Facts, Legends and Links
Listen to the silence...For it speaks...
Listen with your heart...
And you will learn and understand.
In the 1870s, a tribe of Pinal Apache
Indians carried out raids against
the white farmers and friendly Pima
Indians. The Arizona Volunteers
followed the Apaches on a secret
trail to the top of some rugged,
towering cliffs. They attacked at
daybreak, killing over half of the
nearly 100 Apaches. The remaining
Apaches jumped from the cliff's edge
rather than die at the hands of attackers.
It is said that the sorrow of the Apache
women was so great that the Great Father
embedded their tears into black stones
at the foot of the cliff. These black
Obsidian stones when held to the light,
reveal the transparent tears.
Through the sacred pipe a
prayer for enlightenment was
carried to the Great Spirit.
In answer, Wolf came to help
the children of the Earth awaken
the teacher and the source
of enlightment within us all.
He knew that man's heart
away from nature
what we give ourselves...
the power to be.
~A Cherokee Feast of Days
When gold was discovered in Georgia, the
U.S. Government disavowed its treaties
with the Cherokees and drove them to
Oklahoma. One fourth of the people
did not survive the journey west.
When the Trail of Tears began in 1838,
the women were grieving and crying
so much, they were unable to help
their children (those who would be
needed to help rebuild the Cherokee
Nation as they grew older) survive
the journey. Thus, the elders prayed
for a sign that would lift the
mothers' spirits to give them strength.
God, looking down from heaven, decided
to commemorate the brave Cherokees
and so, as the blood of the braves
and the tears of the maidens fell
to the ground, he turned them into
stone in the shape of a Cherokee Rose.
The next day, a beautiful rose began
to grow where each of the mother's
tears fell. The rose is white for
their tears; the gold centers
represent the gold taken from
Cherokee lands; and seven leaves
on each stem stand for the original
seven Cherokee clans.
(This symbol of suffering and strength
grows along the route of the
Trail of Tears into Oklahoma today.)
One in every 130 people living in the
United States today is Native American.
Wolves, long revered by Native Americans
as a symbol of truth and knowledge, are
intrinsically peace loving and there has
not been a documented case of a healthy
wolf killing a human in North America.
As many as 750,000 wolves once roamed
throughout America; now however, the
haunting melody of a howling wolf is
heard in only a handful of states.
During World War II, the Japanese Army
could not break the secret code of the
U.S. Military. The code was simply a group
of Navajo volunteers speaking their Native
American language on their field radios.
Native American legend says...
when a great warrior falls...
an eagle feather falls to earth.
(Eagles are a symbol of Courage.)
The Cherokee were a matrilineal (tracing
family relations through the mother) society
and thus, women held leadership roles.
Women of great influence became known
as Ghigau meaning Beloved Woman,
the highest role to which a Cherokee
woman could aspire. The name also
translates into War Woman and
was often awarded to courageous
One such woman, Nan'yehi, later
to be known as Nancy Ward, lost her
young warrior husband in battle so
she took up the battle cry and led
her people to victory. This feat
gave her privileges accorded a
Beloved Woman including voice
and vote in the General Council,
leadership of the Women's Council,
the right to save a prisoner from
execution, and the right to be her
people's sage and guide.
Nancy became an ambassador of peace
between the Cherokee and the White man.
She served as the negotiator for the
Cherokee at the 1785 signing of the
Treaty of Hopewell, the first treaty
made between the Cherokee and the
United States Government.
Nancy feared that someday the white man's
hunger for land would destroy her people.
Thus, in 1817, while sitting on the General
Council, she advised her people to refuse
any more requests for land and to take up
arms against intruders, if necessary.
Nancy Ward derived her Anglo Saxon
name after having married a Scots-Irish
trader named Bryant Ward. Nancy was
spared the sight of her people's exile
to Indian Territory in 1838 as she died
a few years earlier. She was the last
woman to be given the title of
Beloved Woman until the late 1980s.
Nancy remains a powerful symbol for
Cherokee women, today.
than to begin a war and lie dead.
~Chief Joseph (Nez Perces)
and hunted over for so long a time
is demanded by this to him insatiable
monster (civilization), there is no
appeal; he must yield, or it will
roll mercilessly over him,
destroying as it advances.
Destiny seems to have so willed it,
and the world nods its approval.
~General George Armstrong Custer
(from his autobiography of 1874)
The names of over 50 percent of the
states in the United States came
from Native American languages. For
example, Utah is the Ute tribe's name
for themselves, and Kentucky means
planted field in the Iroquois language.
Long ago, Native Americans had developed
a process in which dried cactus-eating
insects could be turned into red dye
called cochineal. This Indian dye,
one of the most important exports
from the New World in the late 16th
century and highly valued by the
European cloth industry for hundreds of
years, was used to dye the red British
uniforms in the Revolutionary War.
what life we will make for our children.
die from a great loneliness of spirit,
for whatever happens to the beasts,
happens to us all.
All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth,
befalls the children of the earth.
Once upon a time, the colors of the
world started to quarrel: all claimed that
they were the best, the most important,
the most useful, the favorite.
GREEN said: "Clearly I am the most
important. I am the sign of life and of
hope. I was chosen for grass, trees,
leaves - without me, all animals would die.
Look over the countryside and you will see
that I am in the majority."
BLUE interrupted: "You only think about the
earth, but consider the sky and the sea.
It is the water that is the basis of life and
drawn up by the clouds from the deep sea.
The sky gives space and peace and serenity.
Without my peace, you would all be nothing."
YELLOW chuckled: "You are all so serious.
I bring laughter, gaiety and warmth into
the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is
yellow, the stars are yellow. Every time
you look at a sunflower, the whole world
starts to smile. Without me, there
would be no fun."
ORANGE started next to blow her trumpet:
"I am the color of health and strength.
I may be scarce, but I am precious for I
serve the needs of human life.
I carry the most vitamins. Think of
carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangoes, and
paw paws. I don't hang around all the
time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise
or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no
one gives another thought to any of you."
RED could stand it no longer. He
shouted out: "I am the ruler of all of you.
I am blood - life's blood! I am the color
of danger and of bravery. I am willing to
fight for a cause. I bring fire into the
blood. Without me, the earth would be as
empty as the moon. I am the color of
passion and of love, the red rose, the
poinsettia and the poppy."
PURPLE rose up to his full height. He
was very tall and spoke with great pomp:
"I am the color of royalty and power.
Kings, chiefs and bishops have always
chosen me for I am the sign of authority
and wisdom. People do not question me -
they listen and obey."
Finally, INDIGO spoke, much more quietly
than all the others, but with just as
much determination: "Think of me. I am
the color of silence. You hardly notice me,
but without me you all become superficial.
I represent thought and reflection,
twilight and deep water. You need me for
balance and contrast, for prayer
and inner peace."
And so the colors went on boasting, each
convinced of his or her own superiority.
Their quarreling became louder and louder.
Suddenly there was a startling flash of
bright lightening, thunder rolled and boomed.
Rain started to pour down relentlessly.
The colors crouched down in fear, drawing
close to one another for comfort.
In the midst of the clamor, Rain began
to speak: "You foolish colors, fighting
amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate
the rest. Don't you know that you were each
made for a special purpose, unique and
different? Join hands with one another
and come to me."
Doing as they were told, the colors united
and joined hands. The Rain continued:
"From now on, when it rains, each of you will
stretch across the sky in a great bow of color
as a reminder that you can all live in peace.
The rainbow is a sign of hope for tomorrow."
And so, whenever a good rain washes the
world, and a rainbow appears in the sky,
let us remember to...
appreciate one another.
God is listening to me.
The sun, the darkness, the winds,
are all listening to what we now say.
Peace pipes are among the most sacred
Native American objects being used in
ceremonies. It is believed, the more
decorated the pipe, the stronger its power.
To make peace with other tribes, Sioux
Chieftans brought out their peace pipe.
The pipe was usually handed to the Chief
of the enemy tribe first and then it was
smoked by all the leaders of both tribes.
"The pipe is us! The stem is our
backbone, the bowl our head, the stone
our blood, red as our skin.
Desert Wolf by Hermon Adams
we want peace and love.
When the earth was first made, all
things were present, but people saw
only their isolation from one another
and from the mountains and rivers that
had created them. For a long time,
each creature followed a separate
path, until the first man looked at
the first woman and envisioned an
unity not seen before. From their
love, happiness was created and a
thread soon connected man to woman,
stars to trees, and the tongue of
the ocean to the thrust of the rock.
Some called it nature, others called
it the plan of the universe. But
between men and women arose a bond
of love, unbroken to the present day.
The groom enters one end of the council
house and the bride the other.
The couple then meets in the center
by the sacred fire.
The priest faces east as does the door
of the council house.
The groom's mother stands by him and
the bride's mother beside her.
She holds the bride's gifts of corn bread
and a blanket.
The bride's brother stands beside their
mother symbolizing his responsibility to
his sister and her children.
The bride and groom wear blue blankets
representing their old ways and life.
The priest blesses the fire and the
union of the two.
He asks for a long and happy life
It is custom for the bride to give the
groom a red and black belt she has made,
but any gift of the heart will do.
The mothers give gifts to their children
who exchange gifts with each other.
They join together their blankets
symbolizing their mutual support
within the marriage.
Then each drink a corn drink from a
double-sided wedding vase.
They drink from east to west then
from north to south giving their
blessings and respect to the earth
and all her creatures.
The vase is thrown down upon the earth
and broken to seal their wedding vows
of now being united as one.
The broken fragments are then returned
to Mother Earth.
A white blanket is placed around the
shoulders of the couple symbolizing
The bride then holds the basket of bread,
the groom the basket of meat and those
in attendance take a piece of bread and
meat as a sign of their approval.
Following this, a feast is held for
the entire gathering.
Tradition holds that the wood of the
cedar tree holds protective ancestral
spirits for the Cherokee. Some carry
a small piece of cedar wood in their
medicine bags worn around the neck.
It is also placed above the entrance
to homes to protect against the entry
of evil spirits. Also, traditional drums
and flutes are made from cedar wood.
Legend states the Native American Love
Flute holds the power for attraction
and was used to enhance courtship.
Throughout the wedding night, the flute
could be heard playing.
(The music playing on my three
Native American pages is performed
on hand-carved cedar Love Flutes.)
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