Cherokee Healing


Healing practices of the Cherokee are a blend of ritual and medicinal plants. Much of the information of the past has been reported by outsiders of the tribe, as a result of observation, and, at times, through interviews with Cherokee healers. The Cherokee have documented some of their sacred formulas and ceremonies in written form using the Cherokee syllabary developed by Sequoyah. Within the past twenty years, other Cherokee have begun documenting the healing rituals in English; however, some rituals are still considered secret and sacred and only shared orally with tribe healers. Although information about Cherokee healing is plentiful, the majority is buried within literature with subject matters such as Native American history, healing rituals, the use of medicinal plants both by the Cherokee and by other peoples, botany, medical anthropology, and folk medicine. Subject specific bibliographic sources are virtually nonexistent, but there are those, and journals, specific to the other topics previously listed.

Introductory Text: 

Garrett, J. T. Medicine of the Cherokee: The Way of Right Relationship. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Bear & Company Publishers, c1996. ASU W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection. E99.C5 G237 1996

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly Relevant:

  • Cherokee Astronomy
  • Cherokee Indians – Rites and Ceremonies
  • Cherokee Indians – Ethnobotany
  • Cherokee Indians – Ethnozoology
  • Cherokee Indians – Folklore
  • Cherokee Indians – History
  • Cherokee Indians – Legends
  • Cherokee Indians – Medicine
  • Cherokee Indians – Religion
  • Cherokee Indians - Social Life and Customs
  • Cherokee Incantations
  • Cherokee Magic
  • Cherokee Mythology
  • Cherokee Philosophy
  • Indians of North America – Medicine
  • Indians of North America – North Carolina
  • Indians of North America – Southern States – Ethnobotany
  • Medicinal Plants – Appalachian Region, Southern
  • Shamanism – Oklahoma
  • Traditional Medicine – Appalachian Region, Souther

Also Relevant:

  • Cherokee Dance
  • Cherokee Indians – Attitudes
  • Cherokee Indians – Bibliography
  • Cherokee Indians – Biography
  • Cherokee Indians – Psychology
  • Cherokee Indians – South Atlantic States – History – 18th Century
  • Cherokee Indians – Stories
  • Cherokee Mythology-Guidebooks
  • Folklore – Performance, Shamanism
  • Indians of North America – North Carolina – Religion – Guides
  • Indians of North America – Religion
  • Indians of North America – Southern States
  • Indians of North American – Southern States – Religion – Guides
  • Little Bear, John
  • Medicinal Plants – North Carolina
  • Plants – Appalachian Region, Southern – Folklore
  • Shamanism – United States
  • Shamans – Biography
  • Shamans – United States
  • Traditional Medicine – North Carolina
  • Witchcraft – Oklahoma

More General:

  • Botany – Medical
  • Cherokee Indians – Tennessee, East – History
  • Ethnobotany – Dictionaries
  • Ethnobotany – Southern States
  • Ethnozoology
  • Flowers – Folklore
  • Flowers – Religious Aspects
  • Healing – Religious Aspects
  • Indians of North America – Folklore
  • Indians of North America – Religion
  • Indians of North America – Stories
  • Indian Philosophy – North America
  • Materia Medica, Vegetable – Appalachian Region, Southern
  • Medicinal Plants
  • Plants – Folklore – Dictionaries
  • Plants, Medicinal – Bibliography
  • Psychotropic Drugs – Folklore
  • Psychotropic Plants – Dictionaries
  • Sacred Space – North Carolina – Guidebooks
  • Sequoyah
  • Spiritual Healing – United States


  • Cherokee Indians – Costume
  • Herbals – North Carolina
  • Herbs – Therapeutic Use
  • Materia Medica, Vegetable – United States
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Medicinal Plants – Dictionaries
  • Medicine, Popular
  • Mental Healing
  • Psychiatry, Transcultural
  • Spiritual Healing
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • E99.C5
  • RS171
  • E78
  • E98.R3
  • GR790.P45
  • QK1 .U45
  • SB99
  • SI2
  • Z1209
  • Z1210
  • BL2370.S5
  • GN296
  • QK83 .R3813
  • F442.1
  • PM781
  • QK1 .U45
  • RC455.4.E8

Garrett, J. T. The Cherokee Herbal: Native Plant Medicine from the Four Directions. Rochester, VT: Bear & Company, 2003. Western Carolina University. RS171.G375 2003

Hamel, Paul B; Chiltoskey, Mary U. Cherokee Plants: And Their Uses – a 400 Year History. Sylva, North Carolina: Herald Publishing Company, 1975. E99.C5 H224

Kilpatrick, Jack Frederick, ed; Anna Gritts Kilpatrick, ed. “Notebook of a Cherokee Shaman.” Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology. 2:6 (1970): 83-125. ASU W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection. GN1 .S54 v.2, no.6

Mooney, James. Myths of the Cherokee and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees, (from the 19th and 7th Annual Reports B. A, E. 1900. Nashville, TN: Charles Elder – Bookseller Publisher, 1972. ASU W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection. E99.C5 M764

Mooney, James. The Swimmer Manuscript: Cherokee Sacred Formulas and Medicinal Prescriptions. Edited by Frans M. Olbrechts. Washington, DC: United States Government Print Office, 1932. ASU W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection. E99.C5 M775 1932

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

American Indian Culture and Research Journal. Los Angeles: American Indian Culture and Research Center, University of California. WNCLN Online Resources.

Anderson, William L. A Guide to Cherokee Documents in Foreign Archives. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1983. ASU W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection. Z1210.C46 A53 1983

Carney, Ginny. Cherokee/Appalachian Literature and Other Resource Materials. Berea, Kentucky: Berea College, Appalachian Studies Summer Institute, 1994. ASU W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Closed. Z1209.2.U52 A67 1994.

Christian, Ratsch. The Dictionary of Sacred and Magical Plants. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 1992. Western Carolina University. QK83 .R3813 1992.

Crawford, O’Brien, Suzanne J. American Indian Religious Traditions: An Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, c2005. ASU Main Stacks. E98R3 C755 2005


Ball, Donald B. A Bibliography of Tennessee Anthropology, Including Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Melungeon Studies. Knoxville: Tennessee Anthropological Association, 1977. Western Carolina University. E78.T3 Z92 1977

Bibliography of Native North Americans. Norwood, Massachusetts: SilverPlatter International. Available from: Ebsco Publishing, Ebsco Industries, Incorporated. WNCLN Online Resources.

Dockstader, Frederick J. The American Indian in Graduate Studies: A Bibliography of Theses and Dissertations. New York: Museum of the American Indian, Heve Foundation, 1973-1974. ASU W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection. Z1209.D62

Oukay, Emperor of Tsalagi. Cherokee Bibliography. Dallas, Texas: Triskelion Press, 1994.

Abstracts and Indices: 

Academic OneFile.

Academic Search Premier.

America: History and Life.

Anthropological Literature.

Henry, Jeannette, Helen Redbird-Selam, Mary Nelson, and Rupert Cost, eds., Index to Literature on the American Indian. The Indian Historian Press, Inc., 1972. Western Carolina University. Z1209 I53 1970

Proquest, Ethnic News Watch.


Appalachian Journal. Boone, North Carolina. ASU Appalachian Collection. Bound: v. 1 – 1974 – Winter 2008. Semi-annual. F216.2. A66

Journal of Cherokee Studies, Cherokee, North Carolina. ASU W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection. Bound: v. 1 – 1976 – v. 26 2008. Semi-annual. E99.C5 J68

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Donna Corriher, December 2009