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Walking the Red Road

Cherokee Ceremony, Seven National Festivals

Cherokee ceremonies are held in concert with cycles of

Mother Earth. During ceremony, positive attitudes are far more

important than rituals. Ceremonies offer opportunities for

community worship, socialization, and bonding.

Ceremonial musical instruments used for dancing and

festivals include drums, gourd rattles, and turtle shell rattles

(leg shackles). As part of worship, stomp dancing is held

around the sacred fire and is accompanied by drums, singing,

and leg-schackles worn by women. Other dancing occurred in

a 'square', a social area, usually around a center pole or social

fire. This was usually an area near the Council House, or the

Long House. Our Cherokee ancestors tried to make each

ceremony unique in some way-they were creative. Music,

dancing, feasting, stick-ball and storytelling were joyous

expressions of thanksgiving and occasions for Cherokee

bonding at all cyclical ceremonies.

A sacred fire containing seven different types of wood,

to represent the seven clans, was prepared and lit prior to

ceremony according to sacred rites. Direction of movement

around the sacred fire during Cherokee ceremony in counter-

clockwise. A complete, unbroken circle of "Red Heart' people

around the fire produces powerful energy of Creator's presence

carried by the positive attitudes in the heart of the participants.

1. Great New Moon Ceremony - Celebrated at the first new

moon in autumn (October). The Great New Moon Feast begins

a new cycle at the end on nature's previous productive year. This

ceremony gave the Cherokee an opportunity to give thanksgiving

to the Great Spirit and the ancestors for their blessings on us. It

was a time to feast, and give thanks to Creator that the cycle

would continue.

2. Propitiation of Cementation Ceremony (Friendship

Ceremony) - Celebrated 10 days after the Great New Moon

Ceremony. This ceremony symbolizes the unity between

Creator and mankind. Traditionally two men publicly

exchanged clothes, one piece at a time. They were then

brothers for life. A blood adoption ceremony would be

appropriate during this ceremony.

Purification rites followed the Cementation Ceremony,

removing any unforeseen barriers that stood between us

and Creator.

3. Bouncing Bush Ceremony (Exalting Bush Festival) -

This was a joyous ceremony where Cherokee expressed

unrestrained joy giving thanks to the Great Spirit and his

helpers, acknowledging them as the source of our blessings.

It followed shortly after the Cementation Ceremony. Dancing

and feasting abound, and thanksgiving was expressed by

everyone tossing an offering of sacred tobacco into the sacred fire.

4. First New Moon of Spring Ceremony - Celebrated in March,

at the time the green grass began to grow. Fruits from the

previous fall harvest were brought to ceremony and consumed

to remember the continuation of Creator's care and blessing.

All fire were put out, and fresh fires were started from the new

fire, symbolizing fresh beginnings, and renewal of life from

Mother Earth.

5. Green Corn Ceremony - Celebrated in July, or August,

when corn is still green but fit to taste. A thanksgiving ceremony

including a sacred fire, dancing, feasting, and story telling

(especially the traditional legends of our wandering, and creation.)

A Priest must make an offering of firts-fruits of corn to the sacred

fire before corn may be eaten or harvested by others.

6. Ripe Corn Ceremony - Celebrated about 40 to 50 days after

the Green Corn Ceremony, when the corn is matured. This is

the end of the national cycle of ceremonies. Thanksgiving is

offered to Creator for the harvest of mature, ripe fruit.

7. The Chief Dance (UKU Ceremony) - Celebrated once every

seven years. The Principal Cherokee Chief is carried into the Sacred

Circle of the Sacred Fire, on a white chair, and acknowledged as

Chief of all the people be each of the clans. This ceremony reminds

us of the one true Chief, the Great Spirit-Creator. Dancing and feasting


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