OPINION: All-Cherokee language section more than novelty

Multimedia Editor – @cp_mdreadfulwat
10/01/2018 02:00 PM
In case you haven’t seen it, we recently published an eight-page, all-Cherokee section within the September issue of the Cherokee Phoenix. It was the brainchild of Assistant Editor Travis Snell, and he came up with the idea in earlier this year. It took months to put together. It wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation of the Cherokee Nation’s Cherokee Language Program and its translators – Roy Boney, Lawrence Panther, Dennis Sixkiller, Anna Sixkiller, John Ross, David Crawler and Zachary Barnes. They not only translated stories written in English into the Cherokee syllabary, they also read the translations and recorded them so they could be heard. It was printed and mailed out to our subscribers and available at our booths during the Cherokee National Holiday.

During the holiday, it received nothing but positive comments from those who took time to pick it up and look at it. During my time covering our booth inside the W. W. Keeler Tribal Complex, I saw many just walk by, pick it up and take it. However, one lady stopped and asked me many questions about it. Several I knew the answer to, but one question I couldn’t answer stuck out in my mind.

“How many people can actually read this?”

All I could say was “out of the more than 300,000 Cherokee Nation citizens, not very many.”

She agreed with that general answer, said it was neat and was glad to see it printed. We spoke for a few more minutes and she was on her way.

That conversation and particular question has been on my mind since. Although I don’t know the exact number of CN citizens who can read the syllabary, nor do I think anyone knows for sure, it is low.

This raises another question, “Then why spend the money, time, effort and human resources to print it?”

The answer is simple. Because it’s our responsibility to make the language visible to our readers and available to all regardless of how many people can read it.

With the help of today’s technology, the Cherokee language is more accessible than ever. There are online classes available and Cherokee syllabary keyboards on computers and smartphones just to name a few.

Our printed all-Cherokee issue is another example of how technology allows us to add to the resurgence of our language. In the issue, we included a QR code within each story that can be scanned with a smartphone that links to audio recordings read in Cherokee by a translator.

Although we’ve published many stories translated in the Cherokee language that included QR codes since I started working here, we’ve not published an entire eight-page section. And to my knowledge, this is the first time this has been done in the modern Cherokee Phoenix era. This is a significant historical accomplishment and should not be seen as a novelty but as another step in the right direction to help grow the number of Cherokee speakers. It took the work of many people to put it together, and I’m glad I was a part of it.

The PDF version of the all-Cherokee section is available at https://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Documents/2018/8/62541_2018AllCherokeeIssue.pdf and each individual story has also been published on our website.
About the Author
Mark Dreadfulwater has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2006. He began as a graphic designer, a position that exposed him to all factions of the organization. Upon completing his j ...
MARK-DREADFULWATER@cherokee.org • 918-453-5087
Mark Dreadfulwater has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2006. He began as a graphic designer, a position that exposed him to all factions of the organization. Upon completing his j ...


Principal Chief
08/02/2019 05:17 PM
In a recent op-ed, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt called for a renegotiation of the highly successful tribal gaming compacts, government-to-government agreements that have fueled our home state, public education and job creation for more than 15 years. He argued that new compacts should reflect “market condi...

University of Connecticut
07/24/2019 08:49 PM
A key presidential election is approaching. The U.S. Supreme Court hears a case with powerful political implications. The court rules, but the populist president doesn’t care. Our national commitments – to the Constitution, to morality, to the rule of law – seem at risk. Then, the presi...

Oklahoma Governor
07/16/2019 04:31 PM
Fifteen years ago, the citizens of Oklahoma approved State Question 712, and the Oklahoma Legislature passed laws permitting the state to enter into gaming “compacts” with the federally recognized Indian tribes located in Oklahoma.

Within a few years, Oklahoma led the nation in the number of tribal g...

Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
07/16/2019 03:29 PM
When I first heard it, I didn’t realize it was making an impression on me. I thought I was just watching Saturday morning cartoons. But looking back, “Kill da wabbit! Kill da wabbit!” was probably the first time I remember hearing classica...

Principal Chief
07/16/2019 11:58 AM
The Cherokee Nation was recently bestowed a great honor by the U.S. Navy, which has decided to name its latest rescue ship after our tribal nation. The forthcoming USNS Cherokee Nation will be launched in ...

Tribal Councilor-elect
07/05/2019 12:19 PM
Throughout the 2019 Cherokee Nation political campaign for a new principal chief and a new round of new or returning tribal councilors, there has been a dichotomy apparent. These two factions mirror an...