Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ, Tsalagi Gawonihisdi [dʒalaˈɡî ɡawónihisˈdî]) is an endangered Iroquoian language and the native language of the Cherokee people. There were 1,520 Cherokee speakers out of 376,000 Cherokee in 2018. The number of speakers is in decline. About 8 fluent speakers die each month, and only a handful of people under 40 are fluent. The dialect of Cherokee in Oklahoma is "definitely endangered", and the one in North Carolina is "severely endangered" according to UNESCO. The Lower dialect, formerly spoken on the South Carolina–Georgia border, has been extinct since about 1900. Cherokee speakers populate several counties within the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee, North Carolina. Around 200 speakers of the Eastern (North Carolina) dialect remain and language preservation efforts include the New Kituwah Academy. The Cherokee Immersion School (Tsalagi Tsunadeloquasdi) is also present in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Cherokee is the only Southern Iroquoian language, and it differs from other Iroquoian languages. Cherokee is polysynthetic and uses a unique syllabary writing system. As a polysynthetic language, Cherokee is highly different from English and other Indo-European languages like French or Spanish, and can offer many challenges to adult learners. A single Cherokee word can convey ideas that would require multiple English words to express, including the context of the assertion, connotations about the speaker, the action, and the object of the action. The morphological complexity of the Cherokee language is best exhibited in verbs, which comprise approximately 75% of the language, as opposed to only 25% of the English language. Verbs must contain at minimum a pronominal prefix, a verb root, an aspect suffix, and a modal suffix.
Extensive documentation of the language exists, as it is the indigenous language of the Americas in which the most literature has been published. Such publications include a Cherokee dictionary and grammar as well as several editions of the New Testament and Psalms of the Bible and the Cherokee Phoenix (ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᏅᎯ, Tsalagi Tsulehisanvhi), the first newspaper published by Native Americans in the United States and the first published in a Native American language.
|ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ |
Tsa-la-gi written in the Cherokee syllabary
|Pronunciation||(Oklahoma dialect) [dʒalaˈɡî ɡawónihisˈdî]|
|Native to||North America|
|Region||east Oklahoma; Great Smoky Mountains and Qualla Boundary in North Carolina Also in Arkansas. and Cherokee community in California.|
|Cherokee syllabary, Latin script|
Official language in
|Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina|
|Regulated by||United Keetoowah Band Department of Language, History, & Culture |
Council of the Cherokee Nation
Pre-contact Distribution of the Cherokee Language
Current geographic distribution of the Cherokee language
Cherokee is an Iroquoian language, and the only Southern Iroquoian language spoken today. Linguists believe that the Cherokee people migrated to the southeast from the Great Lakes region about three thousand years ago, bringing with them their language. Despite the three-thousand-year geographic separation, the Cherokee language today still shows some similarities to the languages spoken around the Great Lakes, such as Mohawk, Onondaga, Seneca, and Tuscarora.
Some researchers (such as Thomas Whyte) have suggested the homeland of the proto-Iroquoian language resides in Appalachia. Whyte contends, based on linguistic and molecular studies, that proto-Iroquoian speakers participated in cultural and economic exchanges along the north-south axis of the Appalachian Mountains. The divergence of Southern Iroquoian (which Cherokee is the only known branch of) from the Northern Iroquoian languages occurred approximately 4,000-3,000 years ago as Late Archaic proto-Iroquoian speaking peoples became more sedentary with the advent of horticulture, advancement of lithic technologies and the emergence of social complexity in the Eastern Woodlands. In the subsequent millennia, the Northern Iroquoian and Southern Iroquoian would be separated by various Algonquin and Siouan speaking peoples as linguistic, religious, social and technological practices from the Algonquin to the north and east and the Siouans to the west from the Ohio Valley would come to be practiced by peoples in the Chesapeake region, as well as parts of the Carolinas.
Before the development of the Cherokee syllabary in the 1820s, Cherokee was a spoken language only. The Cherokee syllabary is a syllabary invented by Sequoyah to write the Cherokee language in the late 1810s and early 1820s. His creation of the syllabary is particularly noteworthy in that he could not previously read any script. Sequoyah had some contact with English literacy and the Roman alphabet through his proximity to Fort Loundon, where he engaged in trade with Europeans. He was exposed to English literacy through his white father. His limited understanding of the Roman alphabet, including the ability to recognize the letters of his name, may have aided him in the creation of the Cherokee syllabary. When developing the written language, Sequoyah first experimented with logograms, but his system later developed into a syllabary. In his system, each symbol represents a syllable rather than a single phoneme; the 85 (originally 86) characters in the Cherokee syllabary provide a suitable method to write Cherokee. Some symbols do resemble the Latin, Greek and even the Cyrillic scripts' letters, but the sounds are completely different (for example, the sound /a/ is written with a letter that resembles Latin D).
Around 1809, Sequoyah began work to create a system of writing for the Cherokee language. At first he sought to create a character for each word in the language. He spent a year on this effort, leaving his fields unplanted, so that his friends and neighbors thought he had lost his mind. His wife is said to have burned his initial work, believing it to be witchcraft. He finally realized that this approach was impractical because it would require too many pictures to be remembered. He then tried making a symbol for every idea, but this also caused too many problems to be practical.
Sequoyah did not succeed until he gave up trying to represent entire words and developed a symbol for each syllable in the language. After approximately a month, he had a system of 86 characters, some of which were Latin letters he obtained from a spelling book. "In their present form, many of the syllabary characters resemble Roman, Cyrillic or Greek letters or Arabic numerals," says Janine Scancarelli, a scholar of Cherokee writing, "but there is no apparent relationship between their sounds in other languages and in Cherokee."
Unable to find adults willing to learn the syllabary, he taught it to his daughter, Ayokeh (also spelled Ayoka). Langguth says she was only six years old at the time. He traveled to the Indian Reserves in the Arkansaw Territory where some Cherokee had settled. When he tried to convince the local leaders of the syllabary's usefulness, they doubted him, believing that the symbols were merely ad hoc reminders. Sequoyah asked each to say a word, which he wrote down, and then called his daughter in to read the words back. This demonstration convinced the leaders to let him teach the syllabary to a few more people. This took several months, during which it was rumored that he might be using the students for sorcery. After completing the lessons, Sequoyah wrote a dictated letter to each student, and read a dictated response. This test convinced the western Cherokee that he had created a practical writing system.
When Sequoyah returned east, he brought a sealed envelope containing a written speech from one of the Arkansas Cherokee leaders. By reading this speech, he convinced the eastern Cherokee also to learn the system, after which it spread rapidly. In 1825 the Cherokee Nation officially adopted the writing system. From 1828 to 1834, American missionaries assisted the Cherokee in using Sequoyah's syllabary to develop type characters and print the Cherokee Phoenix, the first newspaper of the Cherokee Nation, with text in both Cherokee and English.
In 1826, the Cherokee National Council commissioned George Lowrey and David Brown to translate and print eight copies of the laws of the Cherokee Nation in the new Cherokee language using Sequoyah's system.
Once Albert Gallatin saw a copy of Sequoyah's syllabary, he found the syllabary superior to the English alphabet. Even though the Cherokee student must learn 85 characters instead of 26, he can read immediately. The student could accomplish in a few weeks what students of English writing could learn in two years.
In 1824, the General Council of the Eastern Cherokee awarded Sequoyah a large silver medal in honor of the syllabary. According to Davis, one side of the medal bore his image surrounded by the inscription in English, "Presented to George Gist by the General Council of the Cherokee for his ingenuity in the invention of the Cherokee Alphabet." The reverse side showed two long-stemmed pipes and the same inscription written in Cherokee. Supposedly, Sequoyah wore the medal throughout the rest of his life and it was buried with him.
By 1825, the Bible and numerous religious hymns and pamphlets, educational materials, legal documents and books were translated into the Cherokee language. Thousands of Cherokee became literate and the literacy rate for Cherokee in the syllabary was higher than that of whites in the English alphabet.
Though use of the Cherokee syllabary declined after many of the Cherokee were relocated to Indian Territory, present day Oklahoma, it has survived in private correspondence, renderings of the Bible, and descriptions of Indian medicine and now can be found in books and on the internet among other places.
Nearly two hundred years later, John Standingdeer Jr. developed computer software to help people learn the language, based on dividing Sequoyah's 85 characters into 16 basic sounds.
Cherokee is the most populous Native American language spoken in the U.S. states of Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Texas, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The language has remained vigorous in some Oklahoma communities and elsewhere, communities like Big Cove and Snowbird of the Eastern Band in North Carolina still predominantly speak Cherokee. Cherokee is one of only five Oklahoma aboriginal languages still spoken and acquired by children.
At the time of European contact, there were three major dialects of Cherokee: Lower, Middle, and Overhill. The Lower dialect, formerly spoken on the South Carolina-Georgia border, has been extinct since about 1900. Of the remaining two dialects, the Middle dialect (Kituwah) is spoken by the Eastern band on the Qualla Boundary, and retains 1,000 speakers  or fewer. The Overhill, or Western, dialect is spoken in eastern Oklahoma and by the Snowbird Community in North Carolina  by an estimated 9,000 people or more. The Western dialect is most widely used and is considered the main dialect of the language. Both dialects have had English influence, with the Overhill, or Western dialect showing some Spanish influence as well.
The now extinct Lower dialect spoken by the inhabitants of the Lower Towns in the vicinity of the South Carolina–Georgia border had r as the liquid consonant in its inventory, while both the contemporary Kituhwa or Ani-kituwah dialect spoken in North Carolina and the Overhill dialect contain l. Only Oklahoma Cherokee developed tone. Both the Lower dialect and the Kituhwa dialect have a "ts" sound in place of the "tl" sound of the Overhill dialect. For instance, the word for 'no' is ᎥᏝ (ə̃tˤɑ or [ə̃tl̥á]) in the Overhill dialect, but ᎥᏣ (ə̃sɑ) in both the Lower and Kituhwa dialects.
There are two main dialects of Cherokee spoken by modern speakers. The Giduwa dialect (Eastern Band) and the Otali dialect (also called the Overhill dialect) spoken in Oklahoma. The Otali dialect has drifted significantly from Sequoyah's syllabary in the past 150 years, and many contracted and borrowed words have been adopted into the language. These noun and verb roots in Cherokee, however, can still be mapped to Sequoyah's syllabary. In modern times, there are more than 85 syllables in use by modern Cherokee speakers. Modern Cherokee speakers who speak Otali employ 122 distinct syllables in Oklahoma.
The Cherokee language currently retains about 2,000 Cherokee speakers, but an average of 8 fluent speakers die each month, and only a handful of people under 40 years of age are fluent as of 2019. In 1986, the literacy rate for first language speakers was 15–20% who could read and 5% who could write, according to the 1986 Cherokee Heritage Center. A 2005 survey determined that the Eastern band had 460 fluent speakers. Ten years later, the number was believed to be 200.
Cherokee is "definitely endangered" in Oklahoma and "severely endangered" in North Carolina according to UNESCO. Cherokee has been the co-official language of the Cherokee Nation alongside English since a 1991 legislation officially proclaimed this under the Act Relating to the Tribal Policy for the Promotion and Preservation of Cherokee Language, History, and Culture. Cherokee is also recognised as the official language of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. As Cherokee is official, the entire constitution of the United Keetoowah Band is available in both English and Cherokee. As an official language, any tribal member may communicate with the tribal government in Cherokee or English, English translation services are provided for Cherokee speakers, and both Cherokee and English are used when the tribe provides services, resources, and information to tribal members or when communicating with the tribal council. The 1991 legislation allows the political branch of the nation to maintain Cherokee as a living language. Because they are within the Cherokee Nation tribal jurisdiction area, hospitals and health centers such as the Three Rivers Health Center in Muscogee, Oklahoma provide Cherokee language translation services.
In 2008 The Cherokee Nation instigated a 10-year language preservation plan that involved growing new fluent speakers of the Cherokee language from childhood on up through school immersion programs, as well as a collaborative community effort to continue to use the language at home. This plan was part of an ambitious goal that in 50 years, 80 percent or more of the Cherokee people will be fluent in the language. The Cherokee Preservation Foundation has invested $4.5 million into opening schools, training teachers, and developing curricula for language education, as well as initiating community gatherings where the language can be actively used. They have accomplished: "Curriculum development, teaching materials and teacher training for a total immersion program for children, beginning when they are preschoolers, that enables them to learn Cherokee as their first language. The participating children and their parents learn to speak and read together. The Tribe operates the Kituwah Academy". Formed in 2006, the Kituwah Preservation & Education Program (KPEP) on the Qualla Boundary focuses on language immersion programs for children from birth to fifth grade, developing cultural resources for the general public and community language programs to foster the Cherokee language among adults. There is also a Cherokee language immersion school in Tahlequah, Oklahoma that educates students from pre-school through eighth grade.
Several universities offer Cherokee as a second language, including the University of Oklahoma, Northeastern State University, and Western Carolina University. Western Carolina University (WCU) has partnered with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to promote and restore the language through the school's Cherokee Studies program, which offers classes in and about the language and culture of the Cherokee Indians. WCU and the EBCI have initiated a ten-year language revitalization plan consisting of: (1) a continuation of the improvement and expansion of the EBCI Atse Kituwah Cherokee Language Immersion School, (2) continued development of Cherokee language learning resources, and (3) building of Western Carolina University programs to offer a more comprehensive language training curriculum.
The family of Iroquoian languages has a unique phonological inventory. Unlike most languages, the Cherokee inventory of consonants lacks the labial sounds p, b, f, and v. Cherokee does, however, have one labial consonant m, but it is rare, appearing in no more than ten native words. In fact, the Lower dialect does not produce m at all. Instead, it uses w.
In the case of p, qw is often substituted, as in the name of the Cherokee Wikipedia, Wiɣiqwejdiʃ. Some words may contain sounds not reflected in the given phonology: for instance, the modern Oklahoma use of the loanword "automobile", with the /ɔ/ and /b/ sounds of English.
As with many Iroquoian languages, Cherokee's phonetic inventory is small. The consonants for North Carolina Cherokee are given in the table below. The consonants of all Iroquoian languages pattern so that they may be grouped as (oral) obstruents, sibilants, laryngeals, and resonants (Lounsbury 1978:337). Obstruents are non-distinctively aspirated when they precede h. There is some variation in how orthographies represent these allophones. The orthography used in the table represents the aspirated allophones as th, kh, and tsh. Another common orthography represents the unaspirated allophones as d, ɣ, and dz and the aspirated allophones as t, k, and s (Scancarelli 2005:359–62). The unaspirated plosives and affricate are optionally voiced intervocally. In other dialects, the affricate is a palatal (like ch in "church"), and a lateral affricate (like tl in "atlas") may also be present.
There are six short vowels and six long vowels in the Cherokee inventory. As with all Iroquoian languages, this includes a nasalized vowel (Lounsbury 1978:337). In the case of Cherokee, the nasalized vowel is a mid central vowel usually represented as v and is pronounced [ə̃], as "a" in unstressed "comma" plus the nasalization found in French un. Other vowels, when ending a word, are often also nasalized.
|Close||i iː||u uː|
|Mid||e eː||ə̃ ə̃ː||o oː|
Oklahoma Cherokee has six phonemic tones, two of which are level (low, high) and the other four of which are contour (rising, falling, highfall, lowfall). While the tonal system is undergoing a gradual simplification in many areas, it remains important in meaning and is still held strongly by many, especially older, speakers. Tone is poorly documented in North Carolina Cherokee. The syllabary, moreover, does not display tone, and real meaning discrepancies are rare within the native-language Cherokee-speaking community. The same goes for transliterated Cherokee ("osiyo", "dohitsu", etc.), which is rarely written with any tone markers, except in dictionaries. Native speakers can tell the difference between written tone-distinguished words by context.
The high and low tones can appear on both long and short vowels in Cherokee, and remain at the same pitch throughout the duration of the vowel sound. Contour tones in Cherokee appear only in underlying long vowels. At the ends of words in colloquial speech, there is a tendency to drop off a long vowel into a short vowel; this results in the highfall tone being produced as a high tone in faster speech. 
Highfall has a unique grammatical usage, primarily appearing with adjectives and adverbials along with most nouns derived from verbs. It only appears in verbs subordinate to another element of the sentence. When a highfall appears on a verb it changes the verb's role in the sentence, typically to one of four main categories: agentive derivation, modal, object derivation, or subordination.
Cherokee, like many Native American languages, is polysynthetic, meaning that many morphemes may be linked together to form a single word, which may be of great length. Cherokee verbs, the most important word type, must contain as a minimum a pronominal prefix, a verb root, an aspect suffix, and a modal suffix. For example, the verb form ge:ga, "I am going," has each of these elements:
Verb form ge:ga g- e: -g -a PRONOMINAL PREFIX VERB ROOT "to go" ASPECT SUFFIX MODAL SUFFIX
The pronominal prefix is g-, which indicates first person singular. The verb root is -e, "to go." The aspect suffix that this verb employs for the present-tense stem is -g-. The present-tense modal suffix for regular verbs in Cherokee is -a.
Cherokee has 17 verb tenses and 10 persons.
The following is a conjugation in the present tense of the verb to go. Please note that there is no distinction between dual and plural in the 3rd person.
Full conjugation of Root Verb-e- going Singular Dual incl. Dual excl. Plural incl. Plural excl. 1st ᎨᎦ
We're going (you + I)
We two are going (not you)
We're all going (3+, including you)
We're all going (3+, not you)
You two are going
You're all going
They are going
The translation uses the present progressive ("at this time I am going"). Cherokee differentiates between progressive ("I am going") and habitual ("I go") more than English does.
The forms ᎨᎪᎢ, ᎮᎪᎢ, ᎡᎪᎢ gegoi, hegoi, egoi represent "I often/usually go", "you often/usually go", and "she/he/it often/usually goes", respectively.
Verbs can also have prepronominal prefixes, reflexive prefixes, and derivative suffixes. Given all possible combinations of affixes, each regular verb can have 21,262 inflected forms.
Cherokee does not make gender distinctions. For example, ᎦᏬᏂᎭ gawoniha can mean either "she is speaking" or "he is speaking."
Like many Native American languages, Cherokee has many pronominal prefixes that can index both subject and object. Pronominal prefixes always appear on verbs and can also appear on adjectives and nouns. There are two separate words which function as pronouns: aya "I, me" and nihi "you".
|Number||Set I||Set II|
|Singular||ji-, g-||agi-, agw-|
|Dual inclusive||ini-, in-||gini-, gin-|
|Dual exclusive||osdi-, osd-||ogini-, ogin-|
|Plural inclusive||idi-, id-||igi-, ig-|
|Plural exclusive||oji-, oj-||ogi-, og-|
Some Cherokee verbs require special classifiers which denote a physical property of the direct object. Only around 20 common verbs require one of these classifiers (such as the equivalents of "pick up", "put down", "remove", "wash", "hide", "eat", "drag", "have", "hold", "put in water", "put in fire", "hang up", "be placed", "pull along"). The classifiers can be grouped into five categories:
|Live||ᎯᎧᏏ||hikasi||Hand him (something living)|
|Flexible||ᎯᏅᏏ||hinvsi||Hand him (something like clothes, rope)|
|Long, Indefinite||ᎯᏗᏏ||hidisi||Hand him (something like a broom, pencil)|
|Indefinite||ᎯᎥᏏ||hivsi||Hand him (something like food, book)|
|Liquid||ᎯᏁᎥᏏ||hinevsi||Hand him (something like water)|
There have been reports that the youngest speakers of Cherokee are using only the indefinite forms, suggesting a decline in usage or full acquisition of the system of shape classification. Cherokee is the only Iroquoian language with this type of classificatory verb system, leading linguists to reanalyze it as a potential remnant of a noun incorporation system in Proto-Iroquoian. However, given the non-productive nature of noun incorporation in Cherokee, other linguists have suggested that classificatory verbs are the product of historical contact between Cherokee and non-Iroquoian languages, and instead that the noun incorporation system in Northern Iroquoian languages developed later.
Simple declarative sentences usually have a subject-object-verb word order. Negative sentences have a different word order. Adjectives come before nouns, as in English. Demonstratives, such as ᎾᏍᎩ nasgi ("that") or ᎯᎠ hia ("this"), come at the beginning of noun phrases. Relative clauses follow noun phrases. Adverbs precede the verbs that they are modifying. For example, "she's speaking loudly" is ᎠᏍᏓᏯ ᎦᏬᏂᎭ asdaya gawoniha (literally, "loud she's-speaking").
A Cherokee sentence may not have a verb as when two noun phrases form a sentence. In such a case, word order is flexible. For example, Ꮎ ᎠᏍᎦᏯ ᎠᎩᏙᏓ na asgaya agidoda ("that man is my father"). A noun phrase might be followed by an adjective, such as in ᎠᎩᏙᏓ ᎤᏔᎾ agidoga utana ("my father is big").
Cherokee is written in an 85-character syllabary invented by Sequoyah (also known as Guest or George Gist). Many of the letters resemble the Latin letters they derive from, but have completely unrelated sound values; Sequoyah had seen English, Hebrew, and Greek writing but did not know how to read them.
Each of the characters represents one syllable, as in the Japanese kana and the Bronze Age Greek Linear B writing systems. The first six characters represent isolated vowel syllables. Characters for combined consonant and vowel syllables then follow. It is recited from left to right, top to bottom.
The charts below show the syllabary as arranged by Samuel Worcester along with his commonly used transliterations. He played a key role in the development of Cherokee printing from 1828 until his death in 1859.
The phonetic values of these characters do not equate directly to those represented by the letters of the Latin script. Some characters represent two distinct phonetic values (actually heard as different syllables), while others often represent different forms of the same syllable. Not all phonemic distinctions of the spoken language are represented. For example, while /d/ + vowel syllables are mostly differentiated from /t/ + vowel by use of different graphs, syllables beginning with /ɡ/ are all conflated with those beginning with /k/. Also, long vowels are not ordinarily distinguished from short vowels, tones are not marked, and there is no regular rule for representing consonant clusters. However, in more recent technical literature, length of vowels can actually be indicated using a colon, and other disambiguation methods for consonants (somewhat like the Japanese dakuten) have been suggested. Six distinctive vowel qualities are represented in the Cherokee syllabary based on where they are pronounced in the mouth, including the high vowels i and u, mid vowels e, v, and o, and low vowel a. The syllabary also does not distinguish among syllables that end in vowels, h, or glottal stop. For example, the single symbol, Ꮡ, is used to represent both su as in su:dali, meaning six (ᏑᏓᎵ), and suh as in suhdi, meaning 'fishhook' (ᏑᏗ). Therefore, there is no differentiation among the symbols used for syllables ending in a single vowel versus that vowel plus "h." When consonants other than s, h, or glottal stop arise with other consonants in clusters, the appropriate consonant plus a "dummy vowel" is used. This dummy vowel is not pronounced and is either chosen arbitrarily or for etymological reasons (reflecting an underlying etymological vowel). For example, ᏧᎾᏍᏗ (tsu-na-s-di) represents the word ju:nsdi, meaning 'small.' Ns in this case is the consonant cluster that requires the following dummy vowel, a. Ns is written as ᎾᏍ /nas/. The vowel is included in the transliteration, but is not pronounced in the word (ju:nsdi). (The transliterated ts represents the affricate j, as in other Iroquoian languages due to etymological reasons, cf. the Korean letter ㅈ). As with some other writing systems (like Arabic), adult speakers can distinguish words by context.
Some Cherokee words pose a problem for transliteration software because they contain adjacent pairs of single letter symbols that (without special provisions) would be combined when doing the back conversion from Latin script to Cherokee. Here are a few examples:
For these examples, the back conversion is likely to join s-a as sa or s-i as si. Transliterations sometimes insert an apostrophe to prevent this, producing itsalis'anedi (cf. Man'yoshu).
Other Cherokee words contain character pairs that entail overlapping transliteration sequences. Examples:
If the Latin script is parsed from left to right, longest match first, then without special provisions, the back conversion would be wrong for the latter. There are several similar examples involving these character combinations: naha nahe nahi naho nahu nahv.
A further problem encountered in transliterating Cherokee is that there are some pairs of different Cherokee words that transliterate to the same word in the Latin script. Here are some examples:
Without special provision, a round trip conversion changes ᎠᏍᎡᏃ to ᎠᏎᏃ and changes ᎨᏍᎥᎢ to ᎨᏒᎢ.[b]
Cherokee was added to the Unicode Standard in September, 1999 with the release of version 3.0.
The main Unicode block for Cherokee is U+13A0–U+13FF.[note 1] It contains the script's upper-case syllables as well as six lower-case syllables.
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
The rest of the lower-case syllables are encoded at U+AB70–ABBF.
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
A single Cherokee Unicode font, Plantagenet Cherokee, is supplied with macOS, version 10.3 (Panther) and later. Windows Vista also includes a Cherokee font. Several free Cherokee fonts are available including Digohweli, Donisiladv, and Noto Sans Cherokee. Some pan-Unicode fonts, such as Code2000, Everson Mono, and GNU FreeFont, include Cherokee characters. A commercial font, Phoreus Cherokee, published by TypeCulture, includes multiple weights and styles. The Cherokee Nation Language Technology Program supports "innovative solutions for the Cherokee language on all digital platforms including smartphones, laptops, desktops, tablets and social networks."
Cherokee uses Arabic numerals (0–9). The Cherokee council voted not to adopt Sequoyah's numbering system. Sequoyah created individual symbols for 1–20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100 as well as a symbol for three zeros for numbers in the thousands, and a symbol for six zeros for numbers in the millions. These last two symbols, representing ",000" and ",000,000", are made up of two separate symbols each. They have a symbol in common, which could be used as a zero in itself.
The polysynthetic nature of the Cherokee language enables the language to develop new descriptive words in Cherokee to reflect or express new concepts. Some good examples are ᏗᏘᏲᎯᎯ (ditiyohihi, "he argues repeatedly and on purpose with a purpose") corresponding to "attorney" and ᏗᏓᏂᏱᏍᎩ (didaniyisgi, "the final catcher" or "he catches them finally and conclusively") for "policeman."
Other words have been adopted from another language such as the English word gasoline, which in Cherokee is ᎦᏐᎵᏁ (gasoline). Other words were adopted from the languages of tribes who settled in Oklahoma in the early 1900s. One interesting and humorous example is the name of Nowata, Oklahoma deriving from nowata, a Delaware word for "welcome" (more precisely the Delaware word is nuwita which can mean "welcome" or "friend" in the Delaware languages). The white settlers of the area used the name nowata for the township, and local Cherokee, being unaware that the word had its origins in the Delaware language, called the town ᎠᎹᏗᎧᏂᎬᎾᎬᎾ (Amadikanigvnagvna) which means "the water is all gone gone from here" – i.e. "no water."
Other examples of adopted words are ᎧᏫ (kawi) for "coffee" and ᏩᏥ (watsi) for "watch"; which led to ᎤᏔᎾ ᏩᏥ (utana watsi, "big watch") for clock.
Meaning expansion can be illustrated by the words for "warm" and "cold", which can be also extended to mean "south" and "north". Around the time of the American Civil War, they were further extended to US party labels, Democratic and Republican, respectively.
From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
|Nigada aniyvwi nigeguda'lvna ale||All human beings are born free and||ᏂᎦᏓ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏂᎨᎫᏓᎸᎾ ᎠᎴ|
|unihloyi unadehna duyukdv gesv'i. Gejinela||equal in dignity and rights. They are||ᎤᏂᎶᏱ ᎤᎾᏕᎿ ᏚᏳᎧᏛ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎨᏥᏁᎳ|
|unadanvtehdi ale unohlisdi||endowed with reason and conscience||ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏃᎵᏍᏗ|
|ale sagwu gesv junilvwisdanedi anahldinvdlv adanvdo gvhdi.||and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.||ᎠᎴ ᏌᏊ ᎨᏒ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎠᎾᏟᏅᏢ ᎠᏓᏅᏙ ᎬᏗ.|
Catoosa County is a county located in the northwestern part of the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 63,942. The county seat is Ringgold. The county was created on December 5, 1853. The meaning of the Cherokee language name "Catoosa" is obscure.Catoosa County is part of the Chattanooga, TN–GA Metropolitan Statistical Area.
On April 27, 2011, a devastating tornado touched down in the town of Ringgold, located in Catoosa County, leaving a path of severe destruction.Chenocetah Mountain
Chenocetah Mountain, known to locals as "Tower Mountain," is located near the towns of Mount Airy and Cornelia, Georgia. The mountain has an elevation of 1,830 feet (560 m). Atop the mountain, the WPA built an observation tower in 1937 for the Forest Service; it is used as a fire tower for observation by rangers. Chenocetah is a Cherokee language word meaning "see all around." Variant names were "Griffin Mountain" and "Tower Mountain".Occasionally visitors are allowed in. During Cornelia's annual Big Red Apple Festival, visitors are allowed into the tower to enjoy its panoramic view of the surrounding hills and valleys.Cherokee
The Cherokee (; Cherokee: ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ, romanized: Aniyvwiyaʔi or Cherokee: ᏣᎳᎩ, romanized: Tsalagi) are one of the indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands of the United States. Prior to the 18th century, they were concentrated in what is now southwestern North Carolina, southeastern Tennessee, and the tips of western South Carolina and northeastern Georgia.The Cherokee language is part of the Iroquoian language group. In the 19th century, James Mooney, an American ethnographer, recorded one oral tradition that told of the tribe having migrated south in ancient times from the Great Lakes region, where other Iroquoian-speaking peoples lived; however, anthropologist Thomas R. Whyte writes that the origin of the proto-Iroquoian language was likely the Appalachian region and the split between Northern and Southern Iroquoian languages began 4,000 years ago.Today there are three federally recognized Cherokee tribes: the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (UKB) in Oklahoma, and the Cherokee Nation (CN) in Oklahoma.By the 19th century, European settlers in the United States classified the Cherokee of the Southeast as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes", because they were agrarian and lived in permanent villages and began to adopt some cultural and technological practices of the European American settlers. The Cherokee were one of the first, if not the first, major non-European ethnic group to become U.S. citizens. Article 8 in the 1817 treaty with the Cherokee stated that Cherokees may wish to become citizens of the United States.The Cherokee Nation has more than 300,000 tribal members, making it the largest of the 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States. In addition, numerous groups claim Cherokee lineage, and some of these are state-recognized. A total of more than 819,000 people are estimated to claim having Cherokee ancestry on the US census, which includes persons who are not enrolled members of any tribe.Of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes, the Cherokee Nation and the UKB have headquarters in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The UKB are mostly descendants of "Old Settlers", Cherokee who migrated to Arkansas and Oklahoma about 1817 prior to Indian Removal. They are related to the Cherokee who were later forcibly relocated there in the 1830s under the Indian Removal Act. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is on the Qualla Boundary in western North Carolina; their ancestors resisted or avoided relocation, remaining in the area.Cherokee Nation
The Cherokee Nation (Cherokee: ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ, Tsalagihi Ayeli or ᏣᎳᎩᏰᎵ "Tsalagiyehli"), also known as the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is the largest of three Cherokee federally recognized tribes in the United States. It was established in the 20th century and includes people descended from members of the Old Cherokee Nation who relocated from the Southeast due to increasing pressure to Indian Territory and Cherokee who were forced to relocate on the Trail of Tears. The tribe also includes descendants of Cherokee Freedmen and Natchez Nation. Over 299,862 people are enrolled in the Cherokee Nation, with 189,228 living within the state of Oklahoma. According to Larry Echo Hawk (in 2009), former head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the current Cherokee Nation is not the historical Cherokee tribe but instead a "successor in interest".Headquartered in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation has a tribal jurisdictional area spanning 14 counties in the northeastern corner of Oklahoma. These are Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, McIntosh, Muskogee, Nowata, Ottawa, Rogers, Sequoyah, Tulsa, Wagoner, and Washington counties.Cherokee National Youth Choir
The Cherokee National Youth Choir was created in part by Chad "Corntassel" Smith, a former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. It consists of youth of Cherokee descent who sing gospel music in the Cherokee language. The directors are Mary Kay Henderson and Kathy Sierra. The choir has sung at various venues around the United States, including singing for former President George W. Bush, singing at Ground Zero in New York City, and singing alongside Dolly Parton at her amusement park, Dollywood. They have won numerous awards, including a Nammy (the Native American Music Award), and they release a new gospel CD each year.Cherokee Phoenix
The Cherokee Phoenix (Cherokee: ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᏅᎯ, romanized: Tsalagi Tsulehisanvhi) was the first newspaper published by Native Americans in the United States and the first published in a Native American language. The first issue was published in English and Cherokee on February 21, 1828, in New Echota, capital of the Cherokee Nation (present-day Georgia). The paper continued until 1834. The Cherokee Phoenix was revived in the 20th century, and today it publishes both print and Internet versions.Cherokee syllabary
The Cherokee syllabary is a syllabary invented by Sequoyah in the late 1810s and early 1820s to write the Cherokee language. His creation of the syllabary is particularly noteworthy as he could not previously read any script. He first experimented with logograms, but his system later developed into a syllabary. In his system, each symbol represents a syllable rather than a single phoneme; the 85 (originally 86) characters provide a suitable method to write Cherokee. Although some symbols resemble Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic letters, the relationship between symbols and sounds is different.History of the Cherokee language
This article is a detailed history of the Cherokee language, the Native American Iroquoian language spoken by the Cherokee people.Hominy
Hominy is a food produced from dried maize (corn) kernels that have been treated with an alkali, in a process called nixtamalization (nextamalli is the Nahuatl word for "hominy").Northeastern State University
Northeastern State University (NSU) is a public university with its main campus in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The university also has two other campuses in Muskogee and Broken Arrow as well as online. Northeastern is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of Oklahoma as well as one of the oldest institutions of higher learning west of the Mississippi River. Tahlequah is home to the capital of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and about 25 percent of the students at NSU identify themselves as American Indian. The university has many courses focused on Native American linguistics, and offers Cherokee language Education as a major. Cherokee can be studied as a second language, and some classes are taught in Cherokee for first language speakers as well.Nûñnë'hï
The Nunnehi are a race of immortal spirit people in Cherokee mythology. In the Cherokee language, Nunnehi literally means "The People Who Live Anywhere", but it is often translated into English as "The People Who Live Forever", or simply "The Immortals". The Cherokee believed the Nunnehi to be a type of supernatural human being, completely distinct from ghosts and nature spirits, as well as from gods. In this sense, the Nunnehi (along with the Yunwi Tsunsdi, or "Little People" in the Cherokee language) are the Cherokee equivalent of fairies in traditional European folklore. The belief in fairy-like beings is universal among all ethnicities, including all American Indian tribes.According to Cherokee folklore, the Nunnehi had many underground townhouses throughout the southern Appalachian Mountains, and they were particularly fond of high mountain peaks where no timber ever grew. Hunters would often hear the Nunnehi in the mountains, singing and dancing and beating drums, but when they would go toward the sound, it would shift about and suddenly seem to be coming from behind them or from some other direction, so that the person hearing the sound would never be able to find where it was coming from.Passiflora incarnata
Passiflora incarnata, commonly known as maypop, purple passionflower, true passionflower, wild apricot, and wild passion vine, is a fast-growing perennial vine with climbing or trailing stems. A member of the passionflower genus Passiflora, the maypop has large, intricate flowers with prominent styles and stamens. One of the hardiest species of passionflower, it is both found as a wildflower in the southern United States and in cultivation for its fruit and striking bluish purple blooms.Same-sex marriage in Oklahoma
Same-sex marriage has been legal in the U.S. state of Oklahoma since October 6, 2014, following the resolution of a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage. On that day, following the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to review the case that found the ban unconstitutional, the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the state to recognize same-sex marriage.
On January 14, 2014, Judge Terence C. Kern, of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, declared Question 711, which banned the recognition and performance of same-sex marriage, unconstitutional. The case, Bishop v. United States (formerly Bishop v. Oklahoma), was stayed pending appeal.On July 18, 2014, a panel of the Tenth Circuit upheld Kern's ruling overturning Oklahoma's same-sex marriage ban. However, the panel put its ruling on hold pending disposition of a petition for certiorari by the U.S. Supreme Court. On October 6, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the request for review, leaving the Tenth Circuit Court's ruling in place. The Oklahoma Government responded by implementing the circuit court's ruling, recognizing same-sex marriage in the state.Sequoyah High School (Tahlequah, Oklahoma)
Sequoyah High School (also known as Sequoyah-Tahlequah) is a Native American boarding school serving students in grades 9–12, who are members of a federally recognized Native American tribe. The school is located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and is a Bureau of Indian Education grant school operated by the Cherokee Nation. Sequoyah Schools also has an elementary school grades pre-school through 8. Students in pre-school through grade 6 are taught through Cherokee language immersion and begin to transition to instruction in English in grade 5.Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Tahlequah ( TAL-ə-kwah; Cherokee: ᏓᎵᏆ)
is a city in Cherokee County, Oklahoma, United States located at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. It is part of the Green Country region of Oklahoma and was established as a capital of the 19th-century Cherokee Nation in 1839, as part of the new settlement in Indian Territory after the Cherokee Native Americans were forced west from the American Southeast on the Trail of Tears.
The city's population was 15,753 at the 2010 census, an increase of 8.96 percent from 14,458 at the 2000 census. The 2014 estimated population is 16,496.Tahlequah is the capital of the two federally recognized Cherokee tribes based in Oklahoma, the modern Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. Tahlequah is also the county seat of Cherokee County. The main campus of Northeastern State University is located in the city.United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma (ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ or Anigiduwagi Aniyvwiya, abbreviated United Keetoowah Band or UKB) is a federally recognized tribe of Cherokee Native Americans headquartered in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. According to the UKB website, its members are mostly descendants of "Old Settlers" or "Western Cherokee," the Cherokee who migrated to present-day Arkansas and Oklahoma about 1817. Some reports estimate that Old Settlers began migrating west by 1800. This was before the forced relocation of Cherokee from the Southeast in the late 1830s under the Indian Removal Act. Although politically the UKB is not associated with the Trail of Tears, many of the membership have direct ancestors that completed the harrowing journey in 1838/1839.
Many UKB members are traditionalists and Baptists.Voiced velar approximant
The voiced velar approximant is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɰ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is M\.
The consonant is not present in English, but approximates to the sound of a 'g' with the throat kept open. The voiced velar approximant can in many cases be considered the semivocalic counterpart of the close back unrounded vowel [ɯ]. The two are almost identical featurally. ⟨ɰ⟩ and ⟨ɯ̯⟩ with the non-syllabic diacritic are used in different transcription systems to represent the same sound.
In some languages, such as Spanish, the voiced velar approximant appears as an allophone of /ɡ/ – see below.
Some languages have the voiced pre-velar approximant, which is articulated slightly more front compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical voiced velar approximant, though not as front as the prototypical palatal approximant.
The symbol for the velar approximant originates from ⟨ɯ⟩, but with a vertical line. Compare ⟨u⟩ and ⟨ɥ⟩ for the labio-palatal approximant.Voiceless dental and alveolar lateral fricatives
Not to be confused with the Voiceless alveolar lateral affricate, the Tibetan lh as in Lhasa
The voiceless alveolar lateral fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents voiceless dental, alveolar, and postalveolar lateral fricatives is [ɬ], and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is [K]. The symbol [ɬ] is called "belted l" and should not be confused with "l with tilde", [ɫ], which transcribes a different sound, the velarized alveolar lateral approximant. It should also be distinguished from a voiceless alveolar lateral approximant, although the fricative is sometimes incorrectly described as a "voiceless l", a description fitting only of the approximant.
Several Welsh names beginning with this sound (e.g. Llwyd /ɬʊɨd/, Llywelyn /ɬəˈwɛlɨn/) have been borrowed into English, where they either retain the Welsh ⟨ll⟩ spelling but are pronounced with an /l/ (Lloyd, Llewellyn), or are substituted with ⟨fl⟩ (pronounced /fl/) (Floyd, Fluellen).Wes Studi
Wesley Studi (Cherokee: ᏪᏌ ᏍᏚᏗ; born December 17, 1947) is a Cherokee American actor and film producer who has won critical acclaim and awards for his portrayal of Native Americans in film. He has appeared in Academy Award-winning films, such as Dances with Wolves (1990) and The Last of the Mohicans (1992), and in the Academy Award-nominated films Geronimo: An American Legend (1993) and The New World (2005). He is also known for portraying Sagat in Street Fighter (1994). Other films he has appeared in are Hostiles, Heat, Mystery Men, Avatar, A Million Ways to Die in the West, and the television series Penny Dreadful.
|Drifted Otali sequoyah |
|Otali syllable||Sequoyah syllabary index||Sequoyah syllabary chart||Sequoyah syllable|
|Days of the Week||ᎯᎸᏍᎩᎢᎦ||hilvsgiiga|
|January||Month of the Cold Moon||ᏚᏃᎸᏔᏂ||dunolvtani|
|February||Month of the Bony Moon||ᎧᎦᎵ||kagali|
|March||Month of the Windy Moon||ᎠᏄᏱ||anuyi|
|April||Month of the Flower Moon||ᎧᏩᏂ||kawani|
|May||Month of the Planting Moon||ᎠᎾᎠᎬᏘ||anaagvti|
|June||Month of the Green Corn Moon||ᏕᎭᎷᏱ||dehaluyi|
|July||Month of the Ripe Corn Moon||ᎫᏰᏉᏂ||guyequoni|
|August||Month of the End of Fruit Moon||ᎦᎶᏂᎢ||galonii|
|September||Month of the Nut Moon||ᏚᎵᎢᏍᏗ||duliisdi|
|October||Month of the Harvest Moon||ᏚᏂᏅᏗ||duninvdi|
|November||Month of Trading Moon||ᏄᏓᏕᏆ||nudadequa|
|December||Month of the Snow Moon||ᎥᏍᎩᎦ||vsgiga|
|gray||ᎤᏍᎪᎸ ᏌᎪᏂᎨ||usgolv sagonige|
|silver||ᎠᏕᎸ ᎤᏁᎬ||adelv unegv|
|Politics and law|
See also: Indigenous peoples of North America portal and Cherokee-language Wikipedia
Italics indicate extinct languages * indicates extinct language in Oklahoma but still spoken elsewhere
Languages in italics are extinct.
(number of speakers
in 2010 in millions)