The Legend of U`TLÛÑ’TÄ, a Cherokee Oral Tradition

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U`TLÛÑ’TÄ is a skin-changer…a brujo… a Native American witch. In her true form she is an old hag with skin hard as stone which made her impervious to all weapons. She roamed the Cherokee homelands of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina preying upon our Tsalagi* ancestors by changing her shape, disguising herself as members of their clans and sneaking amongst them un-noticed. When she found them alone and at unawares she would stab them with her deadly spear-point finger and steal their livers for her sustenance, then return to her mountain lair to hide. 3109762_tufted-titmouseHer predations went on for years but the Cherokee finally learned to recognize her disguised form by her clenched hand which concealed her deadly sharp finger. A pitfall trap was dug into which she was lured by the warriors, but when they flung their spears and shot their arrows into the pit at her they were deflected by her rock-hard skin. The tribal augur saw a titmouse above in the trees. Hearing its call which sounded like the Tsalagi word for ‘heart’ they aimed their weapons at her heart but to no avail. She would not die. In anger, they captured the bird and cut out its tongue naming it a liar, whereupon it flew away disgraced. 2227163314_f5bd9c2314But later in the battle a brave chickadee flew into the pit and landed upon the finger of the witch. The augur took that as a truer sign and they aimed at her hand finally killing her, for her heart was really in her hand. The chickadee is now still honored by the Tsalagi, but the unfortunate titmouse never redeemed its honor, even though the clue it provided was correct.

* Tsalagi is the word for ‘Cherokee’ in our tongue

(c) March 5, 2013 – Bethany Ariel Frasier

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One thought on “The Legend of U`TLÛÑ’TÄ, a Cherokee Oral Tradition

  1. I love what you write, my beloved sister. Particularly, I love to dive into your great talent, intelligence and hard work.

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