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Cherokee Religion

Original Photograph
Copyright Bahman Fazard 1999
Used with permisson.

The Cherokees were a deeply religious people, holding many things of nature to be sacred. The stories passed from generation to generation told of many spiritual beings who created the earth, moon and stars.

YOWA was the one supreme being who was a unity of three beings referred to as "The Elder Fires Above." (CHO-TA-AUH-NE-LE-EH) Only the highest of priests were allowed to say the name out loud.

A Priest was singled out in early childhood for special religious training. He was taught the use of special herbs and of the sacred quartz crystals that were used in religious practice of that time.
The most sacred objects were kept in the council house in an ark.

He was taught that the creator god, YOWA, had given form to the earth and left the sun and moon to govern the world. They in turn appointed fire to take care of mankind using smoke as its messenger.

The belief in the Great Spirit made the movement toward Christianity an easy one for those that elected to do so. Very little of the ancient ceremony or religion exists today.


Eagle, Eagle Feathers, Rattlesnake, Fire, Smoke, Sun, Moon, Corn, Seven Quartz Crystals and the Ark.

BEST KNOWN DANCES (always circular in motion)

Eagle Dance, Green Corn Dance, Warrior or Brave Dance, Friendship Dance and Round Dance.

              EAGLE DANCER

The Eagle wand was a peace symbol. It was made of Eagle feathers and sourwood. Only a professional Eagle-Killer could kill the Eagle, and then only with proper ceremony and preparation.

The "Square," on a flat ground by the river and near the Council House, was an area designated and prepared for the ceremonial dances. Green Branches tied to high poles provided shade in the dance area, and the river close by provided the water for cold ceremonial plunges.


Background by:

Midi "Distant Dreams" is
used with permission 
and is copyright 2000

Bruce DeBoer