Ellen Cushman to speak at Univ of Arkansas - Feb 14th

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 .

Ellen Cushman standing photo.jpg
Posted on February 4, 2013 and filed under Education, Cherokee Scholars, Women, Cherokee Humanities, Language.

Cherokee Study Abroad Program - Summer 2013

Professor Chris Teuton (now at UNC-Chapel Hill) would like to spread the word of the "Cherokee Study Abroad," program which will be held May 27-June 28, 2013 from Qualla Boundary to Tahlequah.  The course is "an immersive study abroad course taught by Cherokee scholars across Cherokee territory, and in conversation with Cherokee community."    Deadline is Feb. 14th.

Digital brochure below:


Cherokee Scholars Stand in Solidarity with Idle No More Movement

On Jan 28, 2013, a group of Cherokee citizen scholars and educators issued this formal statement of support and solidarity with the Idle No More Movement:

In Solidarity with the Idle No More Movement


We are writing as educators and Cherokee citizens from the Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokees and United Keetoowah Band. Digadatsele’i (“We all belong to each other”), which was formed in 2009, supports the ongoing, grassroots struggles of our Indigenous brothers and sisters across the medicine line as treaty-based, sovereign Nations. The Idle No More movement is more than a reaction to the harmful legislation passed or proposed by Canada’s Harper government – it is about standing up to new threats to First Nations’ treaties, self-determining authority, inherent rights, and responsibilities to our waters, homelands, communities, and cultures. Whether north or south of the medicine line, our struggles are shared. As treaty-based peoples, we recognize and reaffirm that:

  • Idle No More originated and is sustained through the leadership of Indigenous women. Women are the strength of our communities and the colonial legacies of missing and murdered Indigenous women on Turtle Island must be confronted and addressed. The recent refusal to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act in the US further demonstrates a systematic failure to address ongoing violence against Indigenous women;

  • All of our futures depend on upholding our ongoing relationships to our homelands and waters. This is also about respecting Indigenous forms of traditional governance and relationships grounded in gadugi and the seven clans that have sustained our communities for thousands of years;

  • Indigenous treaties with governments such as Canada and the U.S. are not the only ones being challenged – our sacred covenants with other Native Nations and with the land, water, plants, animals, and all forms of life on our territories are at stake. The treaties must be upheld if our current and future generations are to thrive;

  • Educational self-determination is vital to the health and well-being of Indigenous Nations. Teaching our languages, stories, and living histories to our current and future generations is critical to our survival;

  •   Several Indigenous Nations are split by the US/Canadian border, which crosses over their traditional territories. This transnational movement understands that borders cannot impede Indigenous liberation and unity. We also exhort Canada to recognize and practice its obligations to the provisions of the Jay Treaty (1794), Treaty of Ghent (1814), and other appropriate statutes when it comes to Indigenous peoples traveling across the medicine line.

    We stand in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island fighting for the future of Indigenous Nationhood – we will rise together to meet these new challenges as persistent and enduring Indigenous Nations. Digadatsele’i. 

Posted on January 28, 2013 and filed under Cherokee Scholars, Sovereignty, Indian Scholars.

New Book - Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars’ Club

Congrats to Professor Chris Teuton and contributors Hastings Shade, Sammy Still, Sequoyah Guess and Woody Hansen for a refreshing new book.  

Here's part of the publisher's blurb:  

"A collection of forty interwoven stories, conversations, and teachings about Western Cherokee life, beliefs, and the art of storytelling, the book orchestrates a multilayered conversation between a group of honored Cherokee elders, storytellers, and knowledge-keepers and the communities their stories touch."

Posted on January 17, 2013 and filed under Humor, Books, Cherokee Scholars, Indian Scholars, Language.

Revamped Blog

Kicking this blog back off effective Jan 15, 2013.  If you are a Cherokee scholar and have an updates for contacts, please contact Stacy.  

Posted on January 15, 2013 .

10th Circuit Case on Cherokee Nation's Newborn Citizenship Law

The Cherokee Nation has an automatic 240 day citizenship that attaches to any newborn who is a descendant of the Dawes Rolls.  This was enacted to ensure that newborns are Cherokee citizens subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act's protections and presumes that the parents will make a decision whether the enroll the child as a Cherokee citizen during their infancy.  I would like to see our Nation go one step further and simply have natural born citizenship laws like other sovereigns throughout the globe, but that's an aside.  The decision from the the Tenth Circuit is here.  The federal court does not like the idea of this "temporary citizenship" for inclusion in protections of a federal statute. My question for tribal legal reform:  why have people "enroll" a child as a citizen in the first place?  Why not have Cherokee Nation laws that automatically extend citizenship to children who are eligible for citizenship and if someone chooses to disavow their citizenship, go thru the administrative process to renounce citizenship?  When tribes requires someone to "enroll" as members/citizens of the Nation, it contributes to the idea the tribal citizenship is inferior to other citizenship.  I envision this sequence:  Citizenship by birth, followed by a Cherokee Nation Birth Certificate and/Cherokee Nation ID card for documentation purposes, followed by a Cherokee Nation driver's license to operate a vehicle.

Posted on April 5, 2011 and filed under Citizenship, Cherokee Nation, Sovereignty.