Film, concert event to put Cherokee language in the spotlight

by Jul 5, 2023A&E, COMMUNITY sgadugi0 comments

CHEROKEE, N.C. – On Aug. 4 and 5, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian (MCI) will present The Way We Speak with the World, a film and concert event celebrating the Cherokee language. Held at the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center at Cherokee Central Schools, the community-centered event is open to the public and free of charge; free tickets can be secured via Eventbrite.

The event kicks off on Friday, Aug. 4 with a screening of “ᏓᏗᏬᏂᏏ (Dadiwonisi / We Will Speak),” a feature-length documentary collaboration chronicling the efforts of Cherokee activists, artists, and educators fighting to save the Cherokee language. A Q&A with members of the film’s production team will follow the screening.

A still photo from “We Will Speak” (Photo courtesy of Museum of the Cherokee Indian)

On Saturday, Aug. 5, attendees will be treated to a Cherokee language concert featuring Cherokee Nation musicians who contributed to the groundbreaking 2022 compilation album Anvdvnelisgi (ᎠᏅᏛᏁᎵᏍᎩ). Artists will perform their original songs, with genres ranging from folk to metal to hip-hop, reggae, and beyond.

The Way We Speak with the World signals the urgency of language preservation and honors the citizens who are working to preserve, perpetuate, learn, and teach Tsalagi.

“Through oral traditions, our Cherokee culture has been able to survive for millions of years,” says Shennelle Feather (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Diné, Lakota), education program manager at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. “This event is honoring our language through film and music—two modern ways of sharing stories—and proves that we are still using oral history to teach the world and remind ourselves that we are still here. That our language is not dead, it is living, it is and can evolve just like the people who speak it and have spoken it since time immemorial.”

A companion event to MCI’s 2022 event The Way We See the World, which featured screenings of contemporary, Indigenous-made short films and special guests—including Reservation Dogs creator Sterlin Harjo (Seminole Nation)—The Way We Speak with the World continues the tradition of centering the Cherokee community and exhibiting how tradition and culture endure through contemporary media.

“This event is for our at-large Cherokee community from North Carolina to Oklahoma and will happen in the original homelands – not just for our people, but for all the beings that yearn to hear the language that is originally theirs,” says Feather.

The Way We Speak with the World is made possible through the generous support of the Walelu Cherokee Ball Team, Cherokee Preservation Foundation, the Office of the Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and Kituwah LLC.

  • Museum of the Cherokee Indian release