You Lived With the Cherokee (If You)
What I Learned Section 1 -- Answer
the Following Questions:
did the Cherokee live?
In the Great Smoky Mountains. Long ago, the Cherokee migrated
to the Great Smoky Mountains from the Northeast, home of the Iroquois-speaking
tribes: the Huron, Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, and Mohawk
Nations. Did you know the
Cherokee call themselves Aniyunwiya, meaning "The Principal People?"
They had a summer and a winter house. Their summer home was made
of either logs or small trees and stalks of switch grass with
a deerskin door. Their winter home, or asi, was round with a thatched
roof made of reeds shaped like a cone and thick mud walls to keep
it warm. There were sixty to eighty Cherokee villages along the
rivers in Cherokee country. Each village had a dozen households
and 200 to 400 or more people. The villages had a tall wall of
pointed wooden posts surrounding them to keep out wild animals
2. What did the Cherokee
Deerskin shirts and skirts, breechclouts, leggings, moccasins,
armbands, and jewelry. The Cherokee clothes were made from animal
skins. In the summer, young children did not wear clothes. Men
wore deerskin shirts and breechclouts (a band of deerskin that
hung from a belt at the waist). Women wore deerskin skirts wrapped
around their waists. In the winter, men wore animal skins, moccasins,
and long deerskin leggings. Women wore skirts and shirts decorated
with small turkey feathers. Also, men wore armbands, and women
wore jewelry around their necks, wrists, and ankles. Their clothes
were decorated with shell beads, stone disks, porcupine quills,
feathers, and animal hair. The Cherokee had black straight hair.
Women rarely cut their hair because long hair was beautiful hair
to the Cherokee, and men plucked or shaved their hair so only
a small patch was left on top.
3. Did the Cherokee
hunt and fish or grow crops?
Both. The men and boys hunted (deer, bear, elk, buffalo, squirrels,
birds, frogs) and fished (fish, mussels, and crayfish). They used
bows and arrows to hunt large game and blowguns and darts to hunt
smaller animals. They used bone hooks or box traps to fish. The
women planted and harvested the big village cornfield in a valley.
In addition, each family had their own garden. They ate beans,
pumpkins, squash, sunflower seeds, plums, grapes, berries, mushrooms,
wild greens, persimmons, nuts, and wild potatoes.
4. Who were the chiefs
of the Cherokee village?
The White Chief (Peace Chief) and the Red Chief (War Chief). The
White Chief helped with religious ceremonies and made sure people
got along. He dressed in white deerskins, was known for his bravery
and wisdom, and had seven men to help him rule, one from each
clan (Bird, Wolf, Deer, Wild Potato, Long Hair, Blue, and Paint).
The Red Chief was in charge only in times of war. He wore red
clothes, had skills of a leader and warrior, and also had seven
clan members help him. War Women or Beloved Women helped the Red
Chief plan when to attack an enemy. Other leaders were headmen
who helped the chiefs make decisions, make laws, and conduct religious
ceremonies and a priest who talked for hours about the correct
spiritual way to live.
5. Did the Cherokee
Yes. Festivals celebrated important seasonal events. The First
New Moon of Spring was celebrated in March. The Green Corn Dance
was in August when the young corn was ready for tasting. The Ripe
Corn Ceremony was held in September when the corn was harvested.
The Friendship Ceremony, or Atohuna, was held in the fall to forget
grudges and build friendships. It was a time to begin a new year
with new things and new feelings. Atohuna lasted seven days and
nights with dances every night. The Chief Dance was a festival
held every seven years.
6. What does Nunna-da-ul-tsun-yi
"The Place Where They Cried" and is also known as the Trail of
Tears. In 1838, the Cherokee were told by the U.S. government
to move to the Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. The Cherokee
refused to move and took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court
where they won. However, a new law was passed which forced the
Cherokee to move to the Indian Territory anyway. Eight thousand
Cherokee went by boat. Another 17,000 Cherokee walked to the Indian
Territory. They were hungry and thirsty. One out of four Cherokee
did not survive the journey west, and over 4,000 Cherokee died
along this trail called Nunna-da-ul-tsun-yi or the Trail of Tears.
Some Cherokee did not move west and hid in the mountains. Did
you know today they are called the Eastern Band and
live in the Qualla Boundary in the Great Smoky Mountains of North
Carolina? (Read more about the Eastern Band in the PAPA
WAS A BOY IN GRAY Report #11 by Sacagawea).
What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the
Aniyunwiya: What the Cherokee call themselves meaning "the
Switch Grass: Tall, bamboo-like
cane grass that grows near the river
Dugout Canoe: A canoe made from
one log, hollowed out by fire, and shaped to a point at each end
Yowa: The Great Spirit
Atohuna: The Friendship Ceremony
which takes place in the fall to forget grudges and build friendships
Anesta: Stick ball, a major Cherokee
Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the
Following Questions for Your FREE
a. What is the Cherokee Syllabary?
An alphabet made up of sets of syllables rather than letters.
Sequoya, a Cherokee chief, created the Cherokee Syllabary in 1821.
Sequoya got the idea to create this syllabary after he saw the
new settlers had papers with writing on them. The papers rustled
like leaves and "talked" to people through written language. Sequoya
called them "talking leaves" and thought the Cherokee must have
talking leaves, too. For twelve years, Sequoya and his daughter,
Ahyoka, worked on the syllabary. They made a symbol for each Cherokee
sound. The Cherokee Syllabary has eighty-five characters. Once
a person learned the characters, they could write anything in
the Cherokee language. Many Cherokee learned to read and write
in only a few days. Did you know
Sequoya and Ahyoka were the first people to create a written language
all by themselves? Did you know
the sequoia tree is named in Sequoya's honor?
b. Where do the Cherokee
There are over 186,000 Cherokee living today. This is the second-largest
group of Native Americans in the United States, after the Navaho.
Most Cherokee live in the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. A smaller
group, known as the Eastern Band, live on a tiny part of the same
land where their ancestors lived in the Great Smoky Mountains.
(For more information, go to PAPA
WAS A BOY IN GRAY Report #11 by Sacagawea.) Both bands of
the Cherokee have their own schools, businesses, museums telling
the story of its band, and a Cherokee village built in the same
way as the villages of their ancestors. Both perform summer plays
telling their history. The Eastern Cherokee perform Unto These
Hills, and the Western Cherokee perform Trail of Tears.
The town of Tahlequah in Cherokee County, Oklahoma, is the
capital of the Cherokee Nation, and it is where the Cherokee government
meets. Many streets in Tahlequah are named for Native American
tribes such as Cherokee Avenue, Delaware Street, Shawnee Street,
Chickasaw Street, and Choctaw Street. The street signs are in
both Cherokee and English.
five of the words in Section 2 in a sentence.
Answers will vary. Here are sample sentences from our young readers:
Aniyunwiya is another word
to describe the Cherokee.
My sister wasn't able to find me when I hid from her in the switch
I like to go for a ride in my dugout
The Cherokee believe in one Great Spirit called Yowa.
I forgave my best friend for eating the last cupcake at the Atohuna
My friends and I played anesta
during the summer.
d. Have a parent or friend give you
a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.
More Valuable Information about the
PAPA WAS A BOY IN GRAY Report
Site of the Cherokee Nation (Tahlequah, Oklahoma)
Home Page of the Eastern Band of Cherokee (NC)
of Tears National Historic Trail
Birthplace Museum (Vonore, Tennessee)