The Cherokee language was spoken in North America thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans, and is still used today by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in the mountains of North Carolina. However, this fascinating language is now endangered, with the final generation to learn the language in the home now reaching middle age and the number of native speakers dwindling.
In addition to long-standing efforts by the tribal schools and a summer language camp, a total immersion preschool and elementary school offers fresh hope that the Cherokee people may retain this vital component of their history and heritage.
FIRST LANGUAGE documents the extraordinary fight to rescue the very heart of Cherokee identity.
For more information / DVD: talkingnc.com
The NC LANGUAGE & LIFE PROJECT presents FIRST LANGUAGE - THE RACE TO SAVE CHEROKEE
a film by NEAL HUTCHESON and DANICA CULLINAN executive producer WALT WOLFRAM
associate producers HARTWELL FRANCIS and TOM BELT
music by JOE KNOWLTON and JIM MCHUGH
audio / production assistant JACLYN DAUGHERTY
camera / editors DANICA CULLINAN and NEAL HUTCHESON
translation by SHIRLEY OSWALT and MARY BROWN
sketches by RUBY HUTCHESON
archives HESTER A. DAVIS & JOHN L. GRANT COLLECTION, NC COLLECTION, UNC CHAPEL HILL
super8 footage courtesy of VERA HARRISON (transfer by A/V GEEKS)
special thanks RENISSA MCLAUGHLIN, ROSEANNA BELT, BO TAYLOR, CHIEF MICHELL HICKS, JAMES LONG, NANCY HORNBUCKLE, MARSHA HOLLEFIELD, BRENDA NORVIL, HOWARD WANETAH, JIM CREW, MATTHEW TOONI, SKIP ELSHEIMER, MARK PAGEL, and ALBERTO ORTEGA RODAS
ATSE KITUWAH IMMERSION ACADEMY
KITUWAH PRESERVATION and EDUCATION PROGRAM (KPEP)
MUSEUM of the CHEROKEE INDIAN
TED Talk Radio Hour excerpt with MARK PAGEL courtesy of NPR/TED
This film was made possible by the generous support of
NC STATE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE of HUMANITIES and SOCIAL SCIENCES
The WILLIAM C. FRIDAY ENDOWMENT