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Southeast Kituwah Nation Seal

TRADITIONAL TSALAGI INFORMATION
O'Siyo, Here you will find some information concerning traditional beliefs and other information.  More will be added as time allows. Please enjoy.

Our Heritage | The Seven Clans | Tsalagi Colors and Cardinal Directions | Cherokee Moons |
| New Moon Ceremony | Purification


Bringing Our Heritage Into Our Everyday Lives

As much as we might all like, most people do not have a Stomp Grounds nearby, but there are many of our traditions that we can follow at home. It is very important we bring our heritage into our everyday lives.  If we fail to do this, we are not truly appreciating what a rich culture we come from.  Learning our stories, offering up prayers on tobacco smoke, purifying with cedar, going to water, growing food, using herbs for healing and doing traditional crafts are elements of our heritage we can do at home. These are a few ways (certainly not exhaustive) that you can bring our heritage into your everyday life. Doing these things helps us feel connected to our culture, to each other and to our ancestors who suffered much to preserve our heritage for us.
 

1.    Study our language and use it everyday at home.  Use it as if it were the language you have spoken all your life.

2.    Set aside certain night for storytelling.

3.    Make a weekend a classroom, learn to identify one plant and the ways it can be used.

4.    Find other Tsalagi in your area so you can do things together to help increase your knowledge.

5.    Practice making and using a bow or blowgun, tan hides, make crafts.  While these will not teach you much specifically, it will help you find a connection.

6.    Take advantage of every opportunity you can to become involved in the Band's activities.

7.    But, the most important thing is to be who you are.  Be Tsalagi with everything that is within you.  Experience it everyday of your life.


The Seven Clans
The Cherokee society is historically a matrilineal society. Meaning clanship is attained through the mother. Prior to Oklahoma statehood, the women were considered the Head of Household, with the home and children belonging to her should she separate from a husband.  The knowledge of a person's clan is important for many reasons. Historically, and still today among Cherokee traditionalists, it is forbidden to marry within your clan. Clan members are considered brother and sisters. In addition, when seeking spiritual guidance and Indian doctoring, it is necessary to name your clan. Seating at ceremonial stomp dances is by clan, as well.

During the hard times that befell our people, after the arrival of the Europeans, these clans were interrupted.  Few today know their  ancestral clan.  Those that do live on the reservations are lucky enough to have had it passed down to them. Many though, do not know what clan they are from because records of these things were not kept or because their clan line was broken. Clanship was handed down through the women, if a Tslalagi man took a white woman as a wife, the clan line was broken and any descendents from that marriage have no clan. The Uganawvkalvgv Kituwah Ayeli is reinstating and reestablishing these clans. Through adoption ceremonies, the old Clans are being rebuilt.  They exist once again.  We feel that this is important because as traditional Tsalagi, if you have no clan, you are not Tsalagi, you would have no right to speak in Council, marry other Tsalagi, or take part in ceremonies. These re-established clans are patterned after the original ones and will be as strong and close knit as well.

Among the Tsalagi there exists seven clans or families. These clans are:

AniSahoni (Blue Clan) - Those belonging to this clan were keepers of all childrens medicines and caretakers of medicinal herb gardens. Historically, this clan produced many people who were able to make special medicines for the children. They became known for a medicine from a bluish colored plant called a "blue holly", and were so named after it. This Clan has also been known as the Panther or Wild Cat Clan, in some regions. They were known as a white (peace) clan. Their color is Blue and their wood is Ash.

AniGilohi (Twister Clan) - The Twister Clan has also been known as Long Hair (Note: AniGilahi - Gilahi is short for the ancient word, Gitlvgvnahita, the warrior womens society, meaning "something that grows from the back of the neck"), Hanging Down Clan, Wind Clan or Stranger Clan in various regions. Some say those belonging to this clan wore their hair in elaborate twisted and braided hairdos. More mportantly, they are teachers and keepers of tradition. Prisoners of war, orphans of other tribes, and others with no Cherokee tribe were often adopted into this clan, thus the name 'Strangers.' AniGilohi was a very peaceful clan, peace chiefs usually came from this clan at one time in our history. The Clan color for the AniGilohi is Yellow and their wood is Beech.

AniTsiskwa (Bird Clan) - Those belonging to this Clan were the keepers of the birds, sacred feathers and bird medicines. The belief that birds are messengers between the People and Creator, gave the members of this clan the responsibility of caring for the birds. They were messengers and were very skilled in using blowguns and snares for bird hunting. Eagle feathers earned by others were originally presented by the members of this clan, as they were the only ones able to collect them. Their color is Purple, and their wood is Maple.

AniWodi (Paint Clan) - Those belonging to this Clan made red paint. Members of the Paint Clan were historically known as a prominent medicine people. Medicine is often 'painted' on a patient after harvesting, mixing and performing other aspects of the ceremony. They were the smallest and most secretive clan. When the Cherokees would wage war, the Priest would bring along several sacred objects, medicinal herbs, and a coal from the Sacred Fire. They were the only ones that were allowed to make a special red paint and dye that are used for ceremonial purposes and warfare, because of this they were considered a red (war) clan. The Clan color for the AniWodi is White, and their wood is Locust.

AniKawi (Deer Clan) - Those belonging to this Clan were the keepers of the deer, deer hunters and trackers, tanners and seamers, as well as keepers of the deer medicines. Members of the Deer Clan were historically known as fast runners, foot messengers and hunters. Even though they hunted game for subsistence, they respected and cared for the animals while they were living amongst them. They were also known as messengers on an earthly level, delivering messenges from village to village, or person to person and were considered a white (peace) clan. 
The Clan Color for the Ani Kawi is Brown and their wood is Oak.

AniGatogewi (Wild Potato Clan) - Historically, members of this clan were known to be 'keepers of the land', farmers and gatherers. They were named after the wild potato plants they gathered in the swamps (hence the name gatogewi = "swamp"), and along streams to make flour or bread for food. The Wild Potato Clan have also been known as the Bear Clan, Raccoon Clan and even "Blind Savannah" in different regions. They were a white (peace) clan. The Clan color for the AniGatogewi is Green and their wood is Birch.

AniWahya (Wolf Clan) - The Wolf Clan is the largest clan today and the most prominent clan, providing most of the war chiefs, and warriors. Wolves are known as protectors and true aniwahya are protectors of the people. The wolf clan are keepers and trackers of the wolf and the only clan who could kill a wolf through special ceremonies and wolf medicines. AniWahya were known as a red (war) clan. The Clan color of the AniWahya is Red and their wood is Hickory.


Colors and Cardinal Directions of the Tsalagi

East is associated with the color Red because it is the direction of the sun, who we call "grandmother". Red is also the color of sacred fire, believed to be directly connected with the sun, with blood and therefore with life. Red is also the color of success.

South  is the direction of warmth and its color, White, is associated with peace and happiness.

West is the moon segment. It provides no warmth and unlike the sun, is not a giver of life. Black is the color assigned to the West and it stands for Wudeliguhi (Darkening Land) and for death itself.

North is the direction of cold so its color was Blue. It represents trouble, defeat and lovesickness.


Grandfather Moon

New Moon

 Tsa la gi Nv da Sv no e hi 

Our festivals and ceremonies follow a solilunar calendar. Our calendar keeps the months and seasons in balance and agreement. Our months are marked and begin on the new moon (when the newcrescent is first visible ) of every month which is celebrated at dawn when our day begins, with going to water, fasting and prayer. Traditional Tsalagi purification is always done by going to water. 
 
 
 | October | November | December | January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September
October 

Month of the Harvest Moon

Time of the Great New Moon Ceremony when thanks is given to the Earth Mother and Creator. The tsalagi New Year begins on the first New Moon after the Autumnal Equinox. Nvda equa or "Great Moon" Festival is customarily held at this time. Many 'Tsalagi New Year' celebrations happen within the nation during this time as well.  The Friends Made Ceremony is also held during this time. This is when the years transgressions are forgiven.




November 

Month of the Trading Moon

The Bounding Bush Ceremony is held to acknowledge the source of our blessings. Traditionally a time of trading and barter among different towns and tribes for manufactured goods, produce and goods from hunting. The people traded with other nearby tribes as well as distant tribes, including those of Canada, Middle America and South America. This was a time also when those in need were given whatever they needed to make it through the coming Winter.




December 

Month of the Snow Moon

The spirit being, "Snow Man", brings the cold and snow for the earth to cover the high places while the earth rests until the rebirth of the seasons in the Windy Moon Anuyi. Families traditionally were busy putting up and storing goods for the next cycle of seasons. Elders enjoyed teaching and retelling ancient stories of the people to the young.




January 

Month of the Cold Moon

During this season, families prepare for the coming of the new seasons, starting in Windy Moon Anuyi or March. A time when personal items and tools are repaired and new ones made in anticipation of Spring. This time of the season is also a time for personal and ritual observance, fasting and personal purification.  Personal items and tools for planting are repaired, and new ones made. Stories about ancestors and the family are imparted to the younger ones by the elders. A minor celebration known as "Cold Moon Dance" is usually held in the community as well, marking the passing or ending of one cycle of seasons and welcoming the beginning of the new cycle. Hearth fires are put out and new ones made. The putting out of fires and lighting of new ones anciently is the duty of certain "priest" of certain clans, and coincides with the first new-arrival of the morning star in the east. 



February 

Month of the Bony Moon

Traditional time of personal family feast for the ones who have departed this world. A family meal is prepared with place(s) set for the departed. This is also a time of fasting and ritual observance. A community dance known as the Medicine Dance was officiated by a "doctor", Dida:hnvwi:sgi which means "curer of them."




March 

Month of the Windy Moon

"First New Moon" of the new seasons. Traditional start of the new cycle of planting seasons or Moons. The seasonal cycle begins with Spring, on the first New Moon after the Spring Equinox. New town council fires are made. The figure used to portray this moon is the figure of Kanati, one of the many beings created by Unethlana. These "helpers" were variously charged with the control of the life elements of the earth: air/earth/fire/water. Their domains are the sky, earth, stars and the Seven Levels of the universe. 



April 

Month of the Flower Moon

First plants of the season come out at this time. New births are customary within this time frame. The first new medicine and herb plants that taught mankind how to defend against sickness and conjury come out now. Streams and rivers controlled by the spirit being, "Long Man," renew their strength. Ritual observances are made to "Long Man" at this time. A dance customary at this season was the "Knee Deep Dance" or the Water Frog dance of Spring.


May 

Month of the Planting Moon

Families traditionally prepare the fields and sow them with the stored seeds from last season. Corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, yams and sunflowers are some food planted at this time. A dance traditionally done at this time is the "Corn Dance" to ensure good crops.




June 

Month of the Green Corn Moon

First signs of the "corn in tassel", and the emerging of the various plants of the fields. People traditionally begin preparations for the upcoming festivals of the ensuing growing season. People of the AniGadugi Society begin repairs needed on town houses, family homes and generally provide for the needy. The AniGadugi Society is a volunteer help group who see to the needs of the less fortunate, the elderly and the general welfare of the villages. 




July 

Month of the Ripe Corn Moon

First foods or the new planting and the roasting ears of corn are ready. Towns begin the cycle festivals because field plants begin to produce. Dances and celebrations of thanks to the Earth Mother and the "Apportioner" Unethlana are given. In the old times this was the traditional time of the "Green Corn Dance" or festival. A common reference of this moon is also the "first roasting of ears" or the "sweet corn-moon". This is the customary time for commencement of the Stick Ball games traditionally called AniStusti - "Little War". Stick Ball dances and festivals are commonly held starting with this moon. 



August 

Month of the end of the Fruit Moon

Fruits from trees and bushes are gathered at this time. The various "Paint Clans" begin to gather many of the herbs and medicines for which they were historically known. Green Corn festivals are commonly held at this time in the present day. The "Wild Potato" Clans also begin harvesting various foods growing along the streams, marshes, lakes and ponds. 



September 

Month of the Nut Moon

The Ripe Corn Festival was customarily held in the early part of this moon to acknowledge Selu, the Corn Mother. The festival respects Mother Earth as well for providing all foods during the growing season. The "Brush Feast Festival" also customarily takes place in this season. All the fruits and nuts of the bushes and trees of the forest were gathered as this time. A wide variety of nuts from the trees went into the nut breads for the various festivals throughout the seasons. Hunting traditionally began in earnest at this time. 


New Moon Ceremony


 
Traditional Cherokees fast until sundown every month on the New Moon (when the new crescent is first visible).  Small children fast only until noon.  Our day is started by going to water that morning and fasting until sundown.

In October and March there would be major feasts at the Mother Town, Echota, following the fasting, but during other months, the fasting and ceremony would take place in each local village with the local Police Chiefs and Clan Mothers officiating.  After the fast, everyone would chew a bit of a bitter root they received at New Years, or drink a tea made from it.  The Cherokee year is divided into two parts, Gola "Winter" and Gogi "Summer".

GOLA MOONS

Nudadequa
Big Trade Moon/Hunting Moon  November 26, 2003 

Vsgiyi
Snow Moon 
December 26, 2003 

Unolvtani
Cold Moon / Moon of Popping Trees 
January 24, 2004

Kagali
Bony Moon/Moon of Bare Bones 
February 23, 2004 

GOGI MOONS

Anvylisv
Windy Moon 
March 23, 2004 
*~*~ First New Moon of Spring ~*~* 

Guwani
Flower Moon 
April 22, 2004

Anasgvti
Planting Moon 
May 22, 2004 

Dehaluyi
Green Corn Moon 
June 20, 2004 

Guyequoni
Ripe Corn Moon 

July 20, 2004

Galoni
Fruit Moon
August 19, 2004

Dulisdi
Nut Moon
September 17, 2004

Duninodi
Harvest Moon
*~*~ Tsalagi New Year ~*~*
October 17, 2004


PURIFICATION

Purification does not come from the a'si, the hothouse, but from the Yunwi Gunahita (Long Man), the River, for our people. They would wade out, facing the rising sun, and dip seven times under the water, while reciting prayers. This was/is done every morning (no matter how cold), this is known as "Going To Water".

Ama (water) has the power to cleanse the body and the soul.  Water is a sacred
 messenger to Unequa. There are two forms of "Going To Water."

One form is called Amayi Ditatiyi (Taking them to water), in which the water
was simply dipped up the hand and spread it over the person's head and body.

The second form is called Atawastiyi, in which the person plunged or went entirely under the surface of the water. The person "going to water" faced east and dipped himself under, or dipped water over himself, seven times.

The A'si, is sometimes mistaken for the Plains "Sweat Lodge", but the a'si was used mainly for the purpose of healing. When someone was sick or ill, they would strip and enter the a'si. Heated rocks would be placed in the center and then a concoction made of the beaten root of the wild parsnip would be poured over the rocks. Today, it is water that is used, as I have heard of no one using the wild parsnip anymore. There, the ill person would remain until they were in a profuse sweat and choking on the fumes. They would then leave the a'si and go to a nearby stream where they would jump in the water
 

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