Bird, Long Hair, Blue, Paint, Deer and
of the seven clans and the seven sided council
house which was
the center of their ceremonial and governmental life.
In the center burns the sacred fire, kindled with seven kinds of wood. Around
this fire the struggles, victories and agonies
of the Cherokee empire were
discussed and many momentous decisions of their history were made.
Cherokee and Iroquoian languages evolved from the same mother tongue. The
Cherokee language developed into three dialects. The Eastern dialect, "Elati"
is now extinct. The Middle dialect, "Kituhwa" is used in Western North
Carolina. The Western dialect, "Atali" is used in Oklahoma.
Cherokee is a unique language of rising and falling tones spoken with little
movement of the lips. Guttural and at places very difficult, it has a beauty all
of its own.
The many tribes of Indian people had only spoken languages, and they used
pictures rather than letters and words to record their tribal history.
However, among the Cherokees, a man by the name of Sequoyah had a dream of
making a "talking leaf" like that of the white man. Sequoyah whose
English name was George Guess, was an illiterate, but out of his personal genius
and determination he created a Cherokee alphabet or Syllabary and endowed his
entire tribe with a written language.
After twelve years of trial and hardships, Sequoyah finally produced a syllabary
of eighty five symbols, each representing a sound in the Cherokee spoken
language. His alphabet was approved by the Cherokee Chiefs in 1821. In a very
short time, the tribe was reading and writing in the new language. The New
Testament was translated and a newspaper begun.
Cherokee language has given away to the more practical and necessary use of
English. Some of the Elders still prefer to speak in their native tongue. As the
Elders die there is a real danger of the language being lost. Efforts are being
made to teach the young and keep it alive.
In the next few weeks, I will be adding lodging, food, games
and more of the culture, please come back.
Melody of Songs From Nature's Drums by Northsound
Harmonizing Nature with Music. (c)1996 by NorthWind Press Inc.
all rights reserved.