Introducing...Mango's New Cherokee Language Course.

February 2, 2015 / by Jillian Rodriguez

Alright, we have a confession to make: When it comes to our target audience, we’ll admit it, we have a type. We design our courses with language lovers in mind. You know who you are ― you seek out languages rich in culture and with deep historical roots, you geek out on history as much as language learning, and you actually enjoy the mental workout of learning a polysynthetic language. So with you in mind, you zany little language lovers, we’re proud, excited, and honored to unveil our latest course: the Cherokee language.

In partnership with the Cherokee Nation and the Tulsa City-County Library, we’ve officially debuted our first-ever Native American course. A collaborative labor of love, the Cherokee course is now live and ready to be enjoyed by Mango users in libraries, schools, and homes across North America.

The importance of this course is underlined by the shudder-inducing reality that Cherokee is considered an endangered language, with about 16,000 native speakers worldwide. Compare that against the whopping 317,000 Cherokee citizens that make up the United States’ largest tribal nation and the urgency of this issue becomes immediately clear.

The Cherokee Nation is hard at work in their commitment to preserve and promote Cherokee culture and language. Anna Sixkiller, who worked on the course development team and provided voice talent, shared her point of view, “At this point, we do not have that many fluent speakers left, so we are using different types of technology so people will be able to learn the Cherokee language.” Their hard work is paying off ― the tribe’s use of new technologies has allowed these efforts to grow in impact, reach, and innovation, and the Cherokee Nation is seeing a resurgence of interest and engagement with Cherokee identity, culture, and language in younger generations.

Cherokee Translation Specialist John Ross also worked on the course’s development team and lent his voice to the native speaker conversations alongside Sixkiller. Ross explained his motivation for bringing this course to life, “It is extremely important to me to create such a project and for everyone to hear our language and see our writing system. It’s crucial for our young people to understand what we can do with our language. We must spark an interest in them to want to learn our language.”

When it comes to the Cherokee language and its history, there are a wealth of interests to be sparked. The only Southern Iroquoian language, linguists believe that the Cherokee people migrated south from the Great Lakes region (our homebase!) over three thousand years ago. Cherokee is distinct in that it’s a polysynthetic language, which means that Cherokee words are made up of smaller parts that have their own meaning. Moreover, as these parts join, their pronunciation changes and makes them less easily discerned, adding to the magic of the language. Like the most satisfying puzzle ever, the Cherokee language demands your attention and trains your brain to learn in a new way.

The Cherokee syllabary appeared on the scene in 1821, after a man known as Sequoyah dedicated 12 years of his life inventing it ― the only alphabet in history to be invented by a single man. With the existence of a written language in place, the Cherokee language went on to become the most well-documented and preserved Native American language in North America.

With the inception of Mango’s new Cherokee course, the language’s visibility and engagement just got that much stronger. In fact, as a result of their hard work in bringing the Cherokee course to life, the Cherokee Nation was inducted into the Tulsa City-County Hall of Fame in December 2014. Thanks to this partnership, Tulsa City-County library patrons, and patrons in over 3,000 libraries nationwide, can learn to speak, read, and communicate in Cherokee from their laptops, mobile devices, and at their local library. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Actually, we lied ― it does get better. We’ve been restraining ourselves so far, but we have to take a moment to gush. Not only is the Cherokee language a historically and linguistically valuable language to learn, but it is a testament to what drives the work we do. Here at Mango, our mission is to enrich lives with language and culture, and to do so through easy-to-access platforms and a fun, effective, useful methodology. Our partnership with the Cherokee Nation and the Tulsa City-County Library is nothing short of a dream team, and we’re excited to deliver Mango’s Cherokee course to you, on a (virtual!) silver platter.

We’ll leave it to Roy Boney, Jr., the Manager of the Cherokee Program himself, to close us out with his thoughts on the finished product.

“The partnership with the Tulsa City-County Library, Mango, and Cherokee Nation resulted in a great project. Working with Mango was such a great experience. Having our language available in such an easy to use format is exciting and we hope more people use it to begin learning Cherokee.”

We can't wait for you to see what all of the fuss is about. Log in with your existing Mango account and choose Cherokee from the language list to get started. Don't have a Mango account? Talk to us. ᏙᎾᏓᎪᎲᎢ!

Topics: Language Learning and Culture, Mango News

Jillian Rodriguez

Written by Jillian Rodriguez

Jillian is a writer and editor out of Detroit, Michigan. She loves connecting people through new ideas, interesting stories, and good conversation. In her free time, Jillian loves to read, write, and listen to podcasts - in Spanish and in English!

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