Cherokee Myth

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Forums -> Misc Topics -> Cherokee Myth

Cherokee Myth
Post # 1

Some Important Cherokee Mythological Figures:

Asgaya Gigagei ( Red Man/Woman of Lightening )
Evoked in spells to cure the ill and sick. Capable of changing sex in order to sympathize with whoever it is that is ill. His/Her skin was red in color, which signifies lightening.

Creator ( Yowa ) ( Unetlanvhi) "oo-net-la-nuh-hee"
A divine spirit that has no human form and is not given human attributes/ not personified.
The creator is sometimes referred to as the "Great Spirit", which is a phrase taken from other Oklahoman tribes. Supposedly the name "Yowa" is so sacred that it should only be said by a priest or in hymn. They believed in many different spirits, but only worshiped the Great Spirit as their one God.

Little Deer
The God of Deer. Invisible, and impervious to any hurt ordinary weapons could inflict. When one kills a dear he is supposed to tell the deer that the respects the deers noble sacrifice. Only when the deer's soul is visited by Little Deer will it leave it's body. If respects are not paid to the slain deer it is said Little Deer will track the hunter down and misfortune will befall him.

Moon ( Ge'`yagu'ga )/ Sun ( Su'talidihi' ) or both called ( Nunda )
Some stories tell that the sun was a beautiful and youthful woman who lived in the East, her brother being the Moon lived opposite her in the West. One story says that a man courted the Sun every month in the dark of the moon, always making sure to leave before daylight so that she could not see his face and never giving her his name. She became clever and dipped her hand in ashes, then rubbed it on his face saying that he must be cold from traveling. The next night the moon rose into the sky and his face was covered in ashes. In shame, he tries to stay as far away as he can.

Nunnehi ( Tavelers ) "nun-nay-hee"
Spirit race: also known as "immortals". Friendly towards humans. Very strong beings, sometimes going to battle for the Cherokee's favor- similar in many ways to the Little People. Invisible, but can show themselves to humans. Fond of dancing and music, they supposedly can be heard in the distance. They help lead travelers home.

Rabbit ( Jisdu ) "jeese-do"
The trickster figures in mythology.Usually he was beat at his own game. There are several tales involving the rabbit.

Tlanuwa "tlah-noo-wah"
Giant bird-like creatures of prey. They have metal feathers which deflected arrows. It tended to cause problems for those who lived near it. They could carry away small dogs and children when they hungered. However, it is said to be able to communicate with people. One such tale says that a medicine man climed to the nest of Tlanuwas and threw their offspring over a cliff, where an uktena ate them. Angered at finding their nest empty, the parent Tlanuwas fought with the Uktena.

Uktena "ook-tay-nah"
A horned dragon/serpent. It is said to have been a human man transformed into the form after he failed to assasinate the sun. Deadly monsters."Those who know say that the Uktena is a great snake, as large around as a tree trunk, with horns on its head, and a bright, blazing crest like a diamond upon its forehead, and scales glittering like sparks of fire. It has rings or spots of color along its whole length, and can not be wounded except by shooting in the seventh spot from the head, because under this spot are its heart and its life. The blazing diamond is called Ulunsuti, Transparent, and he who can win it may become the greatest wonder worker of the tribe, but it is worth a mans life to attempt it, for whoever is seen by the Uktena is so dazed by the bright light that he runs toward the snake instead of trying to escape." (James Mooney)
The Ulunsu'ti is said to be a large and transparent crystal with a red streak that runs from top to bottom. It is said that even the conjurer who is in charge of keeping it fears it, and that should the conjurer die they will be buried with it.

Utlunta (Spearfinger)
An ogress who earned the name Spearfinger because her right forefingers nail was shaped like a spear. She was completely made of stone and could not be harmed by arrows or spears. She could assume many shapes though it was common to see her in her normal state, which was that of an old woman. It is said she can control all things stone. Some tales say that Spearfinger would lure children to her and wait till they fell asleep, then she could use her special finger to stab out their livers and consume them. A story says that eventually the Cherokee's caught her and learned that her heart was in her palm, which they shot with an arrow and killed her.

Yunwi Tsundi' (Little People) "yun-wee-oon-stee"
Small humanoid nature spirits. Invisible, but capable of showing themselves- generally in the form of miniature people. Beautiful, with long flowing hair that touched the ground. Frequently help humans, but are capable of using magical powers to harshly punish anyone disrespectful towards them. They tend to be associated with certain areas.

Not a whole collection, just some of the things I found to be interesting. Cherokee mythology is very interesting and I simply wanted to write a bit about it.


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Re: Cherokee Myth
Post # 2

I thought I would take a moment to mention that the Creator or Unetlanvhi was not just mythological to the Cherokees, but was and is a part of modern day religion. Still reffered to as "Great Spirit" or simply "Creator" .

Kanati " Lucky Hunter "
Referred to as the "First Man" in some stories. He was Selu's husband. It is said he lives in the East where the sun rises, and his sons live in the West.

Nunyuniwi "Dressed in Stone"
A man who had skin made of stone. Stories say he lived deep in the mountains and would kill and eat hunters that strayed into his path. He held a bright, shining rock cane that captured the eyes of his prey. However, he is somewhat odd as it says he cannot stand the site of menstruating women. (Who can?) A hunter being pursued by Nunyuniwiw told a medicine man in a near by village that he needed help. Cleverly, this medicine man rounded up a group of nude menstruating women and placed them in Nunyuniwi's path- and upon seeing them he fell to the ground, and the towns people burned him to death. Though, as he died, he shared secrets he knew about curing diseases. It is said he was a carrier of Ulunsuti.

Ocasta " Stonecoat "
Ocasta earned the named Stonecoat because he had a coat made of pieces of flint. He was neither good nor evil- he was a balanced and often said to be the helper of the Creator. He would stir up turmoil occasionally. It is said he was trapped by women, who held him to the ground and staked him in his heart. Together, the men burned him. As he was dying, its said he taught them songs and dances as well as healing techniques- thus, the medicine men were created.

Selu " Corn "
Referred to as the "First Woman" in some stories. She was Kanati's wife. She created the first corn by rubbing her belly. Her sons were known as the "Twin Thunder Boys", who killed her when they spied her and determined she was a witch.

Twin Thunder Boys
The sons of Selu and Kanti. It is said they live in the West and when you hear thunder it is the two boys playing ball.

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Re: Cherokee Myth
By: / Knowledgeable
Post # 3
Thank you, Wa doh! for taking the time to post this. Many people think the Tsalagi people were polytheistic, but they are not. They believe in only one "god" and the rest are spirits of greater or lesser power, but none more important than the others. They're all to be respected because they make up the entirety of the power of nature. I share this belief and honor gods and goddesses of other cultures as higher spirits, not greater than the Great Spirit Herself.

May the spirits bless you!
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Re: Cherokee Myth
Post # 4
Wa doh indeed! This is a lovely post, I am Cherokee myself and love reading about these things. Favorited. Luckily i'm in Tahlequah the Cherokee Capital, and almost everybody on my street speaks Tsalagi, so we can discuss everything in our own native language, which I love. Nice add too White, and I follow that belief, but we have to remember that is for people who follow the orthodox Cherokee belief, and not all do. :)
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Re: Cherokee Myth
Post # 5

A few years ago there was a production at the Heritage Center downtown in which they had fabulous costumes/designs and they told several stories and oral tales, using both Cherokee and English. I was luckily able to see it then and wish it would come back now. There was some man, though I may forget his name (Robert?) who was in charge of oral stories- and I spent much time learning through him. There are so many interesting stories to tell! If time provides I'll most likely write a few of the stories I've heard.

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Re: Cherokee Myth
Post # 6
Thank you so much! Ever since childhood I had loved researching the mythology of my cherokee ancestors.

Blessed Be! :D
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