First Contact With Whites - Cherokee

from History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokee by James Mooney

There are a few stories concerning the first contact of the Cherokee with whites and negroes. They are very modern and have little value as myths, but throw some light upon the Indian estimate of the different races.

One story relates how the first whites came from the east and tried to enter into friendly relations, but the Indians would have nothing to do with them for a long time. At last the whites left a jug of whisky and a dipper near a spring frequented by the Indians. The Indians came along, tasted the liquor, which they had never known before, and liked it so well that they ended by all getting comfortably drunk. While they were in this happy frame of mind some white men came up, and this time the Indians shook hands with them and they have been friends after a fashion ever since. This may possibly be a Cherokee adaptation of the story of Hudson's first landing on the island of Manhattan.

At the creation an ulunsu'ti was given to the white man, and a piece of silver to the Indian. But the white man despised the stone and threw it away, while the Indian did the same with the silver. In going about the white man afterward found the silver piece and put it into his pocket and has prized it ever since. The Indian, in like manner, found the ulunsu'ti where the white man had thrown it. He picked it up and has kept it since as his talisman, as money is the talismanic power of the white man. This story is quite general and is probably older than others of its class.

When Sequoya, the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet, was trying to introduce it among his people, about 1822, some of them opposed it upon the ground that Indians had no business with reading. They said that when the Indian and the white man were created, the Indian, being the elder, was given a book, while the white man received a bow and arrows. Each was instructed to take good care of his gift and make the best use of it, but the Indian was so neglectful of his book that the white man soon stole it from him, leaving the bow in its place, so that books and reading now belong of right to the white man, while the Indian ought to be satisfied to hunt for a living.--
Cherokee Advocate, October 26, 1844.

The negro made the first locomotive for a toy and put it on a wooden track and was having great fun with it when a white man came along, watched until he saw how to run it, and then killed the negro and took the locomotive for himself. This, also, although plainly of very recent origin, was heard from several informants.

From Blue Panther Keeper of Stories.