Cherokee Legends

 




 

retold by Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian children

When I taught grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 at Cherokee Elementary School (over a period of 9 years), the students and I particularly enjoyed hearing their own legends, then retelling them in their own words.  The children's favorite (whatever group I taught) was Spearfinger.  Two versions of the Spearfinger story are included here, along with a number of other legends.  I never had trouble motivating the students to read and write when I announced that we would start another legend.

The children who worked on these projects are descended from a small remnant of Cherokee who escaped the Trail of Tears walk to Oklahoma. 

These ancestors hid in the mountains of their homeland, and were finally able to purchase land (with the help of a white friend who had been adopted by the tribe), which is now held in trust by the United States Government.  This reservation (in North Carolina) is known as the Qualla Boundary.

There are three separate bands of Cherokee:  the Eastern Band (in or near Cherokee, North Carolina), the Kituhwa Band (in Arkansas, descended from those who emigrated voluntarily before the removal), and the Western Band of Cherokee (descended from those who walked the trail to Talequah, Oklahoma).  Many of these legends are shared by all three bands of Cherokee.  The children who worked on these projects are Eastern Cherokee.

The Game Between the Birds and Animals
       Version 1
       Version 2

Stickball

Rabbit and Tar Wolf

The Eagle's Revenge

The Ice Man

The Story of Ginseng

The Great Yellow Jacket

Why Otter Swims In the River

How Rabbit Tricked Otter

Rabbit Goes Duck Hunting

Little People

How the Deer Got Its Horns

The Big Snake Story

Spearfinger
    Version 1
    Version 2

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