|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.
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.
evening was when the selected women performed the friendship dance. The second day, all went to the water for ritual
day, the people fasted.
day, all did friendship dances and ended the ceremony.
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