Jan 012016
 

Teaching son 002Note to readers of Native American Antiquity:  This article marks a change.  This year, the journal will change from weekly to monthly and will  present facts on the art, archaeology, astronomy, history and culture in each article.  I hope you enjoy the new format, wado (thanks), Courtney Miller.

Culture LogoFor the ancient Cherokee, this time of the year was a time for personal reflection and purification through ritual and ceremony.  It was a time of preparation for spring, repairing old tools and making new ones.  It was a time when families moved into their “asi” or winter house and listened to stories told by the elders.  The asi’s were conical clay houses partially submerged where the families could sit and sleep around the center fire to stay warm.

Sep 172015
 

Relocation RouteBy the turn of the nineteenth century, the Native American tribes known as the Five Civilized Tribes were living peacefully on their native lands.  The process of acculturation proposed by George Washington and his administration was well underway especially among the Cherokee and Choctaw.  The Cherokee had established schools and, thanks to the syllabary developed by Sequoyah, were teaching their children in both Cherokee and English.  They had a written a constitution similar to the U.S. Constitution, were successful farmers using Euro-American techniques, and the woman were employing Euro-American domestic skills.  Many Cherokee farmers owned large cotton plantations and even owned slaves like their U. S. counterparts.

Jul 302015
 

The writing was on the wall!  By the early 1800’s,  even Thomas Jefferson, who often cited the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois Confederacy as the

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

model for the U.S. Constitution, supported Indian Removal as early as 1802.  Many Cherokees, unsettled by white encroachment, decided to move west on their own. In 1817, a group that came to be known as the “Old Settlers” voluntarily moved to land given them in Arkansas where they established a new government and a lived in peace for a while.  It was not to last.  They were eventually forced to move again to Indian Territory.

Sep 252014
 

Map of OklahomaTo get a good feel for Cherokee culture and history, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is a great place to visit.  It is located in the heart of “Green Country” and “Lake Country” in northeastern Oklahoma and is the capital of the Cherokee Nation and the Keetoowah Band of the Cherokee.  There are a number of historical museums and the Cherokee Heritage Center where a visitor can learn about the historical and pre-historical Cherokee.

IMG_4572We began our tour in downtown Tahlequah with the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum built in 1844.  It is the oldest government building still standing in Oklahoma.  The museum features in addition to exhibits on the Cherokee judicial system and the Cherokee language, exhibits on the first Cherokee newspapers–The Cherokee Phoenix and the Cherokee Advocate.

Dec 122013
 

In an introduction to the book “Incidents of Travel in Yucatan”, Victor Wolfgang von Hagen wrote, “The acceptance of an indigenous ‘civilization’ demanded of an American living in 1836 a complete reorientation; to him an ‘Indian’ was one of those barbaric, half-naked tipi dwellers, a rude sub-human people who hunted with animal stealth.”

Benjamin Franklin deplored the use of the term “savages” for Native Americans: “Savages we call them, because their manners differ from ours, which we think the perfection of civility; they think the same of theirs”.

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