Sovereign Amonsoquath Band of Cherokee

HUNTING MASKS  



According to "Cherokee Dance and Drama" (page 85, University of Oklahoma Press) by Frank G. Speck and Leonard Broom, the following is known of the early Cherokee:

Large Animal Hunting Masks

Traditionally, wooden decoy masks were used by the Cherokee in hunting the buffalo, bear, and deer. The hunter who went on an individual excursion used the appropriate mask. As a means of ceremonial approach to the animal he would, before departing, wear the mask in a dance; and on the hunt would carry the mask and the skin of the animal. As soon as he located his game he would place the mask over his face and the skin over his back to serve as a disguise, it is said, to enable him to approach the animal without arousing suspicion. He would keep himself, of course, on a line against the wind so that the animal would not become alarmed by human scent. Then, the informant says, "The hunter would shoot the animal, using the magic of the mask." Upon returning from the hunt, should it have proved successful, the hunter might repeat the Hunting Dance, using the mask in the same manner as he did before his hunt. We are told that if the hunt were a drive, carried on by a party of men, the mask might be worn by only one of them. When the hunt was over and many animals had been killed, the hunting party would give a special dance about a fire and celebrate with a feast.

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