is officially here for the kids in Cherokee. The Oconaluftee River,
which runs through downtown Cherokee, has been one way to celebrate
the summer break. For my boy, there isnt much better than
a cool dip in the river. The kids in Cherokee are enjoying the oldest
of Cherokee traditions.
have long held water in high esteem. Cherokees would wake in the
morning and go to water for prayer. The power of water from special
places is also important. Cherokees go to special places to gather
water for ceremonies. One place to gather water is the sacred lake.
Cherokee story of the sacred lake tells of healing water found deep
in the mountains. The sacred lake is crystal-clear and when water
is brought back to the community it is so pure that it holds the
ice-cold temperature even in the heat of summer.
stories of bears and their relationship to water are numerous. The
Cherokee tell a story about a clan which grew tired of working so
hard for food that they decided to leave the village and go into
the mountains to live. The head men of the village tried to persuade
the clan to stay among the people but the clan had begun the seven-day
fast to undertake their journey. The head men decided they would
follow but when they caught up to the bear clan the people were
growing long hair. Their nature was changing and they were becoming
the bear. They bear clan spoke to the head men and assured them
that when the people were hungry they could take their flesh and
be satisfied, because in their form as bears they would always live.
Before their parting the bears taught the head men the songs with
which to call them.
bears have great towns and great leaders but they always remain
near the sacred lake. Like the Cherokee the bears hold water in
high esteem, and if you are lucky you can see a bear enjoying the
river. If we are lucky we can continue to go to the water as long
as the bears protect the lake.
more information visit: Cherokee
Lynne Harlan, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians,
works as a freelance writer, curator and tribal historian.