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 .