Daily Life in Olden Times
Southeast Cherokee Indians
Arts and Crafts
The Cherokee were and are still famous for their art. In olden days, their talent was used in making clay pots, carved pipes, canoes, masks, rattles, clothing, baskets, and beads.
Canoes: Canoes were carved from wood. The men first cut a log. They hollowed out the log by using burning coals from the fire. They scraped the insides with sharp stones. Canoes were decorated with designs made with burnt sticks and sharp stones.
Clay Pots: The Cherokee dug clay. They used the clay to make handmade pots. While the clay was still wet, they decorated the pots with designs made with sticks and stones. Then pots were baked in the fire to give them strength. They used clay pots as cooking utensils, liquid holders, and planters. Planters were placed near their homes and filled with flowers, spices, and food items. No tribe used a potter's wheel. Everything was shaped by hand.
Carved Pipes: The Cherokee carved pipes from clay, wood, and soapstone. Pipes used in religion ceremonies and peace ceremonies were carefully decorated. They also made pipes for everyday use. They smoked tobacco in their pipes.
Masks & Rattles: In olden days, only the men made masks. Cherokee men carved ferocious masks from wood. They painted them. Sometimes they added fur decorations. Warriors used these scary masks to make fun of their enemies. Before a battle, the warriors would dance around wearing scary masks, and laugh and laugh. This type of mask was called a Booger Mask.
They made rattles to scare away evil spirits, and at the same time, to invite the attention of good spirits. Rattles were made with turtle shells filled with corn kernels. Some rattles were made from gourds and squashes.
Double Wall Baskets: In olden days, only the women made baskets. Baskets had fancy designs, and were made in a special way, with double weaving, using river cane, so that they were very sturdy. Designs were handed down from mother to daughter. Some baskets were painted as well as dyed. The Cherokee created paints from berry juice, nuts, and roots. Although their baskets added color and gaiety to the appearance of their homes, they were also useful. Baskets were used for just about everything - to gather the crops, to store food, to store belongings, to haul.
River Cane Items: The Cherokee used river cane for weaving split dyed gathering baskets, but they also used river cane for making blow guns, shields, masks, and painted flutes. They were and still are famous for the many beautiful and useful items they made with river cane.