There are at least nine rules about taboos, which are practiced by the Cherokee tribe.
Some plants and animals that should not ordinarily be killed.
It is forbidden to kill an eagle, wolf, or rattlesnake. There were and are a few people who are trained specialists that deal with killing a wolf, eagle, or rattlesnake. Specialists for taking Eagles come from the Bird Clan and specialists for killing wolves come from the Wolf Clan. It is rarely done
but sometimes they are hired to do this.
The reasons for it being done vary
but one of the main reasons is to acquire certain parts of these animals for
ritual and ceremonial use. Certain rituals, ceremonies, and dances require
this. The Eagle Dance, for example, requires the use of eagle feathers.
to plants, the killing of evergreens is generally avoided but sometimes
these are harvested and used usually for ceremonial purposes. When this is
done it is done by people who know what they are doing, by people who are
aware of the proper forms of ritual associated with the taking of an
evergreen. It is more common for a part of an evergreen to be properly taken
and used for medical or ceremonial use than the entire plant. For example,
in some ceremonies pine boughs are thrown onto the fire.
In some Cherokee families,
sometimes sprigs of cedar or pine needles are put into a pot of hot coals.
This produces a smoldering effect giving of a great quantity of pungent
smoke which is then used for purification.
Evergreen wood is never used for
common tools or firewood etc. Like the evergreens, ginseng, is a sacred
plant and is respected. When seeking ginseng the first three or four plants
are passed by, when the desired plant is found and uprooted with proper
prayer some beads are placed in the hole. Any offering would really suffice
but traditionally red beads are used for this.
Cherokee preparations for war or for the hunt
Men who are preparing for war must avoid sexual intercourse for four days
prior to leaving and four days after returning. During these periods they
will undergo purification. This same rule is heeded for going on a large
Cherokee traditions after killing a deer
After killing a deer the hunter should cut out the hamstrings and leave
them behind. He should not leave them in the meat. He should also not leave
without offering a prayer for pardon to the deer. He should use the tip of
the deer's tongue as an offering of thanks by putting it in the fire. It is
also common for people to throw some of the meat from every meal to the fire
as an offering of thanks.
Taboos for pregnant Cherokee women
Women who are pregnant should avoid eating squirrel, speckled trout,
rabbit, and they should be sparing with salt. They should not loiter in
doorways or wear anything tied around their neck such as a neckerchief.
three months after birth the mother should not prepare meals for her husband
and should avoid sexual intercourse with him, she should also avoid touching
him in general.
Young children should not touch moles.
This is probably because moles carry lots of diseases and young children often put their hands in their mouths.
Cherokee menstrual taboos
Women in their moon time (going through the menstrual cycle) should be
separated from the community by going to stay in a house built by the
community for this purpose, they should remain there for the duration of
Women in their moon time should avoid men, they should
not be upstream or upwind from them and should never touch them or prepare
food for them, they should never take part in any community ceremonies. At
the end of their bleeding they should be purified by sweating and going to
water before re-entering the community. This is not disrespective to women
in any way, quite to the contrary. This is done because of our great respect
for women and the creative powers they possess.
A menstruating woman's
presence anywhere in the vicinity of a ritual or ceremony could render it
ineffective or could cause some other problem. A woman's menstrual cycle is
evidence of her creative powers. It is a time when they should be careful
because of the strong energies they exude.
Cherokee food taboos
Foods from the opposing realms of this world should not be mixed. For
example foods from the upper world of sky such as birds should not be mixed
with foods from the lower world of water and underground such as fish.
Cherokee clan taboos
Members of the same clan may not have sexual relationships with each
Cherokee death taboos
The mourning period lasts for one year during which the name of the
deceased should not be spoken.
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.