Today, the Eastern Cherokee maintain traditions of music, storytelling, dance, foodways, carving, basket-making, headwork, pottery, blowgun-making, flint-knapping, and more.
They are as follows: New Moon Festival (First Festival), Green Corn Ceremony (Second Festival), Ripe Corn Ceremony (Third Festival), Great New Moon Ceremony (Fourth Festival), Friends Made Ceremony (Fifth Festival also known as Propitiation Festival), Bounding Bush Ceremony (Sixth Festival) and the Uku or Ookah Dance(
Cherokee culture encompasses our longstanding traditions of language, spirituality, food, storytelling and many forms of art, both practical and beautiful. However, just like our people, Cherokee culture is not static or frozen in time, but is ever-evolving.
The Deer God: The Cherokee worshipped the Deer God. They told him, “We only kill what is needed to feed our families, and we are sorry.” This was important to do. They did not want the Deer God to be angry with them, or the Deer God might make all the deer disappear.
THE SEVEN CEREMONIES The Cherokee have and always have had 7 major ceremonies. Many of these went on for several days and involved fasting, feasting, chants, dances, staying awake all night, immersing in water, purifications rites and divination rituals. These often took place around the time of the New Moons.
After 1800 the Cherokee were remarkable for their assimilation of American settler culture. The tribe formed a government modeled on that of the United States. Under Chief Junaluska they aided Andrew Jackson against the Creek in the Creek War, particularly in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.
Cherokee men wore breechcloths and leggings. Cherokee women wore wraparound skirts made out of woven fiber or deerskin. They all wore moccasins on their feet. Men decorated their faces and bodies extensively with tribal tattoo art and also painted themselves bright colors in times of war.
Fun Facts about the Cherokee Sequoyah was a famous Cherokee who invented a writing system and alphabet for the Cherokee language. Cherokee art included painted baskets, decorated pots, carvings in wood, carved pipes, and beadwork. They would sweeten their food with honey and maple sap.
Today the majority of Cherokees practice some denomination of Christianity, with Baptist and Methodist the most common. However, a significant number of Cherokees still observe and practice older traditions, meeting at stomp grounds in local communities to hold stomp dances and other ceremonies.
“The Cherokees did not separate spiritual and physical realms but regarded them as one, and they practiced their religion in a host of private daily observances as well as in public ceremonies.” Cosmology refers to the concept of the general order of the universe.
The personal belongings of the deceased were either buried with him or burned at the grave site. Food and furniture were smashed and thrown away. As soon as the corpse was buried, a priest was sent for to ritually cleanse the house.
According to early Spanish explorers, Cherokee people made some of their clothing out of deerskins or the skins of other animals. They wove other clothing out of bark strips or strands of hemp. (Apparently they didn’t spin.)
The holiday hosts many different cultural and artistic events such as a two-night intertribal pow wow, stickball, Cherokee marbles, horseshoes and cornstalk shoot tournaments, softball tournaments, rodeos, car and art shows, gospel singings, the annual Miss Cherokee pageant, the Cherokee National Holiday parade, and
Religious dances were held most of the night, special wood was gathered for the kindling of special fires, and tobacco was used in a special ceremony. These festivals were held as a Thanksgiving to God for the fruits of the earth.
The Green Corn Ceremony (Busk) is an annual ceremony practiced among various Native American peoples associated with the beginning of the yearly corn harvest. The Green Corn Ceremony typically occurs in late July–August, determined locally by the ripening of the corn crops.