am Bob Gray Wolf of the California Clan. I am like any
other man, no better and no worse. My center is
am a member of the Manataka American Indian Council. I
am a member of the Tatanka Okolakiciye (Buffalo
Society) and "Honorary Alumni" - both at
Ogalala Lakota College. I am a member of the Native
American Rights Fund (in Boulder, Co.). I have been a
teacher and have a Ph.D. in Physiology from the
University of Illinois in Chicago. I prepared a
CD/book which is in most of the libraries of the
Native American Colleges, entitled "Vanishing
Animals of North America". It shows the animals
in our sacred hoop from a Native and environmental
perspective. I have an interest in herbal medicine and
also in Native American spirituality. I have read Red
Hawk's book "The Tao of an Indian" and found
it to help in my understanding of our Cherokee ways.
am a Confederate member of "The Algonquian
Confederacy of The Quinnipiac Council".
Quinnipiac is the Anglo name for the Eansketambawg
(meaning "We, the original, surface-dwelling
people") a Native American Nation of the
Algonquian family who inhabited south-central
Connecticut in the area around what is now the
present-day city of New Haven and New Haven harbor.
Before the white man came, there was a great
confederacy on the East Coast which included
Cherokees, Quinnipiac, Iroquois, and the Hurons. The
Quinnipiac still survive. I sit at the Quinnipiac
Grand Council Fire as "Tsalagi ambassador",
representing the United Cherokee Nation. It is a great
honor that they have bestowed on the UCN, through
Chief "Iron ThunderHorse", the Quinnipiac
Principal Chief. I take great pride in being Cherokee
and being a friend to the Quinnipiac Nation.
I try to walk the Red Road, which the traditional
Cherokee call the "White Path of Peace".
words for white path are Unega Nvnehi. (This
would sound like OO ne ga Nu ne he. The g would
sound like the g in go and the u would sound
like the u in hug.) The White Path is a good
road to follow, and I offer it here, as I have
been taught, in the form of "The Lodge of
- blessings and Peace on your journey
Wolf's Bear rug from the "Southern
Bear hunt in the "Dawnland" of
the Northeast Quinnipiacs; drawn by “Big
Heart - Little
stamp of Yosemite Park (in California) which
was handed down to me by my father.
Lodge of the People is much more than just a shelter from
the elements, for it , as do most terms in our culture, has
symbolic significance and lessons to teach us and the
generations to come.
There are fifteen poles in the average lodge and each one
has symbolic meaning attached to them, each one carries a
lesson for us:
1. Obedience: obedience in following the traditions and
teachings that were passed to us by our ancestors and the
elders of today.
2. Happiness: Happy heart, mind and soul to share our homes
with others, our home literally becoming theirs.
Respect: Respect for all living life forms, the two-legged's,
the finned ones, the creepy crawlers, the solid ones...or
standing ones. To allow each being to be as they are without
judgment or ridicule, to their face or behind their back.
Respecting them for who they are, where they are, at the
level of growth and development that they are.
4. Humility: knowing we are no less and certainly no more
than another, knowing that we are only a small part of the
total whole, one strand in the massive web of life. Know
that all life was created by a higher power and knowing that
we too make errors on our life walk.
5. Acceptance: Accepting all life as our relations, knowing
that we are truly connected to all life forms and to all two
legged's as well.
6. Strength: Showing patience in times of stress, not
complaining but learning to endure, knowing we will
eventually understand the over-all picture. Strength of
character, of mind, of soul, of spirit and then strength of
resolve and body. (Bravery and courage in adversity and
7. Cleanliness: Clean minds, clean spirits, clean hearts and
clean souls lead to clean bodies and actions , along with
thoughts within and of that body.
8. Rearing: Caring for, teaching, protecting and being proud
of the young, the youth and the child. They are the future
and must be prepared to care for the ones that will follow
in their footsteps.
9. Thankfulness: Thankful not only for our blessings, the
bounty of Earth Mother, the beauty that surrounds, our
health, our relations, but...also thankful for our lessons,
tragedies, trials and tribulations, for they serve to polish
us like gem stones....to remove our flaws and to create the
polished, shiny results.
10. Hope: Hope for the future, for the return of the
traditions. for the peace of the world?s peoples and for
unity of all living forms.
11. Sharing: freely sharing our blessings, our basic needs,
our love, our teachings, our traditions, our dreams and our
visions. Sharing all willingly, sharing all that makes us
who and what we are, what we have been and what we will
Protection: Protection of not only our body, life and limb;
but protection of the values, principles, teachings,
customs; protection of the physical, but even more so of the
spiritual, ceremonial, traditional and sacred.
13. Love: the ability to give of your heart to others, to
love others or even yourself. Unconditional acceptance of
another just as they are, knowing that everything has a
Divine purpose and is of by Divine design.
14. Faith: An inner knowing or level of trust that things
are as they should be. That challenge will result in
victory, that hurt will result in growth, added
understanding and added depth and wisdom. Faith in the
Creator, His ultimate plan, His direction and His constant
15. Mystery: The ability to trust the unknown, to venture
into the realms beyond our own, to allow vision to occur and
to accept the information as factual from them. The ability
to seek and accept the " magic of life and after
All the poles and symbolism come together to support the
covering that forms the end result.
The Lodge of the People is in fact a life force in it's own
right. Let us always honor it as a teaching elder and strive
to honor it's lessons.
Selma Palmer, and shown to me by my friend Bear Warrior)
BELIEFS OF THE CHEROKEE THE WAY OF THE CIRCLE
"Way of the Circle" has been passed down from
generation to generation and is represented in all the
Cherokee stories, myths and legends and other forms of
When you arise each morning, give thanks to the Creator, to
the four sacred directions, to Mother Earth and Father Sky
and all your relations.
Remember that all things are connected.
All things have a purpose.
Honor others by treating them with kindness; always assume a
guest is tired, cold or hungry. Provide them with the best
of what you have to offer.
If you have more than what you need, then give the excess to
another who is in need.
Your word is your honor, do not break your word unless
permission is granted by those you promise something to.
Always seek harmony and balance in all things.
Share with others.
Practice silence and patience.
Practice modesty in all things; boasting and loud behavior
is not acceptable.
Always ask permission and give thanks for all received.
Always show respect and be aware of all things around you.
Do not stare at others, drop your eyes as a sign of respect,
especially in the presence of elders, teachers or honored
Always greet a friend in passing.
Never criticize or talk about anyone in a harmful way.
Never touch something that belongs to another without
Always respect the privacy of others.
Never interrupt someone talking, it shows lack of patience,
control and respect.
Listen with your heart.
Always remember that a smile is sacred.
Live each day as it comes.
Neither kill nor harbor angry thoughts.
Do what needs to be done now, not later.
OF RIGHT RELATIONSHIP (As spoken to the people by the Pale
1. Speak only words of truth.
2. Speak only of the good qualities of others.
3. Be a confidant and carry no tales.
4. Turn aside the veil of anger to release the beauty
inherent in all.
5. Waste not the bounty, and want not.
6. Honor the light in all. Compare nothing; see all for its
7. Respect all life; cut away ignorance from one?s own
The waters of the river ("Long Man") were always
believed to be sacred to the Cherokee and believe that the
water is a sacred messenger and commonly used for
purification and other ceremonies. There are two forms -
"Going to Water", and "Taking Them to
Water". In "Going to Water", the Cherokee
wade out into the waters of a clean running creek or river,
face the east of rising sun, and dip themselves seven times
in the water while reciting prayers. This was done every
morning, summer or winter, regardless of the weather. The
other form was called "Taking them to Water". This
way the Cherokee simply dipped up the water by hand and
spread it over their head and body. The rivers, streams or
any other natural body of moving water, is considered a
sacred sight, and the tradition of going to water still
KEEPING OF SACRED THINGS
The Cherokee people are very organized about their effects,
especially spiritual items. It is believed that when these
sacred items are not in use, they should be protected by
being wrapped in deerskin, especially white deerskin, or
some other material in the color, white indicating a
spiritual thing. Peace treaties. Spiritual items were
wrapped in white cloth or deerskin. The White Spirits live
in the South.
The Cherokee are strong in their beliefs of spiritual
beings. Each and every day includes the existence and/or
communications, or interactions with spiritual beings. The
Cherokee believe that these spirits are very much a part of
the natural world. It is known that in some point in time,
each individual will have at least one spiritual encounter,
while there are others who have continual interactions.
Sometimes these spiritual beings are our contact with our
ancestors. Some guide us through our lives, some help us in
healing and protecting. Some are just the eyes and ears for
those on the other side. The most famous of these spirits
are the legendary ?Little People.? These are very small
spirit people who are invisible to everyone unless they want
to be seen. When they make themselves visible they appear to
be very small Cherokee people with very long hair. The
Little People reside in various places such as caves in the
mountains, shelters made of rocks and sometimes in laurel
thickets. They love drumming and dancing. They have been
known to find lost children, or to help children who are
experiencing troubled and sad times. The Little people have
been known to be very mischievous and when dealing with them
you must be very cautious and you must observe the
traditional rules about them. They don?t like to be
disturbed and when a person constantly bothers them, it is
said that they can cause that person to be ?puzzled?
throughout their life. It is said that if a person sees one
of the Little People, they are not suppose to talk about it,
or tell anyone about it for at least seven years. Also it
has been told that the Little People should not be talked
about after sunset.
The Cherokee believe that
when a person dies, his soul may be chosen to continue to
live as a ghost in this dimension, and they will be given
the ability to be seen when needed. Some people can see them
and some cannot. Some people have the spiritual ability to
see them more often than others and some even have the
ability to interact with ghosts. Then there are others who
have never seen a ghost and possibly never will. A ghost is
sometimes called a ?Guide.? Sometimes they will appear to a
person when there is a need to communicate with the living
world. Sometimes they appear just to visit and other times
they may have messages of good or bad health for someone.
And sometimes they appear to someone as their guide to help
with the journey to the other side.
BELIEF IN GOOD AND BAD DEEDS
The Cherokee believe that if your life is of doing good
unselfishly and without the desire of a reward, you will be
rewarded with good things. However, if you have done bad
then bad things will come to you. Again we must think of the
Sacred Circle and the circle of life.
MEDICINE WAYS OF THE CHEROKEE CHEROKEE MEDICINE PEOPLE
Medicine people are still today very active in the lives of
the Cherokee people. Cherokee Medicine People can be either
male or female. The Cherokee Medicine People are taught
their practice for many years. They are required to learn
and remember the ancient teachings that have been passed
down for centuries by elder medicine people, who learned
from their elders. Much of the Cherokee medicine formulas
have, over the years, been documented in Cherokee syllabary
writing in books and ledgers. The writings in these books
are closely guarded and those who have not been trained are
forbidden to read the books. It is believed that the
medicine will be no good if not read and spoken in the
Cherokee language. However, a medicine man praying, who has
been touched by the spirit, while praying or healing can
talk in a tongue only he can understand, rather than the
recognized Cherokee language.
CHEROKEE MEDICINE HERBS
The Cherokee People have been given the knowledge of healing
practices and the herbs and created things that assist in
medicine and healing by the Creator. The Cherokee believe
that a cure and prevention for all illnesses have been
placed right here on this earth by the Creator. He has left
it up to us to find these cures and to use them properly. A
lot of the Cherokee medicine comes from a certain plant or a
specially prepared mixture of a variety of plants. Some of
the medicines can be used as an incense, mixed as a drink or
used in a salve form. Many of the original plants used for
medicine in the ancient days are all gone now or extremely
hard to find with the coming of the white man. But more and
more Cherokee people today are trying to bring back these
plants. Caution is used In picking plants for use as
medicine. We are taught to conserve as much of this gift as
possible so as not to rob Mother Earth of her gifts. So when
choosing plants we must first ask the plant?s permission,
give it thanks and make an offering of tobacco or a bead.
Then when we pick a plant we must only pick every third
plant. This allows the other plants to grow and make new
plants. It is also important that if you locate a location
of medicine plants, you keep that location a secret so that
it will help protect that place.
Any person who tries to
practice with herbal medicine must realize that some plants
cannot be mixed with some other plants without causing a bad
reaction. You must either consult a Medicine Person or
become very educated on herbs. The Medicine Person also
relies on his internal healing powers which may be combined
with his breath, saliva or physical touch, using his given
life force. The Cherokee also use the powers of crystals in
healing. Sage, Cedar, Pine and Eagle feathers are also a
strong carrier of medicine in prayer. In the medical
practice of today, Cherokee people do still consult their
Medicine People as well as modern doctors. Also in the
medical practice of today, medical professionals are more
and more using herbal remedies and physical healing that has
been used by Native people for centuries.
The Cherokee built a small wickiup in which hot rocks
were placed. A Cherokee person who was ill would strip and
enter the hot house. A solution was made from beaten wild
parsnip root and would be poured over the rocks. Today water
is used. The ill person would remain until they were in a
profuse sweat and choking on the fumes and then they would
exit the house and jump into a nearby stream. The hot house
is practically the same as the sauna of today. Unlike the
Indians of the west, who use sweat lodges, the hot house of
the Cherokee was never used for purification.
The Medicine Wheel represents the spirituality of the
Cherokee as well as all other Native People.
Native People believe the wheel to be sacred because the
Creator or Great Spirit created the Sun, the Moon, the Sky
and Mother Earth round. Seasons come and go as in a circle.
The Sun and the Moon revolve around Mother Earth in a
circle, creating each day The circle represents all things
in creation. Therefore, we must see the circle as being
sacred. The Cherokee as all other Native People dance in a
circle to honor the circle of life and mother earth. Our
drums are all made in circles. Our fires are made by placing
logs in an "X" pattern which causes the fire to
burn in a circular pattern.
The Medicine Wheel symbolizes the journey that each of us
individually must take in our own life to find our correct
and true path. The Medicine Wheel continues evolving and
continues to bring new life lessons and the truth of the
path you follow. The Medicine Wheel is round which
represents the circle of life, from birth, to life as a
child, life as a young person, life as an adult, life as an
elder and finally death. You must honor and embrace each
direction and that part of life and gain as much as you can
and give as much as you can for a happy and fruitful
The Medicine Wheel also teaches us about the path you take
and the things you do in life can make the circle. If you do
good for another, the circle will return good to you. But
the same holds true for the bad things you do.
Within the Medicine Wheel are four primary sacred colors,
which represent our four sacred directions.
In the center of the Medicine Wheel is the sacred fire,
which is the center of all things.
If you have a chance
to make life better for others and fail to do so,
you are wasting your time on Earth. No matter what our
station in life,
we are here to serve, even if that sometimes means making
sacrifice of all. (Bear Warrior, Cherokee; February 2007)
Spirit Bear from the "NorthWest" directions.