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Introducing | Free Indigenous Language Course: Cherokee

Indigenous-Cherokee-FB

Alright, we have a confession to make: When it comes to our content, 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: Cherokee.

The mission

In partnership with the Cherokee Nation and the Tulsa City-County Library, Mango Languages officially debuted our first-ever Native American course in 2015. A collaborative labor of love, the Cherokee course is ready to be enjoyed by Mango users in libraries, schools, and homes across North America.

The importance of this course is underlined by the 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 becomes clear.

The language

The only Southern Iroquoian language, linguists believe that the Cherokee people migrated south from the Great Lakes region over three thousand years ago. Cherokee is 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, a certain type of alphabet where each character is used to represent a whole syllable, 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.

The course 

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.” - Anne Sixkiller, Mango Cherokee course voice talent

 

With the inception of Mango’s new Cherokee course, the language’s visibility and engagement got that much stronger. In fact, as a result of the 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. 

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.” - John Ross, Cherokee Translation Specialist

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.

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.” - John Ross, Cherokee Translation Specialist

ᏙᎾᏓᎪᎲᎢ!

Learn the meaning of this Cherokee word — sign up or log in to begin learning today!

Learn Cherokee Free

 

Looking for a little more information about the Cherokee language before getting started? Drop into our Endangered & Indigenous Languages page to learn more, then set up your free Mango profile, choose Cherokee from the language list, and get started in a matter of minutes. 

Download the app and leave a review to let us know what you loved (or didn't!) about your experience!  

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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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