Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cherokee Food

Cherokee Food and subsistence practices.
Traditional Tsalagi recipes of the Cherokee tribe.

The Cherokee people were hunters, gatherers, and farmers. Prior to the mid-eighteenth century women did most of the farming, while men were responsible for hunting, fishing, and clearing fields for planting. Women also owned the farms, homes and most posessions, except hunting weapons.

The traditional Cherokee diet consisted of mostly wild meat, especially wild hogs and white-tailed deer, and corn and bean bread, pumpkins, dried fruit, and nuts, which were usually ground into a flour to be used in other dishes. 

The principle crops they grew were maise (corn), beans, and squash. They also grew pumpkins, sunflowers, sweet potatoes, peaches and watermelons. Around 1739, Cherokee women began growing cotton and flax, and they became expert spinners and weavers. 

During the summer months, the Cherokee harvested large numbers of fish by putting buckeye pulp in the rivers, which contains a poison that stunned the fish and made them float to the surface where they could easily be gathered. They were then barbecued and a great feast was held. Fry bread was also a Cherokee staple, as it was with many Plains Indian tribes. In the old days, the Cherokee considered dogs a delicacy, which helped them through leaner times.


From Momfeather Erickson

I do not remember where I got these, but some of it was written in Tsalagi

Bean Bread (tu-ya ga-du)

Cook about 2 quarts of brown beans until thick and soupy, add salt to your taste Add 1/4 cup of oil or two tablespoons of pure grease.  When beans are done and still boiling, place in a bowl 4-8 cups of yellow corn meal and 1/2 cup of oil, stir this until well incorporated, pour the boiling beans into the corn meal about 4-6 cups or more. Pour into a well oiled pan and bake in 350 degree oven. When it is done, cut into squares and enjoy.

Crawfish - (Ge-Dv-Nv)

Catch crawfish by baiting them with groundhog meat or buttermilk. Pinch off tails and legs to use. Parboil, remove hulls and fry the little meat that is left. When crisp, it is ready to eat. Crawfish can also be used in a soup or stew after it is fried.

Cabbage - (U-S-Ge-Wi)

Wilt cabbage in a small amount of grease (go-i). Add some pieces of green peppers and cook until cabbage turns red. Serve with cornbread (se-lu ga-du). 

Corn and Beans - (Se-Lu A-Su-Yi Tsu-Ya)

Skin flour corn with lye and cook. Cook colored beans. Put the cooked corn and beans together and cook some more. Add pumpkin if you like, cooking until pumpkin is done.

Add to this a mixture of cornmeal, beaten walnuts and hickory nuts, and enough molasses to sweeten. Cook this in an iron pot until the meal is done. Eat fresh or just after it begins to sour. This will not keep too long after it begins to sour unless the weather is cold.

Cornmeal Gravy (selu'si asusdi)

Fry some meat (about 4 pcs.side meat) Have enough grease to cover cornmeal. Add about 1/2 cup of meal (you may wanna salt this a bit, unless you like bland) Brown the meal in grease until light brown. Add 2 1/2 cups of milk, stir and let boil until thick. Serve hot over any kind of bread. (This was my elisi's favorite poured on top of hoe cakes)

Cornmeal Mush - (Selu'sa Anista)

Corn meal 
boiling water
(1 part corn meal to 4 parts water)
salt to taste
Put water in saucepan. Cover and let it become boiling hot over the fire; then add a tablespoon of salt. Take off the light scum from the top. Take a handful of the cornmeal with the left hand and a pudding stick in the right (or vise versa if you're a southpaw); then with the stick, stir the water around and by degrees let fall the meal. When one handful is exhausted, refill it; continue to stir and add meal until it is as thick as you can stir easily, or until the stick will stand in it. Stir it awhile longer. Let the fire be gentle.
When it is sufficiently cooked which will be in half an hour, it will bubble or buff up. Turn it into a deep basin. Good eaten cold or hot, with milk or butter and syrup or sugar, or with meat and gravy or it may be sliced when cold and fried.

Dried Apples - (Unikaya)

Peel and quarter ripe apples, or slice and dry in the sun. Cook the dried apples until done. If the cooked apple needs to be thickened, add cornmeal and cook until meal is done.

Dried Corn Soup 

1 ear dried blue and white or other corn,
removed from the cob
7 cups water (ama)
1 (2"x1") strip fat back, sliced 
5 oz. dried beef 
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper (do qua yo di)

Soak the corn in 2 cups water for 48 hours. Place the corn and its soaking water in a large saucepan. Add the remaining water and the fat back, and simmer, covered, for about 3 hours and 50 minutes or until the corn is tender but not soft. 3. Mix in the dried beef and pepper, and simmer, stir for 10 minutes more.

Fried Squash Bread

1 cup Corn meal 
2 Summer squash -- diced 
1 Egg 
1/4 cup Buttermilk 

Cook squash in water until soft; leave 3/4 c. water in pot. Combine other ingredients with squash and water; mix together. Fry in hot oil until golden brown.

Ga-Na-S-Da-Tsi (Sassafras Tea) 

Red Sassafras roots

To make a tea, boil a few pieces of the root in water until  it is the desired strength. Sweeten with honey if desired. Serve hot or cold.  Note: Gather and wash the roots of the red sassafras. Do this in the spring before the sap begins to rise. Store for future use. Some natural food stores carry sassafrass root in a dried form. It will resemble wood chips (the kind  used when barbequeing). The "store bought" variety work just as well.  Sassafras tea tastes like watered down rootbeer and is really very good.

Greens Salad - (Guhitligi) 
Sweet grass (Oo-Ga-Na-S-Di) -  Old Field Creases (Oo-Li-Si) -  Ramps (Wa-S-Di) - 
Angelica (Wa-Ne-Gi-Duhn) -  Poke (Tla-Ye-De) -

Parboil, salt, then cooked some more with grease (go-i). Serve hot. 

Spicewood Tea - (Gv-nv-s-dv-tli)

Small twigs of Spicewood

Boil twigs in water and serve hot. Sweeten if desired. Molasses or honey makes the best sweetening. Gather spicewood twigs in the spring when the buds first appear.

Hominy Corn Drink - (Gv-no-he-nv)

Corn, field dried or parched 
Wood ash lye 
Shell the corn (if still on the cob), and soak the kernels in wood ash lye until the skin can be removed (slipped).Remove from the lye and rinse with clear water. Drain.  Beat the corn in the corn beater (ko-no-na) until it is the size of hominy. Sift the meal from the larger corn particles. Cook the larger particles in water until they are done. Thicken with a little meal. Drink this hot or wait until it sours and drink it cold. The drink may be kept for quite a while unless the weather is very hot. This was a customary drink to serve to friends who dropped by for a visit. 


Huckleberry Bread (gadu guwa)

2 cups self rising flour 
1 egg 
1 cup sugar 
1 stick butter 
1 cup milk 
1 tea. vanilla 
2 cups berries (Huckleberry or blueberry) 

Cream eggs, butter and sugar.  Add flour, milk and vanilla.  Sprinkle flour on berries to prevent them from going to the bottom.  Add berries.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.


Leather Breeches - (Anikayosvhi Tsuya)               

1 pound fresh green beans, washed 
2 quarts water 
1/4 pound salt pork, diced
2 teaspoons salt 
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper 
heavy thread 
darning needle

Snap the ends off the beans and string on heavy thread with needle. Hang in a sunny place to dry for about 2 months. To cook: Soak beans for 1 hour in the two quarts of water. Add the salt pork, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer slowly, for 3 hours. Add more water if needed.

Potato Soup - (Nu-nv Oo-ga-ma)

Peel white potatoes and cut them into small pieces. Boil in water with an onion or two until potatoes and onions mash easily. After mashing, add some fresh milk and reheat the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

Ramps - (Wa-s-di)   

Gather young ramps soon after they come up. Parboil them, wash and fry in a little grease (go-i). Meal may be added if you wish. They may be cooked without being parboiled, or even eaten raw (if the eater is not social minded! *smile*)

Red Sumach Drink - (Qua-lo-ga)

Shell berries off and gently rub between the palms of your hands, being careful not to crush the berries but only the spines, drop into water, strain, sweeten to taste and chill.


Cherokee Succotash - (Iyatsuyadisuyi Selu)
Shell some corn and skin it with wood ashes lye. Cook corn and beans separately, then together. If desired, you may put pieces of pumpkin in. Be sure to put the pumpkin in early enough to get done before the pot is removed from the fire. 

Swamp Potatoes - (Tlawatsuhi'anehi Nunv) 

Gather and wash swamp potatoes. Bake in oven or in ashes until they are done. Beat the cooked potatoes in the corn beater until they are like any other meal. Use as meal is used. 
(During winter famines, many Cherokees had no other meal except that made from the swamp potatoes.)

Sweet Corn Mixture - (Sedi Tsuya Selu) 

Skin flour corn by putting it in lye. Cook the corn until it is done. Add beans and continue cooking until the beans are done. Add pumpkin and cook until it is done, then add walnut (se di) meal and a little corn meal. Add a little sugar or molasses if you'd like. Cook until the corn meal is done. 

Possum Grape Drink (Oo-ni-na-su-ga Oo-ga-ma)   Possum grapes (muscadine grapes), dried
 Corn meal 

Gather ripe possum grapes - the kind that are still sour after they ripen when the frost has fallen on them. Hang up for winter use.

To prepare: Shell off the grapes from the stems, wash, and stew them in water. When they are done, mash in the water they were cooked in. Let this sit until the seed settle, then strain, reserving liquid. Put the juice back on the fire and and bring to a boil. Add a little cornmeal to thicken the juice. Continue cooking until the meal is done. Remove from the fire and drink hot or cold. Sweeten, if desired.

Old Field Apricot Drink (Uwaga (Oo-Wa-Ga) 

Gather old field apricots 
(field apricots are the fruit of the passion flower) 

Hull out the seed and pulp, and put on to boil, discarding skins. Add a tiny bit of soda to make the seeds separate from the pulp. Squash out the pulp, straining the mixture through a cloth. Drink hot.

Wanegidv (Wah-neh-gee-Duh) 

Pick when tender, parboil, fry, and serve with eggs and bread or just bread.

Trade Prices in SC

Trade Prices In 1716 the South Carolina Board of Trade issued the following trade schedule.

Number of deerskins for each item follows item name.

A Gun. 30

A Yard Strouds. 7

A Duffield Blanket. 14

A Yard Half Thicks. 3

A Hatchet. 2

A narrow Hoe. 2

A broad Hoe. 4

Fifty Bullets. 1

A Butcher’s Knife. 1

A pair Cizars. 1

Three Strings Beads. 1

Eighteen Flints. 1

An Ax. 4

A Pistol. 20

A Cutlash. 8

A Shirt. 4

A Steel. 1

A Calico Petticoat. 12

A red Girdle. 2

A laced Hatt. 8

A Clasp Knife. 1

A Yard Cadis. 1

Rum, mixed with1/3 Water; per bottle. 1

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Another Cherokee Learning Detour from My Family Research

Houses of the Cherokees

Wattle and Daub Houses

Wattle and daub houses (also known as asi, the Cherokee word for them) are Native American houses used by southeastern tribes. Wattle and daub houses are made by weaving rivercane, wood, and vines into a frame, then coating the frame with plaster. The roof was either thatched with grass or shingled with bark.

          rivercane frame    *   plastered and thatched

Wattle and daub houses are permanent structures that take a lot of effort to build. Like longhouses, they are good homes for agricultural people who intended to stay in one place, like the Cherokees and Creeks. Making wattle and daub houses requires a fairly warm climate to dry the plaster.

The Cherokee Indians lived in settled villages, usually located near a river. Cherokee houses were made of rivercane and plaster, with thatched roofs. These dwellings were about as strong and warm as log cabins.The Cherokees also built larger seven-sided buildings for ceremonial purposes, and each village usually had a ball field with benches for spectators. Many Cherokee villages had palisades (reinforced walls) around them for protection.

At the time of contact, the Cherokee were a settled, agricultural people living in approximately 200 fairly, large villages. The typical Cherokee town consisted of 30 to 60 houses and a large council house. They built permanent, well-organized villages in the midst of extensive cornfields and gardens throughout the fertile river valleys of the Cherokee country.

In these villages, homes ranged around a central plaza used for dances, games, and ceremonies. At one end of the plaza, the council house, or townhouse, held the sacred fire, symbol of the Creator and embodiment of the spirit of the town. Often the townhouse stood on an earthen mound from the earlier Mississippian culture, although the Cherokee themselves did not build mounds during the historic period. However, the mounds sometimes grew with successive, ceremonial rebuildings.

Ancient Cherokee Village
Ancient Cherokee Village
The size of the townhouse varied, depending on the size of each village, since it had to be large enough for all the people to meet to discuss community matters and hold festivals. Council houses, as they were also called, were made of saplings (young trees) and mud. The Cherokee would gather at the council house for parties, political assemblies and religious ceremonies. Bunched around the council house was a collection of extended family homes.

Cherokee Summer house
Cherokee Summer House
Some cherokees lived in a different style of house in the summer than the winter. Summer houses were in the shape of a square or rectangle. Upright poles formed the framework. The outside was covered with bark, wood or woven siding coated with earth and clay. This type of construction with clay is called wattle and daub. The cherokee dwelling was usually quite large, because Cherokees lived in extended matrilineal families consisting of the mother's parents, the parents, children, and unmarried siblings of the mother of the house. A husband joined the family of his wife.

Cherokee Summer house
Cherokee Winter House
During the winter, some Cherokee lived in a smaller, circular, dome shaped structure that looked like a beehive or an upsidedown basket. It was partially sunken into the ground. This style of Cherokee lodge was called an asi. Being smaller and lower than the summer homes, it was easier to keep warm in winter.

In later years, many Cherokee, lived in the same kind of houses the European settlers lived in -- log cabins and wooden houses. A typical log cabin had one door and a smoke hole in the center of the roof.

Cherokee Clothing

Breechcloths leave the legs bare, so Native American men often wore leggings to protect their legs. Native American leggings are tube-like footless pant legs, usually made from buckskin or other soft leather. They are not connected to each other--there is one separate legging for each leg. Both leggings are tied onto the same belt that holds the breechcloth with thongs that attach at the hip. 

Legging styles varied from tribe to tribe. Sometimes they were fringed, like the ones in this picture. Sometimes they were painted with colorful patterns or decorated with beadwork or quillwork designs. Many Indian men tied garters (straps, thongs, or bandana-like cloths) around their leggings at the knee to help keep them in place.

Women and girls also wore leggings in many tribes, but female leggings were shorter and were not attached to a belt, simply gartered at the knee.

A breechcloth is a long rectangular piece of tanned deerskin, cloth, or animal fur. It is worn between the legs and tucked over a belt, so that the flaps fall down in front and behind. Sometimes it is also called a breechclout, loincloth, skin clout, or just a flap.

In most Native American tribes, men used to wear some form of breechclout. The style was different from tribe to tribe. In some tribes, the breechcloth loops outside of the belt and then is tucked into the inside, for a more fitted look. Sometimes the breechcloth is much shorter and a decorated apron panel is attached in front and behind.

A Native American woman or teenage girl might also wear a fitted breechcloth underneath her skirt, but not as outerwear. However, in many tribes young girls did wear breechcloths like the boys until they became old enough for skirts and dresses

The Cherokee Indians used to make long dugout canoes from hollowed-out logs. Over land, the Cherokees used dogs as pack animals. There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Another Privilege I Had On April 14

Besides attending the play Nanyehi - Beloved Woman of the Cherokee as posted below. I had the opportunity to eat lunch and then attend the play with David Hampton and 5 other descendants of Nancy Ward, who had come from Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida. It was wonderful to meet and be with them. There were 11 descendants at the play. Before the play started, we had the honor  of standing and being introduced by Becky Hobbs.

David is one of the foremost Cherokee researchers in the country and has been very kind and helpful  in my attempts at research. His book Cherokee Mixed Bloods has been invaluable to me.

It was a real honor to be with David and the other Nancy Ward descendants.

David K. Hampton 

David Keith Hampton currently resides in Tulsa. He’s the son of Thomas Marion Hampton Jr. and June Louise (Young) Hampton. He graduated from Broken Arrow High School in 1967. His Cherokee grandfather was George Elihu Young enrolled on Dawes roll minor Cherokee #3056.  David began working on genealogy in 1961 and later attended the University of Oklahoma majoring in political science from 1967 through 1970.  In the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1973 he was a Military occupation specialist as a Lao language translator, stationed in Udorn ThaniThailand.  After his military service he returned to OU majoring in accounting receiving a B.B.A.  David has worked as an accountant at various businesses and since 1994 at a Tulsa law firm specializing in immigration.
David’s publications are:
§        Descendants of Nancy Ward 1975
§        Cherokee Reservees 1979
§        The Nantz Family 1983
§        Old Cherokee Families: Notes of Dr. Emmet Starr, volumes 1-3 1988
§        Cherokee Old Settler 1993
§        Descendants of Nancy Ward: A workbook for Further Research 1997
§        Cherokee Mixed-bloods: Additions and Corrections to Family Genealogies of Dr. Emmet Starr, volume 1, 2005
§        Currently working on Cherokee Mixed-Bloods volume 2
§        Oklahoma Historical Society
§        Goingsnake District Heritage Association, currently Vice President, previously secretary
§        Association of the Descendants of Nancy Ward, President since 1994
§        Oklahoma Chapter – Trail of Tears Association
§        National Genealogical Society

My Certificate of Descendancy from Nancy Ward

As I mentioned in other posts, I knew I was part Cherokee and my Mother was born in Indian Territory in Oklahoma, but I had no idea (nor did she, I'm sure) that I was descended from Nancy Ward and other famous Cherokee. I am extremely delighted to have found out through my research.

Friday, April 20, 2012

What A Privileged and Great Day I Had Last Saturday

 April 14, 2012, I attended 

Savannah River Productions presented the World Premiere of the new musical by award winning
songwriter, Becky Hobbs and co-playwright, Nick Sweet, based on the life of Becky's 5th-great
grandmother, Nancy Ward. “NANYEHI” is a two-act musical with 17 songs. There will be six
performances of the initial production Additional information about the musical can be found on the website 

The Play Bill  

Nanyehi means "she who walks among the spirit people." Nanyehi was born into the Wolf Clan, one of the most prominent of the seven Cherokee clans. She was born in Chota, the capital of the Cherokee Nation, in an area that is now eastern Tennessee. She accompanied her husband, Kingfisher, to war against the Creek Indians in the 1755 Battle of Taliwa. As she knelt by his side, chewing the bullets to make them more deadly, Kingfisher was killed. Nanyehi took his rifle and led the Cherokee to victory. She was honored as a "war woman" and was given the right to sit on the War Council, and deemed the leader of the Women’s Council. She was also granted a power not even given to the Chiefs. She could determine the fate of captives, whether they are killed, enslaved, released, or adopted into the tribe.

Nanyehi then used her powerful position of War Woman to promote peace between the Cherokee and the white settlers, the British, the French, and other tribes. After years of leading her people, tending to the wounded and caring for the many orphans, she was elevated to the highest position a woman could have, that of “Ghigau,” or “Beloved Woman.” She was given a shawl of white swan feathers, which remained a symbol of her authority the rest of her life. Her second husband was Bryant Ward, a trader in Cherokee country of Irish descent. She became known as “Nancy Ward” to the American settlers. She played one of the most important roles in American history.

The play was wonderfully moving and incredibly powerful with one great song after another. After the play in talking with the cast, one of them mentioned to me they could see from the stage many members of the audience crying. I know I was. The play and Nancy Ward carries the message of how much we need PEACE. It is still so appropriate 250 years later.

Becky Hobbs, Songwiter and Playwright of Nanyehi
As a Child

Ever since I was a young girl growing up in Bartlesville, OK, I dreamed that one day I could pay tribute to my 5th-great grandmother, Nancy Ward, Beloved Woman of the Cherokee. After many years of writing songs, recording albums, and performing all over the world, that day has come! I have written 17 songs, and have co-written the script with Nick Sweet, for a musical based on her life. At long last, Nancy Ward’s voice will be heard!

Becky's Bio

Whiskey-voiced Becky Hobbs is one-of-a-kind. She is a gifted songwriter, as well as a captivating entertainer. On stage, she plays some rockin’ keys, yet she can rope you in like an Oklahoma cowgirl with her from-the-heart ballads.

Becky has performed in over 40 countries, including nine in Africa. Her songs have been recorded by Alabama, Conway Twitty ("I Want To Know You Before We Make Love" went to #1), George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris, Glen Campbell, Wanda Jackson, John Anderson, Janie Fricke, Lacy J Dalton, Moe Bandy, Shelly West, Helen Reddy, Shirley Bassey, Jane Oliver, Ken Mellons, and others. She is the co-writer of Alabama’s hit, “Angels Among Us,” which has been used by many charities throughout the world, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
"The Beckaroo," as she is called by her friends, was born and raised in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. She is a citizen of the great Cherokee Nation. She started playing piano and writing songs when she was nine years old and formed her own all-girl rock band in high school, which has since been documented as the first all-female rock band in the state of Oklahoma. She spent 2 years in Baton Rouge, LA playing in southern rock band, “Swampfox,” before her dreams took her to Los Angeles, where she lived for 9 years. During the “Urban Cowboy” craze, Becky started writing songs for Al Gallico Music. Thanks to Al, Becky got her first major deal with Mercury Records, and had chart success with “I Can’t Say Goodbye To You,” “Honky Tonk Saturday Night,“ and others.
In 1981, Becky headed for Nashville, and shortly thereafter recorded a Top 10 duet with Moe Bandy, "Let's Get Over Them Together." In 1988, her critically acclaimed All Keyed Up album (MTM, then BMG), brought us "Jones On The Jukebox," "Are There Any More Like You," and "Do You Feel The Same Way Too." In 1988, Becky's co-written song "You Are" (recorded by Glen Campbell & Emmylou Harris) was nominated for a Grammy in the "Best Country & Western Vocal Performance -Duet category. In the early 90's, Becky's "Talk Back Tremblin' Lips" video (Curb Records) went to #6 on CMT. In 1994, she released The Boots I Came to Town In album (Intersound), which included the haunting "Pale Moon," "Mama's Green Eyes (And Daddy's Wild Hair)" and Becky's own version of "Angels Among Us." Becky was named Cashbox Magazine's Independent Country Music Female Artist of the Year for 1994.
In 1996, Becky married guitarist/ producer/songwriter Duane Sciacqua. Duane played guitar with Glenn Frey for 14 years, and also played with Paul McCartney and Joe Walsh, among others. He produced Becky’s 1998’s From Oklahoma With Love, which got a rave review in PEOPLE Magazine. Swedish Coffee & American Sugar was released by popular demand in Scandinavia in 2000, and in 2004, Becky released Songs From the Road of Life (also produced by Duane). Best of the Beckaroo-Part 1 was released in 2005. It contains 21 of Becky’s most popular recordings.

Hartwell County Georgia Where "Nanyehi" was Put On

Center of the World

Ah-Yek-A-Li-A-Lo-Hee” in Cherokee means “Center of the World”. This was the place where the Cherokee Indians would assemble and Indian traders would meet to exchange their goods; items such as hides, furs, blankets and many other types of articles that could be used for barter or trade were brought. Various councils would also meet at this designated place.

The Center of the World is located three miles southwest of the city of Hartwell, is the Cherokee Indian assembly ground where trails radiated in many directions. A granite marker as well as a plaque is in place to pay tribute to the Cherokee Indians who once occupied this territory. The ""Center of the World"" historic site/monument honors the location of the Cherokee Indian assembly ground. The area was inhabited by Native Americans until a treaty with the Cherokee Indians was signed.

One of the trails that traders transported their goods upon pack horses to their Indian settlements is where Cedar Creek Church is now located. Pigeons also migrated annually in the autumn on their quest for acorns, which were in abundance. People would gather at this location to shoot down numbers of pigeons that weighed down the branches while they were roosting in the large forest pines.

Several meetings also were held at this historic place being attended by citizens of the country who desired that the country seat be held at the “Center of the World.

We now can pay tribute to the Cherokee Indians and the legacy they left by the marker that stands on the south side of the highway, three miles southwest of the city of Hartwell. It keeps the memory alive of what was once a very well traveled place and where much trade and history took place.