Monday, February 6, 2012

Little People of the Cherokee

[mythfolk] Little People of the Cherokee

T. Peter Park
Mon, 31 Jan 2005 11:41:10 -0800
Albert Rosales [EMAIL PROTECTED]  has kindly forwarded me the following 
quite interesting article on "Little People" traditions of southeastern 
North America's Cherokee, Tsalagi, or Aniyunwiya people.

The Little People of the Cherokee

The legends and myths of the Cherokee are loaded with references to the 
"Little People" who live in the woods, waters and caves of the land of 
the tsalagi. Reports of them having been seen continues to this day. 
They are all (in varying degree) magical creatures not to be mocked or 
hunted. If something is found in the woods (a knife, arrowheads, 
feathers, etc) it is a good idea to say, "Little People, I wish to take 
this thing. I need it." because it may belong to them. If you don't 
acknowledge them, they may follow you and do you a mischief like hiding 
things from you or causing you to turn over glasses of water. Mostly 
they are friendly and helpful but can get mean if you disrespect them. 
Since almost everything has its group of Little People, it's best to 
respect everything.      The yunwi tsunsdi' = small people that look 
just like Cherokees except they are only about three feet tall--they 
live in the caves and woods--are usually friendly and helpful but can 
get mean if they are searched for or mocked--they have magic.

There are several Clans and they have special interests: The Rock Cave 
Clan's message is "How one treats others is how he will be treated". 
They are the revengers, so they are often thought to be mean. Not so, if 
you are kind and helpful , they are kind and helpful. The Tree Clan is 
concerned with the animals. They will make things happen to you and take 
things away from you to remind you that the animals deservee respect.

The Laurel Clan tend to the plants. They will help gardens to grow and 
even plant "warrior plants" around the fields of people who ignore the 
needs of plants. They encourage us to be happy, share with others and 
not take our "perceived" needs too seriously.

The Dogwood Clan are the dreamers of the "little people". They spend 
their time dreaming up good things for everyone and everything. If the 
petals of the dogwood trees fall soon and all at once, they are crying 
for the people but if they stay on the trees a long time and fall 
slowly, they are pleased with the people.

There was a special group of the yunwi tsunsdi' called "The Little 
People Who Wore White". They traveled all over the world and brought 
stories and news to the Cherokee. When Europeans first came to the 
Cherokee, they found stories of small hairy people who lived in trees 
(monkeys), horses with necks longer that their bodies (giraffe) and some 
horses that were striped black and white (zebra). The Cherokee knew the 
world was round, about the pyramids, other seas, other peoples and often 
shared ideas with them. All these things were possible because of the 
"Little People Who Wore White".

The nunne hi = "the immortals", "eternal ones", "the people who live 
everywhere, anywhere and forever". They are invisible but have appeared 
as warriors to save the Cherokee from defeat in war. They live 
underground and often appear as birds (mostly owls), animals, fish, 
trees, reptiles and even insects. So be careful what you mistreat.The 
atsil-dihye gi = "the fire carrier" (called "will-o-the-wisp by foreign 
people). Considered dangerous and unfriendly. anisgaya tsunsdi' = 
"little men" sons of the first man (kanati).---beneficent wondermakers 
of great power. They are also called "Thunder Boys". Their favorite tree 
is the honey locust which lightening never strikes.Fairies = just like 
fairies everywhere but never accept food from them or you will never be 
able to eat human food again or return to your family.

Two well known fairies are "tsagasi" and "tsawasi" who are often named 
in the old hunting prayers, though mischievous enough themselves, they 
often aid hunters who acknowledge them. There are several other of these 
fairies with special names, all good-natured but more or less tricky.The 
dunwi tsunsdi of the yunwi tsunsdi' = the little people of the Little 
People. They are fairy like, no taller than the knee of the Little 
People. They often glow. They are powerful guides of the Little People 
and the medicine men of the Cherokee.The yunwi amayine hi = (my 
favorites) "Water dwellers" who live in the water and who, when they are 
acknowledged, help the fisherman. They also protect the People from 
illness when we "go to water" (purifying ceremony).

So you can see the Cherokee culture had it's fair share of magical 
beings all concerned with the care and protection of nature and 
demanding respect for everything, plants, animals, the earth and it's 
peoples.    Last "lesson" and you can rest your eyes.

The word "Cherokee" isn't even Cherokee. It's from a Creek Indian word 
meaning "they speak a different language". We have adopted (and adapted) 
the word as tsalagi (pronounced jah-lah-ghee) and it is in common, 
everyday use. In counsel and among ourselves we use our real name 
"aniyunwiya" loosely translated as "The People", "The Real People" or 
"The Principal People". aniyunwiya literally translated is "The Human 
Beings". At one time the term "Native Americans" was politically correct 
but it was pointed out that anyone born in North or South America was 
technically a "native American". Now the correct term is "American 
Indian". It's like the term "Black" which was, at one time, an insult. 
Then it was decided (by the NAACP) that that was the term they wanted. 
Same thing with "Indian" which also, at one time, was an insulting term 
until it was decided (by AIM (American Indian Movement) that that was 
the term they wanted. I really don't care what the general public 
considers is "politically correct"; I'm aniyunwiya or tsalagi or Cherokee.



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