For John Chewey, the sounds of the Cherokee language are the sounds of home. Growing up in Oklahoma as a member of the United Kheetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, everyone in his household of 10 spoke the language. But Chewey knows that’s not the norm for most members of the Cherokee Nation.
With only about 2,000 native Cherokee speakers, many of whom are in their 70s or older, Cherokee, like many indigenous languages, is in danger. But members of the UKB, in collaboration with Northeastern University, are fighting to make sure their language persists for generations to come.
Housed at Northeastern, Cherokees Writing the Keetoowah Way, a potentially life-changing digital resource, aims to help ensure the Cherokee language persists. CWKW, a product of Northeastern’s Digital Archive of American Indian Languages Preservation and Perseverance, brings to life historic Cherokee documents––from prison letters to myths––by translating them into English and integrating them into Cherokee language lessons that can be used by speakers of any skill level.
You can read more about this interesting project in an article by Cody Mello-Klein published in the Northeastern web site at: https://news.northeastern.edu/2023/06/27/cherokee-language-lessons-translations/.