North America’s Native peoples are descendants from many ancient nations, each with its own language, social structure, and religion. Therefore, traditional Native American spirituality always has taken many forms. Here our focus will be on Keetoowah Spirituality— the spirituality of the Cherokee Nation.
The Cherokee Nation was the largest of several native peoples Europeans encountered when they arrived in the North American Southeast. In 1650, the Cherokee population was approximately 30,000.
Cherokee villages were grouped near rivers. The major settlement was called Kituhwa (which was also the name of its principal town) and was located on the headwaters of the Tennessee, Tuckaseegee, and Tuckaleechee Rivers. Cherokee who continue to follow the ancient traditional faith of their ancestors call themselves Keetoowah People.
The Keetoowah People believe that all life must be respected, and that its Creator deserves our love. Humanity should walk in balance with all creation. Keetoowahs believe that the earth is our Grandmother and teacher; her ways and truths are to be studied. They believe in honoring their elders. They teach that at the end of our life walk, we should leave no tracks other than our families and our students.
The Cherokee National Holiday was first held in 1953 to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the 1839 Cherokee Constitution. With its exciting array of entertainment, cultural and athletic events, it has grown into one of the largest festivals in Oklahoma, attracting more than 90,000 visitors from across the world.
For the three days of Cherokee National Holiday, I invite you to think of how you can leave less material tracks around and behind you.