Submitted by Cherokee Speakers Council
Note: The Cherokee Indian Fair Parade is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 4 p.m.
ᎳᏥᏏ Chairman Roger Smoker – Grew up and still lives in Snowbird community
Roger has been involved in the Cherokee language preservation initiative for 10 years. A graduate of Haskell Indian Nation University with a Natural resource Science degree. He is retired from the Department of Agriculture with the US Forest Service. He worked with the Cherokee Master’s Apprentice program here in Cherokee and The Cherokee Language Consortium (a collective group of all 3 federally recognized tribes that are all first language speakers). Roger is the current chairman of the Snowbird community club, chairman for the Community Club council, vice-chair for the election board. Coordinator for ‘Fading Voices’ and currently teaches the “Dadiwonisi” -Adult immersion program in Snowbird. He recently nominated to serve on the Cherokee Wellness and conservation advisory board. Roger is the first Chairman of the Cherokee Speakers Council. He is a man that supports and shares his knowledge in the community. Otsaliheliga -We are all thankful.
ᎹᎵ ᏧᏄᎳᎲᏍᎩ Secretary Marie Junaluska – Grew up in the Wolftown community. Lives in the Painttown Community an advocate and speaker of the Kituwah dialect of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. She was the first treasurer and is currently The Speakers Council Secretary. She has translated many books, public service announcements and tribal documents for all Cherokee speakers and learners in the area. She began teaching Cherokee language in 1977. Marie has translated many books , material and animated shorts for the New Kituwah Academy and Cherokee Central schools as well as serving as a teacher for the staff. She served as a tribal council member for the Paint town community for 7 terms. She has been a member of the Cherokee Language consortium for more than 13 years. She says, “The best thing about the Consortium is it is strengthening and empowering the Cherokee language now and more importantly for future generations. The Consortium has enjoined the long-standing gap of separation among the United Keetowah Band, Western Band and Eastern Band Cherokees restoring genuine family connections.” Marie, and her family reside in Cherokee, NC.
Treasurer ᎡᏂ Elenora Long Nations – Grew up in the Big Cove Community and currently resides in Birdtown. Elenora joined the local language initiative 1 years ago. We are the happier for it. She was elected treasurer last term. Elenora has 3 brothers, 3 sisters. She is the daughter of Dina and Allen Long of Big Cove. Elenora grew up a Cherokee speaking home. Her Grandfather was Will West Long Councilman of the Eastern Band and community sage. Worked at the Cherokee Indian Hospital as a clerk in the ER for 24 years. She’s an avid hiker. Like staying active. She enjoys working in the language because it is relaxing and fun. She loves gardening and canning. She has 2 children Kristy and Kevin. Elenora is happy and pleasant person. She has 5 grandchildren, Grace, Travis, Makala, Ezra, and Curren.
ᎦᎵᏣᏗ Administrator-Moderator Bo Lossiah – Grew up in the Wolftown Community. Currently resides in Yellowhill. Has worked for the New Kituwah Academy for 12 years. Has been helping with the Cherokee Speakers council for 3 years. His mother is the late Lou Ella Lossiah of the Wolf town Community. She is Eastern Band. His father is the late Larry Soap a Western Cherokee who resides in Muskogee. What he enjoys the most about the Speakers Council is “…that when we are together we are whole again and that’s how we are supposed to be…Sogwo Giga (one Blood) Sogwo gawonihisdi (One Language), nole Sogwo igatlinigvga (One Power). We are brothers and sisters. We know this. All the elements that constitute a family are evident.
ᎦᏫᎵ Cherokee Administrator Garfield Axe-Long -Is a proud lifetime Wolftown resident.
Garfield Long Jr lives in the Wolf town Community and was raised by his Grandparents, Posey and Bessie C. Long. His mom Katherine Wachacha was from Snowbird. Cherokee is his first language and in the company of his dad and his mom’s side of the family Cherokee is the primary language spoken. Currently Garfield works at the New Kituwah Immersion School and has participated with the Language Consortium since it began 10 years ago.
Esteemed Council Members
ᏤᏏ JC Wachacha– Born and raised in the Snowbird Community and currently resides in Wolf town. Has been involved in several initiatives throughout his career. Worked as a teacher at New Kituwah Academy-Early childhood, worked in the elementary school, for the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program. He is a Translator, teacher, mentor, and facilitator of many community classes. Cherokee is his first language. It is the only language spoken in company of family. He has been an active advocate in the Cherokee Language Revitalization efforts for many years. He has been a part of New Kituwah Academy for many years. To the children and staff he is still known as ᎡᏚᏥ (e-du-tsi) which means “Uncle.” He is much more. He represents Perseverance, Inspiration and Understanding. We are all thankful for his presence.
ᏣᎵ Charlie Bigwitch
Born and raised in the Wolf town community. Charlie has been a teacher for the early childhood and New Kituwah Academy for 18 years. Charlie is a skilled river cane basket maker. He owns his own lawncare business. Parents were Fred and Eva Bigwitch. Grew up in a Cherokee speaking home with 4 sisters and 5 brothers. Charlie has one daughter Citrus and 3 grandsons Owen, Tsegsan, and Usdi Tsali. They are expert fisherman and speak Cherokee with their Grandpa.
ᎹᏗ Maddie Wildcatt
Lifelong resident of the Big Cove Community. Maddie grew up in Cherokee Speaking home with 2 sisters and 9 brothers. She is the daughter Simpson and Agnes Welch both from Big Cove. She is an expert basket maker. She has been teaching the adult learners for seven years and inspired every cohort with her knowledge and kind smile. She has 3 daughters Leeann, Kristina, Frances Panther and one son Mark Panther. She participates in Senior games. Her favorite events include: Horseshoes, cornhole and Bocci ball. She is a two-time silver medalist in the Horseshoe event. She loves teaching the adult learners and enjoys seeing and hearing their growth. She has 8 grandchildren and 9 great grand kids.
Ꮇ Lucille Lossiah
From the Painttown community-spent time in Yellow hill But her primary home has been in Paint town.
The daughter of Mary Jane Lossiah. Lucille has one sister-Ramona. Lucille is a talented basket maker. She has specialized in maple and rivercane for over 40 years. She has won several awards and merits for her work. Lucille worked at Oconalufteee Indian Village for 38 summers. She still works there on Fridays and Saturdays. We are happy to have her guidance and expertise with the group. Lucille is an outstanding fisherman. It is a pastime she savors in the evening to relax. Lucille loves to go to the flea market and farmer markets. Her basketry work has carried her to: Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Washington DC…just to name a few. Lucille says she is enjoying life and thankful that the creator gave her the language and talent that carries her many places and working in the language is just a lot of fun. She loves watching the students grow” Her favorite activity is sharing fun short stories in Cherokee. Some of her favorite foods are sochan, lye dumplings, and fried potatoes. Her grandmother Betty Long Lossiah lived to be 99. When Lucille first went to school. She remembers her grandmother saying, “Tsalagi is your first language…. Remember that.” We are certainly glad she has carried the torch.
ᎡᏧᎵ Rachel LittleJohn
Has been a resident in the Big Cove Community since she was 3 years old, currently resides in Wolf town. Rachel grew up with 1 brother Charles Jr. and four sisters Myrtle, Agnes, Katy, and Mary. She is the daughter of Charlie Johnson Sr. of Yellowhill and Cecelia Driver of Big Cove. Cherokee is her first language. First spoke English when she was 6 years old at Big Cove Day school. She remembers her 1st report card. All A’s o0f course. Her favorite subject was math. Her favorite pastime is cooking traditional foods like wild greens and bean bread. She has been working with the adult language program since 2017. She loves it when the students tease her colleague, Mose Oocumma. Rachel was married to Tom Littlejohn for 47 years. She raised 4 kids Brenda, Kyna and Lana and Chuck (He is missed very much). 5 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. Worked as a teachers aid for 31 years at the Cherokee elementary school, and 2 years at the immersion program at Cherokee Central. She retired in 2008. We were happy that she came out retirement to help save the language. She loves listening to the learners and guiding them in their progress.
ᎼᏏ Mose Oocumma
Mose was raised in the Wolf town community and currently resides in Birdtown. He grew up with 7 brothers and sisters-Annie, Levi, Joe, Norma, Clint and Susan. He is the son of Kina and Joe Oocumma. He first spoke English in the 1st grade at Soco day school where he attended til 3rd grade then started Cherokee central schools from the 4th grade until he finished. A member of the coop. He is highly decorated carver. Favorite things to carve are birds, bears and basket handles for his colleagues Maddie Wild Catt and Lucille Lossiah. Mose says, “This school (New Kituwah) is one of the better things for the tribe…we are revitalizing our language” “My mom and dad spoke Cherokee…all my cousins spoke Cherokee” One of the best things he likes about the revitalization movement is that he gets to remember all the things he has forgotten… he just enjoys talking Cherokee. Mose worked as carpenter and foreman for Qualla housing for 14 years. Worked with the BIA 20 plus years. Been married Peggy Mccoy 54 years. Mose’s sense of humor is legendary. He has the funniest laugh. Mose has 3 boys-Frank, James, and Michael. 9 grandchildren 5 great grandchildren.
ᎶᏏ Rose Sneed –Grew up in the Snowbird Community. A snowbird Day school Alumnae. Married her husband Skipper March 19th, 1962. Previously employed as a teacher’s assistant, and as a ___for Cherokee Indian Hospital for 29 years. She has been a steadfast speaker, teacher, instructor, mentor at New Kituwah Academy for 9 years. Rose has 3 children, Vincent, Pam, and Carolyn. She has adopted 3 children and has ___
ᎥᎭᏴᎵ Myrtle Driver Johnson– From the Big Cove Community
A Beloved Woman and has been an advocate, mentor, and teacher to all Cherokee communities. She has been involved with the Kituwah Language Revitalization Initiative since its inception. Charlotte’s Web has been a joy for us all to read in Cherokee. Her translation and interpretation will be treasured for all time. She is the mother of Renissa McLaughlin, Myrna Climbingbear, and an adopted son, Bo Lossiah. She has four grandsons and a granddaughter and one great grandson. She is a friend to us all. Myrtle has been part of the Cherokee Language initiative for over 40 years. She has served as the tribal translator for over a decade. She created a beginning Cherokee book that was distributed to the tribe in hard copy and made available digitally. She created a traditional dance group that was celebrated with her current release of her latest book that she wrote and translated “ᏗᎾᏅᏌᏔᏍᎩ” aka “Shellshakers.” She has blessed us with material for early childhood, the elementary, the adult immersion program and community classes. Myrtle is a teachers teacher!
ᏣᏂ John Long
Birdtown resident who immigrated from Wolf town.
The son of Posie and Bessie Long. John worked for Qualla housing for over 20 years. Married to his wife Donna for 13 years. They have 2 daughters Maria and Abby. He raised one son Nafar Oocumma. First spoke the language when he was 6 years old at Soco Day school. John is an accomplished musician. He plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, and bass. John loves gospel music and to ride horses. When asked what attracted to the language initiative he said, “I just wanted to give something back.” We are all thankful to have such talented and committed speaker.
ᎵᏂ Sharon Panther
Sharon is a lifelong resident of the Big Cove Community. Sharon grew up in a strong Cherokee Speaking home with 2 sisters and 9 brothers. She is the daughter Simpson and Agnes Welch both from Big Cove. Sharon taught in the preschool and elementary school for the better part of 15years. She currently is guiding force in the new curriculum initiative at KPEP. She is excellent chef that specializes in traditional foods such as bean bread wrapped in hickory leaves and fresh mountain greens. She has two sons Justin, Jotsita and three daughters Kristie, Terry, and Sam. She loves everyone speaking Cherokee and has shared her knowledge for all that have the language questions. Innovative and creative-Sharon is a model of integrity and commitment. Otsaliheliga
ᎳᏱᏂ Laura Hill
Grew up in the Big Cove community. Currently resides in Widiyo
Ꮇ Lou Jackson
Born and raised in the Snowbird Community with parents Ed and Ella Jackson 3 brothers and 3 sisters. She is the oldest of the 4 girls. Cherokee was the primary language spoken in her home. She did not learn English until the 1st grade. She attended Snowbird Day School and Robbinsville Middle School, and graduated Robbinsville High School in 1968. She lettered all 4 years in basketball and made The All-Western North Carolina team. She was offered a roster spot at Western Carolina University but sadly declined. She attended Southwestern Tech in 1971 and became a Licensed Practical Nurse. In 1981 she attended Region A Nursing Consortium and earned her RN. She has served her community as a nurse for more than 28 years. She worked at Harris Regional Hospital, District Memorial and The Snowbird Health Clinic. She ran a diabetes prevention clinic and served as a missionary in Honduras, Romania and Venezuela.