Darrell J. Pursiful

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Uncanny Georgia: Chief-of-Deer

As Bill Grantham tells us,

Chief-of-Deer was described as a small deer about two feet high that was either speckled or white with lofty horns. Lena, however, described it as only about two or three inches tall and relates the belief that anyone lucky enough to see a male would have the gift of learning sacred formulas easily. (Creation Myths and Legends of the Creek Indians [University Press of Florida, 2002] 36)

This mysterious creature has a counterpart in Cherokee folklore named Awi Usdi or “The Little Deer.” In ancient times, Awi Usdi advocated for deer-kind with humans by appearing to them in their dreams, urging them only to hunt as much game as they needed to survive and to perform certain hunting ceremonies to acknowledge their indebtedness to the deer for its meat and even ask its forgiveness.

When hunters were careless and did not perform the required rituals, Awi Usdi used his magic to afflict them with rheumatism.



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