A couple here in Oklahoma researched for eight months, compiling wedding information from museums, Cherokee myths and legends, books, and tribal elders.
The ancient Cherokee wedding ceremony, which has at most disappeared, was partially revived by Raymond Vann and Sioux Smith who married at the Cherokee Heritage Center near Tahlequah.
Smith said, "There isn't a traditional wedding in any history books on Cherokee people that has been found to this date."
Their one hour ceremony, which had to be approved by Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller, as well as the tribal board, followed tradition as nearly as possible.
Deputy Principal Chief John A. Ketcher united Smith and Vann in a replica of an ancient village. The couple entered the council fire area. "The fire was and is sacred to the Cherokee, and is a living memorial. It has been with the people from the beginning of time," Smith said before the ceremony.
Smith wore a "tear dress" of white embroidered organza over rose-colored taffeta and white doeskin moccasins and carried a white doeskin purse. Vann wore a roe-colored ribbon shirt, black slacks, and moccasins.
Cherokee homes usually had no scissors, so women tore pieces of fabric into either squares or rectangles to make their dresses. The couple were wrapped in blue blankets, which represented their old ways of weakness, sorrow, failures and spiritual depression. They were followed by relatives to the sacred fire.
A holy man blessed the union and all those present in an elaborate ceremony. The couple exchanged baskets, the groom's basket contained meat and skins, representing his promise to feed and clothe her. The bride's basket was filled with bread and corn, representing her promise to nurture and support him.
The couple then shed the blue blankets and were enveloped, by relatives, in a white blanket representing their new ways of happiness, fulfillment and peace.
Stomp dancers performed for the couple and a prayer of continuance was said to end the ceremony. They were united in a civil ceremony following the traditional wedding.
There was no video of the wedding, having been forbidden by the tribe.
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.