Student performs Cherokee song at NSU symposium
By TESINA JACKSON Reporter TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Throughout the Northeastern State University Annual Symposium on the American Indian, new ideas are presented and discussed by guests, instructors and students. This year was the first year a student presented a song she had written in Cherokee. “The song is called ‘Jiwonihesdi’ and it’s about me learning my language,” Danielle Culp, NSU junior and former Miss Cherokee, said. “My mom is a speaker, it was her first language and when she married my dad, I didn’t have the opportunity to hear Cherokee in my home. And so I came to college and it was really important to me and so I wrote this song as showing the legacy that she’s passing on to me with the Cherokee language.” Culp is majoring in Cherokee cultural studies. “She’s been a student of ours in Cherokee language for the last three years,” said NSU Cherokee language instructor Harry Oosahwee. “And the thing that impresses me with some of our young people is how they utilize the language when they learn it. They do things that aren’t just your normal, everyday things with the language. They’re able to do a lot of things. Write poetry, short stories and whatnot. Well Danielle is one of the special students that has been able to write a Cherokee song that she’s written herself.” Culp, president of the NSU Native American Student Association, presented the song at Oosahwee’s Cherokee Language Forum April 14 where fluent Cherokee speakers from communities in Oklahoma and North Carolina give the audience a chance to hear and experience the spoken Cherokee language in different dialects. “The actual writing process only took about an hour but the hardest thing was putting it to music and that took about two hours because since Cherokee has a syllabary, it was really hard to get each of the syllables to fit the beat and to flow,” Culp said. While Culp’s mother, Ellen, helped write the song, Culp’s boyfriend, Alex Cobb, a NSU music major, helped write the music. At the symposium, Cobb played the music on a guitar while Culp sang. “It was a really important project to me because singing is what I love to do,” Culp said. “I think it was important for me to take what I love doing and take that with my traditions and my heritage. It was a really good project, it really expressed where my heart is with my people but also with my own interests and making those into one.” At the end of the performance, Culp dedicated the song to her mother, who was in the audience. “My favorite line is the very last one. It say’s ‘Cherokee is what she spoke first, Cherokee is what I’ll speak last,’” Culp said. “That’s what the whole song is about.” (English lyrics) A difference I could make it A chance would I take it, I don’t know anything But I know that I do not want to be stuck here I want to do what is right I want to learn, I want to teach Now I have to go, I have to learn I don’t know where I’m going I know that this place isn’t it I want to learn, I want to speak Even if I fail I’ll try once more I’ll listen whey they speak I have much to do, now is the time A difference I could make it A chance would I take it, I don’t know anything Our language is important Those who are growing up are important It begins in the heart Now I have to go, I have to learn I don’t know where I’m going I know that this place isn’t it I want to learn, I want to speak Even if I fail I’ll try once more I’ll listen when they speak I have much to do, now is the time Cherokee is what she spoke first Cherokee is what I’ll speak last (Phonetics) Diganetliyvsdi eliwus yinigadung Utlanvdadehv dvgadvnelis, Tla yagwahnta Tla sehno yagwadli ahan agwetilvgi Osdaheno agwaduli yagwadvhdi Agwadelquasdi awaduli, digadeyosdi agwaduli Now awanagisdi, daganagis Tla yagwahta wigedolv Awahtahen tla ahan yig Agwaduli digadelquasd, awaduli jiwonisg Sehno yaginutlvna Sagwu’l yvganeldi Gajitvdasdesdi aniwonihv’l Squisdiheno yagwadvti, nowiheno atliloga Diganetliyvsdi eliwus yinigadung Utlanvdadehv dvgadvnelis, Tla yagwahnta Gawohnihisdi ulisgedv Kalo anatvsg ulisgedv Adahnvdo didalenihvsga Now awanagisdi, daganagis Tla yagwahta wigedolv Awahtahen tla ahan yig Agwaduli digadelquasd, awaduli jiwonisg Sehno yaginutlvna Sagwu’l yvganeldi Gajitvdasdesdi aniwonihv’l Squisdiheno yagwadvti, nowiheno atliloga Tsalagi hehno igvyi tsigawonihv Tsalagi hehno oni tsiwonihesdi, tsiwonihesdi Click on the audio player below to hear ‘Jiwonihesdi’ by Danielle Culp.
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