close you will hear the drums and songs upon the winds,
And in the distance you will see...the buffalo roam again. --
Tommy Flamewalker Manasco



Native American Zodiac

Long before the white man set foot on American soil, the American Indians, or rather the Native Americans, had been living in America. When the Europeans came here, there were probably about 10 million Native Americans populating America north of present-day Mexico. And they had been living in America for quite some time. It is believed that the first Native Americans arrived during the last ice age, approximately 20,000 - 30,000 years ago through a land bridge across the Bering Sound, from northeastern Siberia into Alaska. The oldest documented Native American cultures in North America are Sandia (15000 BC), Clovis (12000 BC) and Folsom (8000 BC).

Although it is believed that the Native American Indians originated in Asia, few if any of them came from India. Christopher Columbus, who believed mistakenly that the mainland and islands of America were part of the Indies, in Asia, first applied the name "Indian" to them.

So, when the Europeans started to arrive in the 16th and 17th century they were met by Native Americans, and enthusiastically so. The Natives regarded their white complexioned visitors as something of a marvel, not only for their outlandish dress and beards and winged ships but even more for their wonderful technology, steel knives and swords, fire-belching arquebus and cannon, mirrors, hawksbills and earrings, copper and brass kettles, and so on.

However, conflicts eventually arose. As a starter, the arriving Europeans seemed attuned to another world; they appeared to be oblivious to the rhythms and spirit of nature. Nature to the Europeans, the Native Americans perceived, was something of an obstacle, even an enemy. It was also a commodity: A forest was so many board feet of timber, a beaver colony so many pelts, a herd of buffalo so many robes and tongues. Even the Native Americans themselves were a resource; souls ripe for the Jesuit, Dominican, or Puritan plucking.

It was the Europeans' cultural arrogance, coupled with their materialistic view of the land and its animal and plant beings, that the Native Americans found repellent. Europeans, in sum, were regarded as something mechanical; soulless creatures that wielded diabolically ingenious tools and weapons to accomplish mad ends.

The Europeans brought with them not only a desire and will to conquer the new continent for all its material richness, but they also brought diseases that hit the Native Americans hard.

Conflicts developed between the Native Americans and the Invaders, the latter arriving in overwhelming numbers, as many "as the stars in heaven". The Europeans were accustomed to own land and laid claim to it while they considered the Native Americans to be nomads with no interest to claim land ownership. The conflicts led to the Indian Wars, the Indian Removal Act empowered by President Andrew Jackson in 1830 and other acts instituted by the Europeans in order to accomplish their objectives, as they viewed them at the time. In these wars the Native American tribes were at a great disadvantage because of their modest numbers, nomadic life, lack of advanced weapons, and unwillingness to cooperate, even in their own defense.

The end of the wars more or less coincided with the end of the 19th century. The last major war was not really a war; it was a massacre in 1890 when Native American Indian warriors, women, and children were slaughtered by US cavalrymen at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in a final spasm of ferocity.

A stupefying record of greed and treachery, of heroism and pain, had come to an end, a record forever staining the immense history of the westward movement, which in its drama and tragedy is also distinctively and unforgettably American.

"Any man who thinks he can be happy and
prosperous by letting the Government take care of him,
better take a closer look at the American Indian."
Henry Ford

THE CHEROKEE


Grinding the Corn
by Janet Smith - Cherokee Artist

A European emigrating to the US during the latter part of the 20th century cannot fully comprehend what happened during the past few centuries. Many descendants of emigrants as well as many Native Americans feel the same way. We are all a product of our time and the prevailing circumstances. If we had lived with the Europeans in America during the 19th century, would we have embraced what was going on then? If we had lived with the Germans in the 1930s and 40s, would we have embraced what was going on in Germany then? If we had lived in Scandinavia during medieval time witnessing the horrors of slavery and killings, would we have embraced what was going on then? (The Nordic countries practiced slavery during the middle ages. A master could for any reason kill his slave. This was abolished in 1335.)

These are hard questions for anyone to honestly answer. It is easy to toss around opinions now, at the start of the 21st century, being conveniently removed from circumstances and conditions in a distant and foreign time.

It is time to learn from the past and move into the 21st century as better human beings. After all, we are ONE people under GOD and we can only look back to the past as what it is, history. Now we attempt to cooperate to the best of our ability in the present and we are looking forward to the future for a better world. Let us once again cross the Bering land bridge and sail the Mayflower, but this time together, for the common goal of building mutual respect and trust.

ABOUT THE CHEROKEE PEOPLE

The Cherokee, a North American tribe, are of the Iroquois linguistic family and the Southeast culture area. The Cherokee played an important role in colonial America and in United States history. They remain one of the largest tribes in the United States.

Archaeological and linguistic evidence indicates that the Cherokee migrated in prehistoric times from present day Texas or northern Mexico to the Great Lakes area. Wars with the Iroquois tribes of the New York area and the Delaware tribes pushed them southeast to the Allegheny and Appalachian mountain regions in modern North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and northern Georgia and Alabama. There the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto encountered them in 1540. In 1715 smallpox reduced their population to about 11,000.

During the British and French struggle for control of colonial North America, the Cherokee generally sided with the British, and during the American Revolution the tribe aided Great Britain. In 1785 they negotiated a peace treaty with the United States, but Cherokee resistance continued for a decade thereafter. In 1791 a new treaty reconfirmed the earlier one; part of Cherokee territory was ceded to the United States, and the permanent rights of the tribe to the remaining territory were established. Between 1790 and 1819, several thousand of the tribe migrated west of the Mississippi, becoming known as the Western Band.

In 1820 the tribe established a governmental system modeled on that of the United States, with an elected principal chief, a senate, and a house of representatives. Because of this system, the Cherokee were included as one of the so-called Five Civilized tribes. In 1827 they drafted a constitution and incorporated as the Cherokee Nation.

Meanwhile, valuable gold deposits were discovered in tribal lands, which by previous cessions had been reduced to about 2,830,000 hectares (about 7 million acres) in northwest Georgia, eastern Tennessee, and southwest North Carolina. In 1819 Georgia appealed to the US government to remove the Cherokee from Georgia lands. When the appeal failed, attempts were made to purchase the territory. In retaliation the Cherokee Nation enacted a law forbidding such a sale on punishment of death. In 1828 the Georgia legislature outlawed the Cherokee government and confiscated tribal lands. President Andrew Jackson rejected Cherokee appeals for federal protection. In 1832 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Georgia legislation was unconstitutional, but federal authorities, following Jackson's policy of Native American removal, ignored the decision.

About 500 leading Cherokee agreed in 1835 to cede their tribal territory in exchange for $5,700,000 and land in Native American Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Their action was repudiated by more than nine-tenths of the tribe, and several members of the group were later assassinated. In 1838 federal troops began forcibly evicting the Cherokee. Approximately one thousand escaped to the North Carolina mountains, purchased land, and incorporated in that state; they were the ancestors of the present day Eastern Band.

Meanwhile, most of the tribe, including the Western Band, were driven west about 1,285 km (about 800 mi.) in a forced march, known as the Trail of Tears. About 4,000 perished through hunger, disease, and exposure while on the journey or in stockades awaiting removal. In Native American Indian Territory the Cherokee reorganized their government under their chief, John Ross.


Trail of Tears

During the American Civil War, after great internal conflict, the tribe sided with the Confederacy; a postwar treaty with the United States freed the black slaves of tribal members. Under the General Allotment Act of 1887, uncompromisingly resisted by the Cherokee, plots of tribal land were forcibly allotted to individual members. The government of the Cherokee Nation was dissolved, and its people became US citizens when Oklahoma achieved statehood in 1907. Surplus lands were parceled out by the federal government, and in 1891 the tribe's western land extension, the Cherokee Strip or Cherokee Outlet, was sold to the United States; in 1893 it was opened, mostly to white settlers, in a famous land run.

 
FAQ's AND ANSWERS

Who were the Cherokee princesses?
The Cherokee never had princesses. This is a concept based on European folktales and has no reality in Cherokee history and culture. In fact, Cherokee women were very powerful. They owned all the houses and fields, and they could marry and divorce as they pleased. Kinship was determined through the mother's line. Clan mothers administered justice in many matters. Beloved women were very special women chosen for their outstanding qualities. As in other aspects of Cherokee culture, there was a balance of power between men and women. Although they had different roles, they both were valued.

Did the Cherokee live in tipis (teepees)?
The Cherokee never lived in ti pis. Only the nomadic Plains Indians did so. The Cherokee were southeastern woodland Indians, and in the winter they lived in houses made of woven saplings, plastered with mud and roofed with poplar bark. In the summer they lived in open-air dwellings roofed with bark. Today the Cherokee live in ranch houses, apartments, and trailers.

Early print of Cherokee man wearing turban.


Sequoyah
See more about Sequoyah

What was traditional Cherokee dress, and did they wear headdresses?
The Cherokee have never worn feather headdresses except to please tourists. These long headdresses were worn by Plains Indians and were made popular through Wild West shows and Hollywood movies. Cherokee men traditionally wore a feather or two tied at the crown of the head. In the early18th century, Cherokee men wore cotton trade shirts, loincloths, leggings, front-seam moccasins, finger-woven or beaded belts, multiple pierced earrings around the rim of the ear, and a blanket over one shoulder. At that time, Cherokee women wore mantles of leather or feathers, skirts of leather or woven mulberry bark, front-seam moccasins, and earrings pierced through the earlobe only. By the end of the 18th century, Cherokee men were dressing much like their white neighbors. Men were wearing shirts, pants, and trade coats, but with a distinctly Cherokee turban. (See a history of the turban in America.) Women were wearing calico skirts, blouses, and shawls. Today Cherokee people dress like other Americans, except for special occasions, when the men wear ribbon shirts with jeans and moccasins, and the women wear tear dresses with corn beads, woven belts, and moccasins.

Did other Native Americans wear headdresses?
These photos of ancient Mayan art show a turban-like headdress.

   



Do the Cherokee live on a reservation?
The Cherokee do not live on a reservation, which is defined as land given by the federal government to a tribe. The Eastern Cherokee own 57,000 acres of land which they bought in the 1800's, and which is now owned by them but held in trust by the federal government. This land, called the Qualla Boundary, is mostly woods and mountains in western North Carolina, adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

How did the Eastern Band escape the Trail of Tears?
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is descended from Cherokee people who had taken land under the Treaty of 1819 and were allowed to remain in North Carolina; from those who hid in the woods and mountains until the U.S. Army left; and from those who turned around and walked back from Oklahoma. By 1850 they numbered almost a thousand. Today the Eastern Band includes about 11,000 members, while the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma claims more than 100,000 members, making the Cherokee the second largest tribe in the United States.

Do the Cherokee people want to be called Indians or Native Americans?
The legal name for the Cherokee people in North Carolina is: "The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians." Because "Native American" can refer to anyone born in America, the North American Indian Women's Association recommends using the term "American Indians."

What is the Cherokee government, and do the Cherokee people receive money from the federal government?
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Nations is a sovereign nation within the larger nation of the United States. The Eastern Band is governed by a Principal Chief and a Vice-Chief and a tribal council made up of twelve members, two representatives each from six townships. These are all elected democratically. Voter turnout at the last major election was 70%. Tribal members also vote in state and national elections. The tribe pays for its own schools, water, sewer, fire, and emergency services.

Do Cherokee people still practice their traditional culture?
Cherokee arts and crafts are still practiced: basketweaving, pottery, carving, fingerweaving, and beadwork. The Cherokee language is spoken as a first language by fewer than a thousand people and has declined rapidly because of the policies of federally-operated schools. However, since the tribe has begun operation of their own schools, Cherokee language is being systematically taught in the schools. Traditional Cherokee medicine, religion, and dance are practiced privately.

How has gaming affected the Cherokee?
The Eastern Band of Cherokee has offered bingo games since 1988, when Congress passed a law permitting gaming on Native American lands. In 1997, the tribe opened a casino with video gambling in partnership with Harrah's, Inc. Half of the net profits from gaming go to the tribe for infrastructure expenses. Half of the net profits are disbursed to individual members of the tribe. Children have their payments held in trust until they're eighteen, if they graduate from high school. If they do not graduate from high school, they receive their payments that have been held in trust when they are twenty-one. In 1998, total payments per person were less than $4,000.

How can I become a member of the Eastern Band?
Membership in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is closed except to those eighteen years of age or under who can prove that they have an ancestor on the Baker Roll of 1924 and who can prove that they are at least 1/16th Cherokee by blood.

A Cherokee Prayer Blessing

"May the warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house,
May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there,
May your moccasins make happy tracks in many snows,
And may the rainbow always touch your shoulder." --

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