The Cherokee language is deeply tied to Cherokee identity; yet generations of assimilation efforts by the U.S. government and anti-Indigenous stigmas have forced the Tri-Council of Cherokee tribes to declare a State of Emergency for the language in 2019. While there are over 430,000 Cherokee citizens in the three federally recognized tribes, fewer than an estimated 2,000 fluent speakers remain—the majority of whom are elderly. The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately hastened the course. Language activists, artists, and the youth must now lead the charge of urgent revitalization efforts to help save the language from the brink of extinction.
This feature-length documentary was shot on-location in Oklahoma and North Carolina throughout 2019-2022; through intimate interviews, vérité footage of community gatherings, and extensive archival materials, the film explores the nuanced ways the Cherokee language is vital to maintaining a unique cultural identity and relationship with the world. The collaborative project is also meant to act as an empowering agent of hope for Indigenous voices despite enduring inequity. We are honored to have fluent Cherokee speaker, longtime Indigenous language activist and Academy-Award Honoree actor Wes Studi (ᏪᏌ ᏍᏚᏗ) along with Thomas Sadoski, actor, activist, and founding ambassador of War Child, USA, among our executive producers. Other EPs include Cherokee author Traci McClellan-Sorell and film producers Gill Holland, Katherine Harper, and Ben Speiser.