Cherokee Registry

Family

Traditionally:

The Cherokees are a matrilineal society. The home, family, children, inheritance, family ties, and clan membership are under the absolute control of the women. The husband is just a convenience to supply meat and father the children. Other than this, he has no say in the matter, and that is the final answer.

All children belong to the mother, and clan lineage is passed through the mother, the mother of the bride, the bride, and the bride's brother are all of the same clan. All children of this union will be members of the bride's clan. They are "adopting" the groom into the clan. If he is rejected, the children will still be members of the bride's clan.

In the Cherokee Marriage Ceremony, the groom brings an offering of meat to the bride's family, showing that he is a good hunter and promising to help support them. The bride brings offerings of food, showing that she can be a good home maker. Then they join together under the ceremonial blanket, showing mutual support in the building of a family.

A woman receives her name, and her Clan from her female elders. She keeps this name for life, even if she is baptized with an Anglo name or married.

A boy is given a name by his mother. When he becomes a man, his father and uncles will give him a new name. When he is matured and ready to become a warrior, he goes on a vision quest. The medicine man then gives the man a new name, related to his vision quest, that he will use for life.

In the past after the couple was married, the man moved into his wife's village and became her hunter. His wife would weave him a Marriage Belt of river-read fibers, dyed red and black, woven in a pattern of her own choosing. This belt served much the same as a wedding ring in modern society. It not only marked him as "taken", but the design was the identification mark of his wife. If he committed unforgivable "errors" he would find his clothing and belongings piled in the yard when he returned home. This form of divorce was final. Cherokee men were able to keep several wives. The other wives were usually chosen by the first wife, as her husbands ability to hunt exceeded the needs of his family. The other wives were usually widowed sisters or other female clan members. Some powerful chiefs and very wealthy Cherokees violated this rule, to their own peril.

The Scotsmen, English, Germans that married into the Cherokees, began the Anglo naming tradition for their children. The Cherokee ignored this tradition completely, as they were not concerned about cousins intermarrying, as they had their own traditions that a man could not marry a woman from his mother's clan. The young men all had to wait until the Festival of The Corn to find a bride. This is an annual event that brings participants from all over the Nation for several weeks. This gives the people an opportunity to visit married relatives, exchange stories, trade goods, participate in sports and dances, and to find prospective mates.