Cherokee Houses - Dwellings - Lodges
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Cherokee Houses - Dwellings - Lodges

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.

Cunne Shote, Chief of the Cherokees, 1780
Cunne Shote, Chief of the Cherokees, 1780 Giclee Print
Duflos, Pierre
18 in. x 24 in.
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Framed   Mounted

Indian Country Map
Indian Country Map Art Print
36 in. x 23 in.
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Framed   Mounted

Cherokee Tribes Profiles
Cherokee Reservations
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Names of the Cherokee moons
Names and meanings of the months in the Cherokee language.

Little Carpenter, Peace Chief of the Cherokee, 1699-1797
According to his son, Turtle At Home, his father was originally a Mishwakihha, one of the divisions of the Nipissing Indians, and had been captured as an infant and adopted by the Cherokees.

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.

The Raven Mocker is the most dreaded of Cherokee witches
A Raven Mocker can be of either sex, and there is no real way to know one. They usually look old and withered, because they have added so many lives to their own.

Shadow of the Eagle
A Cherokee poem.

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