The Cherokee Indian Fair Committee has been meeting since the beginning of the new year to plan for this year’s Fair. One of first items of business was to select a fair theme. The winner of this year’s fair theme was Jeannie Burgess, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of the Wolftown Community. Her entry was “Say it in Cherokee ‘Hniwi Tsalagi’”.
Burgess’ inspiration for entering this theme came from her love of the Cherokee language and her partner J.C. Wachacha. She wrote, “Hniwi Tsalagi” Say it in Cherokee every chance you get, use any Cherokee word(s)/phrase(s) that you can, through the day/night! Even when you are alone. Before you go to sleep, say a new word or phrase and use it throughout your daily routine. Keep doing this until you learn it. Before you know it, you will be putting sentences together and understanding the language.”
When J.C. Wachacha moved here in 2005 from Snowbird, he’d speak to people he thought were Cherokee speakers. They wouldn’t speak to him at all or respond in English or Cherokee. Now, in 2022, he is so excited to have so many people of all ages using what they know and asking for help.
“English doesn’t translate to Cherokee word for word. Don’t give up. Do what you can to learn. Do not be afraid to speak it or to learn it. This is our language, and it helps define who we are, and we can’t lose our language. It is our job to learn what we can and help hand it down to the next generation.”
The Fair Committee noted, “Congratulations Jeanne for entering an impressive theme! The theme is important part of the fair and is woven into various activities and events such as the parade, pageants, craft exhibits, and community club fair booths. We encourage everyone to keep it in mind as you plan for the 2022 Cherokee Indian Fair – ‘Say it in Cherokee – Hniwi Tsalagi’.”
- Submitted by the Cherokee Indian Fair Committee