The Cherokee believe everything in the environment, from crops and animals to creeks, mountains and even the wind – all have an intelligent spirit and play a central role in daily life. The Cherokee do not view themselves as separate from the environment. Rather, they see themselves as part of it. Their language reflects that. “Language is the core to any culture because it is what that culture expresses itself with and it is the dynamic mechanism through which that culture continues,” says Tom Belt, Coordinator of the Cherokee Language Revitalization Program at Western Carolina University.
In this lesson from UNC-TV, students learn about the link between Cherokee language and culture, how it was almost lost to history, and how Western Carolina researchers are working with the Eastern Band of Cherokee to study, preserve and grow the language once again.