Western North Carolina’s heritage is uniquely reflected in the traditional language of the Cherokee. And in today’s Asheville Citizen-Times, reporter Dale Neal discusses his own experience in learning this indigenous language which is on the verge of extinction. It is a beautiful article (read it here: “Why I’m Learning Cherokee, the First Language of Our Landscape”), and it offers an invaluable reference to a new website called Your Grandmother’s Cherokee.
This website, the result of a seven-year collaboration to produce a simple and accessible way to teach the Cherokee language, offers a free demonstration and makes available for purchase a 40,000 word/sentence dictionary as well as the language instruction packages.
It is an unusual and thoroughly intriguing website to explore, and perhaps to utilize personally by actually taking these lessons that teach not only language but a way of life. (Note: The Cherokee word/sentences do not distinguish between he, she, and it, which would certainly eliminate a modern writing dilemma!)
This is an example of the written Cherokee language as set forth on the website (the written version, the syllable pronounciation, the Cherokee sentence):
To say “He/she and I will be working tomorrow”:
Ge sdi yi do gi ni lv wi sda ne he sdi
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is the only federally recognized Native American tribe in North Carolina. A further reference in the history of this nation is available through the Museum of the Cherokee Indian (open 7 days a week, year-round, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s days).