Under old traditional law, the tales or stories were only told to fellow Cherokee or other Indian People. Even if an individual was a Cherokee or other type of Indian, they would have to be invited by the myth keeper or tale teller to hear the stories. They would first have to go the medicine man for preparation. The Medicine man would then perform a scratching ceremony on them. He would scratch their arms from shoulder to elbow and elbow to wrist from a comb, usually made from the teeth of a rattle snake. A healing red powder was blown over the red marks that the comb made on their arms. Finally, they were able to hear the stories of the myth keeper, in a small dome shaped earthen covered hut. The stories would last all night and into the morning, until Grandmother Sun appeared in the East. Then they would go to the water. Each person would dip themselves seven times under the water while a priest would recite prayers from the bank of the water.

The stories were passed down from generation to generation. It is said that the true myth keeper can become the animal about whom they speak. It is also said that myth keepers have to be actors, mimes, singers, and dancers. There are many, many parts to being a myth keeper.

There are two groups of stories told by the Cherokee. First, there are the sacred stories. These stories are the serious type of stories which tell about why the Cherokee came to have certain healings, songs and that sort of thing. The second type of stories is the small animal stories. These stories tell why a certain animal looks the way they do, or act they way they do. In the stories, the animals are much larger than they are now and they could speak. It is taught to the Cherokee that in the beginning, man had the ability to speak with the animals. We spoke the same language. But, man abused their privilege by taking too much and becoming greedy. Therefore, man lost their ability to speak with the animals.

- Eagle Woman, Cherokee Storyteller
Storytelling of the North Carolina Native Americans.
Created by Bryan Acree, John Ikeda, and Marcela Musgrove
for JOMC 125, "Cybercasting and Cyberpublishing"
at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
© 2011 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.