By SANDY NICOLETTE
Did you know “yonah”, as in Yonah Mountain, means bear in Cherokee? EBCI tribal member Diamond Brown taught students Cherokee words during his recent visit to Hayesville. Diamond Brown, or better know as Go-Sti, a family name meaning “something hard” (diamond) in the Cherokee language, grew up in the Snowbird Community of Graham County.
As a native educator and native culturist since 1992, Go-Sti travels all over the United States teaching and sharing his knowledge about the Cherokee culture. The Hayesville fourth and sixth graders benefited from that experience when Diamond spoke to them at the Clay County Schools amphitheater on Friday, May 2.
Brown, who was dressed in a style of clothing that would have been common after the Europeans arrived on this continent, described how Cherokee traditions were passed down from the elders and knowledge was learned orally. The Cherokee learned to respect all natural things, as they relied on nature for their food, medicine, clothing, and shelter. Animals were killed to provide food and clothing for the hunter’s family. Other parts of the animal would be used to make items needed for daily living. Horns might be fashioned into spoons, needles, or instruments. Antlers might become buttons or used as a hammer. Plants were used for food, shelter, clothing and medicine. It was important to take only some of the animals and plants at one time, because they would be needed in the future.
Brown clarified the correct drum beat rhythm the Cherokee and other native peoples use by comparing the native drumbeat to our own steady heart beats. It might be slow, medium or fast depending on the tempo of the singers and dancers.
He took the time to commend Hayesville and the Clay County Communities Revitalization Association (CCCRA) for their efforts to share the Cherokee culture. He highlighted the winter and summer houses at the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit as outstanding as they are authentic and accurate representations of Cherokee houses.
The presentation was organized by Clay County Communities Revitalization Association. Brown will share more about the Cherokee culture at the Cherokee Heritage Festival at Hayesville’s Cherokee Homestead Exhibit on Saturday, Sept. 20 from 10a.m. – 3p.m.