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Native Languages of the Americas: Cherokee (Tsalagi)
Language: Cherokee--more properly spelled Tsalagi--is an
Iroquoian language with an innovative
written syllabary invented by a Native Cherokee scholar. 22,000 people speak the Cherokee language today, primarily
in Oklahoma and North Carolina. Though it is one of the healthier Indian languages of North America and the one in which
the most literature has been published, the Cherokee language is still in imperiled condition because of government
policies as late as the fifties which enforced the removal of Cherokee children from
Cherokee-speaking homes, reducing the number of young Cherokees being raised bilingually
from 75% to less than 5% today.
People: 'Cherokee' is Creek for
'people with another language'. (It's amazing how white settlers always managed to learn another tribe's name
for any group of Indians. They learned the Creek word for the Cherokee tribe, but not the Creek word for
themselves.) Anyway, our original name for ourselves was Aniyunwiya, but Cherokee is fine too (though we say it
Tsalagi). There are 350,000 Cherokee people today, mostly in Oklahoma and North Carolina.
History: The best-known episode in Cherokee history was also the worst:
the Trail of Tears, which was the forced relocation of the Native Cherokee Indians from their ancestral
home in the southeast to Oklahoma. The Cherokee people were an urban, Christian, agricultural,
intermarried society who had supported the United States against other tribes. In the end this was
all for nothing. Though prominent Americans like Davy Crockett and Daniel Webster spoke against
Removal, and though the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional, President Andrew Jackson sent
in the army. Fifteen to twenty thousand Cherokee Indians
(along with Choctaw,
Creek, and other tribes) were rounded up and
herded to Oklahoma in the winter of 1838-1839. Driven from their homes without being allowed to collect
their possessions first, even their shoes, the Cherokees were no better equipped for an 800-mile forced march
than people today would be. Between four and eight thousand Cherokee people died of exposure, starvation,
disease, and exhaustion along the Trail of Tears. If you understand this, both the extent to which the Cherokees
had adopted American standards of civilization before the Removal and the ultimate futility of it, you will go a
long way towards understanding the Cherokee mentality today and also the attitudes of other Indian
peoples towards us.
The original tribal name of the Cherokees is Aniyunwiya (also spelled Aniyvwiya, Ahniyvwiya,
Aniyuwiya, or Yunwiya.)
Alternate spellings of "Cherokee" include Tsalagi, Tsa-la-gi, Jalagi, Chalaque, Cheroqui, Cheraqui, Tsa'lagi', Tsa'ragi',
and Tslagi. The Cherokee language is called Tsalagi Gawonihisdi.
Cherokee Language Resources
Cherokee language samples, articles, and indexed links.
Cherokee Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Cherokee Indians past and present.
Cherokee Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to frequently asked questions about the Cherokees.
Introduction to the mythology of the Cherokee Indian people.
Our Online Cherokee Language Materials
List of vocabulary words in the Cherokee language, with comparison to words in other Iroquoian languages.
Cherokee Pronunciation Guide:
How to pronounce Cherokee Indian words.
Introduction to the Cherokee writing system for beginners.
Cherokee Animal Words:
Picture glossary of animal words in the Cherokee language.
Cherokee Body Parts:
Online and printable worksheets showing parts of the body in the Cherokee language.
Worksheet showing color words in the Cherokee language.
Learn to count in the Cherokee language.
Cherokee Animate Nouns:
Language lesson on Cherokee animate and inanimate nouns.
Language lesson on the use of Cherokee possessive prefixes.
Cherokee Dictionaries, Audio Tapes and Language Books
Introduction to Cherokee:
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links
Good Cherokee language learning course for sale (including both textbook and audio CD.)
Cherokee-English Dictionary New English-Cherokee Dictionary:
Two excellent Cherokee dictionaries. (The first one also includes an overview of Cherokee grammar.)
Cherokee Lessons Beginning Cherokee:
Two useful Cherokee textbooks for sale.
Let's Learn Cherokee Syllabary:
Engaging workbook for learning to read and write the Cherokee language.
Cherokee Western Dialect Language Program:
CD audiobook of native Cherokee speakers introducing the sounds and words of their language.
Native American Dictionaries:
Cherokee and other American Indian dictionaries for sale.
Cherokee Language Community and Tools
Joan Touzet's Tsalagi Font Cherokee FIGlet Font:
Cherokee fonts for free download.
Tsulehisanvhi Cherokee Language Text Editor:
Open-source Windows program for free download.
Cherokee Script Projects:
Cherokee language applications, including a font translator.
Cherokee Nation Language Services:
Cherokee classes, translations, and language services from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
Learning the Cherokee Language:
Bibliography of Cherokee language learning materials.
Publishing books about Cherokee language and culture and contemporary Native American issues.
White Bear Publishing:
Publishing Cherokee books in Tsalagi and English.
Cherokee Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions
Cherokee Language Lesson Learning Cherokee Tsalagi Tutor Tsalagi Reading Lessons: How to Speak Cherokee:
Online Cherokee language lessons.
History of the Cherokee Language:
Raven's Tsalagi Resources Cherokee Language History:
Introductions to the Tsalagi language.
Cherokee Language Home Page:
Tsalagi language overview and texts from the Cherokee Observer.
Tsalagi List Ani Tsalagi Language:
Online Cherokee study groups.
Museum of the Cherokee Indian:
The Cherokee Indian museum offers free Tsalagi lessons via email.
NDNTV Cherokee Podcasts:
XML content feed where you can find Cherokee language lessons and videos.
Hello Oklahoma: Cherokee Tribe:
Cherokee language phrases, pronunciation, and sample text.
General description of Cherokee from the Encyclopedia of North American Indians.
Homepage of linguist William Pulte, with Cherokee language information and a bibliography.
Cherokee writing system and sample text.
Cherokee Syllabary Cherokee Alphabet Cherokee Syllabary Cherokee Pronunciation:
Cherokee Alphabet and Pronunciation Guide Sequoyah's Cherokee Syllabary:
Symbols of the Cherokee syllabary, with English pronunciation guide.
Original Cherokee Syllabary:
Scanned image of Sequoyah's original Tsalagi syllabary.
Cherokee Indian Language Cherokee Orthography Cherokee Writing Systems Cherokee Phonology:
Cherokee Grammar Cherokee Text Cherokee Story:
Scanned-in Cherokee language materials from the Rose tta Project.
Basic Words in Cherokee:
Downloads of MP3 files of spoken Cherokee words.
Language Museum: Cherokees:
Part of a Cherokee story written in syllabary, with translation.
Say Hello in Cherokee:
Site aimed at children, using audio files to teach a Cherokee greeting.
The Cherokee Messenger:
Quarterly journal of Cherokee literature in Tsalagi and English.
The Giant Inchworm:
A glossed Cherokee story.
Suggestion for improving the Tsalagi syllabary with diacritics to eliminate ambiguity.
Cherokee and Cree Writing Systems:
Essay arguing that Cree and Cherokee syllabaries predated European conquest.
Lord's Prayer in Cherokee Cherokees Hymns:
Christian prayers translated into the Cherokee Indian language.
Cherokee Language Tree:
Theories about Cherokee's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Cherokee Language Structures:
Cherokee linguistic profile and academic bibliography.
White Dove's Cherokee Dictionary:
Cherokee-English and English-Cherokee dictionary, with syllabary script.
Tsalagi (Cherokee) Language:
Alphabetical English-Cherokee glossary.
English-Cherokee Words Tsalagi Words Tsalagi Lexicon Cherokee Dictionaries Cherokee Animal Words:
Cherokee wordlists organized alphabetically and by topic.
Online Cherokee translator.
Cherokee Vocabulary Words:
Small Cherokee phrasebook and months of the year.
Cherokee Images: Vocabulary:
Illustrated Cherokee Indian words.
Cherokee Language Dictionary:
Unfinished Cherokee glossary.
Cherokee language links.
Cherokee Language Preservation and Usage
The Echota Cherokee Language:
Tsalagi language revival among the Echota Cherokee tribe.
Cherokee Images: Language:
Native language endangerment and the Cherokee language.
Demographic information about the Cherokee Indians and their language.
Eastern Cherokee Names:
Names of Eastern Cherokee Indians in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, together with their meanings.
Cherokee names, both traditional and modern, and their pronunciation.
Recent Cherokee baby naming practices.
Native American Cherokee Names:
Explanation about translated Cherokee names.
How to spell English names using the Cherokee syllabary.
Native American Dog Names:
Names for dogs and other pets in Cherokee.
Additional Cherokee Resources
Bibliography of Cherokee language-learning materials.
Wikipedia: Cherokee: Britannica: Cherokee Language:
Encyclopedia articles about the Cherokee Indian language.
Various Indian Peoples Language Tools for Indian Country Cherokee Language Programs LaserCherokee:
Publishing companies that produce Cherokee-language books, apps, and software.
Cherokee Software LaserCherokee:
Cherokee language software products for sale.
La Lengua Cheroqui Silabario Cheroqui Idioma Cheroqui:
Articles on the Cherokee language in Spanish. With a language map and text samples.
Cherokee language links.
Cherokee Indian books.
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