Friday, September 11, 2009

Missionary Records Describe Cherokee Tribal Life

Cherokee Revealed
Translated Moravian Records
Disclose a Forgotten History

By Mary Giunca
Winston-Salem Journal Reporter

Published: September 8, 2009

In front of the house stands a long, open shed covered with clapboards adequately provided with benches and other seats, as well as a raised plank for writing on. The Talk was held under this shed. At a short distance from this stands a tall pole. A designated Indian took his position at this pole with a drum, and beat the drum as a sign of the beginning of the meeting. He kept drumming until Indians were seen coming in lines. In the heat, the Indians used turkey wings in stead of fans to make a breeze for themselves. -- Report from Abraham Steiner, a Moravian missionary to the Cherokee at Springplace, Ga., May 22, 1801, translated from the German.

This glimpse into the shared history of Moravians and Cherokees was shrouded in archaic German script for over 200 years at the Moravian Archives in Winston-Salem.

The words were found among hundreds of diaries, letters and other papers that recorded about 100 years of history between the Moravian missionaries and their Cherokee brethren. The records constitute the only known account of daily life in the Cherokee nation.

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