Cherokee Messenger
July, 1997

First Families of the Cherokee Nation

The Cherokee National Historical Society currently offers charter life memberships in the First Families of the Cherokee Nation, a means to offer recognition to families who formed the Nation. The charter memberships are available through December 31, 1997 and limited to those who can document their direct lineal ancestor as a lawful resident of the Cherokee Nation East or West before the time of removal on the Trail of Tears (1838-9). Others eligible for membership are intermarried whites, whites living under permit, Freedmen and others.

Contact for more information and application: Cherokee National Historical Society, Genealogy Office, P.O. Box 515, Tahlequah, OK 74465. Phone (918) 456-6007. Fax (918) 456-6165.

Seal of the Cherokee Nation

In the center of the seal of the Cherokee Nation is a large seven pointed star surrounded by a wreath of oak leaves. The outside border of this symbol bears the words, "Seal of the Cherokee Nation." Two words for the "Cherokee Nation" in the native language then followed, printed in characters from Sequoyah’s syllabary and pronounced: "Tsa-la-gi-hi A-Ye-li." At the lower edge of the seal is the date, "September 6, 1839," when the constitution of the Cherokee Nation West, Indian Territory was adopted.

Interpretation of the design in the seal is found in Cherokee folklore and history. Ritual songs in certain tribal ceremonies refer to the seven clans, the legendary beginnings of the Cherokee people. A sacred fire was kept perpetually burning near the "town house" at a central point in the Nation. The Live Oak, the principal hardwood timber of the Carolinas, was used in this fire. In connection with this fire, the oak was a symbol of strength and everlasting life.

The oak represents the seven Cherokee clans. Because the oak tree is associated with the mysteries of the sacred fire, the wreath of oak leaves symbolizes the dauntless spirit of courageous Cherokee people. The mystic seven-pointed star and the wreath of oak leaves formed a symbol of great promise. Adopted shortly after the Civil War, it heralded a "glorious return" of the Cherokees, pledging their devotion to the highest ideals in their educational, industrial and religious life. The Cherokee seal was adopted by the National Council and approved by Principal Chief Lewis Downing December 11, 1871.

Letter from Cherokees-Online:

"I am of European ancestry and have some Creek blood, but don't know where I stand with Native American groups."
Response by Mark "Red Owle" Norman, Chattanooga TN
Where you stand is where you wish to stand. People are as different as they can be. Whether or not an "individual" or a "group" accepts you as one of "them" does not change who and what you are. What you look like matters to some and not to others. If your actions please on person, they most assuredly will offend another. If you have one drop of Creek blood and you follow the traditions of that ancestor, you are Creek. Don't let anyone tell you different!

(The words of a very wise man! Thank you, Red Owle.)

Powwow: Images Along the Red Road - Book Review

Powwow: Images Along The Red Road, photographs by Ben Marra. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 100 Fifth Ave., N.Y., NY 10011, (800) 345-1359, Fax: (212) 645-8437. Marra's e-mail address is Illustrated (105 in color). 112 pp. 0-8109-2680-6. For eight years, Ben and Linda Marra followed the powwow circuit with a portable studio, taking portraits of dancers in full tribal regalia. In addition, they recorded the impressions of the dancers: memories, what the dances and their individualized outfits mean to them, and the importance of walking the "Red Road," a place where, as Dineh dancer Rudy R. Shebala says, " thoughts, hopes, dreams, and beliefs are from the point of view of my ancestors." Marra beautifully captures the spirit and importance of these celebrations. You can almost hear the drumming.
Steve Brock, Net reviews

Poetry Corner - Fragments/Fractions of Heritage

by Jacqueline Henry (Bowles) Stephens
His mother was a proud,
full-blooded Cherokee --
squaw they called her,
which made him half-
breed & his son
a quarter.

Guess I'm an eighth,
[being his daughter].
Ridiculous fraction,
an eighth. There are
half dollars &
quarter horses;
half pints &
quarter carats;
half 'n' half,
quarts of milk,
[fifths of booze],
but nothing ever
comes in eighths
except me.

Cherokee --
beautiful name for
a beautiful people,
pipe-smoking lovers
of peace.
If after my death
[from causes unknown]
an autopsy is performed,
what would they find?
Dove feathers
encasing my heart?
lodged in my feet?
Beads & blankets
in my gut, if the
scalpel's cut were
w i d e enough to see?
In which eighth of me
would they discover
anything reminiscent
of the Cherokee?

Websites of Interest to Cherokee

Microfilm lists of American Indians:

Cherokee National Historical Society, Tahlequah, OK:

Cherokee NC Elementary School:

Texas Gulf Coast Cherokees:

Researching National Archives on the Net

by Les Tate
For National Archives NAIL Search Enter first or last name on first line, opposite on second line, and "Indian" on third. Hit SUBMIT, then if you get some hits, hit DISPLAY, then FULL for the ones you want to view. Also you can check off the ones you want to view and hit Display Selected Records, or just use Display All Records. You can also search on just the first name or the last name. Online info is very limited, so don't expect too much. Instructions on how to order an application are provided after you display any record.


From The Good Earth - By Lelanie F. Stone "The Cherokee Lady"
Mistletoe - this parasitic evergreen shrub stimulated the imagination of the Celts, Germans and Romans for centuries. These ancient peoples believed that Mistletoe was the key to the supernatural. Mistletoe was recognized as a symbol of fertility and sexual prowess. Thus the custom of kissing under the Mistletoe is a civilized version of this ancient belief. The use of Mistletoe at Christmas time is said to date back to the traditions of the Norseman. The ancient Druids held this plant as sacred, they believed it was a cure for sterility and an antidote for poison. The Druids also believed that Mistletoe would drive away evil spirits and hung it as protection in the doorways. This "magical act" of hanging Mistletoe in the doorway is still practiced in most homes today during the holiday season. The Gypsies believed that Mistletoe was protection against sorcery and witchcraft and wore it around their necks. The Mistletoe found on the Oak tree is said to be the "most powerful" and is to be gathered with a white cloth and must be knocked down by a rock and must never touch the ground.

Mistletoe was used in one of Virgil's poems and called a "golden bough" which is one of the names by which Mistletoe is known, birdlime being the other. The Botanical name for American Mistletoe is Phoradendron flavescens. Mistletoe is usually found in the branches of deciduous tree (trees that loose their leaves) and it grows all over the United States. Small white flowers appear on the branches of the Mistletoe from May until July and the small white berries appear in December.

Mistletoe has been used for many different ailments since the beginning of time; as a tonic, tranquilizer, for nerves and arthritic pain. It is said to have be a very effective sedative used in the treatment of Epilepsy and Palsy. The twigs and leaves are the parts of the plant used and it contains eleven proteins, a cardioactive polypeptide, saponins, resin, mucilage, phenolic acids, flavonoids, histamine, and traces of alkaloids. The actions of Mistletoe dilate the blood vessels and lower blood pressure and have strong sedative qualities. It has been noted for its anti-cancer and anti-tumor activities which are presently being studied in European clinics. A long standing controversy over the plants toxic effects on the liver remains to be proven.

Mistletoe or as it is known in Cherokee "OO-TAH-LEE" or Missledine, has been used by the Cherokee since time immemorial. The old medicine men say that the Mistletoe grown on the Oak tree is the best. The primary medicinal usage by the Cherokee was for the treatment of Epilepsy and uterine bleeding. The Mistletoe was not to be gathered until the last of November or the first of December as it was more potent during this time. It was dried, pulverized and used as a powder .

Mistletoe can be found in the 1903 version of the Materia Medica which states that the twigs and leaves of the Mistletoe plant have been used in the treatment of epilepsy, hysteria, chorea, asthma and other nervous affections. The American plant is said to possess qualities similar to Digitalis (thus the cardiac usage) and to stimulate uterine contractions. (for centuries herbalists have used Mistletoe in the treatment of uterine bleeding.)

As with any other medicine overdoses of Mistletoe can result in serious problems and should be used under the supervision of a trained herbalist or physician.

This medicinal parasitic plant has many wonderful uses. But, for many it has only been used to grace the overhead of a door during the Christmas and New Years season. Many of us not knowing exactly where or why this ceremony or superstition started. Mistletoe is not just a Holiday ornament, but another of the green medicines given to us from Mother Nature and The Good Earth.

Copyright © The Cherokee Cultural Society of Houston