Manataka American Indian Council




The Making of a Relative

"The clan was the most important social entity to which a person belonged. Membership in a clan was more important than membership in anything else. An alien had no rights, no legal security, unless he was adopted into a clan. For example, if a war party happened to capture an enemy and the captive was not adopted by a clan, then any sort of torture could be inflicted upon him. But if he were adopted into one of his captors' clans, then no one could touch him for fear of suffering vengeance from the adopting clan. The rights of clansman ship were so fundamental they were seldom if ever challenged." (Hudson, 193,194) 


Sometimes Cherokee citizens would choose to "adopt" a person from another nation or tribe - somebody who was not Cherokee by blood. This was because of friendship, for great affection was sometimes forged between those of alien nations. Some Cherokee women had Creek friends, for instance, and sometimes named their children for them, which accounts for some Cherokees ending up with foreign names (names that were not Cherokee in origin). These adopted Cherokees were given the same protection and privileges of any other member of the clan. So it can truly be said that membership in a Cherokee clan could be either by birth or adoption, both carrying the same weight, and no distinction being made between the two.

Adopt A Relative:
"This seems to point to a custom which has escaped the notice of earlier writers on the eastern tribes, but which is well known in Africa and other parts of the world, and is closely analogous to a still existing ceremony among the plains Indians. By which two young men of the same tribe formally agree to become brothers, and ratify the compact by a public exchange of names and gifts." (Mooney, 493)

Private Adoptions:
Were not unusual, and the selection of someone as a "particular friend" was a very serious matter, to last a lifetime. This was usually "symbolized by a complete exchange of clothing and sometimes of names as well. It lasted throughout life, binding the Ind. at least, in loyalty to his special friend, and often it was the means of saving" a white man's life. "This custom is reflected in the name of 'Judd's Friend' which was applied to the great warrior Ostenaco; and it may be hazarded, too, that the devotion of Atta Kulla Kulla, who which Captain John Stuart owed his escape from the Fort Loudoun massacre, was an exhibition of Ind. loyalty to a "special friend". (quoted, Rothrock, 16)

From the Archives of Little Mother

Our thanks to Blue Panther, Keeper of the Stories

The Cherokee Full Circle: A Practical Guide to Ceremonies and Traditions

By J.T. & Michael Garrett

A comprehensive overview of Native American spiritual principles and their application for personal spirit-healing. *Includes traditional sacred exercises, teaching tales, case studies, and suggested rituals for individual and group healing. *Outlines the core principals of Native American traditional values and teaches how to apply them to the contemporary path of wellness and healing.  The Four Directions, the four seasons, and the four elements that make up the sacred hoop of the full circle must be in right relationship with one another or disharmony will result. Native American ritual has always emphasized the restoration of balance through ceremonies that provide a forum for learning, transition, and expressions of personal growth. Now  Cherokee authors J. T. and Michael Garrett share Native American traditions to explore interrelationships as a tool for growth and transformation.   The Cherokee Full Circle gathers techniques representing Native American cultures from across America-stories, exercises, and individual and group rituals-to teach the inherent dynamics of right relationship and apply them to the healing path. The authors provide a comprehensive overview of Native American spiritual principles and traditions and demonstrate how these ideas and methods can be applied universally to deal with life's situations-from depression and grieving to finding purpose and establishing positive relationships. Inner Traditions International, Sept 02, Soft Cover, 200pp.  $ 19.95

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