Film: First Language: The Race to Save Cherokee (2014)
The Cherokee language was spoken in North America thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans, and is still used today by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in the mountains of North Carolina. However, this fascinating language is now endangered, with the final generation to learn the language in the home now reaching middle age and the number of native speakers dwindling.
In addition to long-standing efforts by the tribal schools and a summer language camp, a total immersion preschool and elementary school offers fresh hope that the Cherokee people may retain this vital component of their history and heritage.
First Language documents the extraordinary fight to rescue the very heart of Cherokee identity.
Directed by Danica Cullinan and Neal Hutcheson.
About the American Indian Film Series
The American Indian Film Series is presented by Appalachian State University’s Gadugi Program and the Native American Student Association.
Gadugi is a partnership between Appalachian State University and Cherokee Central Schools designed to serve Cherokee students and the Eastern Band of Cherokee community. The film series began in 2015 with a screening of The Cherokee Word for Water. Our goal for 2016 was to expand from one film to a series, and thanks to the incredible support of Belk Library and Information Commons, the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, the Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance and the Office of Student Programs, we have done so.
The Gadugi program made a conscious decision that the films would highlight American Indian issues, biographies and stories from the late twentieth century until today. For too much of American society the American Indian remains as little more than a romanticized stereotype, a relic of a bygone era. The film series seeks to show the vibrant, living modern communities of Indian Country and to proudly proclaim, as did the American Indian Movement, “We Remain.”