Cherokee Hunting and Hunters Background Information

Cherokee Hunting and Hunters Background Information

Cherokee Hunting and Hunters Background Information Paleo Period 11,000 BC-8,000 BC Paleo-Indians were the first people in North America. Groups of se...

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Cherokee Hunting and Hunters Background Information Paleo Period 11,000 BC-8,000 BC Paleo-Indians were the first people in North America. Groups of several families moved seasonally to gather wild plant foods and hunt animals, including the now extinct Ice Age mammals such as the Mastodon. Although no evidence remains, they probably lived in lean-to shelters, or took advantage of caves and rock overhangs. Except for well-made stone tools, little of their material culture has survived the millennia. North American Paleo-Indians utilized one of the earliest manufacturing skills known to man~ knapping, which is the process of flaking stone into useful shapes. “Percussion” was one method they used. Using a hammer stone or a billet, they knocked off flakes, producing a particular type of long flake called a blade. Sometimes the flakes were finished by using an antler tip to punch off smaller flakes. This was called pressure flaking. Flint knapping required an understanding of force and fracture and was a skill taught to boys at an early age. A skilled knapper could manufacture a projectile point in a matter of minutes, as well as produce specialized tools for shredding, scraping or engraving and drilling. For the North American Paleo-Indians, ambush was a successful hunting technique. They would set up their camp near a watering hole and wait for the thirsty animals, and then sneak up until they were close enough to throw their spears. Once the animal was wounded, the hunters would follow and harass it until it died. Archaic Period 8,000 BC-1,000 BC As knowledge of plants grew and more vegetation was added to their diets, Archaic Indians were able to create a surplus of food without having to cultivate crops. As a result they took on a more sedentary lifestyle. With leisure time they were able to develop more sophisticated tools and. in the late Archaic Period, they began to cultivate plants, like sunflowers. From the southern Americas, two tropical plants were introduced: the bottle gourd and the squash. Both were easy to cultivate and could be used as containers. Mega fauna (such as the mammoth) had become extinct and smaller animals, both the whitetailed deer and the turkey, became important food sources. Nuts were another source of food for the Archaic Indians. Archaic Indians used stone scrapers to clean and process deer hides. These hides were treated with brain matter from the slaughtered deer, animal grease and iron oxide. The hides were used for clothing, containers, and shelter covering. During the Archaic Period, one of the more important developments in hunting was the atlatl, which increased both the force and the distance that a spear could be thrown. Made from a

wooden shaft about two feet long with a hook (often carved from a deer antler) on one end, the atlatl was used throughout the Archaic and into the Woodland Period.

Woodland Period 1,000 BC-900 CE The Woodland Period represents a high level of adaptation to the environment, with the Indians finding new ways to hunt and grow food. The use of the bow and arrow enabled Woodland Indians to hunt a wider range of animals from greater distances. Cultivation of crops included a variety of plants, such as the introduction of what would become a mainstay of the Indian diet ~ corn. This early forerunner, called “tropical flint” no only provided a stable source of food for the Indians, it also served as an excellent deer “lure.” With better weapons and crop cultivation, the Woodland people were able to live more settled lives in small villages. Trade expanded between the coastal peoples and those in the interior, with salt, dried fish, beads and shells exchanged for feather cloaks, pottery, animal skins, and mica. The presence of arrowheads seems to indicate that the bow and arrow came into use sometime in the Early Woodland Period in the Southeastern United States. The bow and arrow had excellent range and accuracy. Woodland Indians used the bow and arrow to hunt game from up to 40 yards away. A stone drill was used by the Woodland Indians to punch holes in deerskins. Sinew or other strips of leather would be used to stitch the deerskins into garments, cooking skins, and even shelters. Knives and scrapers were used for many daily tasks, such as, cutting meat, removing skins from animals, and shaping wood. Mississippian Period 900 CE-1500 CE Points: Though the Cherokees used pikes, lances, darts, spears and clubs, the favorite weapon was the bow and arrow. Arrow points were fashioned from many different materials, including quartz. In later years, Spaniards marveled at the bows of the Cherokees, which were so strong the Spaniards could not pull back the strings. Blades: Some blades were ceremonial, some were practical. Although many were attached to handles, some were made to be used without handles. Like the earlier Indians, Mississippian Indians used these blades for many purposes, including hide preparation, meat cutting, and cleaning fish. During the Mississippian Period, blowguns like these were made from hollowed pieces of cane and were cut to a length of 7-9 feet. They were used mostly by boys and young men to kill small game such as squirrels or birds. The Cherokee were known to be accurate with blowguns at

distances up to 60 feet. (See additional information sheet with primary source quotes about blowguns and the Cherokee.) After Contact...Going forward Cataloochee (Gadalusti) was used by the Cherokee primarily as a hunting ground. The Cataloochee Trail connected the Cherokee Middle Towns with the Overhill Towns. The Cherokee gave up claims to the hunting grounds at Cataloochee when they signed the Treaty of Holston in 1791. “ Treaty of Holston: Signed in an effort to “reestablishing peace and friendship” between the Cherokee and the US Government and reestablish the boundaries between the two. This treaty lasted for less than a decade and in 1798 Cherokees were forced to cede lands illegally settled by Whites within the established Cherokee Nation Boundaries. Trade Guns: Some of the guns the Cherokees received in trade with the British were called “trade guns,” They differed from standard guns in that they were cheaply made, easily broken, and required special shot. One explanation for selling the trade guns is that prices for merchandise were fixed. An inferior gun had the same trade value as one of quality, so it is logical that not all traders would provide the superior item. Also, according to some sources, traders were forbidden to sell rifle-barreled guns because the rifles made larger holes in the deerskins. Still another reason may have been that the colonists did not want the Indians to have equal firepower. Whatever the reasons, trading resulted in Cherokee reliance on British guns and goods. These feelings of dependency were voiced by Skiagusta, head warrior of Keowee, one of the Lower Cherokee Towns… “My people {cannot} live independent of the English. What are we red people? ...the clothes we wear, we cannot make ourselves...We use {English} ammunition with which to kill deer...We cannot make our guns. They were made {for} us. Every necessary of life we must have comes from the white people. “ (1700’s) “The hunting grounds are fast disappearing…” Tecumseh 1811 Saloli (Squirrel) a renown Cherokee gunsmith in the mid-19th century is credited as being the first Native American to completely manufacture a firearm. His designs and guns were so highly regarded that one of his rifles was deposited at the Patent Office in Washington in the 1840s by Mr. William Holland Thomas. Contemporary Michelle Hicks, the first member of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission who is Native American, helped rebuild the deer herd on the Qualla Boundary. If you see deer with the purple tags in their ears, those are the deer that the Chief helped to bring to Cherokee. These deer may not be hinted at this time. Read more about that here:

Only enrolled members, or first descendants and their spouses living on the Qualla Boundary may obtain a license to hunt on the Qualla Boundary. Big game species that can be hunted on Cherokee Tribal ground are limited to bear and wild boar. A hunter cannot sell any part of the animal to a non-member. Small game includes an open season on crow, fox and groundhog, and partial seasons and bag limits for grouse, rabbit, raccoon, opossum, and squirrel.

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