7 CHEROKEE CEREMONIES
SEVEN CHEROKEE CEREMONIES
- The first ceremony ia at the first New Moon: The first New Moon of Spring Ceremony, it takes place when the grass begins to grow and the trees send out their pale new leaves. Around the first new moon, predictions concerning the crops success or failure. This ceremony lasts for seven days and it inclueds dancing and re-lighting the sacred fire by the FIRE MAKER. This ceremony includes sarificing a deer's tongue thrown into the fire. Inside the cherokee's homes their fires were extinguished are rekindled from the sacred fire's coals.
- The second ceremony: THE GREEN CORN ceremony (Selutsunigististi). This ceremony is performed when the new cor is rip and ready to be eaten. ( the corn can't be eaten until after the ceremony. Messengers were sent to notify that they were about to have this celebration, along the way they would gather seven ears of corn each from a different clans area. When the messengers returned, the CHIEF and his counselors fasted for six days. This ceremony begins on the seventh , and again the saced fire was extinguished and re-kindled again. (as the deer tongue was sacraficed) the seven ears of corn that were gathered from the seven clans were sacraficed. A powder from tabacco was made and sprinkled over the fire, afterward the chief offered PRAYER, dedicating the corn to the creator. Food that was made from the new corn was brought to the townhouse and eveyone was fed. the chief and his counselors could only eat corn from the previous year's crops for another 7 days.
- THE RIPE CORN CEREMONY: being the 3rd ceremony (DONAGOHUNI) was held in late SEPTEMBER. It was the only ancient ceremony that survived into the 20th century. It is celebrated in the maturing of the corn crop and it is held outdoors in tdhe square ground. In the center of the ground a leafy tree is set. The celebration lasts for four days and is also marked by feasting. during the ceremony a special dance is performed by the chiefs right hand man, as he dances he carries green bough, a man's dance is also performed in which each man carried a green bough. and while this is taking place the women were excluded from the square.
- In the cycle was the GREAT NEW MOON ceremony (NUWATIEGWA) It takes place in October when the new moon appears, since autumn was the season when cherokee stories say the world was created, it represents the new year celebration.. Each family brought some produce from their fields to share, such as corn, beans and pumpkins, ceremonies included dancing, pruification by immersing seven times in to the water, called " GOING TO THE WATER:. The purification ceremony includes predictions of health for the coming year by the priest using the (ULVSUTI crystal).
- TEN days after the new moon ceremony was held, the reconcilliation or FRIENDS MADE CEREMONY (atohuna) The ceremony dealt with relationships between two people of the same or opposite sex. these relationships were bonds of eternal friendshops in which each person vowed to regard the other as himself as long as they both lived. It was a ceremony that was a pledge of univeral, fraternal love, it also entailed reconcilliation between those who had quarreled during the previous year. It symbolized the uniting of the people with the creator and purification of body and mind. the new moon ceremony was said to have been the most profoundly religious of all the ceremonies. as with other observances , it also involves the rekindling of the sared fire.
- the sixth ceromony in the cycle was the BOUNDING BUSH CEREMONY, (Elawatalegi). Few details are now know abaout this ceremony. the time for this festival varied, as the time for it was determined at the new moon of AUTUMN, apparently it was non-religious in nature and was celebrated by feasting and dancing. In the dance men and women alernated in pairs, two male leaders carried hoops with four spokes, each with a wihit feather at the end. the remainder of the dance is described as follows. other pairs int the center and at the end of the dancing column also carried hoops. all of the remaining couples carried white pine boughts in their right hands. the dance movement was circular, and in the center was a man with a small box. he danced around with in the circle, singing as he did so, and as he passed by the dancers, each dropped a piece of tobacco in th box. the dance ended at midnight and was repeated on three successive nights. on the fourht night there was a feast before the dancing , dancing resumed at midnight this time people dropped pine needles into the box at the end of the dance, near daylight, the dancers formed a circle around the sacred fire. one by one they advanced three times toward the fire, the third time tossing both tobacco and pine needles into the flames.
- Every 7TH year the UKA DANCE (Peace chief's dance) Replaced the Great new moon ceremony. In this dance the chief, or UKU, led the nation in a ceremony of thanks giving and rejoicing. at the conclusion of the four day observance, the chief was reinvested with his religious and civil powers by his right-hand-man. Uku was one of several titles conferred upon him. during friends made ceremony for examle his title meant one who renews heart and body. before the chief preformed his dance, he reitually bathed under the guidance of a trained Dida:hnvwi:gi. He wore special regalia for the occassion and performed a dance around a specially prepared circle in the center of the square ground. as he danced, he moved slowly around the circle, inclining his head to each spectator. each spectator bowed in turn to the UKU.