Swimmer (1835-March, 1899), Cherokee traditionalist and storyteller, was born in the Cherokee country of southwestern North Carolina. His Cherokee name, Ayunini, meaning “swimmer”, was trained by the masters of his tribe to be a medicine man, a doctor, and the keeper of tradition, he never learned to speak English but instead maintained his Native culture and heritage throughout his life. In fact, as it was intended he should be, he became the conservator of the history and traditions of his people.
As a youth he learned the Cherokee Syllabary from the elders of his tribe and began early to keep a notebook in which he recorded the sacred rights as well as the facts and stories of his people. He also made note of their ways of doing things and identified plants, roots, and barks whose use had proven useful or effective in one way or another.
During the Civil War Swimmer enlisted on 9 Apr. 1862 and served as second sergeant of the Cherokee Company A, Sixty-ninth North Carolina Confederate Regiment in Colonel William Thomas’s legion.
Cherokee Medicine Man, Ayunini (Swimmer)
Didanvwisgi (He Heals Them) 1888