Student performs Cherokee song at NSU symposium

BY TESINA JACKSON
Former Reporter
04/21/2011 07:21 AM
Audio Clip
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.

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org • (918) 453-5000, ext. 6139
ᏣᎳᎩ

ᏥᏬᏂᎮᏍᏗ

ᏗᎦᏁᏟᏴᏍᏗ ᎡᎵᏭᏍ ᏱᏂᎦᏚᏂᎦ
ᎤᏝᏅᏓᏕᎲ ᏛᎦᏛᏁᎵᏍ, Ꮭ ᏯᏆᎾᏔ
Ꮭ ᏎᏃ ᏯᏆᏚᎵ ᎠᎭᏂ ᎠᏇᏘᎸᎩ
ᎠᏍᏓᎮᏃ ᎠᏆᏚᎵ ᏯᏆᏛᏗ
ᎠᏆᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎠᏩᏚᎵ, ᏗᎦᏕᏲᏍᏗ
ᎠᏆᏚᎵ
ᏃᏩ ᎠᏩᎾᎩᏍᏗ, ᏓᎦᎾᎩᏍ
Ꮭ ᏯᏆᏔ ᏫᎨᏙᎸ
ᎠᏩᏔᎮᎾ Ꮭ ᎠᎭᏂ ᏱᎩ
ᎠᏆᏚᎵ ᏗᎦᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ, ᎠᏩᏚᎵ ᏥᏬᏂᏍᎩ
ᎠᏎᏃ ᏯᎩᏄᏢᎾ
ᏌᏊᎢ ᏴᎦᏁᎳᏗ
ᎦᏥᏛᏓᏍᏕᏍᏗ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᎲᎢ
ᏍᏈᏍᏗᎮᏃ ᏯᏆᏛᏘ, ᏃᏫᎮᏃ ᎠᏟᎶᎦ
ᏗᎦᏁᏟᏴᏍᏗ ᎡᎵᏭᏍ ᏱᏂᎦᏚᏂᎦ
ᎤᏝᏅᏓᏕᎲ ᏛᎦᏛᏁᎵᏍ, Ꮭ ᏯᏆᎾᏔ
ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏛ
ᎧᎶ ᎠᎾᏛᏍᎦ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏛ
ᎠᏓᏅᏙ ᏗᏓᎴᏂᎲᏍᎦ
ᏃᏩ ᎠᏩᎾᎩᏍᏗ, ᏓᎦᎾᎩᏍ
Ꮭ ᏯᏆᏔ ᏫᎨᏙᎸ
ᎠᏩᏔᎮᎾ Ꮭ ᎠᎭᏂ ᏱᎩ
ᎠᏆᏚᎵ ᏗᎦᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ, ᎠᏩᏚᎵ ᏥᏬᏂᏍᎩ
ᎠᏎᏃ ᏯᎩᏄᏢᎾ
ᏌᏊᎢ ᏴᎦᏁᎳᏗ
ᎦᏥᏛᏓᏍᏕᏍᏗ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᎲᎢ
ᏍᏈᏍᏗᎮᏃ ᏯᏆᏛᏘ, ᏃᏫᎮᏃ ᎠᏟᎶᎦ
ᏣᎳᎩ ᎮᏃ ᎢᎬᏱ ᏥᎦᏬᏂᎲᎢ
ᏣᎳᎩ ᎮᏃ ᎣᏂ ᏥᏬᏂᎮᏍᏗ, ᏥᏬᏂᎮᏍᏗ

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