Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Demise of the Kutani - in Yucatan?

One of the underlying stories of Cherokee identity is that the Cherokees rose against their hereditary priestly caste, the AniKutani, and destroyed them.

In this five-part series, a US researcher looks for the cause of the sudden demise of the Mayan high civilization, and finds evidence that a long drought destroyed the agriculture, leading the priests to increase human sacrifice to appease the gods. He finds evidence of the extermination of an entire family of the priestly caste. In all details found so far, this parallels the story of the destruction of the Kutani priests.

In the Cherokee story, the AniKutani re-introduced human sacrifice in an attempt to relieve a severe drought. One warrior, enraged at the sacrifice of his wife, kills a priest. To the amazement of the community, he is not immediately struck dead by lightning. The other take this as their cue, and begin an extermination of the Kutani "in a single night."  Afterward and to this day, Cherokee reject any type of human sacrifice or ritual cannibalism as an abomination, and reject any concept of an inherited right to rule over them. 

While the story is now told as if this all happened in the Echota area (See Robert J. Conley's novel, The Dark Way), it's long been suggested this might be a relocation of something that happened in southern Mexico before the Cherokee ancestors and others came north. 
There are other nations who also claim to have come north to escape the tyranny of the human sacrifice religions, and who even give names to the main characters of the story.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lesson 4 Complete, Test 4 Posted

It's Unadodaquonvi, 14 Kagali 2011

Since Christmas, I've had some dental problem that made me slur my speech, making it difficult to record new content for the lessons at I'm happy to report that Friday I completed the Lesson Four content and posted Test Four.

There's a good bit of content here, so I'll remind you of the advice of Walker Calhoun of Big Cove: "Listen to the Elders at least 21 times before repeating." 

My fluent-speaking friends tell me one thing that's being lost are the inflections that were once crucial to the language. Those who don't grow up speaking Cherokee or hearing the language spoken at home have a rough time getting this right. As a result, it now takes more uninflected words to say what could once be said with fewer inflected words.

One reason I took longer than I wanted getting Lesson Four together was that I really listened to a number of fluent speakers to improve my own inflections. A fluent speaker will either laugh or wince at my pronunciation, but it will be understood. So will yours!

New Projects

Only a handful responded to the the inquiry about future publications. Among these were:

1. A Manual on Cherokee Medicine Plants and Gardening.
2. A Cherokee Hymnal
3. An illustrated Cherokee-English Gospel or full New Testament

These would be very time-intensive projects, so there's no point to proceed if people aren't interested.

A portion of the 'Swimmer Manuscript" collected by Smithsonian anthropologist James Mooney
There is another project I'm collaborating on, which will bring out a book with various accounts of the origin of the Cherokee people... or perhaps, how the various peoples who are now known as "Cherokee" came together. This involves going back to much of the original source material, including documents and accounts from the early 18th and even 17th centuries.

One thing we're doing is transcribing these old, handwritten documents into a text version to allow easier printing and to preserve them digitally for future generations. One would think that the three federally-funded - oops, I meant federally-recognized tribes - would be interested in doing that, but one would be wrong. There are individuals cooperating, but perhaps the nations have their hands full taking care of the present day needs of their members.

Until midnight Monday night, when you buy a copy of The 2011 Cherokee Calender, you get a $4.00 rebate to celebrate the Four Winds and your four-chambered heart. 

Until next time, 
Witsatologi nigadv, blessings to you all!

Brian Wilkes