Speakers’ Consortium holds quarterly meeting in Cherokee

by Feb 29, 2024COMMUNITY sgadugi0 comments


One Feather Reporter


CHEROKEE, N.C. – The quarterly Cherokee Speakers’ Consortium meeting between the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), the Cherokee Nation, and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (UKB) was held from Feb. 13-16 in Cherokee. The meeting included Cherokee translation work, visits to Cherokee Central Schools and Robbinsville, a church service at Rock Springs Baptist Church, and a meaningful adjournment at the grand opening of the Cherokee Speakers Place (kalvgviditsa tsalagi aniwonisgi tsunatsohisdihi).

David Crawler, a Cherokee Nation citizen and fluent Cherokee speaker, works on Biblical translations at the Cherokee Speakers’ Consortium held in Cherokee from Feb. 13-16. (Photo by Zhana Michelle Long/New Kituwah Academy)

The consortium is a group of Cherokee first language speakers dedicated to the creation of new words and the revival of uncommon Cherokee words. Meetings have been held quarterly, alternating between Cherokee and Tahlequah, for over 17 years. Some second language learners also attend to facilitate, take notes, and transcribe meetings.

“The tribes worked independently on the creations of words but saw the need to collaborate on new words to address the disparity created by dialectal differences,” said Renissa McLaughlin, EBCI youth and adult education director.

“The purpose of the meetings is to examine and determine new modern vocabulary like chrysanthemum, brachiosaurus, magnet and plasma,” said Bo Lossiah, New Kituwah Academy curriculum and instruction supervisor.

After a week of speaking in Cherokee language and discussing important Cherokee language concepts for the future of the language, the speakers were able to finish their week of work at the grand opening of the Cherokee Speakers Place on Feb. 16. The Speakers Place stands adjacent to New Kituwah Academy, the Cherokee language youth immersion school. The Speakers Place will serve as a hub for Cherokee fluent speakers and second language learners to converge on the language.

“Once the crowd had left, Marie Junaluska, Chairwoman of the Speakers’ Consortium asked the speakers to join in prayer to bless the building.  With heads bent, the speakers began praying in Cherokee.  The sound of their whispered prayers was comforting, a blessing, and a reminder of the good work that has been done and will continue to be done,” McLaughlin said.

A list of the new words created at the most recent meeting was requested, but not submitted by press time.