Monday, May 11, 2009

Some of our students won't see this for a few days...

About 100 miles north of me, friends in Illinois are still without power or phones after a windstorm hit Friday afternoon. Meteorologists say these were straight-line winds, not tornadoes. But winds that reach 100 mph are damaging no matter what shape they take. Trees down, cars destroyed, houses damaged.

Part of the Cherokee prophecies for the final few years before the start of the Sixth World in December 2012 include sustained winds up to 200 mph, but we’ll save that for another time.

For today, we’ll deal with weather language:

Wind is unole (oo-NO-ley).
Tornado is agaluga (a-ga-LOO-gah), often contracted to gah-LOOG.

Some weather terms are present-tense only. For example, “It’s sunny", “It’s raining”, “It’s snowing.” Because these are expressed as verbs, and single words in each example, the word itself changes if you aren’t speaking about conditions in the present moment.

This is one example of how familiarity with the language alters the way you conceive and interact with the forces around you, and why it is so important to USE the language every day.

As I write this, I hear the songs of birds outside the window. Part of my mind recognizes tsisquoquo, tlutlu and even dotsuwa this morning. The other part of my mind calls them robin, jay, and cardinal, and understands why the cardinal was named for the archbishop’s red regalia, but wonders why two boy’s nicknames are used for the others.

What language you speak influences how you organize your thoughts. If you want to start think Cherokee, you have to speak Cherokee every day.

Brian Wilkes

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