By James Mooney - 1887
Note: The word "Shaman" is used here by the white anthropologist. Cherokee do not use this term.
The consideration which the doctor receives for his services is called ugista'`tï, a word of doubtful etymology, but probably derived from the verb tsï'giû, "I take" or "I eat." In former times this was generally a deer-skin or a pair of moccasins, but is now a certain quantity of cloth, a garment, or a handkerchief. The shamans disclaim the idea that the ugistatï is pay, in our sense of the word, but assert that it is one of the agencies in the removal and banishment of the disease spirit. Their explanation is somewhat obscure, but the cloth seems to be intended either as an offering to the disease spirit, as a ransom to procure the release of his intended victim, or as a covering to protect the hand of a shaman while engaged in pulling the disease from the body of the patient.
The doctor can not bestow anything thus received upon a member of his own family unless that individual gives him something in return. If the consideration thus received, however, be anything eatable, the doctor may partake along with the rest of the family. As a general rule the doctor makes no charge for his services, and the consideration is regarded as a free-will offering. This remark applies only to the medical practice, as the shaman always demands and receives a fixed remuneration for performing love charms, hunting ceremonials, and other conjurations of a miscellaneous character. Moreover, whenever the beads are used the patient must furnish a certain quantity of new cloth upon which to place them, and at the close of the ceremony the doctor rolls up the cloth, beads and all, and takes them away with him.
The cloth thus received by the doctor for working with the beads must not be used by him, but must be sold. In one instance a doctor kept a handkerchief which he received for his services, but instead sold a better one of his own. Additional cloth is thus given each time the ceremony is repeated, each time a second four days' course of treatment is begun, and as often as the doctor sees fit to change his method of procedure. Thus, when he begins to treat a sick man for a disease caused by rabbits, he expects to receive a certain ugistatï; but, should he decide after a time that the terrapin or the red bird is responsible for the trouble, he adopts a different course of treatment, for which another ugistatï is necessary. Should the sickness not yield readily to his efforts, it is because the disease animal requires a greater ugistatï, and the quantity of cloth must be doubled, so that on the whole the doctrine is a very convenient one for the shaman.
In many of the formulas explicit directions are given as to the pay which the shaman is to receive for performing the ceremony. In one of the Gatigwanasti formulas, after specifying the amount of cloth to be paid, the writer of it makes the additional proviso that it must be "pretty good cloth, too," asserting as a clincher that "this is what the old folks said a long time ago."
The ugistatï can not be paid by either one of a married couple to the other, and, as it is considered a necessary accompaniment of the application, it follows that a shaman can not treat his own wife in sickness, and vice versa. Neither can the husband or wife of the sick person send for the doctor, but the call must come from some one of the blood relatives of the patient. In one instance within the writer's knowledge a woman complained that her husband was very sick and needed a doctor's attention, but his relatives were taking no steps in the matter and it was not permissible for her to do so.