Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
February 26, 2000 - Issue 04

Cherokee Festivals
Information provided by Tonia Williams at

There were six main festivals or religious observances before the forced removal. These festivals were to be observed at the capital. The UKU, seven (7) Principal Counselors and people from all seven Cherokee clans participated.

The first festival was the First New Moon of Spring Festival. This festival was held in March. The seven Principal Counselors determined when the moons would appear and a messenger would announce the upcoming festival to all the Cherokee people.

There were designated hunters to get the game for the feast, the dressing of a deer and the preparation of white deer skins, seven men were put in charge of the festival and seven men for food preparation.

The first evening was when the selected women performed the friendship dance. The second day, all went to the water for ritual purification.

The third day, the people fasted.

The fourth day, all did friendship dances and ended the ceremony.

Afterwards the Seven Counselors scheduled the sacred night dance. They would have a religious dance, a new sacred fire was built and all old fires in the Cherokee homes were put out. They also had a scratching ceremony and medicine taking prepared by the Medicine Men. At the end, white deer skins were presented to the Festival Priests.

Cherokee Festivals: 2 of 6 in series

The Green Corn Ceremony was traditionally celebrated during late June or early July for about four days. The dates scheduled for the celebration depended upon the time the first corn ripened. The ceremony was held in the middle of the ceremonial grounds. Included in the rituals were the stomp dance, feather dance and buffalo dances. At certain points of the ceremonies the people fasted, played stickball, had corn sacrificing, took medicine and had a scratching ceremony. Then after the fasting they would feast. Another ritual observed was rinsing themselves in water and having prayer.

It was believed when you get a cleansing it washed away impurities or bad deeds and started a new life. The cleansing ceremony was performed by a priest which was followed with fasting and praying and other sacred practices.

Info provided by the Cherokee Nation Cultural Resource Center

back to the What's New page

Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.

Canku Ota is a copyright of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the Copyright © 1999 of Paul C. Barry. All Rights Reserved.