Printer Friendly

The oppositional paradigm of purity versus pollution in Charles Hudson's 'The Southeastern Indians.'(Special Issue: To Hear the Eagles Cry: Contemporary Themes in Native American Spirituality)

Without doubt, anthropologist Charles Hudson should be included among the most important twentieth-century scholars of Native Americans of the Southeastern United States.(1) His Southeastern Indians is considered an important if not the standard reference in the study of Southeastern American Indians.(2) While he covers many Southeastern indigenous nations in this book, he most thoroughly discusses the Cherokees. Despite the work's prominence, however, its interpretation of the religious traditions of Southeastern American Indians generally and Cherokees specifically is problematic. In particular, Hudson's approach relies on the binary opposition of purity versus pollution. Before I turn to my analysis of the Southeastern Indians itself, though, I will begin with some introductory remarks about the role of this book in the study of Cherokee religious traditions and will survey the academic regard for it generally.


At present, there are no comprehensive treatments of Cherokee religious traditions. This situation has arisen not because of a lack of interest or paucity of sources, however. For instance, the work of James Mooney of the Bureau of American Ethnology, which emphasizes the Eastern Cherokee but also includes the Western Cherokee, is generally regarded as the most important scholarship on Cherokee religious traditions. In particular, his "Myths of the Cherokee" is an often-cited source, though his "Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees" contains information scholars find invaluable for the study of Cherokee traditions as well.(3) Also significant are the publications of Cherokee scholars Jack Frederick Kilpatrick and Anna Gritts Kilpatrick. Their works, including Friends of Thunder, Walk in Your Soul, and Run Toward the Nightland, constitute the backbone of the study of Oklahoma Cherokee sacred ways.(4) Raymond D. Fogelson's treatment of Cherokee conjury and witchcraft also is notable.(5) So, too, is his work on the conception of Cherokee power.(6) To this list could be added more recent articles by Alan Edwin Kilpatrick and Lee Irwin.(7) The works of several other scholars could be mentioned as well. Fogelson notes, however, that "despite the fact that a bewildering amount has been published about Cherokee spiritual beliefs and practice, no sat satisfactory general synthesis of Cherokee religion exists."(8) We find this same assessment echoed ten years later in William L. Anderson's 1988 survey of the literature.(9) The situation remains essentially unchanged today.

In the absence of such a treatment, Hudson's Southeastern Indians serves as an important overview of Cherokee religious traditions, especially as they are thought to have been lived and practiced prior to significant European contact.(10) While Hudson describes the book as a "comprehensive introduction" to the Native Americans of the Southeast, including the Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, Seminoles, Catawbas, Timucuas, Caddos, and many others, Fogelson and Walter L. Williams have noted its emphasis on the Cherokees in particular.(11) Hudson himself acknowledges that his chapter on the Southeastern Indian belief system relies "almost exclusively" on sources concerning the Cherokee.(1) His chapter "Ceremony" draws on Cherokee materials as well. Even though the book concerns the Southeastern Indians in general, its emphasis on the Cherokees makes it an important resource for Cherokee studies.

In regard to the academic assessment of The Southeastern Indians, it is important to note that this work has been not only included in bibliographic surveys of Southeastern Indian and Cherokee sources and reviewed in journals but also praised for its contribution to the study of Southeastern Indians in general. Cherokee legal scholar Rennard Strickland in his review of literature on the Cherokees regarded Hudson's Southeastern Indians as a "significant and impressive new study" in 1977.(13) In his 1978 bibliographic survey of Cherokee research, Fogelson referred to The Southeastern Indians as "the best recent synthesis of the [Southeastern culture] area."(14) Additionally, Williams's "Cherokee History: An Analysis of Recent Studies" included discussion of this work.(15) Elsewhere, Williams and Thomas R. French referred to Hudson's Southeastern Indians as an "excellent synthesis."(16) James H. Howard wrote that the work is "a real blockbuster, certainly the best summary treatment of the Native Americans in what is now known as the American South which has appeared to date," and he noted Hudson's strength in covering the Southeastern belief system.(17) Meanwhile, the scholar considered by some as the most knowledgeable of the literature on Native American religious traditions, Ake Hultkrantz, acclaimed The Southeastern Indians as an "excellent book" on the Southeastern Indians.(18) And in a 1979 review, Michael A. Lofaro touted The Southeastern Indians as "a landmark in the study of the native people of the American South," concluding that the book will "serve as a standard reference for many years to come."(19)

It appears that Lofaro's prediction has come true. For instance, John James Collins relied on The Southeastern Indians in his overview of American Indian religious traditions, Native American Religions: A Geographical Survey, as did Denise Lardner Carmody and John Tully Carmody in their survey, Native American Religions: An Introduction.(20) In the study of Cherokee religious history, William G. McLoughlin cited Hudson's book as well, characterizing it as a "fine study of the Southeastern Indians."(21) In The Cherokees and Christianity, McLoughlin even cited Hudson's use of the idea of purity.(22) Theda Perdue, a historian of Southeastern Indians, also relied on Hudson's purity versus pollution interpretation in her discussion of cultural traditions in Nations Remembered. An Oral History of the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles in Oklahoma, 1865-1907.(23)

Since the publication of The Southeastern Indians in 1976, Hudson's interpretation of Southeastern Indian culture has continued to make its way into print. For instance, his Elements of Southeastern Indian Religion was published in 1984.(24) Hudson also wrote the entry, "North American Indians: Indians of the Southeast Woodlands," for The Encyclopedia of Religion.(25) This is encyclopedic passage appeared two years later as a selection in the edited volume, Native American Religions, North America.(26) Hudson's Southeastern Indians, along with these later works, has served and continues to serve as an important academic articulation on Southeastern Indian religious traditions in general and Cherokee sacred ways in particular.

Part of Hudson's contribution to the study of Native American religious traditions is the regard he has for the sacred ways of the Southeastern indigenous peoples. Calvin Martin noted the "humane" quality of The Southeastern Indians.(27) Hudson himself says, I assume that the beliefs of the Southeastern Indians ought to be taken seriously."(28) And despite his grasp of the literature on the Southeastern Indians and the length of the book itself--more than 575 pages--Hudson considers The Southeastern Indians more of a beginning in the study of this area. The book is, in his words,

a comprehensive introduction to the native people of the Southeastern

United States. It is comprehensive in that It traces the main outlines of

their prehistory, social institutions, and history, but it is introductory

in that I have not entered into fine points of interpretation. More than

any of the native people in North America, the Southeastern Indians have

been victims of scholarly neglect; and above all I have wanted to bring

them to life, to sketch them boldly and vividly. The intricacies of

specialist uncertainties would have blurred the images I have sought to

make plain. Hence this book is more the first word on the 21 subject than

the last word.(29)

Since 1975, when Hudson wrote those initial words of The Southeastern Indians, academic vocabularies have been influenced by a burgeoning interest in cultural criticism and have increasingly come to include new terms, such as, "postcolonialism," "hegemonic discourse," and "standpoint epistemology." In the context of cultural criticism and the critical studies movement, academics from all disciplines more and more engage in conversations that inquire about the assumptions and implications of scholarly endeavors. They speak about "intricacies of specialist uncertainties" and "blurred images" and try to find or make meaning in ways probably foreign to a Hudson of twenty years ago. It is in the context of this critical conversation, then, that I respond to Hudson's "first word."


My intention in this dialogue of sorts is to examine some of the concepts that underlie Hudson's interpretation of Southeastern Indian religious traditions generally and those of the Cherokees specifically. Although Hudson states that the organizing principles of the Southeastern Indian belief system were opposition, purity, balance, and analogy, a close reading of the book reveals his emphasis on two of these elements opposition and purity.(30) As I shall demonstrate, Hudson's interpretation of Cherokee traditions in particular relies on both of these concepts. In Hudson's interpretive paradigm, oppositional elements are separated from one another by means of boundaries. While these elements may merely differ from each other, conflict or antagonism can characterize their relationship as well. The central opposition that informs Hudson's Southeastern Indians is the dichotomy between purity and pollution, wherein purity is connoted positively and pollution negatively. For Hudson, purity is associated with order and the maintenance of boundaries between different categories, while pollution entails chaos and the mixing of categories or the crossing of categorical boundaries. In order to explicate Hudson's interpretation, I will begin with his portrayal of the Cherokee cosmos and its components.

According to Hudson, the Cherokee cosmos is ordered by fundamental categories. Describing the cosmos, Hudson writes,

In the beginning, just two worlds existed: the Upper World and

the Under World. This World, the world on which the Indians

lived, was created later. The Upper World epitomized order and

expectableness, while the Under World epitomized disorder and

change, and This World stood somewhere between perfect order

and complete chaos.(31)

According to this portrayal, the Upper World and the Under World are in an oppositional relationship, while This World, the earth, occupies a middle space between them.(32) This World resembles the Upper World in many ways,(33) while the Under World features inversions of This World. Floating on a body of water, the earth is suspended from four cords, one at each cardinal direction. These cords extend upward to the sky vault, consisting of solid rock. These four cords have oppositional significance as well. According to Hudson,

The Cherokees attached much significance to the four cardinal

directions, associating each of them with a series of social values.

Actually, these seem to have been two sets of opposites. In one

opposition, the east was the direction of the Sun, the color red,

sacred fire, blood, and life and success; its opposite, the west, was

associated with the Moon, the souls of the dead, the color black,

and death. In the other opposed pair, the north was associated

with cold, the color blue (and purple), and trouble and defeat;

while its opposite, the south, was associated with warmth, the

color white, peace, and happiness.(34)

Just as the worlds and directions are classified, Hudson notes three categories of beings: humans (Hudson's "men"), animals, and plants. While plants are often allies with humans, opposition characterizes the relationship between humans and animals. As Hudson states, "Men and animals were opposed to each other, with enmity existing between them."(35) Within the classification of humans, gender was subject to categorization as well. "One of the fundamental categories of opposition in Southeastern thought," Hudson writes, "was the man/woman dichotomy."(36) In this dichotomy men and women are understood to be radically different from each other.(37) The Cherokees recognized, however, that certain beings cross the boundaries between categories or incorporate elements from one or more categories. For instance, bridging the boundary separating humans from animals, bears are considered four-footed animals, yet they sometimes walk on two feet like humans. The bat also mixes elements from more than one category of animals. Within the animal category are three subgroups: in Hudson's words, "the four-footed animals, epitomized by the deer; the birds, who because of flight were associated with the Upper World, and who were epitomized by the bald eagle; and thirdly, vermin, such as snakes, lizards, frogs, fish, perhaps insects, and other animals associated with the Under World and epitomized by the rattlesnake."(38) Bats have four feet, so they belong to the category of four-footed animals, yet unlike most four-footed animals they can fly. Hudson refers to beings that cross categories or incorporate elements from more than one category as "anomalies and abominations."(39) Hudson considers the Cherokee being known as the Uktena, for example, to be anomalous and abominable. The Uktena has the characteristics of a serpent (Under World), a deer (This World), and a bird (Upper World).(40) It is often depicted as a snake-like being with antlers and wings.

As anomalies, those beings that cross boundaries or mix categories are abnormal or deviant and hence abominable to the Cherokees, according to Hudson. Consistent with Hudson's interpretation of Cherokee traditions, anomalies violate the purity of categories that is necessary for the maintenance of an orderly existence. For Hudson, this order is paramount in the Southeastern Indian religious system. As he puts it, "If there is a single word which epitomizes the Southeastern Indian belief system, it is `order.'"(41) As pollutants of cosmic purity, anomalies therefore entail the greatest "abomination," cosmic chaos.

Hudson's use of the oppositional paradigm is central not only in his characterization of the Cherokee cosmos, but also in his interpretation of Southeastern American Indian religious traditions overall. Using the language of purity versus pollution, Hudson offers explanations, for example, of Southeastern Indian ceremonialism:

The Southeastern Indians' concern with maintaining purity and

avoiding pollution, [was] a concern, in fact, that was so extreme

that it strikes us as having been almost obsessive. Quite simply,

purity was maintained when separation was successful, and

pollution occurred when separation failed. Much of the ceremony

of the Southeastern Indians can be understood as a means

of maintaining separation and as a means of overcoming pollution

when separation failed.(42)

Hudson extends this generalization to particular Southeastern Indian rituals, most notably the Green Corn ceremony and the ritual--there and in other ceremonial contexts--of "going to the water."(43) The Green Corn ceremony or "busk" was a common "first-fruits" rite throughout much of the Southeast. Hudson describes it as "an important vehicle in the Indians' quest for purity[,] . . . . a means of purifying their social order."(44) Included in this "purifying," for example, are the separation of women and men and the resolution of offenses. In the particular case of the Green Corn ceremony, an essential element is the sacred fire. At the Green Corn, for instance, the ceremonial fire is rekindled, and from this new fire, all hearths in the community are relit and renewed. According to Hudson, the sacred fire is "the principal symbol of purity" among the Southeastern Indians.(45)

Hudson also interprets the Southeastern Indian ritual of "going to the water" in terms of purity versus pollution. Hudson writes that "one of the principal ceremonial means of overcoming pollution in the Southeast was by bathing in creeks and rivers. . . . By overcoming pollution, bathing was believed to increase longevity."(46 He adds that going to the water at daybreak was "especially purifying."(47) It should be noted here, however, that this ritual resembles dunking more than bathing, as in this description of a communal "going to the water":

Soon after sunrise, all repaired to the river, and at the direction

of the priest, all waded into the river, the men above, and the

women and children below, all having their clothes on. Then

standing with their faces toward the east, all plunged entirely

under water, seven times, with their heads towards the cast. All

the children plunged also, and mothers plunged their infants

seven times.(48)

The occasion of going to the water varied among the Cherokees. In addition to the communal rites, families went to the water at dawn and after the burial of a relative, and the practice was used in private rituals involving a curer and a patient.

In light of Hudson's application of the oppositional model to Cherokee cosmological and ceremonial conceptions, it should come as no surprise to find the discourse of purity versus pollution in his characterization of other elements of Southeastern Indian traditions. In particular, I cite the example of menstruation, a subject that will reappear later in my analysis. Historically, the Cherokee had specific ways of treating people who were bleeding. Menstruating women and warriors returning from battle, for instance, were separated from others in the community, and the community separated from them. In the case of menstruation, it has been proposed in the literature that this separation was due to female "Impurity" during this time. Hudson himself offers this same explanation:

Women, perhaps because of their procreative powers, were particularly

likely to cause pollution, and they had to take special care when they

menstruated and when they were pregnant. A menstruating woman

possessed an especially powerful female nature, and she was forbidden

to do anything that might cause a man to be polluted by it.(49)

The insight of anthropologist Mary Douglas is especially helpful for understanding how menstruation could be interpreted as polluting. She explains:

Any structure of ideas is vulnerable at its margins. We should

expect the orifices of the body to symbolize its specially vulnerable

points. Matter issuing from them is marginal stuff of the

most obvious kind. Spittle, blood, milk, urine, faeces or tears by

simply issuing forth have traversed the boundary of the body. So

also have bodily parings, skin, nail, hair clippings and sweat.(50)

Like the anomalous beings who cross cosmological boundaries, menstruation exhibits this phenomenon of boundary crossing as well. In so doing, menstruation also poses a threat to the order valued by Southeastern Native Americans, according to Hudson.

Before discussing the problematic nature of Hudson's interpretation in general, I think it is important to recognize that in articulating his purity/ pollution model of Southeastern Indian and Cherokee religious traditions, Hudson was not alone in his thinking, however. In the next section, I propose how he probably arrived at his interpretive paradigm.


The paradigm of purity versus pollution advanced by Hudson has its roots in both the historical and ethnographic documentation he had available to him and the theoretical approach he employed. As I shall demonstrate, Hudson's Southeastern Indians is a more recent articulation of what might be understood as a "given fact" of Southeastern Indian religious traditions--the importance of maintaining purity and eliminating pollution. An examination of the works underlying The Southeastern Indians, therefore, is useful for illuminating Hudson's interpretation of Cherokee religious traditions.

Concerning historical and ethnographic sources on the Southeastern Indians, Hudson notes that "although we shall be forever in the dark about some details, enough information was collected by early observers like John Lawson, James Adair, and William Bartram, and by anthropologists like James Mooney and John R. Swanton to allow us at least to reconstruct the outlines of the Southeastern belief system."(51) In the works of these individuals and those they in turn cited, the use of purity and pollution and closely related terms in the discussion of Southeastern or Cherokee religious traditions is apparent. While I will not treat each of the works of Lawson, Adair, Bartram, Mooney, and Swanton, I will cite examples to demonstrate the discourse of purity versus pollution in their work.

Among the earliest sources on the Southeast is John Lawson's A New Voyage to Carolina, printed in 1709.(52) Lawson had been appointed nine years earlier by the Lords Proprietor to survey interior Carolina.(53) While it appears that he did not have direct contact with the Cherokees in particular, he occasionally spoke of Southeastern native "purgations." Lawson wrote, for instance, that "the Savage Women quit all Company, and dress not their own Victuals, during their Purgations."(54) While he did not specify what he meant by "purgations" in this case, it was a practice among various Southeastern Indians to separate individuals from the community and the community from them at particular times. The return of war parties was an occasion for this separation, as were menstruation and childbirth. Lawson also referred to what appears to be an initiation process for youths as "their time of Purgatory."(55) Moreover, he regarded the drinking and vomiting of a particular "Yaupon or Tea" as "purging."(56) Even though Lawson does not appear to have reported on the Cherokees specifically, it is important to realize that Hudson used as a source of background information a work that employed ideas of purgation in describing Southeastern Indian traditions.

Another source on which Hudson relies is James Adair's History of the American Indians.(57) Adair was a non-Indian trader who lived among the Southeastern Indians, engaging in commerce with the Cherokees in 1736 and among the Chickasaws in 1744.(58) Hudson notes that it is on Adair's work that scholars depend for much of the knowledge on Southeastern Indians.(59) Swanton and Fogelson have also recognized the importance of Adair's work.(60) Adair's discussion of ceremonialism and various conditions of individuals features the language of purity versus pollution. His use of these ideas most likely arises in part from his belief that Native Americans were descendants of the "Israelites."(61) Indeed, his History of the American Indians is an extended argument supporting this contention. Adair was not alone in his interest in the Hebraic origins of the Indians. Tracing American Indian heritage back to biblical roots was not an uncommon practice. It is featured, for instance, in the reflections of the Reverend Daniel S. Butrick, a nineteenth-century missionary to the Cherokees.(62)

In describing the Green Corn ceremony, for example, Adair made reference to the central plaza as a "holy square," from which the "impure were excluded."(63) Adair related the ceremonial drink of this rite (often referred to as the "black drink") to purification as well, noting that "the religious attendants boil a sufficient quantity of button-snake-root highly imbittered, and give it round pretty warm, in order to vomit and purge their sinful bodies. Thus they continue to mortify and purify themselves, till the end of the fast."(64) Adair's interpretation of another ritual, that of "going to the water," not only demonstrates his use of the idea of purity in Cherokee ritual but also suggests that his word choice may have resulted from his effort to offer convincing evidence for his proof of the Cherokee's Semitic origins:

The Hebrews had various Ablutions and Anointings,

according to the Mosaic ritual--and all the Indian nations constantly

observe similar customs from religious motives. Their frequent bathing,

or dipping themselves and their children in rivers, even in the severest

weather, seems to be as truly Jewish, as the other rites and ceremonies

which have been mentioned .... After bathing, they return home,

rejoicing as they run for having so well performed their religious duty,

and thus purged away the impurities of the preceding day by ablution.(65)

Adair also characterized people in various states as "impure." For instance, wounded warriors remained in a special "hut" during their "impurity."(66) Other sources of impurity included the dead, particular foods, adultery, and childbirth.(67) Menstruation could also foster a "most horrid and dangerous pollution." As Adair wrote:

The Indians have customs consonant to the Mosaic laws of

Uncleanness. They oblige their women in their lunar retreats, to build

small huts, at as considerable a distance from their dwelling-houses, as

they imagine may be out of the enemies reach; where, during the space

of that period, they are obliged to stay at the risque [sic] of their lives.

Should they be known to violate that ancient law, they must answer for

every misfortune that befalls any of the people, as a certain effect of the

divine fire; though the lurking enemy sometimes kills them in their

religious retirement. Notwithstanding they reckon it conveys a most

horrid and dangerous pollution to those who touch, or go near them, or

walk anywhere within the circle of their retreats; and are in fear of

thereby spoiling the supposed purity and power of their holy ark, which

they always carry to war.(68)

Here Adair appears to oppose the "impurity" of contact with or proximity to a menstruating woman with the purity and power of the Cherokee "ark." Adair expressed this opposition between "impure women" and the sacred again, this time in terms of sin and holiness:

Should any of the Indian women violate this law of purity, they

would be censured, and suffer for any sudden sickness, or death that

might happen among the people, as the necessary effect of the divine

anger for their polluting sin, contrary to their old traditional law of

female purity .... At the stated period, the Indian women's impurity is

finished by ablution, and they are again admitted to social and holy


In sum, these examples from Adair's History of the American Indians demonstrate again the appearance of the discourse of purity versus pollution in a source utilized by Hudson.

But there is more. In addition to Adair, Hudson includes the naturalist William. Bartram in his list of "early observers" of Cherokee culture. Fogelson affirms that Bartram's Trawls Though North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Count?)& the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws [sic] and his "Observations on the Creek and Cherokee Indians" are "important firsthand accounts,"(70) In Trawls, published in 1791, Bartram made reference to purity in two particular instances. When speaking of the busk (Green Corn ceremony), Bartram described the preparation of the sacred fire:

On the fourth morning, the high priest by rubbing wood

together, produces new fire in the public square, from whence

every habitation in the town is supplied with the new and pure flame.(71)

In the second example, Bartram concluded his discussion of the busk by noting that at the end of the ceremony, visitors from nearby join town members in the celebration. These visiting friends have "purified and prepared themselves," according to Bartram.(72) While there arc only two references to purity in this discussion, it is clear that Bartram's understanding of the ceremony was influenced by ideas of purity, especially when we consider his description of the preparation and early stages of this rite. Bartram wrote,

When a town celebrates the busk, having previously

provided themselves with new cloaths; [sic], new pots, pans, and other

household utensils and furniture, they collect all their worn-out cloaths

and other despicable things, sweep and cleanse their houses, squares,

and the whole town, of their filth, which with all the remaining grain

and other provisions, they cast together into one common heap, and

consume it with fire. After having taken medicine, and fasted for three

days, all the fire in the town is extinguished. During this fast they

abstain from the gratification of every appetite and passion whatever.(73)

In his description of the ceremony, he appears to be speaking of the Creeks, although this is not certain. Even if he had been focusing on the Creek version of the ritual, the Cherokee ceremony was very similar, especially in the features Bartram mentioned. Bartram was in all likelihood familiar with the Cherokee version, based on his "Observations on the Creek and Cherokee Indians," to which I turn next.

While Bartram referred to Southeastern Indian purity in his Trawls, he himself did not use this language in his "Observations." Nevertheless, the work merits inclusion in this list of sources on which Hudson had to draw for reasons that will become apparent In a prefatory note to the manuscript, Ephraim George Squire, an archaeologist and ethnologist, described the extant history of the document and the process by which he brought it out of obscurity.(74) Apparently written by Bartram. In 1789, the manuscript came to be published in the 1853 issue of Transactions of the American Ethnological Society. Squire, himself knowledgeable about the Southeast, wrote supplementary notes to the manuscript, which were published with Bartram's account.(75) Bartram himself made no reference to purity in his "Observations," however. It is only in Squire's supplementary notes to Bartram's manuscript that this language is found. Squire wrote, for example, that the Southeastern Indians had a series of "peculiar observances" that included "purifications, dances, and sacrifices."(76) In addition to this and another instance of Squire's own use of the language of purity, Squire included in the supplemental notes information from Adair's History of the American Indians that mentioned the purification associated with the taking of the Southeastern Indian bitter herb drink.(77) More importantly, however, Squire quoted from John Howard Payne's unpublished manuscripts.(78) A well-known writer, Payne made several trips to the South in the 1830s, collecting information on Cherokee history. Among his papers were copies of official Cherokee documents; information from his interviews with Cherokees; and correspondence with Missionaries, most notably Reverend Butrick of the American Board of Commissioners of the Foreign Missions.(79) Relying on Payne's papers, Squire mentioned purification preceding the Green Corn ceremony, for example.(80) The discourse of purity is therefore present in Bartram's Travels as wen as in Squire's supplementary notes to Bartram's "Observations."

The pattern, moreover, continued. Approximately a century later appeared works by ethnologist James Mooney, among them "The Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees" and "Myths of the Cherokee."(81) Many scholars consider the latter work especially valuable in studying Cherokee traditions.(82) Mooneys approach combined field research with comparative analysis. In The Southeastern Indians, Hudson relied on Mooney's writings, which include the notion of purity as well. In "Myths of the Cherokee," for instance, Mooney indicated that purification was part of the preparation for the Green Corn ceremony

In former times the annual thanksgiving ceremony of the Green-corn

dance, preliminary to eating the first new corn, was the most solemn

tribal function, a propitiation and expiation for the sins

of the past year, an amnesty for public criminals, and a prayer for

happiness and prosperity for the year to come. Only those who

had properly prepared themselves by prayer, fasting, and purification

were allowed to take part in this ceremony, and no one

dared to taste the new corn until then.(83)

Mooney also wrote of "going to the water" as purification, and he told that such a purificatory practice was necessary before hearing very sacred Stories.(84) It Is true Mooney attempted to separate obvious European elements from Cherokee myths in his writings, but this did not prevent him from employing the idea of purification to a limited degree.

Mooney was known for his field work among the Cherokee. However, he still consulted other written sources in preparing his works. Among them was Adair's History of the American Indians, which, as I have shown, employed notions of purity.(85) Mooney also relied on writings by Squire and John Haywood. Squire, who supplemented Bartram's "Observations," also wrote The Serpent Symbol, and the Worship of The Reciprocal Principles of Nature in America, which Mooney cited on several occasions in "Myths of the Cherokee."(86) Moreover, Mooney actually relied in part on The Serpent Symbol for Squire's summarization of and quotations from the Payne manuscripts.(87) Citing The Serpent Symbol, Mooney wrote that Payne

makes the kindling of the new fire a part of the annual spring

festival. At that time, says Payne, "the altar in the center of the

national heptagon [i.e. townhouse] was repaired. It was constructed

of a conical shape, of fresh earth. A circle was drawn around

the top to receive the fire of sacrifice. Upon this was laid, ready for use,

the inner bark of seven different kinds of trees.

This bark was carefully chosen from the east side of the trees, and was

clear and free from blemish." After some days of preliminary

purification, sacrifice, and other ceremonial performances, the

day appointed for the kindling of the new fire arrived.(88)

Again referring to Payne, but not quoting him, Mooney wrote that "after some days of preliminary purification, sacrifice, and other ceremonial performances, the day appointed for the kindling of the new fire arrived."(89)

A review of the John Howard Payne Papers does reveal Payne's own use of the discourse of purity versus pollution.(90) In volume 1, for instance, Payne wrote, regarding the treatment of children in preparation for "priesthood," "On the approach of the regular monthly disqualification of the mother for coming into contact with holy things, she delivered her infant to his grandmother, or some aged matron, for the protection of his purity."(91) More explicitly, in the Payne papers, there was the observation:

Females during their monthly courses were unclean.

Anciently they had tents by themselves, some distance from the

house. No one must touch them, or anything that they touched. At the

end of seven days they purified themselves by plunging entirely

seven times in running water. They then put on clean clothes, and

returned to the house and associated with the other members of the


Payne also wrote of a ceremony, which he referred to as the "Propitiation or Cementation Festival," in which a ceremonial leader, praying, "implored[d] that the people might be cleansed from all the pollutions and impurities of the year preceding."(93) At the completion of this ceremony, remarked Payne, "The people retired, free, as they supposed, from all pollution. The Cherokees were considered purer, immediately after this Festival, than at any other time."(94)

It should be noted that among Payne's papers were letters sent to Payne from Butrick, who also employed the language of purity versus pollution. According to the Reverend Worcester Willy, another missionary among the Cherokees, Butrick spent the last ten years of his life, "writing, with the purpose, as he said, to show that the Indian is somebody. He wrote trunksfull of manuscripts on Indian antiquities and Indian languages. He spent much time in comparing these languages with the Hebrew. He became convinced that they are all of Hebrew origin."(95) Of all of the missionaries among the Cherokees, noted McLoughlin, Butrick was "the most indefatigable" in showing that the Cherokees were descendants from the "Lost Tribes of Israel."(96) As McLoughlin wrote, Butrick's "fascination with the Semitic origins of the Cherokee people led him to undertake intensive research into their customs, sacred myths, and religious rituals," including firsthand study.(97) In addition to the missionary's own research, Adair's History of the American Indians was almost certainly available to Butrick as well.(98) Butrick's "A few promiscuous comparisons between Indian & Jewish Antiquities" is suggestive of Adair's arguments on the Hebraic origins of Native Americans.(99) In Butrick's writings to Payne, he used the language of purity. For example, Butrick wrote,

With regard to their manner of warfare the Cherokees and

Creeks & probably most of the tribes greatly resembled each other.

They had a high priest for the wars, and soldiers, on

enlisting, came under his immediate direction and tuition. He, by various

means, purified & prepared them for the conflict. None

must have any farther [sic] intercourse with women till the war

was concluded.(100)

Butrick also mentioned that some Cherokees wore their old clothing when ceremonially "going to the water." When these clothes floated away, "the impurities of the last year" went with them.(101)

My tracing of these citations illustrates that Hudson had in Mooneys "Myths of the Cherokee" not only the example of Mooney's own use of the language of purity but also further illustrations of this discourse in Mooney's quotations and summarization of the words of others on whom he relied. Thus, while Mooney himself apparently did not directly rely on the Payne Papers themselves or the Butrick letters in them, the ideas of purity versus pollution nevertheless made their way into "Myths of the Cherokee" and hence into the interpretive paradigm of Hudson's Southeastern Indians.(102)

Mooney used other sources as well in describing Cherokee traditions. In his publications, Mooney also quoted the writing of John Haywood, author of The Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee.(103) Haywood was probably best known for his legal career in North Carolina and Tennessee. He practiced law and became a supreme court justice in both states.(104) In "Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees," Mooney wrote that Haywood

also mentions the veneration which [according to Haywood] "their

physicians have for the numbers four and seven, who say that after

man was placed upon the earth four and seven nights were instituted

for the cure of diseases in the human, body and the seventh night as

the limit for female impurity."(105)

This quotation is only one example of the discourse of purity versus pollution employed by Haywood. He mentioned "ceremonies of purification" and referred to the black drink as "their purifying beloved physic."(106) Beyond that, he noted the practice of moving the body of someone who had died at home outside "for fear of pollution."(107)

It appears that Haywood himself was not only knowledgeable about Southeastern American Indians but also familiar with works by others on the same subject. He mentioned Adair's study of the Southeastern Indians and noted that the remnants of ceremonies in his (Haywood's) own time confirmed Adair's earlier representations of them.(108) Mary U. Rothrock, in her annotations to Haywood's work, noted that part of Haywood's chapter on the Cherokees

is similar to, and possibly based upon, James Adair's attempt to identify

the American Indians with the "lost tribes" of Israel. . . . Much of the

material in this section is similar to the writings of Daniel Sabin Butrick,

missionary to the Cherokee in the early 19th Century. . . . It is possible

that Haywood was acquainted with Butrick and discussed these

matters with him as well as with educated Indians like Charles


Whether Haywood merely perpetuated Adair's or Butrick's ideas, arrived at his own interpretations, or employed some combination of the two, he nevertheless perpetuated the language of purity versus pollution in writing about Southeastern Indian religious traditions. In using Haywood as a source, Mooney carried on this characterization of Cherokee religious traditions. Either directly or indirectly, therefore, Mooney relied on the work of several others--Adair, Squire, Payne, Butrick, and Haywood-in discussing Cherokee traditions. In turn, Hudson imported the discourse of purity versus pollution from their writing into his own.

John R. Swanton's work was yet another source that Hudson had at his disposal in writing The Southeastern' Indians. Still, despite the stature of Swanton in the field of Southeastern Indian studies, his "Indians of the Southeastern United States" did not treat the Cherokees in much detail.(110) In this book, Swanton did not use terms like purity and pollution to describe Cherokee traditions. However, he did quote Charles Hicks and Charles Lanman who both used this language. Swanton cited Hicks, a Cherokee chief, as stating,

The doctors among the Cherokee suppose that cures are to be

made in 7 nights of the different disorders which the human body is

subject to. During these cures the doctors are remarkably strict to keep

out of the house where the patient lies such persons as have handled a

dead body, women, &c. for it is held among the Cherokees that these

persons are impure until bathing in the water of the seventh night in

the morning. Some changes have of late taken place-instead of seven,

four nights are now deemed sufficient.(111)

Swanton also reprinted a passage from Lanman's "Green-Corn Ceremonies of the Cherokees."(112) Lanman included this chapter in his Adventures in the Wilds of the United States and British American Provinces, which he described as "a kind of Cyclopedia of American Scenery and personal Adventure, and of Traveling Incidents."(113) Quoting Lanman, Swanton wrote:

The ruling men [calendar keepers] of the tribe have signified to their

people that the period for planting corn has arrived, and that they must

gather themselves together for the purpose of submitting to

the annual ceremonies of purification. For doing this they have a

double object: they would, in the first place, expunge from their bodies

every vestige of all the colds and diseases with which they may have

been afflicted during the past winter, and, in the second place, they

would propitiate the Great Spirit, so as to secure his blessing upon the

crops which they are about to deposit in the ground.(114)

Swanton's "Indians of the Southeastern United States" therefore made readily available additional illustrations of purity versus pollution language in important but relatively obscure sources.

These several examples illustrate the discourse of purity versus pollution in the works of those Hudson considers important for the reconstruction of the belief system of Southeastern American Indians. It is not surprising therefore that Hudson himself uses this discourse in his own interpretation of these traditions in The Southeastern Indians. Nor is this all that needs to be said. In addition to the accounts that Hudson used or considered important, he employed theoretical conceptions drawn from the work of Mary Douglas. Her Purity and Danger An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo thoroughly compounded his emphasis on purity versus pollution. Hudson only cites her work a few times, it is true, but the imprint of her theoretical apparatus nonetheless marked his discussion of Southeastern Indian religious traditions. Douglas argued in Purity and Danger that

ideas about separating, purifying, demarcating and punishing

transgressions have as their main function to impose system on an

inherently untidy experience. It is only by exaggerating the difference

between within and without, above and below, male and female, with

and against, that a semblance of order is created.(115)

In discussing this practice of creating and seeking order, she employed conceptions of "dirt"--"matter out of place"--and classification or "positive structure."(116) The anomalous and the ambiguous contravene the order that is inherent in classification.(117) While Douglas did acknowledge that dirt could be "creative," and that "eliminating it is not a negative moment, but a positive effort to organize the environment," she generally characterized dirt negatively.(118) She suggested that dirt is, in her words, "normally destructive," and "rejected from our normal scheme of classifications"; it "offends against order."(119) In The Southeastern Indians, Hudson's interpretation of purity and pollution clearly resembles that of Douglas. As in Purity and Danger, Hudson uses the idea of categorization and characterizes pejoratively (as "abominable") that which does not fit into categories. Thus, for Hudson, the Southeastern Indians were concerned with "maintaining purity and avoiding pollution."(120) Impurity was to be "overcome."(121) Generally ceremonies were "means of keeping their categories pure and of ridding them of pollution after it occurred."(122)

Douglas's understanding of purity versus pollution was no doubt influenced, at least in part, by the thought of anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. The dichotomy of purity versus pollution reflects one of Levi-Strauss's main concerns; that is, binary opposition. He drew on the work of linguists Ferdinand de Saussure and Roman Jakobson in articulating his "structuralist" approach.(123) Levi-Strauss relied on Saussure's idea that language is a system of signs. A linguistic sign is binary, consisting of the "signifier" (a sound, image, or object, etc.) and the "signified" (concept). Moreover, according to Saussure, if a concept is part of a system, this concept is defined by contrasting it to other elements in the system, not by referring to the concept's own content. Definition is therefore a process of contrast. Extending these ideas, but applying them to the social level, Levi-Strauss argued that culture and society are outward projections of inward mental structures and that cultural elements gain significance through differentiation.

Levi-Strauss utilized Jakobson's contention that the human mind interprets sounds as bundles of binary oppositions; for instance, the mind distinguishes between the phoneme /p/ in pin from the phoneme /b/ in bin. The /p/ phoneme is unvoiced while the /b/ phoneme is voiced. As such, this pair is one example of approximately thirty distinctive figures of language.(124) Thus, for Levi-Strauss, human beings naturally formulate cultural constructs out of binary oppositions in the mind. Such pairs are noticeable at the social and cultural level in myth, kinship relations, and the organization of communities, for instance. Therefore, the binary opposition of purity versus pollution in Hudson's Southeastern Indians is reflective not only of Douglas's but also of Levi-Strauss's use of the conception.

To sum up, this demonstration of the sources--documentary and theoretical--that influenced Hudson directly or indirectly is important for several reasons. Tracing the use of purity and pollution and related terms in these accounts reveals that Hudson was not alone in his use of this discourse to interpret Cherokee religious traditions. He more than merely replicated the interpretation offered in his sources, however. He lent validity, in the twentieth century, to an understanding of Southeastern Indian traditions that originated at least two centuries earlier and that, by virtue of its age alone, should have been interrogated more thoroughly. Perhaps Douglas's twentieth-century articulation of a theory of purity and pollution and Levi-Strauss's structuralism quelled any suspicions Hudson may have had.

Any response to Hudson, then, actually addresses a dominant theme running through central Southeastern sources. Similarly, because Douglas's work has been so influential in the study of this theoretical area, a criticism of Hudson's Southeastern Indians actually challenges an important academic conception of purity and pollution as well. My response to Hudson therefore entails an expanded dialogue not only with Hudson but also with those whose wrote works on which Hudson drew directly or indirectly either for information or theory.


With this sketch of Hudson's oppositional model and its antecedents in mind, I now turn to the problematic nature of his interpretive paradigm. Recall that in interpreting Southeastern Indian ritualism, Hudson argues that Southeastern Indian ceremony can be understood as a way of " maintaining" purity and avoiding pollution" and of "maintaining separation and ... overcoming pollution when separation failed."(125) Elsewhere he uses different language to restate the same idea: "If there is a single word which epitomizes the Southeastern Indian belief system, it is `order,'" writes Hudson.(126) In light of these points and of discussion earlier in this analysis, it is possible to state that the aim of Cherokee traditions, according to Hudson, was therefore twofold: restore and maintain purity (order, separation, dear categorical boundaries) and avoid and overcome pollution (chaos, boundary crossing, categorical fuzziness). In this paradigm, maintaining purity, order, separation, and dear categorical boundaries are the objectives and are therefore connoted positively whereas pollution, chaos, boundary crossing, and categorical fuzziness, which are to be avoided and even eliminated, are connoted negatively. At first glance, this interpretation appears logical and plausible. It reflects, however, an incomplete portrayal of Cherokee religious traditions.

Interestingly, Hudson himself includes information in The Southeastern Indians that contradicts his interpretation of these traditions. To begin this explanation, I return to the subject of anomalies, "beings which fell into two or more of their categories," according to Hudson.(127) He cites as in example of an anomaly the Utkena because it has the characteristics of a serpent, which belongs to the Under World, a deer, which belongs to This World; and a bird, which belongs to the Upper World. Hudson refers to such anomalous beings as "abominable" detested and loathsome. They are the pollutants in a system of purity, the chaos in a system of order. Yet Hudson points out the particular value of such anomalous beings:

The Southeastern Indians were particularly interested in anomalies

and abominations.... These anomalies and abominations were singled

out for special symbolic values, and they played important roles in

their oral traditions.(128)

He indicates that bear, owl, and cougar--as anomalous beings--were held up as "special animals" with "special meaning."(129) These animals in one way or another defied the Southeastern system of categories. Hudson suggests that they were special because "they shored up the integrity of their classification system."(130) There is another reason--in my opinion, a more important reason--why these beings were considered special to Southeastern Indians, however. Hudson also indicates that the especially anomalous beings, the Uktena and Water Cougar, were "objects of fear and power" to the Southeastern Indians. He notes that "the Uktena was feared as an anomalous monster, but ... the Cherokees seized upon that which was most horrible as an importance source of power."(131) Though the Uktena was considered "abominable," according to Hudson, other evidence indicates that it was valued as well. Hudson himself notes the positive value of the Uktena's crystals:

Like most of the Indians of the Southeast, the Cherokees believed that

their priests and conjurers were able to see into the future by gazing

into certain crystals. According to Cherokee oral tradition, the most

powerful crystal of all was the Ulunsuti (literally, `transparent'),

the crest that blazed on an Uktena's head. One had to

risk one's life to obtain one of these, but it was thought to be

worth the risk. Inferior crystals could be had from the mere scales of an


Here, then, is where Hudson's interpretation breaks down. Hudson's oppositional paradigm forces him to imply that the Southeastern Indians, in assigning positive value to purity, order, and the maintenance of categories, therefore had to assign the opposite (negative) value to that which polluted, contravened order, and crossed boundaries. On the contrary, Uktena was positively valued, though it fell into more than one category and was feared.

Hudson had apparently failed to realize that Douglas has revised the theory of pollution she presented in Purity and Danger. In 1975, one year before the publication of The Southeastern Indians, there appeared in print, "Self-Evidence," a chapter of Implicit Meanings: Essays in Anthropology,(133) wherein Douglas wrote:

In Purity and Danger, I supposed that the Hebrew response of rejecting

anomaly was the normal one. I argued that to classify is a necessary

human activity and that there is a universal human tendency to pass

adverse judgment on that which eludes classification or refuses to fit

into the tidy compartments of the mind. A too facile solution. I failed to

exploit the full interest of the contrast between my fieldwork in the

Congo and my library research in the Bible. For the Lele, many anomalies

are auspicious and they religiously celebrate the most anomalous of all,

which carries defining marks of land and water creatures, humans and

animals, the pangolin or scaly ant-cater. On the other hand on this

showing, every anomaly conceived according to the Biblical

classification of nature is a defiling monster.(134)

Therefore, for the revised Douglas beings that straddled categories could be considered favorable or horrifying, depending on the context.(135) It is important to note here Douglas's assumption that a Western, in this case Judaic, conception of pollution was the "normal" one. When she reconsidered her non-Western example, however, her assumption merited revision.

Douglas's revision points to one of the dangers of using pollution theory, especially a theory informed largely by Western conceptions. Thomas Buckley and Alma Gottlieb in Blood Magic The Anthropology of Menstruation articulate this danger in the case of menstrual blood as a "pollutant":

The very power of pollution theory, coupled with Western societies'

own codings of menstrual blood as a pollutant, has perhaps created

"dirt" where none previously existed, or existed only for some people

and/or in some contexts in a given culture. The elegance of pollution

theory itself can thus manufacture the illusion of overwhelming

negativity in symbolic systems where menstruation may be coded

ambiguously or even positively.(136)

In developing the purity versus pollution paradigm as a central element of The Southeastern Indians, Hudson therefore does not adequately elaborate on the positive implications of "pollutants." While he does mention benefits that resulted, in the case of the Uktena, from obtaining a crystal, the stress on the avoidance and elimination of "pollution" negates the reality that contact with "abominations and anomalies" was an unavoidable part of life and that for the well-being of the community such contact was necessary and sought after for the spiritual power it could bring. Instead of being opposed to the sacred, "anomalies" were sources of access to it.

Hudson's treatment of purity and pollution as oppositional also presents difficulties. Underlying Hudson's paradigm of opposition is the concept of dualism. The idea of dualistic structures as fundamental may be a truth in classic Western thought, but it is problematic when assigned to Cherokee religious traditions. A Western philosophical understanding of dualism includes the notion of "irreducible difference"; hence, the definition of the term as "any system of thought which divides everything in some way into two categories or elements, or else derives everything from two principles, or else refuses to admit more or less than two substances or two kinds of substance."(137) Historians and phenomenologists of religion may be familiar with these meanings, especially the definition of derivation from two principles, since dualism also refers to the binary causal principles that underlie the world's existence.(138) The term itself, according to Mircea Eliade and Ioan P. Couliano, was coined in 1700 C.E. to describe to the "Iranian doctrine of the two spirits" and has been found relevant to various religious traditions, including Zoroastrianism, Gnosticism, and Manichaeism, and to the philosophy of Plato.(139) Eliade and Couliano have defined dualism most simply as "opposition of two principles," and they added that "this implies a judgment of value (good versus bad) and the establishment of a polarity at all levels of reality. cosmological, anthropological, ethical, and so on."(140) Some important Western binary oppositions, according to Vincent M. Colapietro, include: "matter/spirit; body/soul; emotion/reason; outward sign/inward meaning; exterior/interior, surface/depth; margin/central; appearance/reality; representation/presence; artificial/natural (nomos/physis)."(141) In common usage, opposition denotes, "resistance, antagonism," "the state of being hostile or in conflict or disagreement," and "contrast or antithesis."(142)

The concept of binary opposition has come to be questioned for several reasons, a few of which I will describe here. First, its accuracy for describing non-Western and/or non-masculine traditions and experience has been denied. In regard to Native American cultures, for instance, Joseph Epes Brown, a scholar known for his work on the Lakota, has noted the inadequacy of dualism for representing their traditions:

Unlike the conceptual categories of Western culture, American

Indian traditions generally do not fragment experience into

mutually exclusive dichotomies, but tend rather to stress modes

of interrelatedness across categories of meaning, never losing sight

of an ultimate wholeness.(143)

Feminist historian Joan W. Scott has argued that "fixed oppositions conceal the extent to which things presented as oppositional are, in fact, interdependent...."(144) Scott's point is illustrated in the work of Patricia Hill Collins. In Black Feminist Thought, Collins looked to the experience of African Americans, especially Black women, to point out that dualism does not describe the complexity of their lives. As she put it, "Being Black encompasses both experiencing white domination and individual and group valuation of an independent long-standing Afrocentric consciousness."(145) Collins noted that Black women's "both/and conceptual orientation," in contrast to the Western "either/or" orientation, stems from the experiences of Black women as simultaneously African American, female, and, in many cases, poor.(146)

Another problem with oppositional constructs ties in the hierarchies implicit in their formulations. The first term of a binary is usually considered superior while the second term is inferior. Relying on Jacques Derrida, Scott wrote that the interdependence of terms in a binary is "hierarchal with one term dominant or prior, the opposite term subordinate and secondary. The Western philosophical tradition, he argues, rests on binary oppositions: unity/diversity, identity/difference, presence/absence, and universality/specificity. The leading terms are accorded primacy, their partners are represented as weaker or derivative."(147) Therefore, in the binary oppositions purity/ pollution, order/chaos, and bound by categorical boundaries/crossing categorical boundaries, superior status and positive connotation are implied in the first term of each binary and the opposite meanings suggested in the second term.

In addition to these particular criticisms, "master theories" and what was once considered certain have been undermined by modern and postmodern thought generally. In these approaches, for instance, determinism has given way to indeterminancy, univocalism to polyvocality. Objectivity to partial perspectives, unity to montage, and canonical interpretations to postcolonial ones. In the age of "bluffed images," the definite relation established in binary opposition and the particular meanings of elements within binaries are suspect.

As a consequence of Hudson's interpretative paradigm of purity versus pollution, one comes away with at worst an inaccurate understanding of Cherokee religious traditions and at best a partial one. There is evidence to the contrary that Cherokee traditions could be more accurately interpreted in terms of an indigenous-based model of complementarity rather than opposition. Some theorists argue that partial interpretations may be all that any critic has. If this is the case, then our future as scholars lies in the restoration and maintenance of dialogue, not only with other academics but also with members of native communities, especially elders and religious practitioners. Dialogue could be an important means through which partial perspectives are transformed into more complete understandings.


For their insightful comments and suggestions on this manuscript, I wish to thank Paula Gunn Allen, Ines M. Talamantez, Catherine L. Albanese, and Marcia Westkott.

(1.) Hudson (1976).

(2.) Hudson (1976).

(3.) Mooney (1900, 1891).

(4.) Kilpatrick and Kilpatrick (1964, 1965, 1967).

(5.) Fogelson (1975).

(6.) Fogelson (1977).

(7.) Kilpatrick (1991); Irwin (1992).

(8.) Fogelson (1978:35).

(9.) Anderson (1988: 17).

(10.) Hudson portrays Southeastern Indian traditions both, as he says, synchronically and diachronically (1976: vii-viii). His syncthronic treatment reflects what would be considered "traditional" or "pre-contact" indigenous ways of life in the Southeastern United States, although written documentation of these traditions does not often appear until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While Hudson tries to represent seventeenth century traditions in his synchronic discussion, it should be noted that he inevitably draws on "post-contact" sources, however. His synchronic segment constitutes the central chapters of The Southeastern Indians, and it is before and after these chapters that Hudson historically frames Southeastern Indian traditions. The first diachronic chapter concerns Southeastern Prehistory and early European exploration. He ends the book with his second diachronic chapter, which explicitly addresses post-contact ways of life through the mid to late twentieth century. Because of this structure, Hudson discusses "traditional" ways of living in the past tense, which conceals the continuity of some traditions into the present day. To avoid this inaccuracy, I prefer to use the present tense in speaking about Native Americans, but because my purpose here is not to argue this particular issue with Hudson, I will often use the same tense Hudson uses in discussing Southeastern Indian traditions.

(11.) Hudson (1976: vii); Fogelson (1978: 7) A Williams (1979: 348)

(12.) Hudson (1976:14).

(13.) Strickland (1977: xxi).

(14.) Fogelson (1978:7).

(15.) Williams (1979-348).

(16.) Williams and French (1979:211).

(17.) Howard (1977-78: 373-74).

(18.) Hultkrantz (1990-170).

(19.) Lofaro (1979: 91, 93).

(20.) Collins (1991); Carmody and Carmody (1993).

(21.) McLoughlin (1984: 5, 6, 21-23; quoted passage appears on page 6); McLoughlin (1994: 159-60, 323 n, 37).

(22.) McLoughlin (1994:159).

(23.) Perdue (1980: 85-86; 116 n, 10).

(24.) Hudson (1984).

(25.) Hudson (1987: 485-90). This work, along with Hudson's Elements of Southeastern Indian Religious (1984) was noted in Hultkrantz's review of the literature on Native American religious traditions in the 1980s; see Hultkrantz (1990:170).

(26.) Hudson (1989: 139-46).

(27.) Martin (1978: 1076).

(28.) Hudson (1976: viii).

(29.) Hudson (1976: vii).

(30.) Hudson (1976: 350).

(31.) Hudson (1976: 123, 125).

(32.) Hudson (1976:136).

(33.) Hudson (1976: 127).

(34.) Hudson (1976: 132).

(35.) Hudson (1976: 128).

(36.) Hudson (1976: 319).

(37.) Hudson (1976: 259).

(38.) Hudson (1976: 128).

(39.) Hudson (1976: 139, 148).

(40.) Hudson (1976: 144).

(41.) Hudson (1976: 121).

(42.) Hudson (1976: 317).

(43.) The phrase "Green Corn ceremony" or "Green Corn feast" is generally found in the literature on the Cherokee Relying on historical documents, William Harlen Gilbert, Jr. (1943: 326-27) noted that the Cherokee ceremonial cycle actually featured two such rites. One of them, which Gilbert referred to as the "Preliminary Green Corn Feast," occurred in August while the other, the "Green Corn Feast," followed the preliminary ceremony by about forty to fifty days. These rites corresponded with the life cycle of corn, the preliminary Green Corn ceremony occurring when the corn was young and first fit to cat and the "Green Corn" proper taking place when the corn matured and hardened, usually in mid to late September. It is not always possible to determine to which of these ceremonies an observation refers, though it is important to note that the rites resembled each other, according to Gilbert.

(44.) Hudson (1976: 367).

(45.) Hudson (1976: 126).

(46.) Hudson (1976: 324).

(47.) Hudson (1976: 345).

(48.) Payne (n.d, 4:215).

(49.) Hudson (1976: 319).

(50.) Douglas (1966: 121).

(51.) Hudson (1976: 121).

(52.) Lawson (1709).

(53.) Lefler (1967: xi).

(54.) Lawson (1709: 197).

(55.) Lawson (1709: 241).

(56.) Lawson (1709: 229; Lawson's italics)

(57.) Adair (1775).

(58.) Williams (1930: viii, ix).

(59.) Hudson (1976: 436).

(60.) Swanton (1946: 831); Fogelson (1978: 12).

(61.) Adair (1775: 14).

(62.) McLoughlin and Conser, Jr. (1994: 134; 321 n, 6). Depending on the source one uses, Butrick's name appears as Butrick or Buttrick.

(63.) Adair (1775: 108).

(64.) Adair (1775: 108).

(65.) Adair (1775: 126).

(66.) Adair (1775: 131).

(67.) Adair (1775: 130, 132, 13645, 244).

(68.) Adair (1775: 129-30; Adair's italics).

(69.) Adair (1775: 130-31). The term sin appears in other comments Adair made about Cherokee religious traditions as well. For instance, he associated taking the "black drink" and "going to the water" with the cleansing or washing away of sin:

At the end of this notable religious dance, the old beloved, or holy

women return home to hasten the feast of the new sanctified fruits. In

the mean while [sic], every one at the temple drinks very plentifully

of the Cusseena and other bitter liquids, to cleanse their sinful bodies;

after which, they go to some convenient deep water, and there according to

the ceremonial law of the Hebrews, they wash away their sins with water.

(1775: 103-4)

Adair even referred to one of the Gram Corn ceremonies as "the grand festival of the annual expiation of sin" (1775: 105). Interestingly (and problematicaly), although writing in the late twentieth century, Hudson uses the sin in The Southeastern Indians, albeit irregularly. He writes, for example that "sin and impurity were serious matters among the Southeastern Indians. They affected not only the well-being of the sinner, but of his entire community and society as well. (Hudson, 1976: 174).

(70.) Fogelson (1978: 12); Bartram (1791; 1953: 1-81). Swanton (1946: 831) also noted that Bartram's works are among the best published sources of Cherokee ethnology.

(71.) Bartram (1791: 399).

(72.) Bartram (1791: 399).

(73.) Bartram (1791: 399).

(74.) Squire (1853a: 3-7).

(75.) Squire (1853b: 59-81). For information on Squire, see Bieder (1986: 104-45).

(76.) Squire (1853b: 72).

(77.) Squire (1853b: 73).

(78.) Squire (1853b: 74-77).

(79.) McLoughlin (1984: 355-56). McLoughlin Doted the importance of these papers for their information on early Cherokee national affairs and culture. Payne also authored "The Ancient Cherokee Traditions and Religious Rites" (1849).

(80.) Squire (1853b: 75).

(81.) Mooney (1891, 1900).

(82.) Fogelson (1978: 8-9) Swanton (1946: 831).

(83.) Mooney (1900: 423).

(84.) Mooney (1900. 230, 431, 492).

(85.) Mooney (1900: 459-60, 476)

(86.) Squire (1851) Mooney (1900: 436, 440, 442. 502-3)

(87.) In "Myths of the Cherokee (1900) Mooney did not cite the John Howard Payne Papers directly, although he did cite, on 502, Payne's The Green-Corn Dane (1862) an account of a Creek Green Corn Ceremony.

(88.) Mooney (1900- 502. Mooney's brackets); Squire (1951: 116).

(89.) Mooney (1900, 502).

(90.) Hudson does not cite the John Howard Payne Papers in The Southeastern Indians, so it is unclear if Hudson himself directly read these manuscripts. Nevertheless the language in the Payne Papers is additional evidence of purity/pollution discourse in important sources on Native Americans in the Southeastern United States, and, of course, through Mooney, Hudson was conversant with the basic outline of the Payne model.

(91.) Payne (n.d. 1: 38).

(92.) Payne (n.d. 3: 76).

(93.) Payne (n.d., 1: 56, 62).

(94.) Payne (n.d., 1: 69).

(95.) Indian Chieftain (1884. n.p.).

(96.) McLoughlin (1994: 141).

(97.) McLoughlin (1994: 141).

(98.) Rothrock (11424-25 n, m).

(99.) Payne (n.d., 4: 253-61).

(100.) Payne (n.d., 4:29).

(101.) Payne (n.d., 4: 193)

(102.) Mooney (1900:428, 436-37, 478, 502) did, however, cite Antiquities of the Cherokee Indians, a collection of Butrick's notes published by the Indian Chieftain (1884).

(103.) Haywood (1823). Swanton (1946: 931) also considered this work valuable for Cherokee ethnology.

(104.) Rothrock (1959b: xi-xv).

(105.) Mooney (1891: 322); Haywood (1923: 263).

(106.) Haywood (1823: 231; Haywood's italics).

(107.) Haywood (1823: 233).

(108.) Haywood (1823: 230-31).

(109.) Rothrock (1959a: 424-25 n. m).

(110.) Fogelson (1978: 7-8y, Swanton (1946).

(111.) Swanton (1946: 768-69y, Hicks (1818: 1). This quotation appeared in "Manners & Customs of the Cherokees," a submission by Calvin Jones to the editor of the Raleigh Register and North-Carolina Gazette Jones indicated that this "notice" was drawn up by Charles Hicks.

(112.) Lanman (1856: 2: 424-28). Lanman noted that this account is based to a great degree on information from Preston Starritt of Tennessee (2: 424).

(113.) Lanman (1856: 1: iii).

(114.) Swanton (1946: 769; my brackets); Lanman (1856: 2: 424-25).

(115.) Douglas (1966: 4).

(116.) Douglas (1966: 2-4, 35, 159).

(117.) Douglas (1966: 35).

(118.) Douglas (1966: 2, 159).

(119.) Douglas (1966: 2, 36, 159).

(120.) Hudson (1976: 317).

(121.) Hudson (1976: 317).

(122.) Hudson (1976: 121).

(123.) Leach (1987: 55-56).

(124.) Leach (1997: 55-56).

(125.) Hudson (1976: 317).

(126.) Hudson (1976: 121).

(127.) Hudson (1976: 139).

(128.) Hudson (1976: 139).

(129.) Hudson (1976: 148).

(130.) Hudson (1976: 148).

(131.) Hudson (1976: 166).

(132.) Hudson (1976: 166-67).

(133.) This chapter first appeared as the Henry Myers Lecture, which Douglas had given before the Royal Anthropological Institute, in 1972 (Douglas: 1975, vii).

(134.) Douglas (1975: 284-85).

(135.) Douglas (1975:282-83).

(136.) Buckley and Gottlieb (1988: 32).

(137.) Hall (1989:84).

(138.) Bianchi (1987. 506).

(139.) Eliade and Couliano (1991: 95-96).

(140.) Eliade and Couliano (1991: 95; Eliade's and Couliano's italics).

(141.) Colapietro (1993: 53).

(142.) The Oxford Encyclopedia English Dictionary, 1991 ed. s.v. "opposition."

(143.) Brown (1982: 71).

(144.) Scott (1998. 37).

(145.) Collins (1990: 27; Collins's italics).

(146.) Collins (1990: 29).

(147.) Scott (1988: 37).


Adair, James. 1775 History of the American Indians. London: Edward and Charles Dilly. Reprinted as Adair's History of the American Indians. Samuel Cole Williams, ed. [No city], TN: National Society of Colonial Dames in America, 1930. Reprint (Adair's History of the American Indians), New York: Promontory Press, n.d. (pap references are to the Promontory Press edition).

Anderson, William L. 1988 "The Direction of Cherokee Research." Native Press Research Journal 7 (spring): 17-28.

Bartram, William. 1791 Travels Through Nook and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges; or Creek Confederacy, And the Country of the [sic]. Philadelphia:James and Johnson. Reprinted as Travels of William Bartram. Mark Van Doren, ed. New York: Dover Publications, 1955 (page references are to reprint edition). 1853 "Observations on the Creek and Cherokee Indians." Transactions of the American Ethnological Society 3:1-81.

Bianchi, Ugo. 1997 "Dualism." In The Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 4, pp. 506-12. Mircea Eliade, ed. New York Macmillan.

Bieder, Robert E. 1986 "Ephraim George Squire and the Archaeology of Mental Progress. In Encounters the Indian, 1820-1880: The Early Years of American Ethnology, pp. 104-45. Norman: University Of Oklahoma Press.

Brown, Joseph Epes. 1982 The Spiritual Legacy of de American India. New York: Crossroad.

Buckley, Thomas, and Alma Gottlieb, eds. 1988 Blood Magic The Anthropology of Menstruation. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Buttrick [Butrick], Daniel Sabin. 1884 Antiquities of the Cherokee Indians. Vinita, Indian Territory: Indian Chieftain.

Carmody, Denise Lardner and John Tully Carmody 1993 Native American Religions: Am Introduction. New York: Paulist Press.

Colapietro, Vincent M. 1993 Glossary of Semiotics. New York: Paragon.

Collins, John James. 1991 Native American Religions: A Geographical Survey. Native American Studies, Vol. 1. Lewiston, NY. Edwin Mellen Press.

Collins, Patricia Hill. 1990 Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. London: Unwin Hyman. Reprint, Perspectives on Gender, vol. 2. New York: Routledge, 1991 (par references are to reprint edition).

Douglas, Mary. 1966 Purity and Danger An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Reprint, London: Ark Paperbacks, 1988 (page references are to reprint edition). 1975 Implicit Meanings: Essay in Anthropology. London. Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Eliade, Mircea and loan P. Couliano. 1991 The Elude Guide to World Religions. New York. HarperCollins, 1991.

Fogelson, Raymond D. 1975 "An Analysis of Cherokee Sorcery and Witchcraft." In Four Centuries of Southern Indians, pp. 113-31. Charles M. Hudson, ed. Athens: University of Georgia Press. 1977 "Cherokee Notions of Power." In The Anthropology of Power. Ethnographic Studies from Asia, Oceania, and the New World, pp. 185-94. Raymond D. Fogelson and Richard N. Adams, ads. Studies in Anthropology. New York: Academic Press. 1978 The Cherokees; A Critical Bibliography. Newberry Library Center for the History of the American Indian Bibliographical Series. Bloomington: Indiana University Press for the Newberry Library.

Gilbert, William Harlen, Jr. 1943 "The Eastern Cherokees." Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 133. Anthropological Papers, no. 23. Washington, DO Government Printing Office.

Hall, Roland. 1989 "Dualism." In The Concise Encyclopedia of Western Philosophy and Philosophers, pp. 84-95. J. O. Urmson and Jonathan Ree, eds. Rev. ed. London: Unwin Hyman.

Haywood, John. 1823 The Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennesee. Nashville: George Wilson. Reprint, Mary U. Rothrock, ed. Jackson, TN: McCowat-Mercer, 1959 (Page references are to reprint edition).

Hicks, Charles. 1818 "Manners & Customs of the Cherokees." Raleigh Register and North-Carolina Gazzette, November 6.

Howard, James H. 1977-78 Review of The Southeastern Indians, by Charles Hudson. American Indian Quarterly 3 (winter): 373-75.

Hudson, Charles. 1976 The Southeastern Indians. Knoxville. University of Tennessee Press. 1984 Elements of Southeastern Indian Religion. Iconography of Religions, section 10. Leiden: E. J. Brill. 1987 "North American Indians: Indians of the Southeast Woodlands." In The Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 10, pp. 485-90. Mircea Eliade, ed. New York: Macmillan Publishing. 1989 "The Southeast Woodlands." In Native American Religions, North America: Religion, History, and Culture, Selections from "The Encyclopedia of Religion," pp. 139-46. Lawrence E. Sullivan, ed. New York: Macmillan Publishing.

Hultkrantz, Ake. 1990 "A Decade of Progress: Works on North American Indian Religions in the 1980s." In Religion in Native North America, pp. 167-201. Christopher Vecsey, ed. Moscow: University of Idaho Press.

Indian Chieftain. 1884 Preface to Antiquities of the Cherokee Indians, by Daniel Sabin Buttrick, Vinita, Indian Territory: Indian Chieftain.

Irwin, Lee. 1992 "Cherokee Healing: Myth, Dream, and Medicine." American Indian Quarterly 16 (spring): 237-57.

Kilpatrick, Alan Edwin. 1991 "`Going to the Water': A Structural Analysis of Cherokee Purification Rituals." American Indian Culture and Research Journal 15, no. 4: 49-58.

Kilpatrick, Jack F[rederick] and Anna G[ritts] Kilpatrick. 1964 Friends of Thunder: Folktales of the Oklahoma Cherokees. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press. 1965 Walk in Your Soul: Love Incantations of the Oklahoma Cherokees. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press. 1967 Run Toward the Nightland: Magic of the Oklahoma Cherokees. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press.

Lanman, Charles. 1956 Adventures is the Wilds of the United States and British American Provinces. 2 vols. Philadelphia. John W. Moore.

Lawson, John. 1709 A New Voyage to Carolina, Vol. 2 of A New Collection of Voyages and Travels, edited by John Stevens. London: n.p. Reprint, Hugh Talmage Lefler, ed. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1967 (page references are to reprint edition).

Leach, Edmund. 1987 "Structuralism." In The Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 14, pp. 54-64. Mircea Eliade, ed. New York: Macmillan Publishing.

Lefler, Hugh Talmage. 1967 Introduction to A New Voyage to Carolina, by John Lawson. Hugh Talmage Lefler, ed. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Lofaro, Michael A. 1979 Review of The Southeastern Indians, by Charles Hudson. Journal of American Folklore 92 (January-March): 91-93.

Martin. Calvin. 1978 Review of The Southeastern Indians, by Charles Hudson. The Journal of American History 64 (March): 1075-76.

McLoughlin, William G. 1984 Cherokees and Missionaries, 1789-1839. New Haven; Yak University Press. 1994 The Cherokees and Christianity, 1794-1870: Essays on Acculturation and Cultural Persistence. Walter H. Conset, Jr., ed. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

McLoughlin, William G. and Walter H. Conser, Jr. 1994 "Christianity and Racism: Cherokee Responses to the Debate over Indian Origins, 1760-1860." In Cherokees and Christianity, 1794-1870: Essays or Acculturation and Cultural Persistance, pp. 129-51, by William G. McLoughlin. Walter H. Conser, Jr., ed. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Mooney, James. 1891 "The Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees." Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1885-86. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Reprinted in Myths of the Cherokee and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees. Nashville: Charles and Randy Elder, 1982 (page references are to reprint edition). 1900 "Myths of the Cherokee." Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 1897-98. Part 1. Washington, DC, Government Printing Office. Reprinted in Myths of the Cherokee and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees. Nashville: Charles and Randy Elder, 1982 (page references are to reprint edition).

Payne, John Howard. n.d. John Howard Payne Papers. 14 vols. Typescript. Ayer Collection. Newberry Library. 1849 "The Ancient Cherokee Traditions and Religious Rites." Quarterly Register and Magazine December, 444-50 (Ayer Collection, document 6815, Newberry Library). 1862 "The Green-Corn Dance," The Continental Monthly 1 (January): 17-29. Reprinted as "The Green Corn Dance." John R. Swanton, ed. Chronicles of Oklahoma, 10 (June 1932): 179-95 (page references are to the original edition).

Perdue, Theda. 1980 Nations Remembered: An Oral History of the Five Civilized Tribes, 1865-4907, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Reprinted as Nations Remembered: An Oral History of the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles in Oklahoma, 1865-1907. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993 (page references are to reprint edition).

Rothrock, Mary U. 1959a Annotations of The Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee, by John Haywood. Mary U. Rothrock, ed. Jackson, TN: McCowat-Mercer. 1959b John Haywood, Historian of the Western Country." In The Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee, by John Haywood, pp. xi-xxvii. Mary U. Rothrock, ed. Jackson. TN: McCowat-Mercer.

Scott, Joan W. 1988 "Deconstructing Equality-Versus-Difference: Or, the Uses of Poststructuralist Theory for Feminism Studies 14 (spring): 33-50.

Scott, Joan W. 1988 "Deconstructing Equality-Versus-Differences: Or, the Uses of Poststructuralist Theory for Feminism." Feminist Studies 14 (spring): 33-50.

Squire, E[phraim] G[eorge]. 1851 The serpent Symbol, and the Worship of the Reciprocal Principles of Nature in America. American Archaeological Researches, no. 1. New York: George P. Putnam. Reprint, Millwood, NY: Kraus Reprint, 1975 (page reference are to reprint edition). 1853a Prefatory note to "Observations on the Creek and Cherokee Indians," by William Bartram. Transactions of the American Ethnological Society 3: 3-7. 1853b Notes to "Observations on the Creek and Cherokee Indians," by William Bartram. Transactions of the American Ethnological Society 3: 59-81.

Strickland, Rennard. 1977 "In Search of Cherokee History: A Bibliographical Foreword to the Second Printing" [of] A Political History of the Cherokee Nation, 1838-1907, by Morris L. Wardell. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1938.

Swanton, James. 1946 "Indians of the Southeastern United States." Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 137. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Reprinted as The Indians of the Southeastern United States. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979 (page references are to reprint edition).

Williams, Samuel Cole. 1930 Introduction to Adair's History of the American Indians, by James Adair. Samuel Cole Williams, ed. [No city], TN: National Society of Colonial Dames in America. Reprint, New York: Promontory Press, n.d. (page references are to the reprint edition).

Williams, Walter L. 1979 "Cherokee History: An Analysis of Recent Studies." American Indian Quarterly 5, 4: 347-54.

Williams, Walter L. and Thomas R. French. 1979 "Bibliographic Essay." In Southeastern Indians Since the Removal Era, pp. 211-41. Walter L. Williams, ed. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Mary C. Churchill is an Instructor's of Women's Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
COPYRIGHT 1996 University of Nebraska Press
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Churchill, Mary C.
Publication:The American Indian Quarterly
Date:Jun 22, 1996
Previous Article:"Upon this rock": Nahuas and national culture, a contest of appropriations.
Next Article:The Shaker Church and the Indian way in native northwestern California.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters