May 3, 2010

Tasalagi Tale (6/9)

   "When I was a boy this is what the old men told me (traditional Cherokee beginning, similar to our "once upon a time"). Long long ago, but long after Yowa  gave us life. Our ancestors came up from under the earth in the cold lands far far to the northwest. Too many of us lived there, and the earth suffered from feeding us all. To lighten the burden on the land Yowa ordered the sun to lead those willing to another place. Our ancestors were those who choose to leave the land under the earth at the call of the mighty sun who promised to guide us to a better place.

   After a long and hard journey, we followed the sun to this place but the moon-eyed people already lived here. They were a people who had foresworn the sun and all those who lived by it. This made the sun very angry, and in its fury, the sun tried to blind them with daylight. This failed because the moon-eyed poeple were clever and had understood that that light would hurt them. So they woke only with the moon and slept through day. When they discovered our ancestors sleeping in the night, they attacked us. We were not yet as strong as we would be, and the attacked using surprise but our hearts were brave and full of light so we pushed them away from this land and made it ours.

   Long did we live there and our people who would become the a-ni'-yun-wi-ya' ("principal people", it is what the Cherokee called themselves until they adopted a name other tribes used, chilokee which means people of other language.) were a great and strong people, and lived with much land. So much that our nation had seven tribes inside it and spread over the land. There was a-ni'-tsi-s-kwa the bird people, a-ni'-ka-wî' the deer people, a-ni'-wa'-yah the wolf people, a-ni'-ga-to'-ge-wî' the wild potato people, a-ni'-wo'-di the paint people, a-ni'-sa'-ho-ni the blue people, a-ni'-gi-lô-hi' the long haired people.

   Seven is a sacred number. The seven tribes each had their tongues and their legends and stories that they would share when the tribes would meet for councils or in the fall for the trade and festival. It was time of prosperity. Our people were happy and lived with the great spirits. So it was for many many long and good years.  But then came the winds of change..."