Cherokee Earth Dwellers: Stories and Teachings of the Natural World

by Christopher B. Teuton and Hastings Shade'

SEATTLE, WA— Ayetli gadogv—to "stand in the middle"—is at the heart of a Cherokee perspective of the natural world. From this stance, Cherokee Earth Dwellers offers a rich understanding of nature grounded in Cherokee creature names, oral traditional stories, and reflections of elders and knowledge holders. During his lifetime, elder Hastings Shade created booklets with over six hundred Cherokee names for animals and plants. With this foundational collection at its center, and weaving together a chorus of voices, this book emerges from a deep
and continuing collaboration between Christopher B. Teuton, Hastings Shade, Loretta Shade, and others.

Positioning our responsibilities as humans to our more-than- human relatives, this book presents teachings about the body, mind, spirit, and wellness that have been shared for generations, accompanied by illustrations from Cherokee artist MaryBeth Timothy. From clouds to birds, oceans to quarks, the expansive Cherokee view of nature reveals a living, communicative world and humanity's role within it.

“The teachings shared in Cherokee Earth Dwellers are made all the more urgent by the endangered health of the Cherokee language,” writes Teuton. In northeastern Oklahoma, home to the Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, there may be fewer than two thousand fluent first
language speakers of Cherokee. “Written for Cherokee community but accessible to all, the book offers a model of community-driven, culturally appropriate Indigenous knowledge production performed collaboratively by and with Indigenous people.”


“Cherokee Earth Dwellers shares knowledge of our world as a relational realm that
includes humans but does not center them. Works like this are direly needed to
counteract an increasing global deficiency in ecological morality.”
—Clint Carroll (Cherokee Nation), University of Colorado Boulder

“With signature wit and clarity, Teuton and Shade help Cherokee people to practice Keetoowah ways in and through our language. These are the Keetoowah teachings we need at just the right time.”
—Ellen Cushman (Cherokee Nation), Northeastern University

“Thoughtfully considered, beautifully written, and artfully organized, Cherokee Earth Dwellers stands as an exemplar of ethically engaged and community-grounded scholarship for Indigenous Studies. We need this book and more like it.”
—Daniel Heath Justice (Cherokee Nation), University of British Columbia

Christopher B. Teuton (Cherokee Nation) is professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington. He is the author of Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars’ Club.

Hastings Shade (1941–2010) was deputy chief of the Cherokee Nation (1999–2003) and named a Cherokee National Treasure in 1991.

Loretta Shade (1946–2021) was a master level speaker of the Cherokee language and named a Cherokee National Treasure in 2018.

Larry Shade (Cherokee Nation) is an educator and cultural traditionalist.

MaryBeth Timothy (Cherokee Nation) is an accomplished artist noted for depictions of Native life and the natural world.