bridget orman 5 years ago

Cherokee Beliefs Creation of Earth

By Bonnie Ramsey

Cherokee belief

earth was a great island floating in a sea of water, suspended by a
cord at each of the four cardinal points, hanging down from the sky
vault, which is solid rock. When the world grows old and worn out, the
people will die, the cords will break and the earth will sink back into
the ocean and all will be water again. The Indians fear this.

Origin of Animals

In the Beginning

When all was water, the animals were above, beyond the arch, in Galunlati.
It was very crowded and they wanted more room. They wondered what was
below the water and "Beaver's Grandchild", the water beetle, offered to
go and learn. It darted in all directions across the water's surface
but could not find a firm place to rest. Then it dove to the bottom and
returned with some soft mud, which began to grow and spread on every
side until it became the island we call earth. Afterward it was fastened
to the sky with four cords but no one remembers this.

Native American Waterbird Symbol

Creation of Mountains and Valleys

first, the earth was flat, very soft and wet. The animals were anxious
to get down so they sent different birds to see if it was dry but they
found no place to alight and returned to Galunlati. When it
seemed to be time, they sent out the Buzzard, telling him to go and make
ready for them. It was known as the Great Buzzard, father of all
buzzards we see now. He flew all over the earth, close to the ground but
it was still soft. By the time he reached Cherokee country, he was very
tired. His wings began to flap and strike the ground. Wherever they
struck the earth, there was a valley and where they turned up again
there was a mountain. When the animals above saw this, they were afraid
that the whole world would be mountains and called him back. The
Cherokee country remains full of mountains even today.

Sun symbol

Creation of Light

the earth was dry, the animals came down. It was still dark, so they
got the sun and set it in a track to go across the island east to west
every day. It was too hot this way and the Red Crawfish had his shell
scorched to a bright red and it spoiled the meat. The Cherokee do not
eat it.

The conjurers raised the sun again and again seven times
until it was right and left it there. Every day the sun goes along this
arch and returns at night to the starting place.

The Underground World

is another world under this arch, much like ours in
everything...plants, animals and people, except the seasons are
different. The streams that come down from the mountains are the trails
used to read this underworld. The springs at their heads are the
doorways in which it is entered. In order to do this, one must fast, go
to the water and have one of the underground people guide them through.
We know that the seasons in the underworld are different because the
water in the springs is always warmer in the winter and colder in the
summer than the outer air.


Seven Nights Watch

the plants and animals were first made ( we do not know by whom) they
were told to watch and keep awake for seven nights. In the same sense,
young men now fast and keep awake when they pray to their medicine. They
tried to do this and nearly all were awake the first night but the
second night several drifted off to sleep. The third night more slept
and then more until by the seventh night, of all the animals, only the
owl, the panther and one or two more were still awake. These animals
that remained awake were given the power to see in the dark and to make
prey of the birds and animals which must sleep at night.

Of the
trees, only the cedar, pine, holly, spruce and the laurel were awake to
the end. For their endurance, they were given the power to be always
green and to be the greatest for medicine. To the others it was said,
"Because you have not endured to the end you shall lose your hair in the

Adoption of the Human Race

The Coming of Man

came after the plants and animals. In the beginning, there were only a
brother and sister until he struck her with a fish and told her to
multiply. In seven days, a child was born and thereafter every seven
days another. They increased very fast until there was danger that the
world could not keep them. Then, it was made that woman should only have
a child once in a year and it has been so ever since.

Spiritual Beliefs - The Way of the Circle

"Way of the Circle" has been passed down through generations and is
represented in all the Cherokee stories, myths, legends and other forms
of teaching.

  • When you arise each morning, give thanks to the
    creator, to the four sacred directions, Mother Earth, Father Sky and all
    your relations.
  • Remember that all things are connected.
  • All things have a purpose.
  • Honor
    others by treating them with kindness; always assume a guest is tired,
    cold or hungry. Provide them with the best you have to offer.
  • If you have more than what you need, give the excess to another who is in need.
  • Your word is your honor; Do not break your word unless permission is granted by those you promise something to.
  • Always seek harmony and balance in all things.
  • Share with others.
  • Practice silence and patience.
  • Practice modesty in all things; boasting and loud behavior is not acceptable.
  • Always ask permission and give thanks for all received.
  • Always show respect and be aware of all things around you.
  • Do not stare at others. Drop your eyes as a sign of respect, especially in the presence of elders, teachers and honored persons.
  • Always greet a friend in passing.
  • Never criticize or talk about anyone in a harmful way.
  • Never touch something that belongs to another without permission.
  • Always respect the privacy of others.
  • Never interrupt someone talking. It shows lack of patience, control and respect.
  • Listen to your heart.
  • Always remember that a smile is sacred.
  • Live each day as it comes.
  • Neither kill nor harbor angry thoughts.
  • Do what needs to be done now, not later.

Belief in Good and Bad Deeds

Cherokee believe that if your life is of doing good unselfishly and
without the desire of a reward, you will be rewarded with good things.
However, if you have done bad then bad things will come to you. Again we
must think of the Sacred Circle and the circle of life.


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