The Cherokee Nation has produced a pilot episode for a planned animated series that would be performed entirely in the Cherokee language, according to a press release from the tribe.
The Cherokee Nation is collaborating on the project with the Oklahoma Film and Music Office and Tulsa’s FireThief Productions, an independent film company, to produce the pilot.
The tribe announced that a free public screening of the pilot episode will be planned for the future with further details to come.
The Cherokee Nation funded the series as part of its overall Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act to preserve and revitalize the Cherokee language. It will feature the vocal talents of members of the Cherokee Nation Film Office’s Native American talent database who speak the language.
“Preserving and perpetuating the Cherokee language for future generations requires new avenues that allow us to both share and teach the language,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
“This partnership has produced an animated series pilot that I believe will grab the attention of children and adults alike. Whether they are introduced to the Cherokee language for the first time, or reintroduced to a language that they are already familiar with, we are excited about the groundbreaking possibilities this series will create for the Cherokee language in the years to come.”
The series “Inage’i” translates to “In The Woods,” with a story that follows the adventures of four animal friends who live together in the forests of Turtle Island.
They are: Iga Daya’i the mischievous rabbit; Juksvsgi the gruff wolf; Anawegi the conscientious deer; and Kvliwohi, a wise bear. All are characters drawn from Cherokee storytelling traditions, according to the release.
The tribe said that FireThief Productions worked closely with the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program to create the pilot episode.
In addition, Cherokee Language Program Manager Roy Boney created the animated characters’ looks by drawing from contemporary Cherokee culture, from clothing and accessories to dwellings and more.
The series pilot will also include musical contributions from the Cherokee National Youth Choir and vocalist Cora Flute, who wrote and performed the lyrics to the theme song.
Also, Harry Oosahwee, Betty Frogg, Lauren Hummingbird and Schon Duncan provide the Cherokee voices for the animation. The tribe’s translation team also assisted in the production process.
“Cherokee communities saw a sweeping decline in Cherokee language usage among young children when television programming entered the homes of our rural communities,” said Howard Paden, executive director of the Cherokee Nation’s new Language Department.
“This animation project, like others, will use the same technology to bring the language back into the home. Now young Cherokee children will be able to enjoy cartoons in Cherokee.”
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