4 September 2014
In the Eyes of the Cherokee People Long, long ago before Earth was the way it is today, the Cherokee people believe it was just water. They believe that there was no life, no land, and no sun. The Cherokee people tell a story that is very different than the one I am familiar with in my culture, but none the less it is an interesting one that incorporates their culture and traditions.
The Cherokee people believed that all animals lived in a place called Galunlati, which is a stone vault suspended over water. Galunlati became too crowded so a water-beetle was sent down to see if anything was under the water. The water-beetle found mud, and continued to dig up the mud and form the land that is currently on Earth. In order to attach Galunlati to Earth, four ropes were used to suspend them together. It is though that when Earth gets full, some day it will fall back into the water. Once the water-beetle dug up all of the mud, a buzzard went down to see if Earth was dry yet. Unfortunately, Earth was still wet and while the buzzard was flying around, he became tired and his wings fell. Every time the buzzard struck the ground with his wings, a mountain or valley would form, thus creating the terrain on Earth today. Once Earth was dry the animals were able to move down from Galunlati, but then they realized there was no light. In order to create light, they created the sun and set it on a path to pass over their heads from east to west on a daily basis. At first the sun was too close, and many animals burned so they continued to move the sun higher until all of the plants and animals could survive the heat the sun produced.
Next, the animals and trees were told that they needed to stay awake for seven nights. The only animals that were able to do this were the owl and the panther, so they were given the privilege of being able to see at night, which helped them hunt when all of the other animals were sleeping. The only trees that were able to endure staying awake for seven nights were the cedar, pine, spruce, holly and laurel trees, so in return they were given the privilege of not losing their leaves when all of the other trees did. The trees also were given the special power of being important in both Cherokee medicine and ceremonies.
After the plants and animals, the next to come were two humans who were brother and sister. The brother struck his sister with a fish, which is associated with fertility in the Cherokee culture. After this she was giving birth to a child every seven days. There were too many children being delivered that they feared not everyone would make it and as a solution, now a woman can only give birth once a year. The first couple on the land was Kana’ti, whose name meant “Lucky Hunter” and Selu, whose name meant “Corn.” Kana’ti was responsible for going hunting and returning with animals to eat. Selu would wash the game in the river and would prepare it. The river, also known as “long man” was always believed to be sacred by the Cherokee people. Going to the water for purification is common and thus is why Selu would wash the meat in the river. Selu would also return home with baskets full of corn. Kana’ti and Selu had a son. While they had one natural son, they also accepted another child into their home as their own. They named him “Wild Boy” and Kana’ti and Selu believed he had risen out of the blood from the game Selu had washed in the river.
One day the two boys decided to follow Kana’ti when he went hunting. The boys saw him push a large rock that was placed in front of a cave. Inside this cave were animals, and not knowing the boys were watching him, Kana’ti let one out and then shot it and returned home. Later on the boys went back to the cave and let many animals escape. Kana’ti saw animals coming down the mountain and knew what the boys must have done so he went back to the cave and released fleas, lice, gnats, and bedbugs to attack the boys.…