TITLE: Cherokee Booger
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
SUBREGION: North Carolina
DESCRIPTION: Booger mask
MAKER: Luther “Toby” Hughes, Westville, Oklahoma
CEREMONY: Booger Dance
MAIN MATERIAL: cedar wood
OTHER MATERIALS: horsehair; pigment; leather straps
In the Eastern Cherokee Nation, the booger (tsu’nigadu’li) dance forms an important part of the winter celebration to discourage evil spirits from disrupting the coming growing season. The boogers themselves represent the evil spirits, and they traditionally portrayed grotesque faces seeking to fight, chase women, and create general havoc. Following colonization, the booger dancers focused their misdeeds especially on satirizing the insolence, foolishness, and lust of European colonists toward the Cherokee women.
Booger masks could be made of wood, gourds, or carved wasp nests. This mask was made by Luther “Toby” Hughes, a member of the Keetowah Band who was designated a Living National Treasure in 1994, the same year this mask was made.
For more on Cherokee masked dance, see Frank G. Speck & Leonard Broom, Cherokee Dance and Drama (University of Oklahoma Press 1951).