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were in a sugar grove near their home when a war party of Cherokee
came upon them and carried them off. When the people of the town
learned what had happened, they decided not to go after the enemy
for fear they would kill the women, so their made no pursuit.

The Cherokee carried the women with them until they were within one
day of the Cherokee towns. The elder sister learned this and made up
her mind to try to escape. She had a knife without a handle hidden
under her belt, and that night when all lay down to sleep by the
fire she kept awake. When they were sleeping soundly, she looked
around. She and her sister were tied together, and on each side of
them was a Cherokee with the end of the rope under his body on the
ground. Taking out her knife, she cut the rope without waking the men,
and then rousing her sister quietly she whispered to her to come. They
were going to leave the little boy, but he started to cry, so she said,
"Let us die together," and took him up on her back, and the two women
hurried away. In a little while they heard an alarm behind them,
and knew that their escape was discovered, and then they saw the
blazing pine knots waving through the trees where the Cherokee were
coming on looking for them. The women knew the Cherokee would hunt
for them toward the north, along the trail to the Seneca country,
so they made a circuit and went around to the south until they came
in sight of a fire and saw a man sitting by a tree, shaking a rattle
and singing in a low voice. They found they had come directly back to
the enemy's camp, so the older sister said, "This will never do; we
must try again. Let us go straight ahead to that big tree in front,
and from that straight on to the next, and the next." In this way
they kept on a straight course until morning. When the sun came up,
they took another direction toward home, and at night they rested in
the woods.

They traveled all the next day, and at night rested again. In the
night a voice spoke to the younger woman, "Is that where you are
resting?" and she answered, "Yes." The voice said again, "Keep on,
and you will come out at the spot where you were captured. No harm
will come to you. To-morrow you will find food." She roused her sister
and told her what the voice had said.

In the morning they went on and at noon found a buck freshly
killed. Near by they found a log on fire, so they roasted some of
the meat, had a good meal, and carried away afterwards as much of
the meat as they could. They kept on, camping every night, and when
the meat was nearly gone they saved the rest for the little boy.

At last one night the voice spoke again to the younger sister and said,
"You are on the right road, and to-morrow you will be on the border
of the Seneca country. You will find food. That is all."

In the morning she told her older sister. They started on again
and walked until about noon, when they came to a patch of wild
potatoes. They dug and found plenty, and as they looked around they
saw smoke where there had been a camp fire. They gathered wood, made
up the fire, and roasted the potatoes. Then they ate as many as they
wanted and carried the rest with them.

They traveled on until the potatoes were almost gone. Then at night
the voice came again to the younger woman, saying: "At noon tomorrow
you will reach your home, and the first person you will meet will
be your uncle. When you get to the town, you must call the people
together and tell them all that has happened. You must go to the long
house and take off your skirt and carry it on your shoulder. Then
you must go inside and go around once, singing, 'We have come home;
we are here.' This is the Yontoñwisas song, and it shall be for women
only. Know now that we are the Hadionyageonoñ, the Sky People, who
have watched over you all this time."

When the girl awoke, she told her sister, and they said, "We must
do all this," and they began to sing as they went along. About noon
they heard the sound of chopping, and when they went to the place
they found it was their uncle cutting blocks to make spoons. He did
not see them until they spoke, and at first could hardly believe that
they were living women, because he knew that they had been taken by
the Cherokee. He was very glad to see them, and as they walked on
to the town they told him all they had been commanded to do by the
Sky People. When they arrived at the town, he called all the people
together, and they went to the long house. There the two women sang
their song and did everything exactly as they had been told to do,
and when it was over they said, "This is all," and sat down. This is
the same Yontoñwisas song that is still sung by the women. - Arranged
from Curtin, Seneca manuscript.


Ga'na' was a Seneca war chief. He called a council and said, "We must
go to the Cherokee and see if we can't agree to be friendly together
and live in peace hereafter." The people consented, and the chief
said, "We must go to water first before we start." So they went, a
great party of warriors, far away into the deep forest by the river
side. There were no women with them. For ten days they drank medicine
every morning to make them vomit and washed and bathed in the river
each day.

Then the chief said, "Now we must get the eagle feathers." They went
to the top of a high hill and dug a trench there the length of a man's
body, and put a man into it, with boughs over the top so that he could
not be seen, and above that they put the whole body of a deer. Then the
people went off out of sight, and said the words to invite Shada'ge'a,
the great eagle that lives in the clouds, to come down.

The man under the brushwood heard a noise, and a common eagle came
and ate a little and flew away again. Soon it came back, ate a
little more, and flew off in another direction. It told the other
birds and they came, but the man scared them away, because he did
not want common birds to eat the meat. After a while he heard a great
noise coming through the air, and he knew it was Shada'ge'a, the bird
he wanted. Shada'ge'a is very cautious, and looked around in every
direction for some time before he began to eat the meat. As soon as he
was eating the man put his hand up cautiously and caught hold of the
bird's tail and held on to it. Shada'ge'a rose up and flew away, and
the man had pulled out one feather. They had to trap a good many eagles
in this way, and it was two years before they could get enough feathers
to make a full tail, and were ready to start for the Cherokee country.

They were many days on the road, and when they got to the first
Cherokee town they found there was a stockade around it so that no
enemy could enter. They waited until the gate was open, and then
two Seneca dancers went forward, carrying the eagle feathers and
shouting the signal yell. When the Cherokee heard the noise they came
out and saw the two men singing and dancing, and the chief said,
"These men must have come upon some errand." The Seneca messengers
came up and said, "Call a council; we have come to talk on important
business." All turned and went toward the townhouse, the rest of the
Seneca following the two who were dancing. The townhouse was crowded,
and the Seneca sang and danced until they were tired before they
stopped. The Cherokee did not dance.

After the dance the Seneca chief said, "Now I will tell you why
we have come so far through the forest to see you. We have thought
among ourselves that it is time to stop fighting. Your people and
ours are always on the lookout to kill each other, and we think it
is time for this to stop. Here is a belt of wampum to show that I
speak the truth. If your people are willing to be friendly, take it,"
and he held up the belt. The Cherokee chief stepped forward and said,
"I will hold it in my hand, and to-morrow we will tell you what we
decide." He then turned and said to the people, "Go home and bring
food." They went and brought so much food that it made a great pile
across the house, and all of both tribes ate together, but could not
finish it.

Next day they ate together again, and when all were done the Cherokee
chief said to the Seneca, "We have decided to be friendly and to bury
our weapons, these knives and hatchets, so that no man may take them
up again." The Seneca chief replied, "We are glad you have accepted
our offer, and now we have all thrown our weapons in a pile together,
and the white wampum hangs between us, and the belt shall be as long
as a man and hang down to the ground."

Then the Cherokee chief said to his people, "Now is the time for
any of you that wishes to adopt a relative from among the Seneca to
do so." So some Cherokee women went and picked out one man and said,
"You shall be our uncle," and some more took another for their brother,
and so on until only Ga'na', the chief, was left, but the Cherokee
chief said, "No one must take Ga'na', for a young man is here to claim
him as his father." Then the young man came up to Ga'na' and said,
"Father, I am glad to see you. Father, we will go home," and he led
Ga'na' to his own mother's house, the house where Ga'na' had spent
the first night. The young man was really his son, and when Ga'na'
came to the house he recognized the woman as his wife who had been
carried off long ago by the Cherokee.

While they were there a messenger came from the Seoqgwageono tribe,
that lived near the great salt water in the east, to challenge the
Cherokee to a ball play. He was dressed in skins which were so long
that they touched the ground. He said that his people were already
on the way and would arrive in a certain number of days. They came
on the appointed day and the next morning began to make the bets with
the Cherokee. The Seneca were still there. The strangers bet two very
heavy and costly robes, besides other things. They began to play, and
the Cherokee lost the game. Then the Seneca said, "We will try this
time." Both sides bet heavily again, and the game began, but after a
little running the Seneca carried the ball to their goal and made a
point. Before long they made all the points and won the game. Then the
bets were doubled, and the Seneca won again. When they won a third game
also the Seoqgwageono said, "Let us try a race," and the Seneca agreed.

The course was level, and the open space was very wide. The Cherokee
selected the Seneca runner, and it was agreed that they would run
the first race without betting and then make their bets on the
second race. They ran the first race, and when they reached the
post the Seneca runner was just the measure of his body behind the
other. His people asked him if he had done his best, but he said,
"No; I have not," so they made their bets, and the second race - the
real race - began. When they got to the middle the Seneca runner said
to the other, "Do your best now, for I am going to do mine," and as
he said it he pulled out and left the other far behind and won the
race. Then the Seoqgwageono said, "There is one more race yet - the
long race," and they got ready for it, but the Cherokee chief said
to his own men, "We have won everything from these people. I think
it will be best to let them have one race, for if they lose all,
they may make trouble." They selected a Cherokee to run, and he was
beaten, and the Seoqgwageono went home.

In a few days they sent a messenger to challenge the Cherokee to meet
them halfway for a battle. When the Cherokee heard this they said to
the Seneca, "There are so few of you here that we don't want to have
you killed. It is better for you to go home." So the Seneca went back
to their own country.

Three years later they came again to visit the Cherokee, who told them
that the Seoqgwageono had won the battle, and that the chief of the
enemy had said afterward, "I should like to fight the Seneca, for I
am a double man." Before long the enemy heard that the Seneca were
there and sent them a challenge to come and fight. The Seneca said,
"We must try to satisfy them," so with Cherokee guides they set out
for the country of the Seoqgwageono. They went on until they came
to an opening in the woods within one day's journey of the first
village. Then they stopped and got ready to send two messengers to
notify the enemy, but the Cherokee said, "You must send them so as to
arrive about sundown." They did this, and when the messengers arrived
near the town they saw all the people out playing ball.

The two Seneca went around on the other side, and began throwing sumac
darts as they approached, so that the others would think they were
some of their own men at play. In this way they got near enough to
kill a man who was standing alone. They scalped him, and then raising
the scalp yell they rushed off through the woods, saying to each other
as they ran, "Be strong - Be strong." Soon they saw the Seoqgwageono
coming on horses, but managed to reach a dry creek and to hide under
the bank, so that the enemy passed on without seeing them.

The next morning they came out and started on, but the enemy was still
on the watch, and before long the two men saw the dust of the horses
behind them. The others came up until they were almost upon them and
began to shoot arrows at them, but by this time the two Seneca were
near the opening where their own friends were hiding, drawn up on each
side of the pass. As the pursuers dashed in the two lines of the Seneca
closed in and every man of the Seoqgwageono was either killed or taken.

The Seneca went back to the Cherokee country and after about a month
they returned to their own homes. Afterward the Cherokee told them,
"We hear the Seoqgwageono think you dangerous people. They themselves
are conjurers and can tell what other people are going to do, but they
cannot tell what the Seneca are going to do. The Seneca medicine is
stronger." - Arranged from Curtin, Seneca manuscript.


Among the most inveterate foes of the Cherokee were the Shawano, known
to the Cherokee as Ani'-Sawanu'gi, who in ancient times, probably
as early as 1680, removed from Savannah (i. e., Shawano) river, in
South Carolina, and occupied the Cumberland river region in middle
Tennessee and Kentucky, from which they were afterward driven by the
superior force of the southern tribes and compelled to take refuge
north of the Ohio. On all old maps we find the Cumberland marked as
the "river of the Shawano." Although the two tribes were frequently,
and perhaps for long periods, on friendly terms, the ordinary condition
was one of chronic warfare, from an early traditional period until the
close of the Revolution. This hostile feeling was intensified by the
fact that the Shawano were usually the steady allies of the Creeks,
the hereditary southern enemies of the Cherokee. In 1749, however,
we find a party of Shawano from the north, accompanied by several
Cherokee, making an inroad into the Creek country, and afterward
taking refuge among the Cherokee, thus involving the latter in a new
war with their southern neighbors (Adair, Am. Inds., 276, 1775). The
Shawano made themselves respected for their fighting qualities,
gaining a reputation for valor which they maintained in their later
wars with the whites, while from their sudden attack and fertility
of stratagem they came to be regarded as a tribe of magicians. By
capture or intermarriage in the old days there is quite an admixture
of Shawano blood among the Cherokee.

According to Haywood, an aged Cherokee chief, named the Little
Cornplanter (Little Carpenter?), stated in 1772 that the Shawano had
removed from the Savannah river a long time before in consequence of
a disastrous war with several neighboring tribes, and had settled upon
the Cumberland, by permission of his people. A quarrel having afterward
arisen between the two tribes, a strong body of Cherokee invaded the
territory of the Shawano, and, treacherously attacking them, killed a
great number. The Shawano fortified themselves and a long war ensued,
which continued until the Chickasaw came to the aid of the Cherokee,
when the Shawano were gradually forced to withdraw north of the Ohio.

At the time of their final expulsion, about the year 1710, the boy
Charleville was employed at a French post, established for the Shawano
trade, which occupied a mound on the south side of Cumberland river,
where now is the city of Nashville. For a long time the Shawano had
been so hard pressed by their enemies that they had been withdrawing
to the north in small parties for several years, until only a few
remained behind, and these also now determined to leave the country
entirely. In March the trader sent Charleville ahead with several loads
of skins, intending himself to follow with the Shawano a few months
later. In the meantime the Chickasaw, learning of the intended move,
posted themselves on both sides of Cumberland river, above the mouth
of Harpeth, with canoes to cut off escape by water, and suddenly
attacked the retreating Shawano, killing a large part of them,
together with the trader, and taking all their skins, trading goods,
and other property. Charleville lived to tell the story nearly seventy
years later. As the war was never terminated by any formal treaty of
peace, the hostile warriors continued to attack each other whenever
they chanced to meet on the rich hunting grounds of Kentucky, until
finally, from mutual dread, the region was abandoned by both parties,
and continued thus unoccupied until its settlement by the whites. [473]

According to Cherokee tradition, a body of Creeks was already
established near the mouth of Hiwassee while the Cherokee still had
their main settlements upon the Little Tennessee. The Creeks, being
near neighbors, pretended friendship, while at the same time secretly
aiding the Shawano. Having discovered the treachery, the Cherokee took
advantage of the presence of the Creeks at a great dance at Itsâ'ti,
or Echota, the ancient Cherokee capital, to fall suddenly upon them
and kill nearly the whole party. The consequence was a war, with the
final result that the Creeks were defeated and forced to abandon all
their settlements on the waters of the Tennessee river. [474]

Haywood says that "Little Cornplanter" had seen Shawano scalps
brought into the Cherokee towns. When he was a boy, his father, who
was also a chief, had told him how he had once led a party against
the Shawano and was returning with several scalps, when, as they were
coming through a pass in the mountains, they ran into another party
of Cherokee warriors, who, mistaking them for enemies, fired into
them and killed several before they discovered their mistake. [475]

Schoolcraft also gives the Cherokee tradition of the war with
the Shawano, as obtained indirectly from white informants, but
incorrectly makes it occur while the latter tribe still lived upon
the Savannah. "The Cherokees prevailed after a long and sanguinary
contest and drove the Shawnees north. This event they cherish as
one of their proudest achievements. 'What!' said an aged Cherokee
chief to Mr Barnwell, who had suggested the final preservation of
the race by intermarriage with the whites. 'What! Shall the Cherokees
perish! Shall the conquerors of the Shawnees perish! Never!'" [476]

Tribal warfare as a rule consisted of a desultory succession of petty
raids, seldom approaching the dignity of a respectable skirmish and
hardly worthy of serious consideration except in the final result. The
traditions necessarily partake of the same trivial character, being
rather anecdotes than narratives of historical events which had dates
and names. Lapse of time renders them also constantly more vague.

On the Carolina side the Shawano approach was usually made up the
Pigeon river valley, so as to come upon the Cherokee settlements
from behind, and small parties were almost constantly lurking about
waiting the favorable opportunity to pick up a stray scalp. On
one occasion some Cherokee hunters were stretched around the camp
fire at night when they heard the cry of a flying squirrel in the
woods - tsu-u! tsu-u! tsu-u! Always on the alert for danger, they
suspected it might be the enemy's signal, and all but one hastily
left the fire and concealed themselves. That one, however, laughed
at their fears and, defiantly throwing some heavy logs on the fire,
stretched himself out on his blanket and began to sing. Soon he heard
a stealthy step coming through the bushes and gradually approaching
the fire, until suddenly an enemy sprang out upon him from the
darkness and bore him to the earth. But the Cherokee was watchful,
and putting up his hands he seized the other by the arms, and with a
mighty effort threw him backward into the fire. The dazed Shawano lay
there a moment squirming upon the coals, then bounded to his feet and
ran into the woods, howling with pain. There was an answering laugh
from his comrades hidden in the bush, but although the Cherokee kept
watch for some time the enemy made no further attack, probably led
by the very boldness of the hunter to suspect some ambush.

On another occasion a small hunting party in the Smoky mountains heard
the gobble of a turkey (in telling the story Swimmer gives a good
imitation). Some eager young hunters were for going at once toward
the game, but others, more cautious, suspected a ruse and advised a
reconnaissance. Accordingly a hunter went around to the back of the
ridge, and on coming up from the other side found a man posted in a
large tree, making the gobble call to decoy the hunters within reach
of a Shawano war party concealed behind some bushes midway between the
tree and the camp. Keeping close to the ground, the Cherokee crept up
without being discovered until within gunshot, then springing to his
feet he shot the man in the tree, and shouting "Kill them all," rushed
upon the enemy, who, thinking that a strong force of Cherokee was
upon them, fled down the mountain without attempting to make a stand.

Another tradition of these wars is that concerning Tunâ'i, a great
warrior and medicine-man of old Itsâ'ti, on the Tennessee. In one
hard fight with the Shawano, near the town, he overpowered his man
and stabbed him through both arms. Running cords through the holes
he tied his prisoner's arms and brought him thus into Itsâ'ti, where
he was put to death by the women with such tortures that his courage
broke and he begged them to kill him at once.

After retiring to the upper Ohio the Shawano were received into
the protection of the Delawares and their allies, and being thus
strengthened felt encouraged to renew the war against the Cherokee
with increased vigor. The latter, however, proved themselves more
than a match for their enemies, pursuing them even to their towns in
western Pennsylvania, and accidentally killing there some Delawares
who occupied the country jointly with the Shawano. This involved the
Cherokee in a war with the powerful Delawares, which continued until
brought to an end in 1768 at the request of the Cherokee, who made
terms of friendship at the same time with the Iroquois. The Shawano
being thus left alone, and being, moreover, roundly condemned by their
friends, the Delawares, as the cause of the whole trouble, had no
heart to continue the war and were obliged to make final peace. [477]


The last noted leader of the Shawano raiding parties was a chief known
to the Cherokee as Tawa'li-ukwanûñ'ti, "Punk-plugged-in," on account
of a red spot on his cheek which looked as though a piece of punk
(tawa'li) had been driven into the flesh.

The people of Tikwali'tsi town, on Tuckasegee, heard rumors that a
war party under this leader had come in from the north and was lurking
somewhere in the neighborhood. The Cherokee conjurer, whose name was
Etawa'ha-tsistatla'ski, "Dead-wood-lighter," resorted to his magic
arts and found that the Shawano were in ambush along the trail on
the north side of the river a short distance above the town. By his
advice a party was fitted out to go up on the south side and come
in upon the enemy's rear. A few foolhardy fellows, however, despised
his words and boldly went up the trail on the north side until they
came to Deep Creek, where the Shawano in hiding at the ford took them
"like fish in a trap" and killed nearly all of them.

Their friends on the other side of the river heard the firing, and
crossing the river above Deep creek they came in behind the Shawano
and attacked them, killing a number and forcing the others to retreat
toward the Smoky mountains, with the Cherokee in pursuit. The invaders

Online LibraryJames MooneyMyths of the Cherokee → online text (page 44 of 72)