Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why the Owl has spots...

The owl had a girl friend that he loved very much and the time had come for him to meet her parents. Now owl knew he was not the best looking creature on this earth and didn’t want anyone to see his face. He thought and thought of a way to hide his face from her parents because he was afraid they might not let him marry her if they saw how ugly he really was.

The time came when he was to meet her parents, on this very important evening he had a plan. As he came into the house he stood in the shadows, just outside the reach of the fire’s light. As the evening progressed he seemed to relax just a bit but he never came out of the shadows.

When the evening had ended and owl left for the night, both parents began to express their favoritism of the owl. They even remarked what a wonderful husband he would make for the young lady. They did have one question and that was why did he not come into the firelight. As the daughter and parents began to talk about the owl the question seemed to drift from their minds and on to different subject. In the shadows of the room stood her two, very mischievous, brothers. They, too, wondered why the owl stood in the shadows and came up with a plan to find out why.

The next day both boys went to gather wood for the fire without being told. The mother was very surprised because she usually had to tell them to do something at least three times before they would do it. They gather enough wood to burn for three nights, this did seem strange to the mother and she wondered what they were up to. She soon forgot her thought as she wondered if the nice owl was coming to see her daughter tonight.

That night the owl came to court her daughter and the two brothers were waiting. The owl moved to the shadows as he did the night before and began to eat his supper. As the mother called for the boys to get more wood for the fire the boys rushed outside and grabbed two armloads of wood and began to throw them into the fire. Now this wood was not just ordinary oak or hickory, it also had wild sumac mixed in, so when the sumac began to burn it would pop, crackle, and throw sparks. This is just what the boys wanted the fire to do so they could see what the owl was hiding in the shadows.

As the fire began to burn, the sparks flew and the wood crackled. The owl raised his wing to shield his face and turned his back. As he did this sparks landed on his back and burned black spots on his beautiful coat of feathers. That is why today the owl has a spotted coat.

He did marry the young lady and she was able to teach him that all creatures are beautiful in CREATOR’S eyes.

Peace :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Grape Dumplings...Yummy!!!

My computer has gone on the fritz...I intended to post this days ago and have been unable...I blame it entirely on the electronic device as it could not possibly be the operator of said device.
At any rate, this is a pretty yummy recipe and one you can make any time of the year

First you need to make the grape juice:
Boil 1 gallon possum grapes using just enough water to cover for 20 minutes- don't know what possum grapes are? Look it up! I however, use muscadines, I like them better. Strain through cheesecloth. You may use turbinado to sweeten and if you choose to do so, I would do it while the juice is hot.
You could cheat and use grape juice in a bottle yet it's not as fun and not nearly as good.

Now, knead plain flour(about 5 cups) and some grape juice(about 1 cup) as you would when making bread dough.  Roll this out very thing on a floured dough board and cut into strips.  Drop the strips into boiling grape juice.

Let cool and eat!!! 


p.s. this recipe is a 'treat' and should be eaten in moderation

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ani Nulistanidolv (The Legend of Strawberries)

In the Beginning of the Cherokee World, there were two worlds: The heavenly world called ga-lun-la-ti, which was placed high in the heavens, and the lower, dark world where the forces of evil lived. Ga-lun-la-ti was populated with beings in animal, human and plant forms. All creatures spoke the Cherokee language and lived together in harmony. The earth was but a ball of water on which gigantic fish and reptiles lived. The universe of the Cherokees depended on harmony and balance. Light was balanced by dark; things of goodness balanced by things that hid from the light of day in the shadows of the darkness.

In the beginning there was no sun, but a Great Tree of Life grew in the center of Ga-lun-la-ti. It lit the world so all could see and cast its light down on the dark waters below. So it was that the Creator lived by the Tree of Life where he tended the plants and cared for the animals. Sometimes, the waterfowl, the hawks, and eagles flew down in the darkness below; giant turtles and muskrats swam on the water’s surface and bathed in the pale light of the heavenly tree. The Creator led a solitary existence. When his work was done, he sat by the Tree, admiring his world around him and below. Sometimes he became lonely and longed for a companion, perhaps a daughter who would sit beside him in the evening, watching his creation live and grow.

Then, the Creator made a young lady whose beauty and grace touched his soul. He knew that she, too, would long for someone to run and play with so he created a man in his likeness and taught his children the things that he knew.

The Creator found that his daughter laughed and sang too much; and she talked constantly. She asked too many questions. Why do the leaves of the Tree of Life shine? Who created the Upper World? Who named the plants? Creator still loved her, for this was his daughter, but this constant laughter and questions, what could he do? The Creator had told them many times to stay away from the Tree of Life and not to play around its trunk. But like all curious children she had to see why her father said these things. First Man would insist that she not go to the tree but every day First Woman would climb the tree to its highest limbs. One day she found a hole in the bottom of the trunk and started to go in. First Man was again insistent that she stay away from the tree but to no avail. She went in and fell out of the bottom of Ga-lun-la-ti.

Creator returned home to find First Woman was missing. He asked First Man “where is my daughter?” to which the young man replied “I told her not to go into the hole in the bottom of the tree, but she would not listen.” Creator did not know what to do as he peered over the side of Ga-lun-la-ti and saw his daughter falling toward the awesome ball of water.

Creator summoned the birds of the sky, to catch his daughter that she might not drown. They created a great blanket with their wings on which they caught her. But, where should they put her? As they flew above the deep waters, the grandfather of all turtles surfaced. "Here, place her on my back," he said. The birds descended with the young woman, henceforth known as "Sky-Woman," and placed her on the surface of her new home. But it was not large enough, the Muskrat volunteered to find land and dove to the bottom of the waters and brought up mud, which he placed on the turtle's back. When she touched the earth that Muskrat had brought, it grew in all directions, becoming the earth that we know today as Turtle Island. The Creator knew that she would need more and so he sent down the plants and animals to take care of his daughter. He sent down the deer, buffalo, bear, rabbits, and squirrels to provide food and clothing. He sent the medicines of the plant people; cedar, sage, blood root, oak, and most importantly tobacco. Along with many others things, to provide for his future generation, the Cherokee.

When the First Woman, or Sky Woman, was happy with this world Creator sent First Man down to help take care of his creation. First man and First Woman were now husband and wife. They were happy and all things were good, but as in all good things bad will come and First Woman and First Man began to fight and argue.

Harsh words were said on both sides, and finally the wife said that she was leaving. Grabbing a few belongings, she began walking away from First Man. "I am going to find another place to live," she told her husband, "You are lazy and pay no attention to me." In a short time, the husband regretted his harsh words and tried to find his wife so he could apologize. Eventually, he realized that she was too far ahead, and he prayed to the Creator to help him. “Slow her down, Creator, so that I might tell her how much she means to me," he asked. “Is her soul one with yours?” Creator asked. First Man replied “We have been one since the beginning of our time. We have been one since you have breathed life into our souls and we shall remain one until the end of time itself.”

Touched by the man's anguish, the Great Spirit intervened. Seeing the way First Woman was walking he began to make plants grow at her feet to slow her down. To one side grew the blackberries and to the other grew huckleberries, but still she walked on. Again he made the plants grow and to one side grew the gooseberries and to the other grew the serviceberries, but still she walked on. The Creator knew that this would have to slow her down and so he went to his garden and grabbed a handful of strawberry plants and threw them to the earth. When they landed at First Woman’s feet they began to bloom and ripen, First Woman looked down to see the beautiful leaves and berries of the strawberry plant and stopped to taste just one small berry. As she plucked and ate the berries she forgot her anger. Finding a basket among her belongings, she quickly filled it, and longed for her husband once more. First Man, hurrying on his way, was surprised to see his wife returning, and oh! how his heart did soar. She was smiling! She dipped her hand into her basket, and got a berry and placed it in his mouth. He smiled foolishly, and gave thanks to the Creator. Taking his hand, his wife led him back down the path to their home, feeding him strawberries on the way.

Peace :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Origin of Disease and Medicine...another traditional legend

The old ones tell us that at one time, the animals, fish, insects and plants could all talk. Together with the people, they were at peace and had a great friendship. As time went on, the numbers of people grew so much that their settlements spread over the whole earth, and the animals found themselves cramped for space. To make things worse, the people invented bows, knives, blowguns, spears, and hooks, and they began to hunt and kill the larger animals, birds and fish only for their hides. The smaller creatures, like the frogs and worms, were stepped upon and crushed without thought, out of carelessness, and sometimes even contempt. The animals decided to meet in a council to agree on measures for their safety.

The bears were the first ones to meet in a council, at Mulberry Place, or Kuwahi mountain. The old White Bear Chief led the council. After each one had his turn of complaining about the way people killed their friends, ate their flesh, and used their skins for his own purposes, they decided to begin a war at once against man. One of the bears asked what kind of weapons the people used to destroy them. "Bows and arrows!" exclaimed all the Bears together. "What are they made of?" was the next question. "The bow is made of wood, and the string is made of our entrails," replied one of the Bears. They then decided they would make a bow and see if they could use the same type of weapon the people were using. One of the Bears got a nice piece of locust wood, and another bear sacrificed himself for the good and betterment of his brothers of sisters. He offered to let his entrails be used for the string of the bow. When everything was ready, a Bear found that in letting the arrow fly after drawing the string, his long claws got in the way and his shot was ruined. He was very frustrated, but someone suggested they clip his claws. After this, it was found that the arrow went straight to the mark. But, the Chief White Bear objected, saying they must not trim their claws as they needed them to climb trees. "One of us already gave his life, and if we cut off our claws, then we must all starve together. I think we should trust and use the teeth and claws the Creator gave us, and it is plain that the people's weapons were not made for us."

They could not think of a better plan, so the chief White Bear dismissed council and the Bears dispersed throughout the woods without having come up with a way to protect themselves. Had they come up with such a way, we would not be at war with the Bears, but the way it is today, the hunter does not even ask the Bear's pardon when he kills one.

The Deer held the next council, under their Chief Little Deer. They decided they would send rheumatism to every hunter who kills one of them, unless he made sure to ask their pardon for the offense. They sent out a notice of their decision to the nearest settlement of Cherokees and told them how they could avoid this. Now, whenever a hunter shoots a Deer, Little Deer, who is swift as the wind and cannot be harmed, goes quickly to the spot and asks the spirit of the Deer if it has heard the prayer of the hunter, asking for pardon. If the spirit replies yes, everything is in balance. If the reply is no, Little Deer follows the trail of the hunter, and when resting in his home, Little Deer enters invisibly and strikes the hunter with arthritis. No hunter who regards his own health ever fails to ask pardon of the Deer for killing it.

Next, the Fish and Reptiles held their own council. They decided to make their victims dream of snakes climbing about them, and blowing stinky breath in their faces. They also dream of decaying fish, so that they would lose their appetites and die of hunger.

Finally, the Birds, Insects and smaller animals came together for their own council. The Grub worm was the Chief of the council. They decided that each should give his opinion, and then they would vote as to whether or not the people were guilty. Seven votes would be enough for a guilty verdict. One after another, they complained about man's cruelty and disrespect. The Frog spoke first, saying, "We must do something to slow down how fast they are multiplying! Otherwise, we will disappear from the face of the earth through extinction!" The Frog continued, "They have kicked me about because they say I am ugly and now my back is covered with sores." He showed them the spots on his back. Next, the Bird condemned people because, "They burn off my feet in the barbecue!" Others followed with their own complaints. The Ground squirrel was the only one to say something in the people's defense, because he was so small he did not endure the hunting and disrespect. The others became so angry at him, the swooped on him and tore him with their claws. The stripes are on his back until this day.

They began to name so many new diseases, one after another. The Grub worm was more and more pleased as all these new names were being called off.

Then the Plants, who were friendly to man, heard about all these things the animals were doing to the people. Each tree, shrub, and herb, agreed to furnish a cure for some of the diseases. Each said, "I will appear and help the people when they call upon me." This is how the medicines came to be. Every plant has a use, if only we would learn it and remember it. They have furnished the remedy to counteract the diseases brought on by the revengeful animals. Even weeds were made for some good purpose. You must ask, and learn for yourself. When a doctor does not know which medicine to use, the spirit of the plant will tell the sick person.

There is a lesson in there...a few if you can catch them :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Anikayosvhi Tsuya

Recently, the God received an entire crate of beans from a farmer at the market.  In receiving this, he requested 1001 string bean recipes precisely.  I do not have 1001, I have 99, however this 1 traditional Cherokee recipe came to mind.  Anikayosvhi Tsuya, commonly known as Leather Breeches and/or Leather Britches was a way to dry beans and store them for use at a later date using THE SUN...not those nasty preservatives.

1 pound fresh green beans, washed 
2 quarts water 
2 teaspoons salt 
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper 
heavy thread 
darning needle

Snap the ends off the beans and string on heavy thread with a needle.  Hang in a sunny place to dry for about 2 months. 
To cook:  Soak beans for 1 hour in 2 quarts of water.  Add salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours, adding more water as needed.