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“Tsquayi ( White Hereon) is a good person; if he is in your presence and you are Cherokee, you will perceive that what I claim here is true. If you are not Cherokee and you admire honesty, compassion, and respect for humanity and nature, then both you and Tsquayi have wisdom in common.”
Chief Charles “Jathohi” Rogers


“You don’t want to take Al Herrin, Tsquayi, to any kind of political meeting, as he can’t help himself... he will compulsively say things that are true and wise, thus ruining the event.”
Chief Charles “Jathohi” Rogers



THE WAY OF THE CHEROKEE
by Tsquayi

Part 1 - The Calling
Part 2 - Knowing The Spirits
Part 3 - The Four Souls
Part 4 - Steps Toward A Better Life
Part 5 - The Anikilohi
Part 6 - The Levels Of Spititual Being
Part 7 - The Cherokee Purpose

THE CALLING

I, Tsquayi (Tsquah yee; White Heron) have been called, not by my self or any other person, but by the Spirits1, to bring a message to the Cherokees. It is not my message or the message of any person, but it is the message of the Spirits. I will speak the truth as it has been revealed to me and you can judge whether my words are of any use to you.

Chief Herrin and his wife Frankie (right), who we call “Woman Who Walks Too Far”. Here she demonstrates just that, showing her pre-operation stride while befriending hundreds and hundreds of Mexican well-wishers as Cherokees paraded 6 miles through Zaragosa that day.

(Photo - Right)
Chief Herrin and his wife Frankie (right), who we call “Woman Who Walks Too Far”. Here she demonstrates just that, showing her pre-operation stride while befriending hundreds and hundreds of Mexican well-wishers as Cherokees paraded 6 miles through Zaragosa that day.



I am Cherokee and my Cherokee people are the children of tragedy. We were once a great nation, living in health, freedom and happiness. We lived in balance with Nature, the Spirit World, and one another, but, the Aniyonega (Ahnee yoe nay gah; White people) came and took it all away.

They killed many of our people and drove us from our homes. They took the land, they cut the forests, they killed the wild animals, they polluted the waters and the air, and they even polluted the blood that flows through our bodies with their diseases and with their blood.

But, even worse than all those things, is that the Aniyonega took away the Spirits that made us Cherokees. They said that we were savages and they had to “save” us, so they took away the ways of our ancestors. But, they were liars. Instead of saving us, they destroyed us. They preached love and trust but practiced malice and deceit. They took our land and “gave” us other land and then they took that also. They took away our homeland and our freedom and put us in a prison called “Indian Territory”. They sent our children away to boarding schools so that they could not learn from the Elders and forbade them to speak our language. They “relocated” families from the Cherokee Nation to far away cities so they would forget how to be Cherokee. They tried to take away our Cherokee identity and recreate us in their own image.

I was born in 1936 and reared in the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. It was during the time when it was still considered a bad thing to be Cherokee. The stated policy of the U.S. Government, for generations, had been to erase the Cherokee culture and that policy was very effective and reached into most Cherokee homes. Most of the Cherokee children I grew up with were deprived of their Cherokee heritage and culture as had been their parents and grandparents before them.

Do Cherokees stand out in a crowd of 6000 people?(Photo - Left)
Do Cherokees stand out in a crowd of 6000 people?

But, I was different. All my life, I have felt a calling toward things Cherokee. Although Cherokee was not spoken in our home, I sought out Cherokee speakers in order to learn as much of our language as I could. I sought out Elders who were willing to tell me the stories of the old days and teach me the skills of hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants for food and medicine. I learned how to make and shoot the traditional Cherokee bows and arrows. Looking back now, I can see that all those experiences and many subsequent experiences during my life were preparing me for what I am doing now and what I have yet to do.

Like most Cherokee children, I attended a protestant church with my parents. But, I grew to feel that my Spiritual life was incomplete. When I was about thirteen years old, I had a vision of Yona Unega (Yoe nah Oo nay gah; White Bear) who became my guide to my Cherokee Spirit Path. I have followed that path through my life. It has been a path of beauty, enlightenment, fulfillment and peace. I lived a life filled with amazing coincidences which, I believe, were not coincidences but the Spirits acting in my life. I spent most of my adult life as a teacher and writer, telling others about the wonders of Nature, the Spirits and the Cherokee Way.

I often got inquiries from people who wanted to know how to perform some Cherokee ritual or they asked what was proper behavior in different situations. Often, my response was that I didn’t know what was “proper”. The rituals and rules of behavior of the pre Columbian Cherokees have, largely, been lost in 450 years of contact with the Aniyonega.

But, perhaps, the Spirits are wiser than we know. If we had all the rituals and rules for behavior of the ancient Cherokees intact today, perhaps we would find ourselves frozen in time and unable to function in our world of today. We must be adaptable if we are to survive. Perhaps we need new rituals and rules of behavior for Cherokees of today.

The same Spirits that spoke to our ancient ancestors still speak to us today, if we will listen. We must learn to listen, and then, listen to learn. The Spirits will teach us how to be Cherokee. We will receive new rituals and new rules for behavior that are suited to us in the world we live in today. We will each be shown our own path to a good life. We will also be shown the path which the Cherokee people need to take in the world of today so that we can realize our full potential. All we need are pure hearts, a desire for peace and brotherhood, and the desire to learn.

The Cherokee Nation of Mexico is fortunate to have such a spiritual counselor and teacher of things Cherokee(Photo - Right)
The Cherokee Nation of Mexico is fortunate to have such a spiritual counselor and teacher of things Cherokee

A few years ago, after many years of teaching and writing, I reached the age of retirement. I believed that, if I should die that day, I had no regrets. There was nothing that I would have done differently. I was content to rest.

But, the Spirits had other things for me to do. In the autumn of 2000, I received a call from Dr. Charles Rogers and thus began a remarkable journey, during which I assisted him in the discovery of the burial place of Sequoyah and the establishment of the Cherokee Nation of Mexico. Dr. Rogers was called to be their Principal Chief and I was asked by Dr. Rogers and the Mexican Cherokees to serve as their Peace Chief. I was honored to accept.

I am humbled and grateful to play a small role in what, I believe, is a great Spiritual awakening of the Cherokees and other People of the Spirit throughout the world. This awakening is not coming from me or any other person; it is coming from the Spirit World. I am only one of the messengers. But, I dream that this Spiritual awakening will spread to others and, eventually, bring tolerance, unification and the peace that mankind has sought for so long.

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRITS

In the Judeo Christian Bible, the Apostle Paul listed the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians, Chapter 5, as love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance and states that ”against such there is no law”.

I say that the Spirits do not condemn any Cherokee who, with a pure heart, seeks the seven fruits of the Cherokee Spirits: truth, goodness, beauty, love, enlightenment, fulfillment, and peace. The seekers of those fruits are the people that the ancient Cherokees called “Aniyvwi” (Ah nee yuh wee; Human Beings). I tell you that the Spirits and Nature protect and nurture the Aniyvwi. I tell you further that there are people with pure hearts, who seek of the fruits of the Spirits, found in every race and every creed throughout the world. I call them Aniyvwi, my brothers and sisters, and tell them that the Spirits will protect and nurture them. My brother, Black Elk, of the Ogallala Sioux said, “The power of a pure and good soul is planted as a seed, and will grow in man’s heart as he walks in a holy manner. The Spirit is anxious to aid all who seek him with a pure heart”.

White Chief “Tsquayi” Herrin in one of his typical spellbinding moments.(Photo - Left)
White Chief “Tsquayi” Herrin in one of his typical spellbinding moments.

But, I say to you that the Spirits do condemn those persons, found in every race and every creed, that twist the word of the Spirits to serve their own selfish goals. Those persons lead lives that are out of balance and the Spirits and Nature do not know them. Their institutions of worship have failed to bring the promised “peace on earth and good will toward men” because they believed that their narrow, twisted “truth” was the real truth and that the Spirit had chosen them above others; they sought goodness for their members rather than for all mankind; they caused division between nations and creeds rather than promoting tolerance and brotherhood; they promoted blind ignorance and opposed the search for knowledge; they promoted the subjugation of women, Nature and any people different from themselves rather than honoring all life and all Spirit. The fruit they have produced has been “wars and rumors of war”, rather then peace on earth. I offer the history of the world for the past five thousand years as proof of the truth of my words.

I say that the time of the Aniyvwi has come. Let the Aniyvwi in every nation, race and creed speak out and let each one believe that his or her words can make a difference in the world. Let us believe that the people of the world will recognize our words of truth and follow. Let us believe that, through the power of the Spirits, peace on earth is possible.

In the following sections, I will write on a variety of subjects related to the Cherokee Spirit World.

LEARNING TO SEE

Through my life, I have been blessed to know a few remarkable people who taught me to see. Of course, being born with normal vision, I could see soon after birth, but, these people taught me that I could see things beyond what most people see. Two of these teachers were Cherokee men, one named Richard McLemore and the other named Kawaya.

When I was a young boy, growing up in the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, I spent a lot of time with Richard McLemore. Richard had a wife and son but he was not kin to my family. Among traditional Cherokees, a boy’s uncles, on his mother’s side, taught him the skills of the hunter and other things a boy should know. My mother had no brothers to teach me the Cherokee ways, so, Richard became like an uncle to me. He made my first bow and arrows when I was about six years old. A couple of years later, when my bow broke, he told me I was old enough to make my own bow and he helped me make my first bow. He showed me how to see the grain layers in the Osage orange bow wood and follow the grain layers with his draw knife. He taught me that the draw knife sounds differently in the different layers of wood. I remember his telling me, “Listen to the wood. It will talk to you.”

White Chief Herrin “Tsquayi” and the fire like each other.(Photo - Right)
White Chief Herrin “Tsquayi” and the fire like each other.

In the winter, Richard and I gigged fish in Barren Fork Creek and through the late spring, summer and fall, we hunted squirrels in the woods. Sometimes we hunted with a dog that would tree the squirrels and sometimes we still hunted, silently slipping through the woods looking for the squirrels. Or, sometimes, we sat still near a tree where the squirrels were coming to feed on something, like mulberries or hickory nuts, and wait for the squirrels to come. Richard and I both enjoyed hunting, but we didn’t hunt just for fun; we hunted for meat to supplement the diets of our families. So, we usually hunted with a shotgun or rifle because a gun is more efficient than a bow. Richard usually carried a .22 rifle and I carried my little.410 shotgun. If we could see the squirrel sitting still, we usually shot it with the .22, since .22 shells cost less than shotgun shells. But, if it ran, I shot it with the shotgun. Sometimes, if we didn’t have ammunition for our guns, we hunted with our bows.

When I first started hunting squirrels with Richard, I was amazed by how he could spot the squirrels. Maybe the dog would tree up a big red oak tree, sixty feet high, with huge limbs covered with leaves and a thousand places for a squirrel to hide. Richard and I would get back away from the tree, on opposite sides, and begin to circle the tree, searching the branches above with our eyes while the dog jumped and barked at the base of the tree. Richard would always spot the squirrel first. Then, he would patiently try to show me the squirrel.

“See,” he might say, “there in the very top. See that dark spot in that bunch of leaves. That is the squirrel.” I would see the dark spot but it looked no different from twenty other dark spots I could see in bunches of leaves. But, when I would shoot the spot with my little shotgun, out would fall the squirrel. Or, often, the squirrel would be hugging the trunk or a big limb of the tree and would move around to the other side as I circled the tree. By the two of us circling on opposite sides of the tree, sometimes one of us could see the squirrel that was hidden from the other. Or, sometimes, Richard would tell me to shake a small tree close to where I was circling. The commotion would cause the squirrel to move around to Richard’s side where he could see it and get a shot. Gradually, over the years, I learned to find the squirrels as well as Richard could. In fact, I became so successful at hunting squirrels that Richard gave me the Cherokee name of Saloli (Squirrel).

Another person with whom I spent a lot of time, during my boyhood years, was an elderly Cherokee man named Kawaya. Kawaya lived alone in a cabin up Barren Fork Creek from our farm. Kawaya became like a grandfather to me. Kawaya didn’t make bows or hunt but he liked to fish, hunt for wild bee trees and gather edible or medicinal plants from the woods and fields.

There was a lesson to be learned in almost everything Kawaya did. Sometimes I didn’t pay attention as well as I should have and often I didn’t realize the significance of what was happening until later, sometimes years later, but Kawaya understood my mind and was patient with me.

In the wilds of Mexico, White Chief Al “Tsquayi” Herron bestows a Cherokee name Chief Rogers has given to another member of the tribe - Allison “Bright Star Blue Moon” Layton.(Photo - Left)
In the wilds of Mexico, White Chief Al “Tsquayi” Herron bestows a Cherokee name Chief Rogers has given to another member of the tribe - Allison “Bright Star Blue Moon” Layton.

I remember the summer night I went with Kawaya for the first time to catch crayfish to use as bait for fishing the next day. That night, I was to learn a lesson in seeing. The night was warm as we waded into the spring branch, each carrying a kerosene lantern and an empty lard pail. The water was so cold it almost took away my breath and it was as clear as crystal. Kawaya told me to keep only the soft shelled crayfish. The soft shells were those that had recently shed their shell or exoskeleton and whose new shell had not yet hardened. He said we would also keep the “peelers”, those with hard shells almost ready to shed. The hard shell could easily be peeled off before the crayfish was put on the fishhook and the fish liked them just as well as the soft shells.

Crayfish stay hidden under rocks during daylight but come out after dark. The light of the lantern showed the rocky bottom of the spring branch was infested with crayfish. Every rock on the bottom sheltered a half dozen or more and crayfish were darting and crawling everywhere in the pools. It was great fun grabbing them and Kawaya and I looked like two bears in the midst of a salmon run as we laughed and splashed.

I would catch a crayfish and feel to see if its shell was soft. Usually it wasn’t so I threw it down the branch out of the pool so I wouldn’t catch it again. If it was soft, I put it in the pail. I was catching ten or more hard shells for every soft shell. Then I noticed that Kawaya was putting every crayfish he caught into his pail.

“Edudu (Aye doo doo; Grandfather),” I said, “I thought you said we were keeping only the soft shells.”

“That is true, Saloli (Sah loe lee; Squirrel),” he replied.

“But you are putting every one you catch into the pail.”

“That is true,” he said and then he smiled as he anticipated my next question. “I only catch the soft shells and the peelers.”

“But how can you tell them from the hard shells without feeling them?” I asked.

“I would tell you how, if I could, but I don’t know how to say it,” he answered.

I looked and looked but I could see no difference in the crayfish and I told Kawaya I could see no difference.

“Saloli,” he said, “You look but you do not see. My eyes are no better than yours but I see things you do not see. But you can learn to use your eyes to see things that other people do not see.”

White Chief Herrin & Chief Rogers address some of the many friends the Cherokees have in Mexico, here at the arena in Zaragosa.(Photo - Right)
White Chief Herrin & Chief Rogers address some of the many friends the Cherokees have in Mexico, here at the arena in Zaragosa.

Finally, after many crayfish catching trips, I learned to distinguish softshells, peelers and hard shells by subtle differences in their appearance and actions under the water, but like Kawaya, I can’t tell you how to recognize the difference.

Over the years, I learned that Kawaya and Richard were teaching me not only perception with all my senses, but seeing that goes beyond the senses. I learned that, as one lives in harmony with Nature, he or she grows in awareness and there are many things that are perceived in ways that cannot be explained. The normal five senses become more attuned to the signals coming from Nature, but in addition, there are other perceptions that seem to be received by senses outside the normal senses. Those perceptions stimulate vague feelings or intuitions in the conscious mind and visions or dreams in the unconscious. Those are perceptions of the Spirits.

Pagenotes:

1 I use the word “Spirits” instead of the word “God” or “Allah” or some other name because I wish to avoid the stereotypes connected with those names. But, if you prefer one of those other names, use it, and rest assured we are talking about the same thing. The word “Spirits”, in the Cherokee language, translates to Didanvto (Dee dah nuh toe).

Next page


Knowing The Spirits  






copyright © 2012 Cherokee Nation of Sequoyah
     Must have permission to use or reprint by Chales Jahtlohi Rogers MD.

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