The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Lorax Activity Book project to implement the “Making a Visible Difference in Communities Across the Country” initiative. From the EPA Administrator, this initiative was formed to promote environmental awareness and community needs. Of the five communities chosen by EPA to implement the initiative, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians was the only tribe. The EPA recognized that the EBCI is dedicated to promoting a healthy, sustainable environment and is committed to building the capacity of its environmental programs. Therefore, the EPA is determined to collaborate with the EBCI to address air, water and land quality priorities that directly affect the health and vitality of tribal members.
To promote environmentally friendly actions that children can do to help save energy and take care of the planet, the EPA and Energy Star programs created the Dr. Seuss Lorax Activity Book. In the story, the Lorax is an eco-loving Dr. Seuss character that speaks for the trees against the Once-ler, a greedy industrialist. The Lorax story represents the dangers that corporate greed poses to the environment. Because of the EBCI’s dedication to preserve both the environment and Cherokee language, the EPA thought it would be fitting to work with the EBCI’s Natural Resources Department (NRD). In order to preserve culture and environment, the Natural Resource Department’s Air Quality Program looked to translate the Lorax Activity Book into the Cherokee language.
The EPA has never had a document of this kind converted into a Native American language, largely because of the complexity of material often lost in translation. A book translation is a large undertaking, so it was difficult to find qualified and able Cherokee people or programs that could aid in this effort. The Air Quality Program searched for assistance from several individuals and Cherokee language programs, but the task seemed too difficult or time consuming. With the deadline fast approaching, they finally found a collaborator, knowledgeable Cherokee language speaker Wiggins Blackfox of the Wolftown Community.
Blackfox finished the translation within a week. “Since words in the English language have several meanings and the Cherokee language is very precise and descriptive, translation can be very difficult and time consuming. Some of the words in the Lorax Activity Book were left untranslated because they did not have a meaning in the Cherokee language.”
He added, “Also, some of the translated words may be different depending on what Cherokee speaker is asked and where they are from.”
Blackfox agreed to complete the project without compensation. However, the EPA had already contracted funding for a translator, so Blackfox chose to make a charitable donation of $2,000 to Betty’s Place, a Cancer Support Group, in memory of Darrell Ross, which he did on Thursday, Oct. 13.
The Cherokee Language version of the EPA and Energy Star’s Lorax Activity Book will soon be available to the EBCI community.
– EBCI Natural Resources Department