Unetlanvhi (Creator): This is the Cherokee word for God. Sometimes Cherokee people today also refer to the Creator as the “Great Spirit,” a phrase which was borrowed from other tribes of Oklahoma. Unetlanvhi is considered to be a divine spirit with no human form or attributes and is not normally personified in Cherokee myths. The name is pronounced similar to oo-net-la-nuh-hee. Sometimes another name such as Galvladi’ehi (“Heavenly One”) or Ouga (“Ruler,” also spelled Ugv or Ugu) is used instead.
Jistu: Rabbit, the trickster figure in the folklore of the Cherokee and other Southeastern tribes. His Cherokee name is pronounced similar to jeese-doo.
Uktena: A dragon-like horned serpent of Cherokee legend. The first Uktena was said to be transformed from a human man in a failed assassination attempt on the sun. Most other Cherokee tales about Uktena have to do with Cherokee heroes slaying one. They are malevolent and deadly monsters. Their name is pronounced ook-tay-nah.
Thunderers (Aniyvdaqualosgi or Ani-Yuntikwalaski): Storm spirits who live in the sky and command thunder and lightning. In Cherokee legends the Thunderers are human in form, unlike many tribes where thunder spirits appear as birds. Cherokee Thunderers are powerful and dangerous, but generally benign and friendly to humans.
Tlanuwa: Giant mythological birds of prey with impenetrable metal feathers, common to the mythology of many Southeastern tribes.
Yunwi Tsunsdi (Little People): A race of small humanoid nature spirits, sometimes referred to in English as “dwarves” or “fairies.” They are usually invisible but sometimes reveal themselves as miniature child-sized people. Yunwi Tsunsdi are benevolent creatures who frequently help humans in Cherokee stories, but they have magical powers and are said to harshly punish people who are disrespectful or aggressive towards them. Their name is pronounced similar to yun-wee joon-stee (or yun-wee joon-stee-gah,) which literally means “little people.” The singular form is Yvwi Usdi (pronounced yun-wee oon-stee.)
Nunnehi(Travelers): Another supernatural spirit race which is friendly towards humans, particularly towards the Cherokee tribe. Nunnehi are very strong and sometimes intercede in battle on the Cherokees’ behalf. Like Little People, Nunnehi are usually invisible but sometimes show themselves to humans they like (appearing as regal looking human warriors.) Their name is pronounced similar to nun-nay-hee.
Stoneclads: Formidable rock giants of Cherokee mythology.
The Moon And The Thunders
The Sun was a young woman and lived in the East, whileher brother, the Moon lived in the West. The girl had a loverwho used to come every month in the dark of the moon to courther. He would come at night, and leave before daylight, andalthough she talked with him she could not see his face in the dark, and he would not tell her his name, until she was wondering all the time who it could be. At last she hit upon a plan to find out, so the next time he came, as they weresitting together in the dark of the asi, she slyly dipped herhand into the cinders and ashes of the fireplace and rubbedit over his face, saying, “Your face is cold; you must have suffered from the wind,” and pretending to be very sorry forhim, but he did not know that she had ashes on her hand. Aftera while he left her and went away again.The next night when the Moon came up in the sky hisface was covered with spots, and then his sister knew he was the one who had been coming to see her. He was so much ashamed to have her know it that he dept as far away as hecould at the other end of the sky all the night. Ever since he tries to keep a long way behind the Sun, and when he doessometimes have to come near her in the west he makes himselfas thin as a ribbon so that he can hardly be seen.
Some old people say that the moon is a ball which was thrown up against the sky in a game a long time ago. They saythattwo towns were playing against each other, but one of themhad the best runners and had almost won the game, when theleader of the other side picked and tried to throw it to the goal, but it struck against the solid sky vault and was fastenedthere, to remind players never to cheat. When the moon lookssmall and pale it is because some one has handled the ballunfairly, and for this reason they formerly played only at thetime of a full moon.
When the sun or moon is eclipsed it is because a greatfrog up in the sky is trying to swallow it. Everybody knows this, even the Creeks and the other tribes, and in the olden times,eighty or a hundred years ago, before the great medicine men were all dead, whenever they saw the sun grow dark the peoplewould come together and fire guns and beat the drum, and in a little while this would frighten off the great frog and thesun would be allright again.
The common people call both Sun and Moon Nunda, onebeing “Nunda that dwells in the day” and the other “Nunda thatdwells in the night,” but the priests call the Sun Su’talidihi,”Six-killer,” and the Moon Ge’yagu’ga, though nobody knowsnow what this word means, or why they use these names. Some-times people ask the Moon not to let it rain or snow.
The great Thunder and his sons, the two Thunder boys,live far in the west above the sky vault. The lightning and the rainbow are their beautiful dress. The priests pray to theThunder and call him the Red Man, because that is the brightestcolor of his dress. There are other Thunders that live lowerdown, in the cliffs and mountains, and under waterfalls, and travel on invisible bridges from one high peak to another wherethey have their town houses. The great Thunders abovethe sky are kind and helpful when we pray to them, but these others are always plotting mischief. One must not point at the rain-bow, or one’s finger