Cherokee Formula Concerning Hunting

Cherokee Formula Concerning Hunting

Give me the wind. Give me the breeze. Yû! O Great Terrestrial Hunter, I come to the edge of your spittle where you repose. Let your stomach cover itself; let it be covered with leaves. Let it cover itself at a single bend, and may you never be satisfied.

And you, O Ancient Red, may you hover above my breast while I sleep. Now let good (dreams?) develop; let my experiences be propitious. Ha! Now let my little trails be directed, as they lie down in various directions(?). Let the leaves be covered with the clotted blood, and may it never cease to be so. You two (the Water and the Fire) shall bury it in your stomachs. Yû!

Explanation for Cherokee Formula Concerning Hunting

This is a hunting formula, addressed to the two great gods of the hunter, Fire and Water. The evening before starting the hunter “goes to water,” as already explained, and recites the appropriate formula. In the morning he sets out, while still fasting, and travels without eating or drinking until nightfall. At sunset he again goes to water, reciting this formula during the ceremony, after which he builds his camp fire, eats his supper and lies down for the night, first rubbing his breast with ashes from the fire. In the morning he starts out to look for game.

“Give me the wind,” is a prayer that the wind may be in his favor, so that the game may not scent him. The word rendered here “Great Terrestrial Hunter,” is in the original “Ela-Kana´ti.” In this e´la is the earth and kana´ti is a term applied to a successful hunter. The great Kanati, who, according to the myth, formerly kept all the game shut up in his underground caverns, now dwells above the sky, and is frequently invoked by hunters. The raven also is often addressed as Kanati in these hunting formulas. Ela-Kana´ti, the Great Terrestrial Hunter-as distinguished from the other two-signifies the river, the name referring to the way in which the tiny streams and rivulets search out and bring down to the great river the leaves and debris of the mountain forests. In formulas for medicine, love, the ball play, etc., the river is always addressed as the Long Person (Yû´nwi Gûnahi´ta). The “spittle” referred to is the foam at the edge of the water. “Let your stomach be covered with leaves” means, let the blood-stained leaves where the stricken game shall fall be so numerous as to cover the surface of the water. The hunter prays also that sufficient game may be found in a single bend of the river to accomplish this result without the necessity of searching through the whole forest, and to that end he further prays that the river may never be satisfied, but continually longing for more. The same idea is repeated in the second paragraph. The hunter is supposed to feed the river with blood washed from the game. In like manner he feeds the fire, addressed in the second paragraph as the “Ancient Red,” with a piece of meat cut from the tongue of the deer. The prayer that the fire may hover above his breast while he sleeps and brings him favorable dreams, refers to his rubbing his breast with ashes from his camp fire before lying down to sleep, in order that the fire may bring him dream omens of success for the morrow. The Fire is addressed either as the Ancient White or the Ancient Red, the allusion in the first case being to the light or the ashes of the fire; in the other case, to the color of the burning coals. “You two shall bury it in your stomachs” refers to the bloodstained leaves and the piece of meat which are cast respectively into the river and the fire. The formula was obtained from A’yûnini, who explained it in detail.

Cherokee Original


Una´lelu´ eskiska´l’tasi´. Iskwa´lelu eskiska´l’tasi´. Yû! Ela-Kana´ti tsûlda´histû´n, tsûwatsi´la astû´n detsatasi´ga. Ts’skwâ´li uda´nisa´’testi, ugwala´ga udu´yaheti´dege´sti. Sunûsi´ya-gwû udanisa´’testi, ts’su´lti-gwû nige´sûnna.

Hikayû´nli Gi´gage-gâgû´, tsine´tsi gesû´n aw’stitege´sti. Tsastû´ utatiyi, nâ´gwa tsas’tû gasû’hisa’ti atisge´sti. Ha-nâ´gwa nûnnâ tsusdi´ tutana´wa-tegû´ digana´watû´nta atisge´sti. Utali´ udanû´hi ugwala´ga gûnwatuy´ahiti´tege´sti, hilahiyû´nta-gwû wustû´’sti nige´sûnna. D’stiskwâ´li deudû´nisa’te´sti. Yû!

Cherokee, Medicine,

Mooney, James. Sacred Formulas Of The Cherokees. Published in the Seventh Annual Report, Bureau of Ethnology, pp. 301-399. 1886.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Access Genealogy

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Scroll to Top