Cherokee language animated series to debut soon

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/16/2020 02:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
A new animated series titled “Inage’i,” which translated in Cherokee is “In The Woods,” was created via a partnership between the Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma Film + Music Office and FireThief Productions. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Production for a new Cherokee language animated series pilot episode titled “Inage’i” or “In The Woods” is complete.

The series was created through a partnership between the Cherokee Nation, the Oklahoma Film + Music Office and FireThief Productions, an independent film company.

The animated series follows the adventures of four animal friends who live together in the forests of Turtle Island. Iga Daya’i the mischievous rabbit, Juksvsgi the gruff wolf, Anawegi the conscientious deer and Kvliwohi the wise bear are characters drawn from Cherokee storytelling tradition.

“Our goal is to create a series that will compete with today’s popular cartoons, while at the same time conveying an authentic Cherokee worldview,” series co-creator Jeremy Charles of FireThief Productions, said.

The CN funded the animated language series as part of its Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act to preserve and revitalize the Cherokee language. The series also features voiceovers from Cherokee speakers who are part of the CN Film Office’s Native American talent database.

“Preserving and perpetuating the Cherokee language for future generations requires new avenues that allow us to both share and teach the language,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “This partnership has produced an animated series pilot that I believe will grab the attention of children and adults alike. Whether they are introduced to the Cherokee language for the first time or re-introduced to a language that they are already familiar with, we are excited about the groundbreaking possibilities this series will create for the Cherokee language in the years to come.”

Cherokee artist Roy Boney Jr. interpreted the characters in a contemporary style.

“From their clothing and accessories, the tattoo-like markings on their fur, and even their dwelling spaces – everything is based in Cherokee culture,” Boney said. “Those elements were incorporated into an animation style that someone would see on mainstream movies or television.”

FireThief Productions, in collaboration with the tribe’s Cherokee Language Masters Apprentice Program, assembled an all-Oklahoma team to create the pilot episode. Creative Filter is bringing Boney’s artwork to life while composer Kawnar is collaborating with Cherokee musicians, the Cherokee National Youth Choir and vocalist Cora Flute, who wrote and performed the lyrics to the show’s theme song. CN citizens Harry Oosahwee, Betty Frogg, Lauren Hummingbird and Schon Duncan were cast as voice actors. The tribe’s Cherokee Translation team provided translations for the project.

“Cherokee communities saw a sweeping decline in Cherokee language usage among young children when television programming entered the homes of our rural communities,” said Howard Paden, executive director of the tribe’s Cherokee Language department. “This animation project, like others, will use the same technology to bring the language back into the home. Now young Cherokee children will be able to enjoy cartoons in Cherokee.”

According to the Cherokee National Holiday schedule, the pilot episode is set to be shown at 8 p.m. on Sept. 4 at the Drive-In Movie Night at the Tribal Complex’s One Fire Field.

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