Cherokee (Tsalagi or Aniyunwiya) Ceremonies and Ceremonial Objects
The Cherokee don't have pipe carriers or pipe holders as do the Lakota or other Plains Indians, but they do use a variety of ceremonial pipes for both recreational and ceremonial use. These pipes use ceremonial tobacco, varieties of Nicotiana Rustica for recreational and personal ceremonial use, and a sacred blend of four secret plants for ceremonies of the Ah-ni-ku-ta-ni which did not contain or employ Nicotiana species.
Cherokee personal pipes were typically made of river clay which had been fired, and a small river cane pipestem. Formal Ceremonial pipes used by the clans used Red or Grey pipestone (also called bluestone) and pipe stems made from hollow stems of American Sassafrass or some cases, Sourwood.
The seven stemmed pipe was made only for a single ceremony of the Ah-ni-ku-ta-ni from red pipestone, then destroyed and returned to the spirit world following the ceremony in preparation for the seven year renewal ceremony.
Cherokee Religious Ceremonies / Festivals
There were six main religious festivals before forced removal of the Cherokees. Some Cherokee communities still practice most or all of them. They were:
The First New Moon of Spring Festival (held at the first moon in March)
The Green Corn Ceremony (held for 4 days in late June or early July)
The Mature Green Corn Ceremony (held about 45 days after the Green Corn Ceremony)
The Great New Moon Festival (held around October) marked the beginning of the Cherokee New Year.
The New Fire Ceremony (held for 4 days about ten days after the Great New Moon Festival) was a renewal of friendships.
The last festival was held during the winter. During this festival, there was a dance, where women wore their turtle shells, formed a circle with the men in a single file and moved counter-clockwise in a circle. Each dancer took two twigs of the spruce and waved them up and down like pigeon wings. The fourth night, they made offerings to the sacred fire. This is called the Pidgeon Dance. Also sometimes referred to as the Winter Spruce Dance.
Today, the Cherokee Nation also observes one annual holiday held on Labor Day weekend, which marks the anniversary of the adoption of the new constitution (actual date was September 6 but held on Labor Day Weekend because of the long weekend) following the Trail of Tears.
Cherokee Moons Ceremonies
The Cherokee Moons Ceremonies which were performed were based on each of the thirteen phases of the moon which occurred each year. For each moon of the calendar year, the Ah-ni-yv-wi-ya performed a unique ceremony. A special ceremony was performed both yearly (mid-October) and every seven years called the renewal ceremony which used the Cherokee black drink prepared by the Blue Holly Clan for purification rituals. These collective ceremonies were intended to progress the Cherokee people through the various phases of spiritual and cultural development in Cherokee society.
Tsi'yu-gunsini - Dragging Canoe, Chickamaugas Chief Tsi'yu-gunsini was a war leader who led a dissident band of young Cherokees against the United States in the American Revolutionary War. Dragging Canoe is considered by many to be the most significant leader of the Southeast, and provided a significant role model for the younger Tecumseh, who was a member of a band of Shawnee living with the Chickamaugas and taking part in their wars.