Sovereign Amonsoquath Band of Cherokee

Mounds and Towns

From the book TSALAGI BEGINNINGS AND CUSTOMS be Chief Hicks can be bought by sending a check or money order for $7.50 ($5.00 for the book and $2.50 S&H) send to Red Man 505 E. Mckay, Troup,Tx 75789 



The Anidawehi brought the first fire back to Kituwa. They built a high mound of dirt to keep the flood waters from the rains and river from extinguishing the Atsila Galvkawetiyu. They built the first Gatuyi (town House) to keep the fire. The Town House was a place where all the town's people could come ro dance and show their obedience to Asgsya Galvlati. The Town House. also became the Anaskahi (Council House) where alla the town's important business was held, where the Women's Council met daily, and the objects and artifacts of the people and Anidawehi were kept. Until the Town House was built, the fire was kept in a cave so it would be safe from the elements.

The Anidawehi directed that the mound be built on the level bottom lands near the river in order that the people might have an area near water during dances and other activities. Water, a sacred messenger, purifier and healer, has always been an important part of Tsalagi life.

A Circle of stones was laid upon the ground. Then the Anidawehi brought coals from the first fire and built a fire out of the seven principal woods of the seven clans

of the Ani-Kituwagi, which are hickory,oak,maple,locust,birch,beech,and ash. All of the wood was well seasoned and the bark had been peeled back from each piece, this causing the fire to burn without smoke. Each piece was perfect in a common size and without flaws. The fire was built in the circle of stones. Near the fire they laid the Ulvsuti, that Kanati has brought to them from the fight, a scale from Uktena, a feather from the right wing of the great hawk, Tlanuwa, and beads of the seven colors of the Clans: red,white,black,blue, purple, yellow and brown. If a town did not have a feather of Tlanuwa, it could use a feather from the right wing of Awvhili(Eagle). The Anidawehi then conjured all these with diseases, so tha if an enemy was to invade the country and destroy the Town House, he would be diseased and never return to his people.

The mound was then built by people bringing dirt in baskets made of split reeds. They piled the dirt up around the circle of stones, leaving the fire uncovered. One end of a long, hollow cedar trunk with the bark still on was placed over the fire and dirt poured around it. The cedar pole protected the fire from being smothered by the dirt. The hollow log wsa cut at the proper length so that it would be level with the surface of the Town House floor. After the mound was finished off smoothly, he Gatuyi was built on top of the mound. The building was large enought to hold 800 people of Kituwa.

The Anidawehi instructed the Gatuyi to be constructed on top pf the mound in the following manner: The Chief Adawehi marked a large circle upon the ground for the outside walls of the buildong. Logs were sunk into the ground to the height of a tall man's head. The logs were placed side by side, close enough so as to allow no space bwtween them. If there were cracks, they were filled with clay. One post was notched at the top, and then a space of posts were passed before another was notched and so on at an equal distance in the complete circle, beams or wall plates were then fitted onto the notched posts.  

Within this circle, another group of posts were placed at an equal distance apart, their tops being over the length of two men's heigth. Each of these posts were notched at the top to recieve beams.

A third circle of strong posts. More than three men's height in length, seven in number,were notched for beams. The seven posts were to represent the seven clans and to section off the Gatuyi into seven parts for each clan's use.

In the center, near the Sacred Fire, a huge tree trunk was placed for the central pillar, which formed the pinnacle of the building, and to which the rafters centered at the top. These rafters were strengthened and bound together by crossbeams and laths which held the roof. The roof was covered with bark of the seven woods of the Tsalagi and layer of earth covered the bark.

There were no smoke holes or windows. One large door served as an entrance, admitted light, and allowed smoke to escape. Between the second range of pillars and the wall was a range of benches, the benches forming a semi-circle behind each pillar to seat the seven clans. Stools were placed near the fire for the Anidawehi, Another stool near was the Anidawehi ws for the Leader of the Women's Council. A stool near the fire was to be used bt the War Chief during time of war, and the Peace Chief during time of peace.

Near the center pillar hung the Peace Pipe, in time of peace, and the War Club, in time of war. Around the beams hung eagle dance fans, sacred dance masks, and other artifacts of the town.

One Adawehi wsa to stay in the Gatuyi at all times to tend and make the fires. He was called the Atsilasvti(Fire Maker). When there was to be a council meeting dance, the Fire Maker pushed the stalks of the Ihayaga(Fleabane) down through the opening in the cedar log to where the fire lay smoldering. He piled lichens and punk on the Ihayaga, and as the flames climbed, the weed stalks and punk caught on fire. He then placed the seven woods of the Tsalagi upon the flames. The fire would be ready when the activities started. After each activity, the fire ws covered with ashes, but the fire was always smoldering below. Te fire of the Tsalagi was revered above all things, and ws called Atsilagalvquetiyu(Honored, or Sacred Fire).

The Sacred Fire was never to be taken out of the Town House, neither the coals nor ashes, except by the Fire Maker. Fire could be taken out of a Town House by an Adawehi who is taking fire out to start a new fire in a new Town House, or an Adawehi who was going on the war path as a chaplian with a war party. At proper times, ashes were taken out of the Town House by the Frie Maker and placed in a mound of ashes from the Sacred Fire wsa to be considered sacred and not to be approached by anyone other than an Adawehi.

The Town House was to be open at all times fir the benefit of all people. It was a gathering place for the Anidawehi, the warriors to tell thier stories of bravery, for the women to hold their meetings, for the leaders to talk of old times, for the young to learn of old things and new things. and for the people to hold dances to thank the Great Creative Being Above for alla that He had given the Tsalagi. All people, of every age and every sex were to use the Town House.

Young Boys were Designated to gather wood for the Sacred Fire,under the direction and supervision of an Adawehi. Only the wood which was free of any blemish was the

chosen by the Fire Maker to be used as fuel for the Sacred Fire. Women had the responsiblity keeping the food in the Town House at all times, for it was the civilized custom of the Tsalagi to tell a visitor after the intial greetings, " Come we will eat, then we will talk," It was so at the Town House.

There was to be no voilent dissention or physical conflict in the Town House. The Town House was a house of refuge from all harm, and no one would be forced to leave the Town House, no violence could be done to them as long as they were inside this refuge. No clan vengeance would be extracted inside the Town House to disturb its sacredness and tranquility.

As the Tsalagi Nation grew in popualtion,other Town Houses and towns were built. Some of these towns became towns of refuge and were known as Peace Town, or a White Town. The law of sanction of refuge was to cover the entire town and all were dafe from retribution while within its boundaries Kituwa was the first Peace Town.

War Fire was carried by the town's warriors when they went to war. Four Days before a war party was to set off, the Asawehi, who was the chaplian, made a fire near the hot house of the war chief of thae party. The fire kept burning for the four days the warriors prepared themselves for war. On the fifth day, the fire was placed in a red clay pot with w carrying handle and carried with the war party as they went forth to do battle. It was the responisibility of the War Chief and the Adawehi to see that the fire was taken care of and never allowed to go out. If the fire should go out for any reason while the war party was away from their town, they were immediately return home in defeat. If the fire went out during battle, the War Chief called for a retreat and the war party returned home. If a war party was engaged in battle and their defeat was imminent, it was the responsiblity of the War Chief, the Adawehi, and any warrior left alive to see that the fire pot was broken and the War Fire scattered so it would not fall into the hands of the enemy.

When a succesdful war party returned from the war path, warriors went to a sweat house and sat bt the War Fire for four days and drank Gvnega Adatatsi (Black Drink) and fasted. On the fifth day, the members of the war party went to the river and performed "go to the water" for purification and to put on new clothes, disgarding those which had been worn on the war path.

They passed all of their weapons of war through the flames of the War Fire to purify them, Thus were all of the warriors and their weapons of war are purified.

The Adawehi and the War Chief carried the fire pot into the Town House, followed bt all of the members of the war party. The War Fire was put into the Sacred Fire, adding its power to the fire.

PAGE MAINTAINED BY: Rainbow Eagle Woman.