By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Staff
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) has over 16,000 enrolled members, and a recently approved motto reflects the unity that tribal elders wish for the Tribe – “Our hearts are and continue to be as one” (Ꮠ Ꮙ Ꮔ Ꮝ Ꮧ Ꮧ Ꮞ Ꮝ Ꮧ Ꮧ Ꭶ Ꮣ Ꮕ Ꮩ Ꭹ).
Tribal Council approved unanimously Res. No. 498 (2021), which establishes the motto, during its regular session on Tuesday, June 1.
The legislation, submitted by Anita Lossiah, Hannah Smith, and Bonnie Claxton at the direction of the Cherokee Speakers Council, states, “It has come to the attention of the Cherokee Speakers Council that the Tribe does not have an official motto that reflects the essence and aspirations of our Tribe, and such a contribution to our community could be an additional opportunity for deeper consideration of Cherokee values, aspirations, and appreciation of our culture.”
Following Tuesday’s approval, Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed told the One Feather, “This motto encompasses what it means to be Cherokee. As a people who revere our culture, strive to maintain tradition, and are proud of our heritage and ancestry, this motto captures the essence of what makes us of one heart.”
Smith told the One Feather, “I’m happy the Speaker’s Council believed in the value of an official motto and understood that having an official motto would enrich our community. It will provide another reason for our children and others to be curious about what the motto means, and to spend a moment considering its significance: what it means to them, what it means to the Tribe. Any opportunity to be curious and inquisitive about our present culture, our past history, and our language is an opportunity worth creating.”
During discussion on the legislation on Tuesday, Lossiah told Tribal Council, “It was a very, very large honor to be able to work on this project with the Cherokee Speaker’s Council and to have an end result of a tribal motto that represents unity.”
Marie Junaluska, an EBCI tribal elder and member of the Cherokee Speakers Council, spoke on Tuesday saying, “This has long been coming. We needed this. We didn’t have one, and now I think these are the perfect words for the Tribe.”
Beloved Woman Myrtle Driver, also a member of the Cherokee Speakers Council, noted, “This also translates as “all of our hearts are going in one direction”.
The legislation further states that the motto “could accompany the Tribal Seal, Official Letterhead, and other tribal insignias as the tribal government sees fit to make use of it”.