Monday, May 15, 2023

Native American Plant Myths - Plants & Trees dominate the Mythology & Ceremonies of the Cherokees


Extracted from:  Myths of the Cherokee. Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau  of American Ethnology. Washington Government Printing Office 1902  Oral History recorded by James Mooney (1861-1921) was an American ethnographer who lived for several years among the Cherokee.
James Mooney. The Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees.  Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1885-1886, US  Government Printing Office, Washington, 1891

The Cherokee have always been an agricultural people, & their old country is a region of luxuriant flora, with tall trees & tangled undergrowth on the slopes & ridges, & myriad bright-tinted blossoms & sweet wild fruits along the running streams. The vegetable kingdom consequently holds a far more important place in the mythology & ceremonial of the tribe than it does among the Indians of the treeless plains & arid sage deserts of the West, most of the beliefs & customs in this connection centering around the practice of medicine, as expounded by the priests & doctors in every settlement. In general it is held that the plant world is friendly to the human species, & constantly at the willing service of the doctors to counteract the jealous hostility of the animals. The sacred formulas contain many curious instructions for the gathering & preparation of the medicinal roots & barks, which are selected chiefly in accordance with the theory of correspondences.