Background Data


Background Data

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© 1986 by Mary Evelyn Rogers and 1999 by Edward Andrew Rogers. All rights reserved.

A Brief History of The Cherokees: 1540-1906 (With Epilogue to 1985)

Referenced Sources


Author's Family Genealogy


Either read the whole page or hyperlink to the section you want to read!





5. RELIGION (Including Keetoowah)




9.(War and Torture)


11. (Agriculture)

12. (Livestock)

13. (Crafts)

14. (Games)

15. (Training of Young)

16. (Burial of Dead)






There is a controversial theory that man entered the Americas by means of the Bering Land Bridge between 14,000 and 50,000 (and possibly even 150,000) years ago, based on bones modified to form tools. This has been questioned, because old bones could have been so shaped, and the sites where they were found were not human settlement sites. Even the theory of population movement by means of the land bridge is in question. Present theory indicates the land was an uninviting tundra at the supposed time of crossing, and earlier, dated finds are in the south.

The oldest known North American site is the Clovis Culture, which has been radio-carbon dated between 11,500 and 11,000 years old. Similar projectile points in dated Alaskan sites are about 1000 years younger.

A recent archaeological find at Monte Verde, southwest of Puerto Montt in south-central Chile is reported to be about 13,000 years old. This and other South American discoveries have suggested that humans may have entered the Americas by trans-oceanic voyages across the Pacific Ocean from Asia and spread northward. (See "The Origin of the First Americans," by James E. Dixon, Archaeology magazine, Vol. 38, No. 2, March/April 1985.)

The eastern Cherokee Nation is known to have been inhabited by Cherokees since 1540 (the beginning of the "historical period"), when DeSoto visited them.

The Delawares (Algonquin family) were called "Grandfathers" by other eastern tribes and had a tradition of driving the TALLEGUIS or TALLEGEWI (believed to have been Cherokees) from the northern territory to south of the Ohio River, with the help of the Iroquois.

In 1958, Joffre L. Coe ("Cherokee Archaeology," in "Symposium on Cherokee and Iroquois Culture," ed. John Bullick, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 180 (Washington DC: 1961), 53-60) offered the suggestion that the Cherokee culture in the Southern Appalachians had been in that region for more than 2000 years. By 1960, archaeological data was accumulating to show a long "pre-history" existence of the Cherokee in the Southern Appalachians. Three distinct subregional developments have been identified, beginning with about 1000 A.D., indicating that,

although there was some outside influence, the historical Cherokee culture was the end product of a long, continuous growth in the area. This makes the truth of the Delaware tradition unlikely, if it applies to the Cherokees. (See Roy S. Dickens Jr., "The Origins and Development of Cherokee Culture," ed. Duane H. King, "The Cherokee Indian Nation--a Troubled History," Univ. of Tenn. Press, 1979, pp. 3-32.)

Emmet Starr believed the designs on artifacts found at Etowah Mound in Georgia, and the "soft accents" of the Cherokee Underhill dialect, indicated an origin in the south, such as Central America or Yucatan. Grace Woodward stated that their language was kin to Iroquois, and that their basket weaving linked with Orinoco and the Amazon areas. (I would like to point out that there was considerable trade, and, therefore, contact between the American Indians prior to the "historical" period, and the above indicated relationships may have been due to trade MER)

Linguistic studies show the Cherokees had been separate from the Iroquois, their closest linguistic relative, for at least 3500 years, based on a 1961 report, per Duane King in the introduction to "The Cherokee Nation."



The early-day Cherokees called themselves "Ani-Yun-Wiya," meaning THE People, or Real (Principal) People. This would seem to be a logical and universal name of early tribes of men for themselves.

The Cherokees also called themselves "Ani Kitu-Hwagi" (Kituhwa, Keetoowhah, Keetoowah) or "People of Keetoowah." According to Starr, this name derived from the fact that they were the head tribe of the "Long House" group of eastern Indians who kept alive ancient rituals, customs, and practices.

Other people called them Cherokee, Charake, Tsalagi, Tchereke, Cheerake, Tsaragi, Tchereke, Cheerake possibly Tomahitans. Trying to determine the meaning of these names seems to me to be an exercise in futility. Let alone the fact that it could have been misunderstood originally, the meaning could be simply that they were a friend or enemy, or the direction in which they lived.



The Cherokee Nation's hunting territory was approximately 40,000 sq. miles of the southern Alleghenies (today: SW Virginia, western North and South Carolina, Tennessee, northern Georgia, and the northeastern hip of Alabama.)

Their Lower Towns were their settlements on the head branches of the Savannah (Keowee) River, and its tributaries. These, apparently, were principally in what is now South Carolina and northeast Georgia. The Overhills were around the Little Tennessee, Hiwassee, and Cheowa Rivers in eastern Tennessee. The Middle Towns were in between on the Oconaluftee, Tuckaseegee, Nantahala, and Little Tennessee Rivers in western North Carolina. (The only map I have seen of this division appears to have no scale, and the designation of Lower, Middle, and Overhills may have been the white man's.)

James Adair, Chickasaw Indian trader, said that, in 1735 or 1736, there were about 64 towns and villages, with 30 to 60 houses per town. There is a list of 83 town names for the period 1721-1781 in pages 54-56, "Distribution of 18th Century Settlements," by Betty Anderson Smith, in "The Cherokee Indian Nation," ed. by Duane King.

Chota (Echauta, "Place of Rest") has been called the capital of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee Nation had no capital city. Chota was the principal town of the Overhills with which the white men had dealings.

According to James Adair, the Cherokee Nation had abundant natural resources, but the Indians searched for them only on the surface.



Land was owned by all the Cherokees in common. Alexander Hewitt said, in 1779: "The Cherokees differ in some respects from other Indian Nations that have wandered often from place to place...From time immemorial, they have had possession of the same territory which at present they occupy. They affirm, that their forefathers sprung from that ground, or descended from the clouds upon those hills. These lands of their ancestors they value above all things in the world. They venerate the places where their bones lie interred, and esteem it disgraceful in the highest degree to relinquish these sacred repositories. The man that would refuse to take the field in defense of these hereditary possessions is regarded by them as a coward and treated as an outcast from their nation."

Hewitt also said: "No Indian, however great his influence and authority, could give away more than his own right to any tract of land, which, in proportion, is no more than as one man to the whole tribe....a foolish bargain of an individual often exposed the European settlers to the fury and vengeance of the whole clan."

None of the land cessions made with the white man was valid before John Ross was made Principal Chief, nor those made afterwards with any other, while he was still Principal Chief. Prior to that, no single individual nor group of individuals had the right to cede land.

Emmet Starr believed this lack of individual ownership was one of the serious disadvantages of the Texas Cherokees in their efforts to secure title to their land.



I agree with Emmet Starr that it is now impossible to determine the original religion (and/or myths) of the Cherokees, because of the numerous early contacts with the white men.

In James Adair's account, he related that he told Bible stories to the Indians. Traders, such as Ludovick Grant, who went to the Cherokee Nation in 1725-26, married a Cherokee, and stayed with the tribe, probably spread their Christian beliefs and folk lore. Christian Gottlieb Priber, whom some sources refer to as an "ex-Jesuit missionary," settled in the Cherokee Nation in 1736, married a Cherokee, and tried to mold the Cherokees into his form of an "ideal" government. It is reasonable to assume that he also discussed his religious beliefs.

In 1761, William Fyffe, a plantation owner from Charlestown, said: "Some of them have a confused notion of good and evil spirits but seem more attentive to the latter...They are strongly affected with dreams & run to their conjurers for an explanation, they likewise depend on their conjurers to foretell them what success they'll have in Hunting & all their concerns."

In 1797, when Louis-Philippe asked about the "reverence and care" with which the Cherokees buried the remains of worn-out town houses, believing the buildings might have been used for some religious service, he was told they had no religious service and that the town houses were used for meetings. (See William C. Sturtevant, "Louis-Philippe on Cherokee Architecture and Clothing in 1797," Journal of Cherokee Studies, Vol. III, No. 4, Fall 1978, p.200.)

Starr stated that, when the early missionaries came among the Cherokees, they were astonished at the similarity of the religious traditions of the Cherokees, who detailed to them parallels to practically every one of the stories of the Bible. Starr believed the Cherokees heard the Bible stories from Priber, and, having forgotten their origins, believed the missionaries were bringing back to them their old religion, and were, therefore, easy to convert.



According to his descendant, William Smith, Little Pig (or Pig "Redbird" Smith, after his profession of blacksmith), brought Keetoowah (the ancient rituals, customs, and practices of the eastern Indians) to the western Cherokee Nation three years before the Trail of Tears (about 1835). He brought the seal, sacred wampum belts (which are, apparently, coded messages from which to teach the beliefs of the Keetoowahs), and the sacred fire.

In the latter part of 1859, Rev. Evan Jones and his son played a major role in organizing the Keetoowah Society, which included full-bloods who were Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, a few Quakers, as well as the people who worshipped according to the ancient Keetoowah beliefs. They co-existed harmoniously from 1859 to 1889, but dissentions came after the white Missionaries objected to the ancient rituals, which they termed "the Pagan Form of worship," and "the work of the Devil." After this, the different denominations became strictly sectarian in their practice, but there was still no enmity between them.

During the Civil War, the Keetoowah group allied with Rev. Jones, who was an abolitionist, were pro-Union. They wore an insignia of crossed pins for identification on their hunting shirts and coats, and were referred to as "Pins" or "the Pin Indians."

In 1889, the Keetoowah Society constitution and laws were amended, making it more political in nature. After this, the difference between the Christian Keetoowahs and the Ancient Keetoowahs became more marked, and even their political policies lacked harmony.

In 1895, when the question of individual allotment of land was being discussed, the Ancient Keetoowahs were very active in opposing the change from common ownership. The Christian Keetoowahs objected to any speedy change, but believed change was inevitable.

Redbird Smith, who was born July 19, 1850, was a member of the Ancient Keetoowahs. He was of authority among them when, January 31, 1899, at a general election concerning the Dawes Commission Treaty, the full-bloods lost in their attempt to defeat the allotment of lands by 2015 votes. He counseled his people not to participate further in the deliberations of what he termed the majority of the advocates of the change. He and his group stood steadfast in this attitude until about 1910, when he became convinced that it was hopeless to expect the U.S. Government to see the injustice to the full-bloods and take measures to make amends.

In 1908, Redbird Smith's position as Chairman of the Nighthawk Keetoowah Council was officially changed to Chief, and he was unanimously elected to that office for life. After his election to Chief, he decided that, in the interest of preserving racial heritage, the mixed-bloods should be included. Redbird Smith died November 8, 1918.

His descendant, William Smith, is the present Chief of the Ancient Keetoowahs.



The Cherokee Nation was originally composed of autonomous towns, with the seven Clans providing the cohesive element that made them a Nation.



The seven Clans of the Cherokees controlled inter-personal affairs, such as hereditary duties and privileges, marriage, revenge, disputes between individuals, and personal injury or property damage cases. The children belonged to the Clan of the mother, and the law forbid marriage between persons of the same Clan.

Bears were considered to be the eighth Clan of the Cherokees. According to John P. Brown, in "Old Frontiers," the bears were believed to be Cherokees who had become tired of living with the tribe, started living in the woods eating roots and berries (which caused their hair to grow on their bodies), and eventually turned into Yanu (bears).

Evidently, the original names of the seven (human) Clans have been lost or changed over the years, or the meaning of some of their names have been differently interpreted. Modern-day Keetoowahs now have a Bear Clan, according to William Smith (on the 1984 TV documentary). John P. Brown's list contains a Kituwah Clan, which seems unlikely. Grace Woodward's list of Clans in the present-day Eastern Band shows the greatest divergence. A comparison of Clan names from four sources is as follows:







Long Hair


Blind Savannah






Long Hair








Long Hair











Wild Potato


The presence of the Clans in the autonomous Cherokee towns insured that the towns did not wage war on each other. Killing between Cherokees, which was an act of war when committed by or to an outsider, came under the law of Clan revenge. If a Cherokee of one Clan killed a Cherokee of another Clan, the C1an of the slain person was entitled to (1) claim the life of the killer, or (2) if the killer could not be reached, claim the life of a close relative in the killer's Clan, or (3), failing that, of another member of the killer's Clan. Revenge entitled the injured Clan to a life for a life, without reciprocal retaliation, which evened the score. Sometimes, however, the killer was permitted to "take the warpath," and either be killed or bring back a scalp to offer the offended Clan. The scalp did not have to be accepted but it often was, if the killing had not been intentional. (See John Phillip Reid's "A Perilous Rule: The Law of International Homicide," ed. Duane H. King, "The Cherokee Indian Nation," pp. 33-45)



The original town government structure is much more difficult to try to determine at this late date, because there are no written records and the men who encountered it appeared to assume its resemblance to the white man's and made no study of it.

It is reported that each town had a counci1 open to all town members, which handled political matters, such as relationships with other tribes (including white men), public buildings, community farming, and ceremonies. In short, the town council was responsible for everything except interpersonal affairs, which were under the jurisdiction of the Clans.

From my reading of both historical quotations and contemporary writing, it seems to me that the writers tried to impose the white man's governmental structure on what they observed about town leadership. They referred to various town chiefs as "Principal Chiefs," accepted Sir Alexander Cuming's allegation that he had been "allowed to name" Chief Moytoy of Tellico "Emperor of the Cherokees" (when no such word or concept existed in the Cherokee language), and spoke of people as being "second in command." Grace Woodward stated that each town was governed by two chiefs--a White Chief for peace, and a Red Chief for war, and that "custom dictated" an assemblage of war women (or "Pretty Women") at war councils. V. Richard Persico Jr. said the town councils were dominated by three groups: a "priest-chief" and his assistants; elders (one from each Clan), and the town's "Beloved Men."

From studying Cherokee history, it appears to me that power was not conferred on a particular class of people, nor for any given length of time, but had to be successfully won if power was to be sustained. There appear to have been three classes of people who succeeded in persuading the people to follow them-the Oukas (Ukus--"Beloved Men"), the warriors, and the Speakers. It also appears that, while the Ghi-ga-u's and "conjurers" had influence, they never assumed a leadership role. Continuation of leadership depended upon giving the people what they wanted or persuading them that they wanted what the leader wanted, and they followed a man just as long as he could produce the desired result.

The Cherokees did not follow any man who had not proven himself in some way. They couldn't, for example, understand why the British placed young, untried men (scions of the upper classes) in positions of authority over their military groups.

As far as the influence of the Clan elders goes, everyone was a member of a Clan, and all elders were respected if they had demonstrated their abilities.

There were no hereditary offices. Paternal descent meant nothing. Maternal descent, apparently, only determined a person's Clan.

The title of Ouka (Uku), sometimes translated as "Beloved Man, or Peace Chief, appears to have been a distinction conferred because of outstanding ability in civil matters (Note Attacullaculla's rebuke in 1759 to Chief Connecorte ("Old Hop") for promoting war, saying he was "defiling his office of Chota Uku.") The title of Ouka, however, did not necessarily confer leadership, as is established by the fact that Attacullaculla superseded Connecorte in leadership of the council while Connecorte continued to be Ouka of Chota.

Warriors could "declare" the need for a war, without asking any other leader. If the warrior was sufficiently well regarded, he could persuade men to join him in a fight, as Oconostota did at a time when Attacullaculla did not wish to go to war against the British. There doesn't seem to have been a single title given to warriors. Oconostota was called "The Great Warrior," Ostenaco was given the title of "Outacite" (Mankiller), and some warriors were given the title of Raven (as Savanooka, nephew of Oconostota, was called "The Raven of Chota"). A warrior's influence was not restricted to time of war, as when Oconostota was the effective leader of at least the Overhills during the time when Attacullaculla was out of favor.

The title Ghi-ga-u was given to outstanding women, according to Starr, "as an extreme mark of valorious merit." (For example, Nancy Ward was made a Ghi-ga-u because she fought like a warrior after her husband's death in the Battle of Taliwa.) Also, according to Starr, the position "carried with it the right to speak, vote, and act in all of the peace and war councils of the tribe," and conferred the "supreme pardoning power of the tribe." The Gazette of the United States, Vol. XXX, No. 6, July 25, 1789, in a description of the Nov. 1785 meeting of the Cherokees with the U.S. Commissioners, stated that the "War Woman of Chota" gave a speech. It seems a reasonable assumption that "War Woman" referred to a Ghi-ga-u (altho I do not think it conclusive that it

Nancy Ward, as shown in "The Cherokees"). The number of Ghi-ga-u's in a town must have varied, since the title was conferred on merit, and it is conceivable that some towns had many and others none. As to the place of the Ghi-ga-u in governing a town, there are not sufficient facts to come to a definite conclusion. Everyone, apparently, had the right to attend town councils. It is unknown whether everyone had the right to express an opinion, or "vote" (i.e., have their opinion matter in the final decision), or whether the final decision rested with the proven elders. While history supports the fact that the Ghi-ga-u's were respected, and, at least in Nancy Ward's case, able to free prisoners, no Ghi-ga-u was ever reported to have assumed leadership over a council or a town. "Beloved Woman" is not a translation of Ghi-ga-u, but a title of respect. They also called the Uku (Ouka) a "Beloved" Man. Translating Ghi-ga-u as "Pretty Woman" is obviously incorrect.

I do not have sufficient information on the early Cherokees who were referred to as "conjurers" by the British to assess their place in the power structure.

I have included "Speaker" as a position of authority, and not just a temporary honor at conferences, or a "second in command," because (1) Attacullaculla never claimed any title other than Speaker, and he was neither an Ouka nor a warrior (although he did on occasion "make war"), (Z) it was still a distinct position, even though probably watered down by the influence of white government practices, in 1823 when Major Ridge was Speaker of the National Committee, and (3) Chief John Ross used a Speaker to transmit his message to the autumn council in 1840 because of tradition. I believe Speakers were men of outstanding oratorical ability.

Evidence of the importance of a Speaker is contained in an account by Attacullaculla about his trip to England in 1730. He said, "Tho I was the first person who had agreed to go, yet as I was the youngest of the company, it would not be right that I should be the Speaker" (to give the customary oration for such an occasion as the signing of the "Articles of Friendship.")

Evidence of Attacullaculla's authority in 1755 is shown by the fact that, at the conference with Governor Glen at Charlestown, he was chosen Speaker, even though Connecorte (the Ouka of Chota) and Oconostota were present, and that he concluded his final oration with the uncontradicted statement: "My speech is at an end. It is the voice of the Cherokee Nation." In about 1756-1757, Chief Connecorte stopped talking against Attacullaculla, when Attacullaculla came within earshot, and, when Captain Stuart once suggested that he was being influenced by "Old Hop" (Connecorte), Attacullaculla replied, "I am not a Boy...but the Head Man of this Nation. I give Talks to the Governor of Chota, not he to me."

As evidence that the position of Speaker was a continuing tradition, note that John Howard Payne wrote the following in his report on the autumn council of 1840: "John Ross accordingly appeared at a sort of rustic forum set up in the open square, with the written message in his hand, which he read, sentence by sentence, in English, pausing at every period for an interpreter who stood by his side to repeat his words, in Cherokee, to the multitude. The Chief, I am told, could always very readily do this himself, BUT THE PEOPLE HERE, ON SUCH OCCASIONS, LIKE THE CITIZENS OF LONDON IN THE TIME OF RICHARD THE THIRD ARE, AS SHAKESPEARE SAYS, 'USED TO BE SPOKEN TO ONLY THRU THE RECORDER."'

Chickasaw trader John Adair said the title Attacullaculla "had something to do with wood." The British called him "The Little Carpenter," because of his small size and his title. British Lt. Timberlake visited the Cherokees December 1761 to May 1762. He accompanied Ostenaco's party to England, and hadn't acquired enough Cherokee to interpret Ostenaco's speech to King George. He was too broke to return to America. Timberlake wrote in his "Memoirs" that the title Attacullaculla was given because of his "excelling in building houses," however, Timberlake was accustomed to Attacullaculla being called "The Little Carpenter." Felix Walker, in his "Narrative of a Kentucky Adventure in 1775," (published in 1909), tried to connect the word "carpenter" to Attacullaculla's demonstrated ability as a diplomat, saying, "As a white carpenter could bring every notch and joint to fit in wood, so this Indian could, by deep, artful, and ingenious diplomatic abilities ably demonstrated by treaties with the white men, and his influence on their national councils, bring various minds together and fit their beliefs in the political machinery of his nation." James Mooney said Attacullaculla meant "leaning wood."

Emmet Starr, a member of the western Cherokee Nation, said the word Attacullaculla meant "pole or reed slightly stuck in the earth and leaning," or "leaning stick." Starr's definition suggests to me a "trail marker " If it were. it would fit the leadership position of which Attacullaculla was so proud, and Felix Walker's conclusion was correct, even though he arrived at it by means of an incorrect definition.


Originally, there was no central government, no Principal Chief (in the meaning of head of State), and no standing army.

In order to secure the cooperation of the Cherokees, it was necessary to persuade them to a point of view. Oratory, therefore, was a high art. Most prominent Cherokees were orators, with Oconostota being the rare exception. Any group which disagreed with a decision had the right to withdraw (which makes it inaccurate to call Dragging Canoe and the other Chickamaugans "secessionists"). Failure to recognize this need for persuasion was probably what caused Major Andrew Lewis (the British Colonial Officer who built a fort in the Overhills and sought Cherokee aid for Virginia) to say: "They are like the Devil's Pigg, they will neither lead nor drive."

The Cherokees gradually, over a period of years, remodeled their government after what they perceived the white man's government to be.

In 1792, the Cherokee National Council was composed of delegates from each town, and made decisions concerning external affairs. It had no power to enforce its decisions, and dissent by withdrawal was permissible.

In 1808, the National Council began regulating internal affairs, formerly the sole province of the Clans. They established the "Light Horse" to deal with horse stealing and inheritance disputes. They made the first written laws this year.

In 1810, the National Council abolished Clan revenge.

In 1817, the National Council established a 13-member Standing Committee (later called the National Committee) as a part of its body to have overall supervision of National affairs, subject to review by the National Council. (Both bodies have subsequently been referred to as the National Council.) Fifty-four towns abstained. Even so, the National Council was now the most powerful organization in the Nation, and its President was the most powerful man.

In 1820, the National Council divided the Nation into eight districts and delegates to the National Council were thereafter made on a regional, rather than a town, basis. Courts of law were established.

In 1821, a high Court was created to handle the overflow of private affairs brought before the National Council.

In 1823, the National Committee was given the power to review and approve National Council actions. Private cases were assigned to the jurisdiction of the Courts. Power was now vested in the National Committee, of which John Ross was President, and Major Ridge was Speaker.

In 1825, the control of the National Council and National Committee over Cherokee lands and annuities was formalized, and it was provided that the "principal" chiefs could not dispose of public property, make treaties, or overrule the National Council's decisions. (Improvements on land made by private citizens were considered personal property, however, the private citizens were forbidden to dispose of them to a non-Cherokee!) V. Richard Persico Jr. considers the 1825 actions to be the National Council's attempt to establish the Council as the supreme governing body of the Nation, however, it was still possible to dissent by withdrawal.

In 1828, the Cherokee Constitution was created. Its major change was the establishment of a strong Principal Chief, with veto power over Council actions. THIS IS THE FIRST YEAR IN WHICH THE TITLE "PRINCIPAL CHIEF" COULD HAVE THE MEANING OF "HEAD OF STATE." Chief White Path led a dissenting group against the new constitution, to no avail. This was the last recorded dissent against central government. (The makers of the fraudulent "Treaty" of 1835 cannot be so considered, because the signatories did not protest by withdrawal, but purported to represent the non-consenting majority.) John Ross was elected Principal Chief of the Cherokees in November 182Qv.



Very little is known about Cherokee marriage laws. Divorce was permitted (which apparently shocked their white contemporaries), but some marriages lasted a long time. In short, I suspect their marriages had about the same duration as those of today! For example, John Rogers (the White Trader) had three marriages, which produced five children by Elizabeth Emory, one child by Ann Pruitt, and five children by Jennie Due. His eldest son, Charles, had two marriages; the one with Nannie Downing resulting in two children, and the one with Rachel Hughes resulting in eight children. John Rogers (Jr.) had only one wife and eight children. James Rogers also had only one wife and seven children (In working for Social Security, I discovered one cause for divorce, which was still practiced in the early 20th Century. A marriage was considered ended (without need for the white man's divorce action) if one of the partners was convicted of a major crime.

Some descendants allege the Cherokees practiced polygamy, but I have found no evidence to either support or refute this contention.

According to Grace Woodward, the white colonists noted that some Cherokees married three times in one year, and one said, "like the Amazons (Cherokee women)...divorce bed-fellows at their pleasure." William Fyffe, however, noted that the Cherokee husband could punish a wife for "incontinency" as he saw fit.

Chickasaw trader James Adair disapproved of the fact that the Cherokees admitted women to their war councils and gave them more freedom than any other Indians he knew. He accused the Cherokee men of living "under a petticoat government." The following story of a Cherokee/White marriage probably tells more about Adair's cynicism than Cherokee marriage customs, because he states the Cherokees (including her twin brother) so disapproved of the actions of Dark Lanthorn that they subsequently refused to bury her:

"The conversion of this 'rara avis' was in the extraordinary manner. There was a gentleman who married her according to the manner of the Cheerake; but observing that marriages were commonly of a short duration in that wanton female government, he flattered himself of ingrossing her affections, could he be so happy as to get her sanctified by one of our own beloved men with a large quantity of holy water in baptism--and be taught the conjugal duty, by virtue of her new Christian name when they were married a new. As she was no stranger in

the English settlements, he soon persuaded her to go down to the Conqgarees, to get the beloved speech, and many fine things beside. As the priest was one of those sons of wisdom, the church sent us in her maternal benevolence, both to keep and draw us from essential errors, he readily knew the value of a convert, and grasping at the opportunity, he changed her from a wild savage to a believing Christian in a trice.

"He asked her a few articles of her creed, which were soon answered by the bridegroom, as interpreter, from some words she spoke on a trifling question he asked her. When the priest proposed to her a religious question, the bridegroom, by reason of their low ideas and the idiom of their dialects, was obliged to mention some of the virtues, and say he recommended to her a very strict chastity in the married state. 'Very well,' said she, 'that's a good speech, and fit for every woman alike, unless she is very old--but what says he now?' The interpreter, after a short pause, replied that he was urging her to use a proper care in domestic life. 'You evil spirit,' said she 'when was I wasteful or careless, at home?' He replied, 'Never.' 'Well then,' said she, 'tell him his speech is troublesome and light. But, first, where are those fine things you promised me?' He bid her be patient a little, and she should have plenty of everything she liked best; at this she smiled. Now the religious man was fully confirmed in the hope of her conversion; however, he asked if she understood, and believed that needful article, the doctrine of the trinity. The bridegroom swore heartily that if he brought out all the other articles of his old book, she both knew and believed them, for she was a sensible young woman.

"The bridegroom has a very difficult part to act, both to please the humor of his Venus, and to satisfy the inquisitive temper of our religious son of Apollo; he behaved pretty well however, till he was desired to ask her belief of the uni-trinity, and the tri-unity of the Deity; which the beloved man endeavored to explain. On this, she smartly asked him the subject of their long and crooked-like discourse. But, as his patience was now exhausted, instead of answering her question, he said with a loud voice, that he believed the religious man had picked out all the crabbed parts of his old book, only to puzzle and stagger her young Christian faith; otherwise how could he desire him to persuade such a sharp-discerning young woman, that one was three, and three one? Besides, that if his book had any such question, it belonged only to the deep parts of arithmetic, in which the very Indian beloved men were untaught. He assured the priest, that the Indians did not mind what religion the women were of, or whether they had any; and that the bride would take it very kindly, if he shortened his discourse, as nothing can disturb the Indian woman so much as long lectures.

"The Dark-Lanthorn, (which was the name of the bride), became very uneasy, both by the delay of time, and the various passions she attentively read in the bridegroom's face and speech, and she asked him sharply the meaning of such a long discourse. He instantly cried out, that the whole affair was spoiled, unless it was brought to a speedy conclusion; but the religious man insisted upon her belief of that article, before he could proceed any farther. But by way of comfort, he assured him it should be the very last question he would propose, till he put the wholly water on her face, and read over the marriage ceremony The bridegroom revived at this good news. immediately sent the bowl around, with a cheerful countenance; which the bride observing, she asked him the reason of his sudden joyful looks. But, what with the length of the lecture, the close application of the bowl, and an over-joy of soon obtaining his wishes, he proposed the wrong question; for instead of asking her belief of the mysterious union of the tri-une Deity, he only mentioned the manly faculties of nature. The bride smiled, and asked if the beloved man borrowed that speech from his beloved marriage book? Or whether he was married, as he was so waggish, and knowing in those affairs. The priest imagining her cheerful looks proceeded from her swallowing his doctrine, immediately called for a bowl of water to initiate his new convert. As the bridegroom could not mediate with his usual friendly offices in this affair, he persuaded her to let the beloved man to put some beloved water on her face, and it would be a sure pledge of a lasting friendship between her and the English, and intitle her to everything she liked best. By the persuasive force of his promises, she consented; and had the constancy, though so ignoranta novitiate in our sacred mysteries, to go through her catechism, and the long marriage ceremony--although it was often interrupted by the bowl. This being over, she proceeded to go to bed with her partner, while the beloved man sang a psalm at the door concerning the fruitful vine. Her name he soon entered in capital letters, to grace the first title-page of his church book of converts; which he often shewed to his English sheep, and with much satisfaction would inform them how, by the cooperation of the Deity, his earnest endeavours changed an Indian 'Dark-Lanthorn' into a lamp of Christian light. However, afterwards, to his great grief, he was obliged on account of her adulteries, to erase her name from thence, and enter it anew in some of the crowded pages of female delinquents."



WAR: John Howard's "The Natural & Aboriginal History of Tennessee Up To The First Settlements Therein By The White People In The Year 1768," page 238, states that the early 18th Century Cherokees told White men "We cannot live without war. War is our beloved occupation." If the definition "a strong enthusiasm" is intended by the word "beloved, then I agree, but I think a better, modern choice of word would be "esteemed," or "valued." War was an important and essential part of the Cherokees' way of life. It was necessary to obtain and hold the hunting land upon which they depended for their existence.

In 1775 James Adair predicted the Cherokees' attitude toward war would cause their annihilation.

According to Haywood, around 1730, English emissaries of the crown tried to make peace between the Cherokees and the Tuscaroras, but the Cherokee Chiefs said, "Should we make peace with the Tuscaroras...we must immediately look for some other with whom we can be engaged in our beloved occupation."

In 1761, William Fyffe, a plantation owner from Charleston, wrote his brother: "War is their (the Cherokees) principal study & their greatest ambition is to distinguish themselves by military actions ...even the old men who are past the trade themselves use every method to stirr up a martial ardour in the youth. The women (as among the Whites know how to persuade by Praises or Ridicule the young men to what they please) employ their art to make them warlike...Their young men are not regarded till they kill an enemy or take a prisoner. Those houses in which there's the greatest number of scalps are most honored. A scalp is as great a Trophy among them as a pair of colours among us."

Cherokee history shows war was employed only for definite ends, and having achieved their aim (or lost the battle), it appears they were quite willing to establish (at least a temporary) peace with the white men. While it might be possible they made war on neighboring tribes for "practice," I have no proof of this, and therefore cannot conclude they made war for the sheer joy of it.

In regard to scalping, Governor Dinwiddie said the French introduced the practice and paid a bounty for them. Scalps became legal tender. One Cherokee, in particular, became adept at making two scalps out of one. Pioneers also took scalps and collected money for them.

In war, the Clan revenge law of a life for a life did not hold. The warring tribe could take as many lives as they saw fit.


TORTURE: In my reading, I have been unable to determine the circumstances that dictated when captives were treated kindly; given a "hazing-type" of initiation, followed by "adoption" if they passed; or were tortured.

Adair gives a ritualistic type of torture and burning, but this appears not to have been a "hard and fast" procedure, or he was not writing about the Cherokees. He follows his description with the tale of a Muskohge warrior who was so tortured by the Shawanos (Shawnees). He said the victim was stripped naked, dressed in bear-skin "maccaseens" with the black hair-side out, with "tough clay" on his head to keep the scalp from burning. The women and children beat him on the way to the stake with torches made of dry cane bundles of "fat pitch pine. He was attached to the stake with a "grape vine...a little above reach of his hand." When the victim ran away from the stake for the length of the vine, he was driven back by the torches. He would be revived with water occasionally, and the torture started again.

No such torture has been alleged in the capture of Mrs. Bean, who was tied to the stake when the Ghi-ga-u Nancy Ward secured her release.

John P. Brown's "Old Frontiers" contains information on events following the massacre of the Fort Loudoun men, from the South Carolina Gazette, October 18 and 22, 1760. According to the paper, after Captain Demere was wounded at the first fire, he was scalped alive and forced to dance for the amusement of his (Cherokee) captors. His arms and legs were then cut off and his mouth stuffed with dirt, the savages saying, "You want land, we will give it to you." After Demere was dead, the Indians stripped the prisoners and carried them to the Cherokee towns; as they marched they were beaten in the faces with the scalps of their dead comrades. On arrival at the towns, they were taken to the Chungke (game) yards where they were beaten and abused "in an inhuman manner." For several nights they were compelled to "dance with rattles,"--this "being a custom for prisoners condemned to death." Luke Croft, a soldier of the garrison, was taken to the town of Setticoe and slowly tortured to death "in a most shocking manner." Brown stated that after the excitement caused by the massacre had subsided, the prisoners were treated well. They were told they would not be made slaves, and would be returned to their own people at the end of the war.


HUNTING: Like war, hunting was essential to the Cherokees' way of living. Excellence in hunting could gain prestige for the hunter

Most of the printed material about hunting incorporates myths, which, like the material on religion, may not be authentic. I shall, therefore, omit it, except for the following: Brown said that the meeting of a rattlesnake when on a hunt was considered a good omen, because the sound of his "bell" meant "look about; have a keen eye," and kept the hunter alert. The Cherokee hunters, like other tribes of men who lived by hunting, did not overkill their game.

According to Brown, the Cherokee boys practiced fishing at night, from a canoe, by torchlight. The spear was made of river cane, sharpened at the end, and hardened by fire. The fish, when speared, would dart away carrying the spear which would reappear on the surface. The boys would dive into the water and capture the fish.


AGRICULTURE: In April 30--May 3, 1791, Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orleans and later King of France, found the following: Cherokee cultivation consisted of clearing just the spot where they intended to sow or plant each plant of maize, potatoes, etc. They made a hole there and planted. Grass was allowed to grow, except for that growing close enough to the plant to harm it. He commented: "This is certainly less tiring, but seeing this kind of field, one would not believe that there is anything cultivated there. They grow hardly anything but maize, potatoes, and tobacco.


LIVESTOCK: According to Adair: "As the Cheerake began to have goods at an under price, it tempted them to be both proud and lazy ...Some of the natives are grown fond of horned cattle, both in the Cheerake and Muskohge countries, but most decline them, because the fields are not regularly fenced. But almost every one hath horses, from two to a dozen. The Cheerake had a prodigious number of excellent horses, at the beginning of their late war with us; but pinching hunger forced them to eat the greatest part of them, in the time of that unfortunate event. But as all are now become very active and sociable, they will soon supply themselves with plenty of the best from our settlements --they are skilful jockies, and nice in their choice."


CRAFTS: The men made their war and hunting equipment, such as bows, arrows, spears, tomahawks, axes, war clubs, and canoes. They also made pipes and Chungke (game) stones.

According to Brown, the men, using a stone hammer, a shaper, and a drill of flint, and limestone for polishing, produced pipes; flaked flint, chert, and quartz into arrowheads and spears; cut, shaped, and fitted handles to tools; shafts to their arrowheads; shaped and polished stone axes and tomahawks; drilled holes through stone using a cane for a drill; produced Chungke stones "with prodigious labor" that were as perfectly made as though milled by modern machinery. He cleared fields with stone axes (probably later than Louis-Philippe's observations.)

James Adair said the Indians made beautiful stone pipes, and the Cheerake the best of any of the Indians: "for their mountainous country contains many different sorts and colours of soils proper for such uses. They easily form them with their tomahawks, and afterwards finish them in any desired form with their knives; the pipes being of a very soft quality til they are smoked with, and used to the fire, when they become quite hard. They are often a full span long (9 inches), and the bowls are about half as large again as those of our English pipes. The fore part of each commonly runs out with a sharp peak, two or three fingers broad, and a quarter of an inch thick--on both sides of the bowl lengthwise, they cut several pictures with a great deal of skill and labour; such as a buffalo and a panther on the opposite sides of the bowl; a rabbit and a fox; and very often, a man and a woman puris naturalibus. Their sculpture cannot much be commended for its modesty. The savages work so slow, that one of their artists is two months at a pipe with his knife, before he finishes it...The stems are commonly made of soft wood about two feet long and an inch thick, cut into four squares, each scooped til they join very near the hollow of the stem: the beaus always hollow the squares, except a little at each corner to hold them together, to which they fasten a parcel of bell buttons, different sorts of fine feathers, and several small battered pieces of copper kettles hammered, round deer-skin thongs, and a red-painted scalp; this is a boasting, valuable and superlative ornament...They...carve, or paint hieroglyphic characters on the stem, that all the war actions, and the tribe of the owner, with a great many circumstances of things are fully delineated."

According to Louis-Philippe, the Cherokees of 1797 had two kinds of pipes. One kind was on the point of a hatchet with the handle serving as the stem, which was called a "tomahawk." The other kind was made from a soft stone which they shaped themselves and the stem was made from the stalk of a bush found only in that country. Some were carved to represent all imaginable indecencies. They gave Louis-Philippe a pipe on which was carved a bear and a wolf.

In 1797, the first Cherokee to light up a pipe would give it to the whole group to smoke before smoking himself. They smoked what the Tcherokees (Cherokees) called "Taluma," the Tchikesaws (Chickasaws) "Mosutchek," and some northern Indians called "Kalikinek." Louis-Philippe said the Americans called it "Little Shoemake" to distinguish it from "Big Shoemake" which was what the French called "Sumac." The leaves of this shrub (related to sumac?) were collected in the autumn when they had been scorched in the sun and shriveled by frost. The Indians smoked it alone or mixed it with tobacco. They also smoked the berries of the shrub and the bark of the little red willow.

The women tanned hides, made clothing, gardened, smoked meat, cared for livestock, wove baskets, made pottery vessels, and leg shackles for dancing.

Adair said the women excelled at weaving. They made carpets and painted each side with figures of birds, beasts, and humans. They also wove "broad garters sashes, shot pouches, broad belts, etc.;" decorated with "beautiful stripes and chequers." In the winter, they wove spun buffalo hair and worked in small beads of different colors.

Adair also said the Cherokee women made the "handsomest clothes baskets I ever saw, considering their materials." The baskets were made of swamp canes, divided into "long, thin, narrow splinters," which were dyed several colors, and woven into a "beautiful variety of pleasing figures." Some baskets were worked together at the top, and some were joined "a-top by some strong cement." A "large nest (of baskets) consisted of 8 or 10 baskets, contained within each other. Dimensions varied, but the outside basket was about a foot deep, 6 inches wide, and almost 3 feet long. These were so valued in South Carolina that "a large nest of them cost upwards of a moidore." (Moidore is a corruption of the Portuguese "moeda de ouro," or coin of gold.)

Louis-Philippe said the Cherokee women were "not bashful." He said several of them he saw were "very pretty." He also noted, "I was very struck by the coquettishness of their manners; it was of an entirely different kind than their neighbors; and they could hardly have been taught better by French women."


GAMES: "Ball-play" was a favorite game of the Cherokees. It was held with feasts and dances, and bets were placed. In the 18th Century, it wasn't a game for women or white men. Its players, sometimes 50 to a side, captured a small deerskin-covered ball in the webbed curve of the playing sticks (one in each hand), carried it down the field, and hurled it over a goal post to win a point for their side. En route to the goal post, the player was likely to be kicked, punched, or even killed by opponents, who went unpenalized.

Modern stickball is not violent. In the 1984 TV film on Channel 2, Tulsa, Oklahoma, William Smith's Keetoowahs--men, women, and children played together and were told not to be rough. The men still have to use two sticks with netted loops at the end to catch and throw the ball. The women and children can use their hands. The object is to hit a wooden fish on a tall pole. If they hit the fish, they get 7 points. If they hit the pole above a mark, they get one point. They tally by marking a line from the pole to the fire.

John P. Brown described the game of Chungke. The chungke stone, in shape similar to the Greek discus, was rolled in a wide circle, and the two or more players, after running a moment after it, cast "marking poles" at it; the second player trying to strike the rolling stone, and the first to intercept his opponent's pole while in flight. Quick eyesight and skill were needed. The player whose pole fell nearest to the stone where it came to rest counted two points; one hundred being the game. The poles were 7 feet long, marked in spaces for measuring throws. Bets were made on each throw, both by the players and the spectators.

The game of "hands" was played with stone marbles, some large and others small. The player used one of each, with the object being to guess which hand held the larger stone. Bets were made on each play. The holder tried to distract the attention of his opponent by singing, moving his body, and apparently changing objects from one hand to another. The opponent watched closely, with his right forefinger above his head. When he decided, he brought his finger to the point and the closed hand had to be opened immediately.


TRAINING OF THE YOUNG: Grace Woodward stated that parents taught a Cherokee boy that he was dishonored unless he avenged an insult. They were taught to endure hunger and pain; to witness stoically the torture of war captives; and to listen courteously to chiefs and headmen at public gatherings. The punishments were to be "dry-scratched" with briars or snake teeth, publicly ridiculed, or simply ignored.

 Fyffe said, in 1761, "their punishments are voluntary acts of justice done by the Father or Head of the cabin upon any offender in his cabin. They were so regular that quarrels & murders (their almost only vices among themselves) happen very seldom. Without laws & punishments to force them they adhere punctually to what their fathers practice before them."


BURIAL OF THE DEAD: James Adair said, "the Cheerake observe the law of purity ~n so strict a manner, as not to touch the corpse of their nearest relation...the fear of pollution (not the want of natural affection, as the unskillful observe) keeps them from burying their dead, in our reputed unsanctified ground, if any die as they are going to Charlestown and returning home, because they are distant from their own holy places and holy things, where only they could perform the religious obsequies of their dead, and purify themselves according to law."



About 1761, Fyffe wrote his brother John: "An Indian (Cherokee) is much of the colour of the orange that's painted for a Sign to your Toy shops especially after it's a little dirtied black. Have straight lims & generally taller than whites. They are a hardy people tho their hardiness consists rather in bearing much exercise than labour. The men have no Hair on their chin or lips & both sexes shave it off their privities. Their education consists chiefly in learning to bear bold hunger Fatigue & pain of which they have enough from their method of life."

William Bartram, in "Travels" published 1792, said: "The dress of the females is somewhat different from that of the men, their flap or petticoat, is made after a different manner, is larger and longer, reaching almost to the middle of the leg, and is put on differently; they had no shirt or shift but a little short waistcoat, usually made of callico, printed linen, or fine cloth decorated with lace, beads, etc. They never wear boots or stockings, but their buskins reach to the middle of the leg. They never cut their hair, but plait it in wreathes, which is turned up, and fastened on the crown, with a silver broach' forming a wreathed top-knot." He also said that Cherokee maidens, when picking strawberries, wore little or nothing, "disclosing their beauties to the fluttering breeze, and bathing their lims in the cool, flitting streams." When performing the friendship dance at the Town House, Cherokee maidens were dressed in robes of chaste white deerskin, totally unlike their habitual dress--short skirts, buskins reaching to the mid-calf of the leg, and short jackets secured with silver broaches exposing several inches of midriff.

Cherokee children, when small, went unclad. Female children wore garments similar to their mothers when they were ten. Boys frequently went unclad until puberty.

According to Louis-Philippe, in 1797, stickball players wore only a belt that holds up in front a small square cloth of red or yellow, etc., bordered with a different color and the same behind, which is called a loincloth. These two squares of cloth were connected below in such a way that although they do not seem to be fastened, one is never indecent. This is their fighting dress and they never cover themselves in war.

In 1797, Cherokee male clothing was made from European cloth and goods. The rich men wore great loose dressing gowns, of prints or similar fabrics. Some wore hats, but the majority kept the Indian hairdo. They shaved their heads so as to leave hair only on top of the head and behind, like Capuchins would appear if they kept hair inside their tonsures. The ends of their hair were usually ornamented with some danglers or some braids made in their fashion with tin, red-dyed horsehair, etc. Sometimes, they dyed their own hair with vermillion. He said, "in general, vermillion is very fashionable among them and is always used in places where one least expects to find it. Sometimes there is a strong spot of it underneath one eye and only there, sometimes there is some in front of the ears, and sometimes at the roots of the hair." Some of them put on their heads feathers of the wild turkey or other birds to which they also added danglers, small glass beads, and red-dyed down. He said their dress was so varied it was impossible to describe it precisely. Most wore a woolen blanket passed over the left shoulder and under the right shoulder so as to leave the right arm entirely free. They all wore a shirt or tunic (or coat), that was, reportedly, rather frequently washed. (They bathed quite often.) Trousers were unknown among them. They only wore the small cloth square and either the shirt or tunic was belted so as to conceal it completely. Some of them dressed "rather elegantly." One was dressed in silk kerchiefs and a light green cloak or sheet, very well draped and elegant. The outer rim of the men's ear was always detached with an incision. They wrapped it with tin and hung very long and heavy ear pendants. They also often had a triangle or other dangler passed thru the nasal septum. These ornaments were worn only by men.

Emmet Starr said the Cherokee woven cloth became so popular among them that by 1830 the buckskin jacket was a rare sight and the homespun striped hunting shirt (a loose frock coat trimmed with red yarn fringe) became as distinctive a mark as the Scotch tartan. It was a useful recognition emblem after the Cherokees came West and "tried to be peace makers among the hostile Plains Indians."



In 1673, James Needham wrote the following description of Chota in his letter book: "The town of Chote is seated on ye river side having ye clifts on ye river side on ye one side being very high for its defense, the other three sides trees of two foot or over, pitched on end, twelve foot high and ye topps scaffolds placed with parrapets to defend the walls and offend theire enemies which men stand on to fight, many nations of Indians inhabit downe this river...which they the Cherokees are at warre with and to that end keepe one hundred and fifty canoes under ye command of theire forts. Ye leaste of them will carry twenty men, and made sharpe at both ends like a wherry for swiftness, this forte is four square; 300: paces over and ye houses sett in streets."

Colonel George Chicken's Journal, 1725, Public Record Office, London, Journal of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, states that: "...Old Estatoe a large town & very well fortified all around with punchins and also ditched on the Outside of the sd Punchins wch Ditch is stuck full of...spikes so that if the Enemy should...fall therein, they must without doubt receive a great deal of Damage by those Spikes--I also observe that there are sevl new flankers made to the fortifications of the Town & that the Town House is also enforted." Tellico ("Great Terriquo") was also described by Chicken as being fortified--all of its houses made "muskett proof" and its Town House "enforted."

James Adair, in 1735 or 1736, estimated there were approximately 64 towns and villages in the Nation. He said some towns were "Towns of Refuge" where an Indian could avoid death (from a vendetta). There were also "Mother Towns" that were headquarters for their seven Clans. He said they were all laid out according to approximately the same plan. The Town House was in the center; in front was the square used for dances, games, celebrations, etc.; near the Town Houses and Square were the public granary and community gardens; clustered around these were the private homes of the Cherokees with their adjacent hothouse (winter quarters), poultry house, and hog pen. Adair said the early private houses were made of logs, roofed with bark, had but one door, and were windowless. They had a fire in the center and a small hole in the roof to let the smoke out. Their furnishings consisted of rugs woven from hemp and painted in gay colors with bird, animal, and flower designs, buffalo-hide chests, cane seats, and baskets of every size and shape.

Adair described the "Hot House" as a small lean-to for sleeping quarters in cold weather. It was excavated to a slight degree below the surface of the earth, which afforded protection from winds and furnished a means of defense in case of sudden attack. Port holes through which to shoot were concealed from outside view by the plaster, but could be opened quickly from within. Sleeping couches were arranged around the walls of the hot house, with skins of wild animals for bedding. A fire was kindled in the center, and, as there were no windows, the hot houses proved almost unbearable to white travelers. The Indian, however, "slept soundly on their broad bed places, with their heads wrapped up."

William Bartram, a botanist from Philadelphia, described the Town House at Cowee (a Middle Town) in 1792 as follows: "The Rotunda is constructed in the following manner: They first fix in the ground a circular range of posts or trunks of trees about six feet high, at equal distances, which are notched on top, to receive into them, from one to another a range of beams or wall plates, within this is another circular order of very large and strong pillars, about 12' high, notched in like manner at top to receive another range of wall plates, and within this is yet another or third range of stronger and higher pillars, but fewer in number, and standing at a greater distance from each other, and lastly in the center at top, these rafters are strengthened and bound together by cross beams and laths, which sustain the roof; which is a layer of bark...tight enough to exclude the rain, and sometimes they cast a thin superficies of earth over all."

Bartram added, "The Town House in which are transacted all public business and diversions...(is) extremely dark, having besides the door, which is so narrow that but one at a time can pass, and after much winding and turning, but one small aperture to let the smoak out, which is so ill-contrived, that most of it settles in the roof of the house. Within it has the appearance of an ancient amphitheater, the seats being raised one above another, leaving an area in the middle, in the center of which stands the fire; the seats of the head warriors are nearest it."

Bartram said the Cherokees' private homes were "but one oblong four square building, one story high; the materials consisting of 1095 or trunks of trees, stripped of their bark, notched at their ends, fixed one upon another, and afterwards plaistered well, both inside and out, with clay well tempered with dry grass, and the whole...roofed...with the bark of the Chestnut tree or long broad shingles. The building is ...partitioned transversely, forming three apartments which communicate with each other by inside doors; each house...has besides a little conical house, covered with dirt, which is called the winter or hot-house." Bartram estimated in 1775 there were 100 dwellings at Cowee, each having its own garden, orchard, hogpens, and hothouse.

April 30 to May 3, 1797, Louis-Philippe of France made observations in the neighborhood of Tellico Blockhouse and at the town of "Tokona" (Toqua). This area was near Tomotley (Tomaatley) and between that town and the towns of Tanasee and Chota. Louis-Philippe said only 2 houses of the town were close to each other, the others so far away that his party could not see them. He said the Indian houses were rather like the houses of poor people of the region, but they were somewhat lower and smaller and they were built of small thin trees, rather than large ones. The spaces between the logs were filled with a putty made of earth and sand. The roofs were made in the same way, with some bark and rocks set on top. The door was extremely narrow, but high enough to enter without stooping. The fire was at one end of the room "with a chimney like ours" and the beds were made of cane set lengthwise along the wall. He said the Indians almost always had several fruit trees, such as peach or apple, around their homes. There were "hardly eight to ten" houses in Toqua, and they didn't form a circle, but rather a parallelogram around the Town House.

The Town House was a rotunda made of wood, but entirely trimmed and covered all over with canes and cornstalks (corn straw). The Town House resembled the wheat ricks in France's grain country, but was much larger at the base, and, thus appeared less tall, although he thought the height was the same. The exterior walls were very low and the roof began at about 3 feet. The entrance was toward the south, and consisted of a small, narrow and low corridor, constructed like the rest, with a hollowed-out half tree trunk forming the roof. The passage was at most 5' high and it was necessary to stoop in order to enter. It was no more than six or seven feet long. It ended at a cane panel and it was necessary to take several steps to the right in order to enter the room. There were no windows, making the room very shadowy and cool. The inner room was hexagonal. The hearth was in the center. Each side of the hexagon, except the door and its concealing panel, were cubicles with benches made of canes. On the three posts opposite the entrance were placed the three "escutcheons" of the "three Tcherokee tribes;" the snake, the tortoise, and the lizard were their emblem. Each of the animals were painted in black on octagonal escutcheons on a white background with a border of black with white dots. These escutcheons were made of wood and hung on the posts immediately under the roof. The cubicles were about 4' deep and their height was about 7' at the edge. (Each cubicle belonged to a different "tribe.") The floor was beaten earth. Louis-Philippe said, "they never destroy their town houses, but when they collapse from age or otherwise, they cover them with earth and clay until they are completely hidden and build a similar one in another spot.

In 1829, the Council House at New Echota was a large, two-storied rectangular, log structure, having brick chimneys, fireplaces, plank floors, glass windows, and a staircase leading to upper floors. The new Supreme Court building had an elevated platform furnished with a judge's bench, with pine-plank benches for jurors, witnesses, officials of the government, and the general public. Grace Woodward wrote that the "unprogressive" among the Cherokees thought the New Echota buildings were ugly and depressing.



John P. Brown stated that "buffalo" (game) trails became the Indian paths for peace or war, and, later, pioneer roads and eventually highways. The Indians journeyed on foot from the Great Lakes to the Gulf, and from beyond the Mississippi to the Atlantic, using game trails and rivers. They traded with each other. For example, red pipe-stone, found only in Minnesota, was used to make pipes from Maine to the Gulf, and far west of the Mississippi. Conch shells from the sea coast were used far inland for making gorgets, beads, hairpins, and ornaments. Obsidian from the west, used for arrows, was exchanged for tobacco from the south. Flint from Ohio was used in the entire eastern section. The trader was made welcome fo his goods, regardless of the liking or antipathy for his tribe.



The practice of adoption existed prior to the coming of the White man, and the Cherokees didn't find the White man any more alien than an Indian of another tribe. Sometimes war captives were given or sold to a family as a replacement for slain relatives, as in the case of Antoine Bonnefoy and his three companions in 1741. Sometimes non-Cherokees were adopted in friendship, as in the cases of Attacullaculla and John Stuart, and Dragging Canoe and Alexander Cameron. Adoption gave the adoptee the full protection of the Clan, assuring retrobution if he were killed. Of course, it also exposed him to the full legal duties and dangers of Clan membership.