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Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars’ Club

Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars’ Club

Written by Christopher B. Teuton
Hastings Shade
Sammy Still
Sequoyah Guess
Woody Hansen
Illustrations by America Meredith
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars’ Club
    Book Description:

    Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars' Clubpaints a vivid, fascinating portrait of a community deeply grounded in tradition and dynamically engaged in the present. A collection of forty interwoven stories, conversations, and teachings about Western Cherokee life, beliefs, and the art of storytelling, the book orchestrates a multilayered conversation between a group of honored Cherokee elders, storytellers, and knowledge-keepers and the communities their stories touch. Collaborating with Hastings Shade, Sammy Still, Sequoyah Guess, and Woody Hansen, Cherokee scholar Christopher B. Teuton has assembled the first collection of traditional and contemporary Western Cherokee stories published in over forty years.Not simply a compilation,Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars' Clubexplores the art of Cherokee storytelling, or as it is known in the Cherokee language,gagoga(gah-goh-ga), literally translated as "he or she is lying." The book reveals how the members of the Liars' Club understand the power and purposes of oral traditional stories and how these stories articulate Cherokee tradition, or "teachings," which the storytellers claim are fundamental to a construction of Cherokee selfhood and cultural belonging. Four of the stories are presented in both English and Cherokee.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0152-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Note on Pronunciation of Cherokee
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Introduction: Opening the Door
    (pp. 1-16)

    On a chilly autumn evening we gather at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, just outside of Tahlequah in northeastern Oklahoma. I am meeting with Hastings Shade, Sammy Still, Sequoyah Guess, and Woody Hansen, a group of Cherokee storytellers who call themselves the Turtle Island Liars’ Club. The Turtle Island Liars’ Club is an institution—its members have performed together for nearly twenty years and are known throughout Cherokee country and nationally for their mastery of Cherokee oral performance and traditional teachings. The club and I are collaborating on the first collection of Western Cherokee storytelling published in over...

  5. Sagwu (One) Alenihv (Beginnings)
    (pp. 17-80)

    I’m sitting in my rental car with Hastings Shade outside of the chapel at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma. It’s early December, and late autumn seems to place us both in a contemplative mood. Autumn is my favorite time of year, and especially autumn in northeastern Oklahoma. The deep heart-heat of the Oklahoma summer slowly gives way to brisk fall winds that shake the leaves from the trees. The copperheads seek their burrows; the blue of the sky lightens; and the air on the Ozark Plateau loses some of its moisture. The Cherokee New Year arrives with...

  6. Tali (Two) Adanvsgvi (Movements)
    (pp. 81-132)

    Hastings pointed his finger and traced the shape of a symbol on a piece of paper he’d brought to our meeting. “So this is another traditional southeastern design? What does it mean?” I asked. The image looked like two interlocking rectangular loops, each with separate put parallel lines carved in them.

    “Well, you and I can walk this road right here,” he said, pointing to one of the lines of the image, “and it’s gonna come out the same place. But there will be so many different things that we can do. Individually. Even though we’re walking down the same...

  7. Joi (Three) Dideyohvsdi (Teachings)
    (pp. 133-202)

    “Most of the traditional stories are teaching tools,” Hastings said. “They’re not stories, per se, that kids would really, really prefer to listen to when they find out what they are,” he said and laughed. “But they’re actually teaching tools. They teach a value, some kind of value. I guess that’s how we were taught our values, without actually come out and say, ‘Hey, this is what you gonna do.’”

    “Mmhm,” I said.

    “‘You goin’ do it like this,’ or, you know, they would tell you in a story. And that way, it wasn’t saying, ‘You … do … this.’...

  8. Nvgi (Four) Ulvsgedi (The Wondrous)
    (pp. 203-248)

    “There’s lots of stories about transforming ourselves, right?” I asked Hastings. Our conversation had turned to stories ofulvsgedi, or of things which inspire wonder. More often than not, when we’d get together for a storytelling there was a point in the gathering when we’d begin to discuss the way in which spirit and world interconnect within a Cherokee worldview. These are stories of the wondrous, of those experiences that are uncanny and often inexplicable except to those with deeper knowledge of Cherokee medicine and traditional beliefs.


    “All tribes have stories about humans transforming into animals …”

    “Yeah. Yeah,”...

  9. Afterword: Standing in the Middle
    (pp. 249-250)

    I arrived late into Cherokee, North Carolina, and took a hotel room along the Oconaluftee River across from the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. It was early September 2010, and Sequoyah and Woody would be representing the Liars’ Club this weekend at the Southeastern Tribes Festival hosted by the museum and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. They’d called me from the road earlier and were now somewhere in Tennessee. I looked forward to catching up with them and talking with them about how the book was coming together. I had stories to share of my life in Victoria, British...

  10. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 251-252)
  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 253-253)