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Native American Culture and Society 

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Native American culture and society are quite different and many are unfamiliar with it. Native Americans are the native people of the North, Central, and South America. There are many types of Native Americans such as Arikara, Iroquois, Pawnee, Sioux, Apache, Eskimo, Cree, Choctaw, Comanche, etc. Cherokee people have a diverse society and culture. The Cherokee Indians had initially settled in the southeast region of the United States. ‘The Cherokee migrated to the southern Appalachian Mountain region, which covers parts of Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Kentucky, over 5,000 years ago from the Great Lakes area’. The quote shows that eventually the Cherokee began migrating South and had started to settle North, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. The Cherokee had come from Iroquoian descent and were one of the five largest North American tribes. The Cherokee, were one of the most known Native Americans for many reasons.

The Cherokee people were not only farmers but also farms. It meant that they did agriculture and also did foraging. ‘Cherokees were traditionally an agrarian people, maintaining a town garden and individual garden plots (Conley, 2019)’. This quote shows that Cherokee had an agrarian society and did agriculture to obtain their food or medicine. The Cherokee people ate a variety of food, including buffalo, elk, squirrels, rice, and mushrooms. They would harvest crops such as corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers. They gathered things such as fruits, berries, and nuts. Eventually, they began to raise animals like chickens, hogs, cattle, and domesticated animals from Europe. ‘Besides food, the environment provided all that people needed, including medicine, clothing, weapons, shelter, musical instruments, and personal adornments’. They relied on everything in nature from deer to fish, small games, such as rabbits and wild turkeys.

The men who went hunting wore deerskin or animal fur. Cherokee people used many weapons, for example, clubs, knives, bows and arrows, axes, and spears. The Cherokee warriors used blowguns sometimes during warfare and had tattoos used to paint their faces and their bodies. The color of the paint represented things such as red for success, blue for defeat, black for death, and white meant for peace. “The men shaved their heads, leaving a scalp lock, which they allowed to grow long (warpaths 2 peace)”. The quote talks about how It was part of their culture for the men to shave their heads, usually leaving a topknot. typically the Native Americans hairstyles consisted of long braids, flowy hair, and shaved heads. Sometimes, depending on the hairstyles, it symbolizes many things (like cutting off the hair would represent shame).

The word for Cherokee is known as Tsalagi or Keetowah. Cherokee people usually called themselves ‘Aniyunwiya’ which meant ‘principle people”. They also referred to themselves as ‘cave people’ There have not been any theories proven about the origin of the name, “Cherokee”, but it’s been said that it meant “people of different speech”. Some translated Cherokee as, those who “lived in the mountains”. The Cherokee people were a matrilineal society which meant that characteristics, behavior, and relatives were traced through mother lineages (a kinship between a female line or a mother). Men or husbands usually provided for the family, supplying food. According to Michael P. Morris, ‘…women retained important positions in Cherokee decision-making and politics. Men focused their attention on hunting and trade’. While the female or the wives had more control and dominance over their homes, families, clan memberships, and inheritance. Cherokee women were seen as powerful, they married and could divorce. They were a matriarchal clan, women were equal to men. The clans were still led by male chiefs and men had to join the women’s family in marriage and not the other way around. In society, the men dealt with clearing fields and hunting, while the women took care of the children.

The Cherokees were a heterogeneous (diverse) society and accepted other tribes. They were one of the ‘five civilized tribes’. ‘Cherokees have long been used to interacting with non-Cherokees. In fact, Cherokees always seem to have been willing to accept outsiders into their ranks, some might say, too willingly’. They viewed others as brothers and sisters, but it was forbidden to marry one within their own clans. Cherokee people had a type of dance called ‘The booger Dance’. It’s usually performed in the fall or winter. The dance makes a mockery of society. They wore a Booger Mask which they had distorted or repulsive expressions. The masks represented and symbolized non-Indian people. ‘The Cherokee were famous for their Booger masks A Booger mask was a carved mask with exaggerated features and expressions used in the Booger Dance (Cherokee Tribe, 2011)”. Cherokee people’s beliefs were that the land they occupied (not owned) was the center of the universe. They believed that everything had a soul, including abiotic things (except bears). ‘…Cherokee attempt to obtain harmony and balance in every aspect of their lives, particularly with respect to the natural world ”. They respected the land and everything on it was sacred.

Cherokee people had other ways of living like speaking their own dialect (spoke Iroquoian). Different languages and unlike other tribes they had divergent history. Cherokee people and their society and culture differ and over time it changes. 

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