Ellen Cushman, a noted scholar of Cherokee language and literacy will speak on “Cherokee Writing: Mediating Traditions, Codifying Nation” on Thursday, February 14, at 4 p.m. in Room 411 of Kimpel Hall on the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville campus.
“Cherokees have a long history of conceptualizing the use of media quite differently from the alphabetic norm in order to accommodate the Cherokee language and develop the nation as a sovereign entity,” Cushman said, previewing her talk. “Cherokees use a unique, indigenous writing system to mediate our traditions, to pursue our cultural perseverance, and to maintain our linguistic heritage.”
Cushman will offer a brief overview of the history of this mediation, revealing how one tribe continues to mediate its tradition through writing and digital videos, games, and online language classes. Drawing on five years of ethnohistorical research, the talk will describe the evolution of the Cherokee writing system from script, to print, to digital forms and show how it continues to serve important linguistic, cultural, and historical functions for the modern Cherokee Nation, marking the nation’s civility and sovereignty at once.
Cushman is Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University. A Cherokee Nation citizen and a former Cherokee Nation Sequoyah Commissioner, she is the author of The Struggle and the Tools: Oral and Literate Strategies in an Inner City Community and The Cherokee Syllabary: Writing the People’s Perseverance .
This message just went out to tribal employees at Cherokee Nation. Please lift up Wilma's family in your prayers. Unbelievably huge loss for the Cherokee Nation. Our personal and national hearts are heavy with sorrow and sadness with the passing this morning of Wilma Mankiller, our former Principal Chief. We feel overwhelmed and lost when we realize she has left us but we should reflect on what legacy she leaves us. We are better people and a stronger tribal nation because her example of Cherokee leadership, statesmanship, humility, grace, determination and decisiveness. When we become disheartened, we will be inspired by remembering how Wilma proceeded undaunted through so many trials and tribulations. Years ago, she and her husband Charlie Soap showed the world what Cherokee people can do when given the chance, when they organized the self-help water line in the Bell community She said Cherokees in that community learned that it was their choice, their lives, their community and their future. Her gift to us is the lesson that our lives and future are for us to decide. We can carry on that Cherokee legacy by teaching our children that lesson. Please keep Charlie, Gina and Felicia in your prayers. Wilma asked that any gifts in her honor be made as donations to One Fire Development Corporation, a non-profit dedicated to advancing Native American communities though economic development, and to valuing the wisdom that exists within each of the diverse tribal communities around the world. Tax deductible donations can be made at www.wilmamankiller.com as well as www.onefiredevelopment.org. The mailing address for One Fire Development Corporation is 1220 Southmore Houston, TX 77004. Details of her memorial service will be forthcoming.
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