Sovereign Amonsoquath Band of Cherokee

 Indian Homelife



THE drink of the Indians is like that of the Turks, clear water. For although they have grapes in abundance, they have not

learned the use of them. They have not found out how to press them into wine. Pears or apples they have none with which to

make cider.

The men spend their time in fishing, hunting, wars, and such manlike exercises out of doors. They scorn to be seen in any

woman's work. This is the reason why the women are very busy and the men so idle.

Their fishing is often much in boats which they call quintans. They make one out of a tree by burning and scraping away the

coals with bones and shells, till they have made it in the form of a trough.133

Instead of oars they use paddles and sticks. They row faster than we can in our barges. They have nets for fishing, which are

made of the barks of certain trees, and of deer sinews. There is a kind of grass out of which their women spin a very even

thread, rolling it with their hands.

This thread serves for many purposes. They use it to make coverings, to sew their garments of feathers, and to make their

leggings. With it, also, they make lines for fishing.

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In the time of their hunting, they leave their habitations and gather themselves into companies; and then they go to the wildest

places with their families. There they pass their time in hunting and getting wild fowl. In the time of hunting every man will try to

do his best to show his skill. For by excelling in the chase they obtain the favor of the women.

While they are hunting in deserts or wildernesses there are commonly two or three hundred together With the sunrising they

call up one another and go forth searching for the herd of deer. When they have found it they encircle it with many fires.

Between the fires, they place themselves, making the most terrible noise that they can. The deer, frightened by the fires and the

voices, betake them to their heels. The Indians chase them so long within that circle, that many times they kill six, eight, ten, or

fifteen in a morning.

Hares, partridges, turkeys, fat or lean, young or old, even in laying or in brooding time, they devour. At no time do they spare

any that they can catch.134

There is a kind of exercise that they have among them much like that which boys call bandy in English.135 Likewise, they have

the exercise of football.136 In this they only use the foot forcibly to carry the ball from the one to the other. They kick it to the

goal with a kind of skill and swift footmanship, to excel in which is thought a great honor. But they never strike up one another's

heels, as we do. They do not consider it praiseworthy to win a goal by such an advantage.

The spare time between their sleep and meals they usually use in gayety, dancing, and singing. For their kind of music, they

have different instruments.

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They have a kind of cane on which they pipe.137 These can hardly be sounded without great straining of the breath. Upon these

instruments they keep a certain rude time. But their chief instruments are rattles, made of small gourds or of shells. These

mingled with their voices, sometimes twenty or thirty together, make such a terrible howling as would rather frighten than give

pleasure to any man.

The women love children very dearly. To make their children hardy they wash them in the coldest mornings in the rivers. By

painting and ointments, they so tan their skin, that after a year o. two no weather will hurt them.

To practice their children in the use of their bows and arrows, the mother does not give them their breakfast in a morning until

they have hit a mark which she sets for them to shoot at.

So skilful do they expect the children to become, that the mother often throws up in the air a piece of moss which the boy

must hit as it falls, with his arrow. If he does not succeed he cannot have his breakfast.

[133] These are "dugouts" or wooden canoes; further north birch canoes were used.

[134] In England game laws forbid the killing of birds at certain times.

[135] Bandy = hockey: the game was probably lacrosse.

[136] Football in England was very rough, and there was plenty foul tackling.

[137] A sort of flute.

Archie Kidwell Wright Jr.

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Topic: Peace Pipe (2 of 5), Read 100 times

Conf: Cherokee Issues

From: Mr. Wright

Date: Saturday, January 15, 2000 07:28 PM

The Pipe of Peace


WHILE we halted on the bank of a river to eat, we heard the tinkling. of some small bells. This made us look about and we

spied an Indian with a naked sword-blade in his hand. It was adorned with feathers of several colors, and two large hawks'

bells, which made the noise we had heard.


He made signs for us to come to him, and gave US to understand that he was sent by the leaders of the Indians to meet us,

and bring us to their village. He caressed us in a strange way. I noticed that he took pleasure in ringing the hawks' bells.

Having travelled a while with him, we saw a dozen other Indians coming towards us. They made much of us and conducted us

to the village, to the chief's cottage. There we found dried bear-skins laid on the ground. They made us sit on these. We were

shell treated with eatables, and a throng of women came to see us.

The next day the elders came to visit us. They brought us two buffalo hides, the skins of four others,

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one white wild goat's skin, all of them well dried. They also gave us four bows. These things they gave in return for the present

we had before made them. The chief and another Indian came again some time after, bringing two loaves, the finest and the best

we had yet seen.

Towards evening, we were entertained with a ceremony we had not seen before. A company of elders, with some young men

and women, came to our cottage in a body, singing as loud as they could roar. The foremost had a calumet, so they call a very

long sort of tobacco-pipe, adorned with several sorts of feathers. When they had sung a while, before our cottage, they entered

it, still singing on for about a quarter of a hour.

After that they took our priest, whom they considered our chief, and led him in solemn manner out of the cottage, holding him

under the arms. When they were come to a place they had ready, one of them laid a great handful of grass on his feet. Two

others brought clean water in an earthen dish and washed his face. Then they made him sit down on a skin, put there for the


When the priest was seated, the elders took their places, sitting round about him. The master of the


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ceremonies fixed in the ground two little wooden forks. He laid a stick across these; all the things were painted red. He placed

on them a buffalo hide dried, a goat's skin over that, and then laid the pipe thereon.

The song was begun again, the women joining in the chorus. The concert was made louder by great hollow gourds, in which

there were large gravel stones.

The Indians struck upon these, keeping time with the notes of the choir. And the most amusing of all was that one of the

Indians placed himself behind our priest, to hold him up; at the same time he shook and candled him from side to side, doing all

in time with the music.

The concert was hardly ended, when the master of the ceremonies brought two maids, one having in her hand a sort of collar,

and the other an otter's skin. These they placed on the wooden forks, at the ends of the pipe. Then he made them sit down on

each side of our priest, facing each other and with their feet spread out on the ground.

Then one of the elders fastened a dyed feather to the back part of the priest's head, tying it to his hair. The singing went on all

that time. But the priest grew tired of all this and made signs to us. We made it known to the chief that the priest was not well.

So two of the Indians took hold of him under the arms and led him back to the cottage. They made signs to him to take a rest.

This was at about nine in the evening and the Indians spent all that night singing. In the morning they went again to the priest,

took him again out of the cottage, with the same ceremony, but made him sit down while the singing-was going on.

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Then the master of the ceremonies took the pipe, filled it with tobacco and lighted it, next he offered it to the priest; but he

drew back and came forward six times before he gave it to him. Having at last put it in his hands, the priest made motions as if

he were smoking, and gave it back to them. Then they made us all smoke round, every one of them in his turn, the music still

going on.

The sun was growing very hot, and the bare headed priest made signs that it did him harm. Then at last they stopped singing

and took him back into the cottage. They took the pipe and put it into a case made of wild goat's skin, with the two wooden

forks and the red stick that lay across them. All of these one of the elders offered the priest.

They told him that he might pass through all the Indian nations which were their friends. Because he had this sign of peace, he

would every where meet with kindness. This was the first place where we saw the calumet, or pipe of peace.

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