Keepers of the Flame: Reigniting the Cherokee Language and Culture

first_imgIn 1996, a private 309-acre tract of land within Great Smoky Mountains National Park was sold for $3.5 million. With that transaction, the buyers were able to reclaim what was rightfully theirs—and had been for 10,000 years.The Eastern Band of the Cherokee had purchased Kituwah, the legendary birthplace of their people (Kituwah, pronounced gid-doo-wah, is also the original name of the Cherokee and their language). At Kituwah, the Creator handed down the laws and gave them the gift of fire. In the middle of Kituwah’s open fields, there is a mound that once held the hearth of the eternal flame—a fire so significant to the Cherokee people that members of distant villages would walk hundreds of miles to visit it. They would leave dirt or ash from their village on the mound before collecting the warmth and light of the flame to bring home to their family and neighbors.The eternal flame was carried away to Oklahoma in the 1830s when many of the Cherokee were forcibly removed from their homelands. But those who have remained in the mountains—known today as the Eastern Band of Cherokee—are hoping to rekindle the ancient fire through language. Just a few miles away from Kituwah, just past Harrah’s Tribal Casino, the New Kituwah language immersion school is reviving Cherokee traditions and culture.The school, which enrolls children as newborns, is helping children appreciate their native language and preserve the Cherokee identity. Out of roughly 12,000 Cherokee living in Western North Carolina, only about 270 of them still speak Kituwah and the average age of native speakers is 57. The Kituwah language is literally dying out.“Language is a part of who we are. It is part of our identity and what makes us Cherokee,” says Renissa Walker, the immersion school manager.Walker’s son was one of the first students at New Kituwah. He started in the school’s pilot class as an infant and is now one of six first graders.Many senior Cherokee grew up in a household where Cherokee was spoken as the first language. However, when those individuals started attending primary school, they had trouble adapting and were often made fun of because of their language and accent. As a result, most of those individuals refused to teach their children the Cherokee language. For two generations now, the prevailing trend of the Cherokee family has been to avoid speaking their native tongue. 1 2 3last_img read more

Third Symposium of Navies from the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries Is Inaugurated

first_img The opening ceremony for the 3rd Symposium of Navies from the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) took place on May 8, at the Naval War College in Rio de Janeiro, with the presence of Defense Minister Celso Amorim, and the commander of the Navy, Admiral Julio Soares de Moura Neto. During his speech, the Defense Minister emphasized that one of the expected results of the event is the presentation of a feasible proposal for mutual cooperation among all participants in order to increase “maritime security” in each country’s jurisdictional waters, without infringing their national sovereignty. Admiral Moura Neto emphasized that, aside from strengthening ties and moving forward on naval partnerships, the symposium is an opportunity for the member countries to demonstrate significant integration among the Navies and Coast Guards present, highlighting their common aspects: history, culture, and language. After the official event photograph, a collective interview began with the heads of the delegations attending the symposium – Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe, and East Timor. The interviewees answered questions about the cooperation projects that would be discussed at the event. Soon after, Dr. Antônio Celso Alves Pereira gave a lecture, “Reinforcing Joint Surveillance of Jurisdictional Waters.” For the lecturer, the CPLP is one of the most important international forums for its member countries due to the possibility of cooperation in a variety of areas, from the development of projects in different fields to sectoral meetings, such as the 3rd Symposium of Navies from the CPLP. In the afternoon, the attending delegations began their presentations, starting with the Angolan Navy, which discussed the significant role played by the Navy in developing the economies of African countries and emphasized the importance of the Gulf of Guinea. Next, the Cape Verdean Coast Guard discussed the challenges faced by the country due to the extension of its maritime space and presented the resources it has available to ensure maritime security in the region. Continuing with the presentations, the Mozambique Navy discussed the impact of piracy and maritime crimes in the Indian Ocean, such as the increased cost of transporting merchandise by sea, clarifying the actions taken by the country to solve this problem. Subsequently, the Portuguese Navy also highlighted the extension of Portuguese waters, equivalent to 19 times the national territory, and the twofold use of the ocean, military and non-military, as well as emphasizing the importance of the production, dissemination, and integration of information among the member countries in order to ensure full use of the ocean. After that, the Sao Tome and Principe Coast Guard presented their force’s mission, current situation, and future needs, with a view toward its strengthening and development. By Dialogo May 11, 2012last_img read more