Cherokee Messenger
July 1996

Next Monthly Meeting

Thursday, July 11, 1996
7:00 Social hour and 7:30 Program and Presentation
Tracy Gee Community Center
3599 Westcenter, Houston TX
(713) 266-8193

Our July meeting will feature CCS Board Member Ed Holland who will be telling the group about Redbird Smith.

Tracing your Cherokee History??

A CCS member and Board Member of the Cherokee Historical Society in Tahlequah has a unique way of supporting the Historical Society and helping people research their family at the same time. Marjorie is an avid genealogist and has worked extensively with the archives and records at the Historical Society. She is putting her skills to work by offering to assist in tracing Cherokee genealogy for anyone who joins the Cherokee Historical Society.

If you are interested in supporting the Historical Society while taking advantage of Marjorie's excellent skills, please send $30, payable to the Cherokee Historical Society, your genealogy data and a SASE to Marjorie Lowe, 5435 Lake Place Drive, Houston, Texas 77041. Marjorie will fill out the membership paperwork for you and forward it to the Historical Society.

Red Nations Remembering

Plans are getting underway for this "grass roots" celebration of our shared history. The date is set for the second Sunday in March, 1997. We invite all interested Native American groups to celebrate this day with their members and in their own way, to remember our past and those who went before.

If your group is interested in learning more about Red Nations Remembering, please contact Deborah Scott at (713) 668-9998 or Barbara Warren (916) 633-9125


The Thompson Indians of British Columbia reported that during a smallpox epidemic which occurred before 1900, every individual who drank a strong, dark concoction made from the boiled roots of a closely related species of avens survived the disease. They took the same preparation for any disease characterized by a rash, such as measles, chicken pox, etc. It was used by other tries for sore throat and coughs.

The Dispensary of the United States attributes the medicinal values of this species to the tannin it contains. This aven, valued for its property of drying out tissues, was used as an astringent when it was official in the U.S. Pharamacopoeia from 1820 to 1882.

The water avens is found in meadows and bogs throughout Canada and the northern states. The boiled root was once known as Indian chocolate and was drunk with sugar and milk. The plant is used as a chocolate substitute throughout the year, but one expert on wild foods thinks it is at its best in the fall or early spring. This beverage was formerly valued as a tasty home remedy for dysentery, diarrhea, and stomach upsets. Since the drink is said to be delicious and does contain tannin, this may have been one of our earliest "sugar-coated medicines."

Source: Earth Medicine Earth Food by Michael A. Weiner

Wild Strawberry Bread (serves 4-6)

1 c. fine cornmeal
1 c. flour
1 c. nut milk or water (see below)
2 T. nut oil (see below)
1 egg, beaten
1.2 c. finely cut fresh strawberry leaves
1 tsp coltsfoot ashes
1 c. freshly picked wild strawberries

Combine the cornmeal and flour in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the nut milk (or water), nut oil, egg, strawberry leaves, and coltsfoot ashes. Add to cornmeal and flour mixture and blend well. Fold in the wild strawberries and turn the batter into a well-greased loaf pan (4" x 8"). Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 40 minutes.

Nut Milk

Most nutmeats, including sweet white oak acorns, were eaten raw by a number of tribes, especially the Algonquins. Nuts were pounded into meal to be used in breads, soups, and for seasonings. They were also ground in mortar with water to make a flavorful nut "milk" to add to various dishes. Nut oils were rendered by boiling the nutmeats and meal, then skimming off the oil. This nutritious staple was used to prepare and to season vegetables, potherbs, and meats, and to spread on breads. The breads were usually "cakes" made by mixing cornmeal with what was left in the bottom of the pot after nut oils were rendered and then frying this batter in hot fat or roasting it in hot coals.


Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) is a spring-blooming perennial of swamps and stream banks found all across northern North America and sought for its versatile leaves, which may be used as a salt substitute. Roll the large, broad coltsfoot leaf into a tight ball and dry thoroughly before a fire, then burn. The resulting ashes were very salty and can be used to season many dishes to taste. Highly prized by numerous Indian tribes, coltsfoot was especially in demand among various vegetarian peoples, to such a degree that it became the object of intertribal warfare among West Coast tribes.

The Games Cherokees Play

Many thanks to Joe Williams for making several Indian games for us to play during the last meeting. We had the group evenly divided between the peach pit toss and the butter bean toss. Gaming has taken on a whole new vegetarian meaning!

During the peach pit toss, the pits are placed in a wooden bowl and the bowl was then slammed down on a hard surface. As the peach pits bounced and landed, points were counted. The Butter Bean Game was similar in that a wood lattice box was constructed to catch the beans as they are tossed up into the air. The position of the bean as it landed determined the points.

The points were counted using corn kernels. When one side held all the kernels, they won. Their prize???? Well, the losers were wearing a little soot on their faces at the end of the evening!

Elections in October

The Nominations Committee is now being formed for our elections in October. If you would like to nominate someone, or would serve on this committee, please contact Deborah Scott at 668-9998.

Off the Internet - From the Native Languages Listserv:

There is now available a very useful reference book called "Indigenous Languages of the Americas: A Bibliography of Dissertations and Theses," by Robert Singerman. The book is published by Scarecrow Press, Inc., 4720 Boston Way, Lanham MD 20706.

The book is number 19 in Scarecrow Press' Native American Bibliography Series. The cost is $75. Specialized bibliographies are expensive, but the information value of this book makes it a bargain for academic libraries. The book brings together references to over 1600 Master of Arts theses and dissertations from the United States, Canada and British institutions. The bibliography is divided by language family for North American languages. There is a chapter on Mesoamerican languages and one on South American and Caribbean languages. The bibliography covers the hundred years from 1892-1992. If a thesis or dissertation was published, Singerman documents this and provides the reference. Singerman is a professional bibliographer and it shows in the precision and consistency of detail in the references.

Research Letters from the Internet

If you have information for any of the inquiries listed, please email for inclusion in the next newsletter. Thanks!

Wedding Blessings--I have a very dear friend who is Cherokee and who will be married soon. I would like very much to find some kind of traditional blessing or verse with which I can create a gift for him and his bride and celebrate his heritage. Can you help in any way? K.M.G.

Phoenix Legend--I am looking for the legend (prophecy) concerning the Phoenix in Cherokee legends and mythology. I am a librarian and I have a patron who is trying to find a source for this information. If you can assist, I would appreciate it. Jackson County Library

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