''the People's Paths home page!''
Copyright © 1998 NLThomas
All Rights Reserved


Ani'Yun'wiya
(the 'Principal People')
Legends Before And After

"From stories and legends passed
down from generation to generation."
As told by Nancy Thomas

Copyright © 1998 NLThomas
All Rights Reserved


In the beginning the world, Earth (Elohino) was a round ball of water. The land base that was developed for Ani'Yun'wiya, the "Principal People", was Turtle (Salitsule) Island (Amayeli) now referred to as North America. The story is told of ropes being hooked to four different locations of the Island and then secured in the upper world, just for assurance that the Island would not sink in the great waters.

The universe is believed to be made up of three worlds, the upper (peaceful - color yellow), the lower (chaos - Earths core, orange/brown), and the center, (here where we are now - color green), to be kept in balance between the peaceful - upper and the chaotic - lower words). These are three of the seven sacred directions.

There are seven sacred directions.

Up - Down - Center

North (juhyvdlv?h) - color blue (sakonige?i) [for the cold north wind (unole)] - also representing trouble and defeat.

South (juganawv?i) - color white (unega) [warm south wind (unole) - also representing peace and tranquility].

East (dikvlvgv?i) - color red (gigage) [for the rising sun which sustains life and also representing the color of life's blood].

West (wudeligv?i) - color black (gvhnage?i) [the setting of the sun and coming of the moon which gives no warmth or life - also representing death].

Translation Source: Cherokee-English Dictionary, Durbin Feeling


Up - Down - Center

North (Uyvtlv) - color blue (Sagonige) [for the cold north wind (Ganolvvsgv)] - also representing trouble and defeat.

South (Uganawu) - color white (Unegv) [warm south wind (Ganolvvsgv) - also representing peace and tranquility].

East (Kalvgv) - color red (Gigage) [for the rising sun which sustains life and also representing the color of life's blood].

West (Wudeligv) - color black (Gvhnage) [the setting of the sun and coming of the moon which gives no warmth or life - also representing death].

Translation Source: Cherokee Nation, OK, Lexicon - Dikaneisdi (Word List)


Up - Down - Center

North (Tsuhyvtlvi) - color blue (Sakonigei) [for the cold north wind (unolehi) - also representing trouble and defeat.

South (Uganowa') - color white (Unega) [warm south wind (unolehi) - also representing peace and tranquility].

East (Dikalvgv?i) - color red (Gigagei) [for the rising sun which sustains life and also representing the color of life's blood].

West (Wudeligv?i) - color black (Gvhnagei) [the setting of the sun and coming of the moon which gives no warmth or life - also representing death].

Translation Source: Introduction to Cherokee - Narrated by Sam Hider (Di-gah-doo-nah-i)
Written by Gregg Howard & Richard Eby

The Ani'Yun'wiya lived by the clan system. This system was not only part of the government structure, but also a part of family structure and deemed who one could marry and could not marry. The mothers side was used to trace the family. The clan system is still used today by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. This system seems to help greatly in balancing government powers and seemingly helps to give all a say in community concerns.

There are seven clans.

Blue - Sakonigei (from the color of a type of plant used by the clan)
Wild Potato - Nuna Gehyahtahi
Bird - Tsisqua
Deer - Ahwi -- (western dialect) Ahawi
Wolf - Waya'
Red Paint - Asiwisti Gigagei -_ (western dialect) Disuhwisdi Gigage
Twister or Long Hair - Agaluga Ustihgv?i Ganvhida

Colored feathers were worn to designate which clan the person belonged.
Later, AC (after Columbus) an eighth clan was formed: Keetoowah


There are six major ceremonies that are observed yearly, held during the year depending upon the number of moons occurring in that year, twelve or thirteen.
A seventh ceremony occurs every seven years.

Seven Ceremonies:

First New Moon of Spring
New Green-Corn Feast
Ripe Green Corn Feast
Great New Moon Festival
Propitiation and Cementation Festival
Bounding Bush Festival
Ookah Dance (Held every seven years.)

The Ani'Yun'wiya are now best known as the Cherokee, the English version of the word Tsalagi, a Creek word meaning either people of another language or cave dwellers.


Cherokee Language Pronunciation guide:

Vowel sounds:
A (as in Father or short as in Rival)
E (as A in Mate, or short as in Met)
I (as I in Pique or short as in Pin)
O (as in Note, as approaching to AW in law)
U (as OO in Moon or short as in Pull)
V (as U in but, nasalized - guttural deep in the throat)

Consonant sounds:
G (hard sound - sometimes approaching K before E,I,O,U and v)
D (between the English D and T)
All other letters as in English.
? (signifies a pause)

[**Note: The Cherokee words used in this document are Qualla dialect unless otherwise indicated. The principal difference between the Qualla and Western dialect is the "TSI" symbol. Qualla dialect is more toward a "Z" sound, the Western dialect toward a "CH" sound.]


|Paths to Living History |
|The People's Paths |
| "the People's Paths Site Index!" |