At one time, animals and people lived together peaceably and
talked with each other. But when mankind began to multiply
rapidly, the animals were crowded into forests and deserts.
Man began to destroy animals wholesale for their skins and furs,
not just for needed food. Animals became angry at such treatment
by their former friends, resolving they must punish mankind.
The bear tribe met in council, presided over by Old White Bear,
their Chief. After several bears had spoken against mankind for
their bloodthirsty ways, war was unanimously agreed upon. But
what kinds of weapons should the bears use?
Chief Old White Bear suggested that man's weapon, the bow and
arrow, should be turned against him. All of the council agreed.
While the bears worked and made bows and arrows, they wondered
what to do about bowstrings. One of the bears sacrificed himself
to provide the strings, while the others searched for good arrow-wood.
When the first bow was completed and tried, the bear's claws
could not release the strings to shoot the arrow. One bear
offered to cut his claws, but Chief Old White Bear would not
allow him to do that, because without claws he could not climb
trees for food and safety. He might starve.
The deer tribe called together its council led by Chief Little
Deer. They decided that any Indian hunters, who killed deer
without asking pardon in a suitable manner, should be afflicted
with painful rheumatism in their joints.
After this decision, Chief Little Deer sent a messenger to their
nearest neighbours, the Cherokee Indians.
"From now on, your hunters must first offer a prayer to the deer
before killing him," said the messenger. "You must ask his
pardon, stating you are forced only by the hunger needs of your
tribe to kill the deer. Otherwise, a terrible disease will come
to the hunter."
When a deer is slain by an Indian hunter, Chief Little Deer will
run to the spot and ask the slain deer's spirit, "Did you hear
the hunter's prayer for pardon?"
If the reply is yes, then all is well and Chief Little Deer
returns to his cave. But if the answer is no, then the Chief
tracks the hunter to his lodge and strikes him with the terrible
disease of rheumatism, making him a helpless cripple unable to
All the fishes and reptiles then held a council and decided they
would haunt those Cherokee Indians, who tormented them, by
telling them hideous dreams of serpents twining around them and
eating them alive. These snake and fish dreams occurred often
among the Cherokees. To get relief, the Cherokees pleaded with
their Shaman to banish their frightening dreams if they no longer
tormented the snakes and fish.
Now when the friendly plants heard what the animals had decided
against mankind, they planned a countermove of their own. Each
tree, shrub, herb, grass, and moss agreed to furnish a cure for
one of the diseases named by the animals and insects.
Thereafter, when the Cherokee Indians visited their Shaman about
their ailments and if the medicine man was in doubt, he communed
with the spirits of the plants. They always suggested a proper
remedy for mankind's diseases.
This was the beginning of plant medicine from nature among the
Cherokee Indian nation a long, long time ago.
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Compiled by: Glenn Welker
Copyright @ 1993-2016
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