Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Just Released!

Partial Table of Contents
• Wanderings: Where Did We Come From?
• The Seven Migrations
• Once Upon a Time in Heaven….
• Turtle Island: Separating the Dry Land from the Waters
• The Coming of the Sacred Fire
• The Woman Who Fell From Heaven to Earth
• Star Woman's Twins
• The Good Son and his Four Sisters
• The Covenant With the Animals and The Origin of Disease
• Deer and Rabbit Race for the Crown of Lightning
• The Dog Who Saved Humanity
• Rescuing the Daughter of the Sun from the Underworld

• Stones Tell Stories
• The Basics of the Cherokee Calendar
• Day Signs Compared in Seven Languages
• Thirteen Birds, Thirteen Winds
• Hummingbird Steals Back the Tobacco

• The Seven Worlds
• The Three Prophecies
• The Ten Plagues
• The Rebellion of the Animals NEW
• A Change in the Face of the Sun
• Rebellion of the Tools
• The White Shall Destroy the White
• Water As High As Saunooke
• The Red Side of the Rapture
• The Sea of Glass
• The World Turned Upside Down
• Seven Years of Crazy Weather
• 2012: “The Others” Return

2013 Calendar showing Day Signs and Wind Numbers for each 

Get your copy at!

Q: I made a discovery.
Chinese Mandarin for "you" is "ni" similar to Cherokee "nihi" for "you".
Chinese Manderin for "hello" is "hao" similar to Lakota "hau" for "hello"
The full text in Chinese Mandarin is "ni hao" (hello you or as we say"hello there")
For me, sometimes things are too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence.
Any thoughts?

A: It has been noted by linguists that Cherokee contains inflections that change the basic meaning of words. Chinese is also an inflected language. Japanese also makes use of particles, short wordlets, such as "ka", which changes a verb from statement to question, as Cherokee does with "sgohv". I've known speakers of Turkic languages who say they can follow Lakota. It's interesting, but I wouldn't jump to conclusions. Both linguistics and genetics will tell us much more in the next decade!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Polysynthetic vs. Analytical, and Who Really Cares?


Monday is the last day of our Spring Special. 6 months of Speak Cherokee PLUS the 2012 Cherokee Calendar and Manual, PLUS the New Cherokee Hymnal, PLUS the New Cherokee Dictionary,   

Cherokee is known as a polysynthetic language. That means that the words are made up of smaller segments, that the segments are inflected, and that the segments themselves tend to have little meaning or be indistinguishable from one another.

Think of the common expression gado detsadoa.

Gado, "what?" is a question word, alerting you that the whole sentence will be a question.
De is segment indicting "they to you (singular)"
Tsa is "you (singular)"
Ado is the root, meaning "call, name"
A is a time marker, suggesting "now"

gado  de+tsa+ado+a

"What do they call you now?" Not "list all your prior aliases"

In English, an analytical language, you can take any one of the words apart from the sentence and it will still have meaning. But if you use the Cherokee segments out of context, with the possible exception of gado, you have a mass of meaningless sounds.

All European languages function similarly to English, so for an English speaker to learn another European language is comparatively easy.  Learning a Native American language is a huge leap into a different language family and often a very different way of organizing and expressing information.  For an English speaker, Cherokee requires you to completely reexamine what it is you truly mean to say, which often forces you to reexamine why you are saying it as well.

Unless you are a serious linguistics geek, you don't give an uktena's butt whether the language is analytic or polysynthetic. The hardest language to speak is the one YOU don't speak yet. The one you grew up speaking is the easiest, and you can't understand why others around the world, like those pesky illegal immigrants, can't seem to handle it. But the fact is, unless you SPEAK the language regularly - not just read it, not just wear a cool syllabary T-shirt, you will lose whatever progress you've made. 

Donadagohvi, until we meet again
Nvwadohiyada, Healing and Peace be with you!

PS:  Beside this Cherokee interest mail list, I have two others. There's no charge, so click the links and join if interested:

HEALTH list:    

Friday, June 8, 2012

Happy Friday! Living Or Dead, and Fathers' Day,


Alihelisdi Tsunagilosdi Gohi-iga!   Be happy, it's Friday!
     How many of you followed the Transit of Venus on Tuesday/Wednesday? It's the kind of event that reminds us of our relative scale in the universe. We are barely specks of dust in the grand scheme of things. But unlike specks of dust, we are self-powered. 
     In Cherokee, there are two pluralizing prefixes, ani and di. Ani is sometimes mistranslated as 'people', because it pluralizes the clan names. Waya become Aniwaya, Tsiqua becomes Anitsisqua. Di is used for inanimate objects. Gasgilo becomes digasgilo, sesdi becomes disesdi. 
     At one time the difference was whether the noun was self-locomoting. Humans and animals that move on their own power took the ani prefix, but so did stars and clouds. 
Another school of thought reserves ani for humans. 
The most common division, however, is between the living and non-living. 
     In the opening episode of the updated "Battlestar Galactica," we have this brief exchange between the first human-looking Cylon to make contact with humanity and a human ambassador at a remote space station:
Number Six: Are you alive?
Human: Yes.
Number Six: Prove it!
     Six then kisses him passionately, while he responds... like a dead frog. She didn't ask to see his CDIB; the princess kissed the frog, and he stayed a frog. 
     This scene summarizes the series to some. The underlying questions are "Am I alive? Am I human? Or am I a robot programmed to think it's human?"
     Think of this when the "identity police" challenge you. Are you ayvwiya, a Real Person? Can you prove it? Are you actively involved in the Cherokee heritage, culture and language, or are you just croaking? 

Father's Day
It's coming up next weekend, and that will end our Spring Special. 

Stray Bits
[1] Many are familiar with James Mooney's "Myths and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees." Mooney's descendant and namesake has just agreed to be part of a project to release an annotated version, explaining some of the symbolism. Rather than a dead "museum piece," this would reflect how the stories of our ancestors still influence and guide us today. We would also like to make this an illustrated version, so if any of you artists have a piece that would be appropriate for one of the stories, please contact me.
[2] The bad news: Amazon doesn't support Cherokee characters. The good news: there's a way around it! For all of you budding writers... 
[3] A Hollywood film company contacted me about getting Hopi and Mayan Elders to describe their genuine prophecies as part of a documentary series in production on indigenous views of 2012. Told them I'd do my best, but the Hopi are notoriously close-mouthed with outsiders on these subjects. There's more positive response from the Mayans and Inuit Elders, but still wary.

Donadagohvi, until we meet again
Nvwadohiyada, Healing and Peace be with you!

PS:  Beside this mail list, I have two others. There's no charge, so click the links and join if interested: 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Deer and Rabbit Race for the Crown

I was surprised to learn that so many people on the mailing list had never heard this story. Traditionally, you hear these stories over and over for years, until one day you have a burst of insight and realize the meaning or moral of the story. Don't worry, I'll hand you several of the meanings after the story...
In the long-ago time, the Animals were quite different than they are today. Turtle was much bigger, and fierce, with sharp teeth and a thick one-piece shell. Rabbit was much bigger, too, about the size of a human. Deer had long sharp teeth but no antlers.  
He was a fast runner and Rabbit was a great jumper, and the animals were all curious to know which could go farther in the same time. They talked about it a lot, and at last agreed to a match between the two, and had made a crown shaped like lightning for a prize to the winner.
They were to start together from one side of a thicket, go through it, then turn and come back. The one who came out first was to get the crown.
On the day off the race all the animals were there, with the lightning crown set on the ground at the edge of the thicket to mark the starting point. While everybody was admiring the crown the Rabbit said: "I don't know this part of the country; I want to take a look through the bushes where I am to run." They thought that all right, so Rabbit went into the thicket, but he was gone so long that at last the animals suspected he must be up to one of his tricks. They sent a messenger to look for him, and away in the middle of the thicket he found Rabbit gnawing down the bushes and pulling them away until he had a road cleared nearly to the other side.
The messenger turned around quietly and came back and told the other animals. When Rabbit came out at last they accused him of cheating, but he denied it until they went into the thicket and found the cleared road. They agreed that such a trickster had no right to enter the race at all, so they gave the crown to Deer, who was admitted to be the best runner, and he has worn them ever since. His antlers remind us of the lightning and of the rains they bring. Rabbit was told that since he was so fond of cutting down bushes he would do that thereafter, and so he does to this day.

Rabbit felt belittled because Deer had won the crown of lightning, and resolved to get even. One day, soon after the race, he stretched a large grapevine across the trail, and gnawed it nearly in two in the middle. Then he went back a piece, took a good run, and jumped up at the vine. He kept on running and jumping up at the vine until Deer came along and asked him what he was doing?
"Don't you see?" said Rabbit. "I'm so strong that I can bite through that grapevine at one jump."
Deer could hardly believe this, and wanted to see it done. So Rabbit ran back, made a tremendous spring, and bit through the vine where he had gnawed it before. Deer, when he saw that, said, "Well, I can do it if you can." So Rabbit stretched a larger grapevine across the trail, but without gnawing it in the middle. Deer ran back as he had seen the Rabbit do, made a spring, and struck the grapevine right in the center, but it only flew back and threw him over on his head. He tried again and again, until he was all bruised and bleeding.
"Let me see your teeth," said Rabbit finally. So Deer showed him his teeth, which were long like a wolf's teeth, but not very sharp.
"No wonder you can't do it," said Rabbit; "your teeth are too blunt to do anything. Let me sharpen them for you like mine. My teeth are so sharp that I can cut through a stick just like a knife." And he showed him a black locust twig, of which rabbits gnaw the young shoots, which he had shaved off as well as a knife could do it, in regular rabbit fashion. Deer thought that was a great idea, so Rabbit got a hard stone with rough edges and filed and filed away at Deer's teeth until they were worn down almost to the gums. 
"That hurts!" said Deer; but Rabbit said it always hurt a little when they began to get sharp; so Deer kept quiet.
"Now try it," at last said Rabbit. So Deer tried again, but this time he could not bite at all.
"Enjoy the antlers, sucker!" said the Rabbit, as he jumped away through the bushes. Ever since then  Deer's teeth are so blunt that he cannot chew anything but grass and leaves.
Deer was very angry at Rabbit for filing down his teeth, and determined to get revenge, but he kept still and pretended to be friendly until Rabbit was off guard. Then one day, as they were going along together talking, he challenged the Rabbit to jump against him. Now, since everyone knows that Rabbit is a great jumper, he agreed.
There was a small stream beside the path, as there generally is in that country, and Deer said "Let's see if you can jump across this branch. We'll go back a way, and when I say GO! we both run and jump."
"All right," said Rabbit. So they went back to get a good start, and when Deer gave the word GO!, they ran for the stream, and Rabbit made one jump and landed on the other side. But Deer had stopped on the bank, and when Rabbit looked back, Deer had conjured the stream so that it was a large river. Rabbit was never able to get back again and is still on the other side. The rabbit that we know is only a little creature that came along afterwards.
  1. On one level, this is a children's story about being a good person: don't cheat others, don't be spiteful, and so forth. It's a lesson in human motivations.
  2. On another level, this is about selecting leaders. Deer is strong and noble, but a little naive. Rabbit is smaller but shrewd, willing to cheat to get what he wants. He's a back-stabbing little Machiavellian. He may not even see preparing the course as truly cheating. But the referees do. Deer is the one you want to have top position in a leadership structure. Rabbit needs to stay close as an advisor, because Rabbit is more likely to spot another back-stabber approaching. It takes one to know one. This year, we are selecting a leader for our nation, who by default is really president of the world. This lesson is timely.
  3. In the sky Deer is the constellation Galagina (roughly equivalent to Taurus), Rabbit is Venus, and River is the Milky Way. "The thicket" is the dense patch of stars, and the course through it is roughly circular - a recurring cycle or orbit.
  4. In another version of the story, Deer and Rabbit go ahead with the race, and each takes the lead for a spell. We can also see how each appears to have the upper hand for a while.

  5. The recent solar eclipse produced a crescent or "horned" disc for a few minutes. The partial lunar eclipse on Monday will as well... Horned Crowns in the sky.
  6. Rabbit/Venus has already doubled back and will cross the face of the sun on Tuesday and Wednesday as Sun and Venus appear to be between the antlers of Deer/Taurus at sunrise Tuesday and Wednesday.
I could go on, but just know that there are layers and layers of meaning to the ancient stories passed down by our ancestors.  Some of you have wondered why the book "Even Heaven Falls Apart" is taking me so long to complete. Now you understand some of the complexity! 

Whatever meaning you draw from it, the next Transit of Venus won't occur until 2117. If nothing else, take a moment and reflect on the usqanigodi, the wondrous and complex nature of it all! And give thanks for the departed Elders who preserved this wisdom that we might share it today.  
Brian Wilkes

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Another Elder Crosses...

Junior Sapp of Jay and Eucha Oklahoma began is walk home on Sunday.  According to Choogie Kingfisher, "He will be missed in many circles...from gigging tournaments to gospel singings. A true Kituwah and one of the last true medicine people."  He was called "the best-known man in NE Oklahoma." The myth often told is that Junior could "fly" because someone would see him in one place at one time and then shortly later at another location. RIP.

Today (Tuesday May 1) It is the Day of the TWINS, fourth day of the Week of the FIREPIT. Firepit Week represents the conflict between culture and nature. Our desire to maintain a lineage of customs and beliefs is periodically disrupted by the evolutionary leaps. Nature is the house into which we are born, and Culture as the house into which we move. These are 13 days to refocus our struggle to decide which house is really home, knowing all homes are temporary.  This parallels the story of the Twins Dawisgala and Ihiya (Flint and Reed), in which Flint Knife Boy represents the selfish survival instinct of the individual, and Reed Boy represents the dutiful survival instinct of the family.

Mayan Daykeepers

I've been spending time listening to the Mayan Daykeepers who took part in last week's online summit. As we go into the second half of this year, you can expect to be bombarded with all kinds of wild claims. Here's the reality: the Daykeepers all confirmed that nowhere in the Mayan inscriptions does if predict that at the end of the current age in December, there will be any disaster, cataclysms, floods, extinctions, Planet X Niburu. The nature of time and material existence will not change on December 22; it will be the first day of a new age, with the same 260 cycle as before. What we make of the fresh start we are given is up to us.

Mothers Day - Fathers Day Specials

Normally, the Speak Cherokee program costs $20 per month. Now through Fathers Day, you can have a full access subscription until the end of 2012 for $100 - that's a $60 savings. Wouldn't that make an exceptional gift for the parent interested in their Cherokee heritage?
By request, I've also added a $20 reduction for the Cherokee Calendar Calulation and Analysis:

donadagohvi,  So until next time, 
nvwadohiyada!  may true peace and healing be with you!

Brian Wilkes

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10% Off All DNA Tests Just enter the discount code chca108.

Prescription eyewear, wholesale prices  discount code BWEYES1.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

RIP Walker Calhoun, 1919 - 2012

Walker Calhoun, "Beloved Man" of the Eastern Band, returned to his heavenly home Wednesday morning at his home in Big Cove. He will be buried Saturday at the family cemetery, with Rev. Bo Paris of the Pentecostal Church officiating.  

Walker and his late wife Evelyn were always very kind to me and freely shared their knowledge. His passing - and hers! - are a great loss to all.

Among my prized possessions are two of the baskets she made in the last months of her life, and one of Walker's blowguns and an assortment of darts.

At 93, Walker was a major tradition bearer of the old Cherokee ways, especially ceremonial songs and dances. Born in 1919 into the Big Cove community in western North Carolina’s Qualla Boundary, Calhoun was the nephew of Will West Long, who was the spiritual leader and dance leader of Big Cove and a primary informant for Smithsonian ethnologist James Mooney. 

In the early 1990's he revived the Stomp Dance in NC, creating the first recognized Cherokee stomp ground east of the Mississippi. (Last I heard, it's still the only one.)

For many years, Mr. Long was the last carrier of much of the traditional knowledge of the Eastern Cherokees, and despaired of finding someone with the interest and commitment to carry that burden after him. When Mr. Calhoun returned from his WW2 army service, he shouldered that burden, and in turn despaired of finding others willing to carry it on. 

That began to change, I'm told, in the 1990's. The younger generation wanted to learn the language again, and frustrated at the lack of access, began to buy teaching materials from Oklahoma. Shocked at hearing grandchildren speaking Cherokee "wrong," pressure was brought for language instruction, which continues today.  
This raises a question... what are YOU waiting for? Saturday is the last day of the Speak Cherokee Spring Special, giving you access to online audio/video instruction, testing, and interaction for the rest of the year.  Why? That's up to you. But the clock is ticking, so find your "why" before your "why" finds you!

Brian Wilkes

More Springtime Words

We continue with words associated with Springtime, including words associated with ceremonial prayers...

ga-ta: “new” fire, kindled after the “old” fire is extinguished

a-ya-sta-sgi: “old” fire, burning since the last new fire was kindled.

a-tsi-la: common word for fire

a-tsi-lv-sgi: flower, blossom, flame

i-tse: new

i-tse-i-yu-sdi:  fresh, green

se-lu-tsu-ni-ge-sdi-sdi: corn sprouting, the second major holiday, today called “New Corn” in English.

A-da-we-hi: Elders in the sense of culture carriers entrusted with important knowledge; day-keepers who understood the old Calendar and ceremonial cycle. Also used to mean angel, prophet. They were consulted on which would be the most auspicious days to schedule events.

A-ni-da-we-hi:  plural of adawehi

a storage building where all of the agricultural tools were kept for the community,


a-go-de-sdi: spade,


da-ga-lo-sti u-i-la-ta,
pointed stick, used to make hole for seedlings. It was considered offensive to tear off a large part of Our Mother’s skin with plows or tillers just to plant seeds, when a smaller hole would do.

Happy Planting!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Live Classes and Springtime Words


I had a request to resume live classes again. I stopped doing those five years ago, because no matter how we varied scheduling, the timing and distance was always inconvenient for somebody. But this one has me thinking…. it would be about 50 miles away, and... the request comes from an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma! So pardon me while I take a moment to pat myself on the back – despite all the sniping from the web whiners about what a thin-blood I am, somebody who knows what Cherokee sounds like thinks we’re doing a good job!

Words of Springtime! Part 1

A-nv-yi: March. Contracted form of “windy month”, it puns with “strawberry time,” since some plants sprout early.

Ka-won-ni: April. Usually translated “flowering,” it puns with the word for “duck,” since migrating ducks return.

: May. “They plant”

Nv-da i-gv-ga-yi:
first moon, the First New Moon of Spring holiday. This moon occurred March 22, and began the lunar month Nv-da a-tsi-lv-sgi (Flowering Moon).

go-ge-yi, ga-ga-i, gi-la-go-di: Spring

go-ga, go-gi: Summer

Hi-ga-yv-li Tsu-ne-ga: “Thou Ancient Whites”, ritual name for the ashes of a previous ceremonial fire. Ashes are preserved, and used to build the next fire; in that way, it is considered a continuation of the same fire.

Hi-ga-yv-li A-ni-gi-ga-u: “Thou Ancient Reds”, ritual name for the sacred fire and for the sun and ancient sun goddess/ancestress.

Spring Special – Ends Saturday! Full-access Speak Cherokee language instruction for the remainder of 2012, for $100. That’s an $80 savings!

Brian Wilkes 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cherokee Springtime and Planting Observances

In the old days, there were two New Year celebration, since summer and winter were seen as separate years.  The spring new year was known as Green Grass, because it was seen to be the first New Moon after the first Green Grass. For that reason, it is sometimes called First New Moon. The new moon begins the Cherokee month, and Thursday began the lunar month of Atsilvsgi, 'Flowering'. Over the next two weeks, different Cherokee communities will celebrate the return of spring and summer with seed blessings and planting ceremonies. 

The new moon that begins the autumn-winter season is simply called Nvdadequa, 'Great New Moon.'

Although holidays were usually keyed to new moons, they were usually not celebrated until the following full moon (kalinvda). In this case, April 5-6 would be an appropriate observance date, since April 5 is a Critical Day as well as  Flower Day, and April 6 is the full moon and a Turtle Day, the start of a new cycle. All this to say that planting is part of the Cherokee identity - this year, plant something, even a Chia Pet!

Just a quick note today…full-access Speak Cherokee language instruction for the remainder of 2012, for $100. 

Just click this link to get started!

Brian Wilkes

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy First Day of Spring!

Just a quick note today…

For Valentine’s Day, I offered you a special: full-access Speak Cherokee language instruction for the remainder of 2012, for $100. That was a $100 savings. 

A few takers, and a few said they wanted it. But weeks went by. I finally asked what was wrong. seems some people haven’t gotten their tax refund checks as soon as expected.

I understand. Sometimes things occur that are beyond our control. I asked if they wanted me to offer it again. 


So here it is. I had originally intended this offering only for those who have previously been students, but since I know only too well how rough the economy is these days, I’ll open it to anyone interested, anywhere in the world.    

Just click this link to get started!  

This will only be up a few days, so don't be an "April Fool!"


“Friend” me on Facebook:

 “Like” the page on Facebook!!/pages/SpeakCherokeecom/106123549431075 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day: Kinship, Bridge-Building, and Snake-Wrangling

     In the late 1990’s, I was part of a video link between boy’s high schools in Newark and Orange, New Jersey and Omagh in Ulster. Video links are a simple matter today, but back then, it was cutting edge - it took a tech team on either side of the pond, and we lost either the video or audio portion several times. 

     The event officially was to share story-telling. Unofficially, it was about overcoming decades of segregation and bigotry: racial in the US, religious in Ireland. The US kids were amazed that there could be segregation in Ulster, since they could see no visible difference between the Catholic and Protestant students in the “integrated” Ulster prep school. The Irish kids were likewise amazed that in America those who called themselves Catholic or Protestant would reject a co-religionist of a different complexion.

     One of the school administrators sat down next to me on camera, and said that he was also of Cherokee ancestry. He began speaking about the upcoming New Year celebration, and his mother’s recipe for Ceremony Stew. Few non-Cherokee would have known any of these details, so I had to accept him as legitimate. I then pointed out to both audiences that they now saw a man who appeared black and a man who appeared white, and that’s the way the greater society would always see us. But we were also Cherokee, and although we had just met, we regarded each other as cousins, would address each other in Cherokee as “cousin”, and would be welcome in each others’ home.  

     (The Irish knew the story of how the Choctaw, decimated and impoverished by their forced removal to Indian Territory (Oklahoma), had been so distressed by news of the Potato Famine starvation and death that they organized a collection drive and sent money to Ireland to help. That story is well-known in Ireland, but little-known in America.)

     I was there to share Cherokee teaching stories. To explain the breadth of Native American diversity, I joked that in America, we already knew everything about Irish culture. After all, on St. Patrick’s Day, the cable channels showed both “The Quiet Man” and “The Commitments.” That brought a laugh from Ireland!

Say It Loud, They're Black and Proud.

     “The Commitments” is Alan Parker’s 1991 film about a group of 20-something poor Dubliners who decide that since the world already treats them like n*gg*rs, the best thing to do is form an R&B group. 

     “The Irish are the blacks of Europe,” says would-be band leader Jimmy Rabbitte. “Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. North Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it loud, I am Black and I am proud.”

     But none of the characters are Black, none of them has ever met a Black American. They know Black America only from media. One band member tells stories about all the soul and rhythm & blues stars he’s played with… B.B. King, Martha and the Vandellas, and for all we know, he could be making it all up. None of his new followers has any way to check it out, because they don’t even know any Black Americans.

     The old Southern bluesmen and gospel singers said of the situation, “you gotta be laughin' to keep from cryin', gotta be singin' to keep from weepin'.” In Africa, the most desperately poor villages are full of the happiest music. In Native America, the music bubble up the surface almost without warning. In poetry, Ireland is called “The Land of Song”, perhaps for the same reasons.   

     Yet, by the end of the film the band has accomplished an important mission. They have given North Dublin a positive sense of identity, something to take pride in, and a sense that they may be able to endure their lives of struggle by learning from a distant people who have overcome. The Dubliners still don’t know and Black Americans, they aren’t organizing clothing drives or heating assistants for elderly blacks in America, and they aren’t claiming to be from a hidden tribe of Zulus stranded in Connacht. From the beginning, it was never about connecting with or helping Black America, and never pretended to be. 

     I think of it every time I see people who have just learned something about NDN history becoming strident, despite having few facts and little experience. The band's initial experiments are awful, as are those of many pick-up neo-NDN groups. These often seem like child-with-a-violin screech to the rest of us (like that ridiculously-large ‘medicine drum’ touring the world and other cultural abuses), but they are often born of a sincere desire to improve some aspect of life. We have to be adults and realize that they aren’t doing it to offend us, and probably aren’t doing it to please or pander to us. In fact, they probably don’t know us or even want to. But we can at least offer violin lessons to reduce the screech.  

      Unless that screech can drive the snakes out!

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig ar gach duine! 
May the Blessings of St. Patrick's Day be on each of you!

For my American friends: rent "The Commitments"
For my European friends: rent "Smoke Signals"

Friday, March 16, 2012

Italian Cherokee Student Passes Test, and a Note on Dialects


Mattia Reeder, a student from the area of Venice, Italy, has passed Test 2. Well done! Even though his recordings were technically correct, it’s strange and yet wonderful to hear Cherokee spoken with Italian pacing and inflection. ( FYI: I'm waiting to hear what his baritone voice can do with some of the hymns!)

That brings up a point.  The most frequent question I get is “Which dialect do you teach?”  The two remaining dialects are not that different, and more importantly, there are ten recognized sub-dialects, and MANY peculiarities within communities or families.

For example, my father would say “Much obliged” in place of “Thank you very much,” as if the additional thanks required  different words. This is not a difference of dialect, just an idiom, which passed on to me.  One older friend speaks the way his father did; the accent and inflection is so specific, I can tell which county his father as from. 

For the record, we teach the modern Western dialect, a merging of Middle and Overhill dialects. We do this simply because this is what most Cherokee today speak, and will give you the greatest number of potential friends to speak with.  But any fluent speak will immediately recognize that you didn’t grow up speaking the language, and that you “aren’t from around here.”

You can start today, in fact, by actually subscribing to the Speak Cherokee program for $20 per month:

THE 2012 CHEROKEE CALENDAR is still available

The YEAR 2012 PACKAGE is still very popular.

donadagohvi,  Until next time,  
nvwadohiyada!  may true peace and healing be with you!

Brian Wilkes

Immersion Course in June!

June 7-10 and 12-17:  Cherokee Language Immersion Course taught by Bo Taylor with Cherokee Elders, using TPR, Rassius, and Immersion Techniques. $500.

For more information contact:
Museum of the Cherokee Indian, P.O. Box 1599, Cherokee NC 28719
828-497-3481, Fax:  828-497-4985

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Valentine's Day Gift Special ends today!


Some of us had a great time over the weekend, remembering our Ancestors. 

Now, Of course, it’s time to bring things back to the present day. Today (Tuesday) is the last day to order theCherokee Calendar Birthday Calculation and Analysis for the reduced rate of $77 and have guaranteed PDF delivery by Valentine’s Day.

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, the most popular phrase is alihelig' adageyud'  hudodaquisvi
ah-lee-HEY-leeg ah-dah-gey-YOOD hoo-do-dah-QUEES-uh-ee

Literally, “Be happy, love all day long” (which could make it sounds like some kind of tantric marathon)

Speak Cherokee students have many interests beyond the language, and we’ll be celebrating these in our online community.
Renee Janette Langlois is a competition bodybuilder on the west coast who’s making quite a name for herself.
Dejota Apostól is now in private practice as an acupuncturist in San Jose. Congratulations!!
Until next time,
10% Off All DNA Tests Just enter the discount code chca108.

Prescription eyewear, wholesale prices  discount code BWEYES1.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Honoring the Ancestors, Part 2


Ancestor Ceremony

Last week's post on the Ancestor Ceremony struck a chord with many people. I'll share two responses from Cherokee expatriates in Europe: 

Wado for the info Mr. Wilkes.
     It comes at a needed time as I was preparing something for this weekend to honor my ancestors with my young daughter. Again the coincidence surprises me. I am speechless. I wish a knew an old Cherokee prayer, to recite it properly and respectfully. 
     Don't know what else to say. I guess I will learn one old Cherokee story, Kanati and the Thunder Boys, or one of the funny stories of deer and rabbit by heart... and tell them to my 5 year old daughter. Actually, thinking of ancestors it’s just down on me to tell the story of the Bear cousins and how they went back to the forest. I think that this will be the best story to tell, showing that our ancestors never leave truly but may pass by to help if we ask respectfully and honor them.
     May your days be full of blessings.
     Mattia (Italy)

Dear Mr. Wilkes,
     This mailing list has helped me to learn something important about my ancestors that was lost.  I will start my first Ancestor Ceremony tomorrow and never forget it every year as long as I have life left to share. I am from a broken home. Learning these ceremonies helps me to feel connected to something bigger. Your mailing list has given so much and I wish to take the time to say thank you. 
     Best wishes,
     Robbin Lara (Germany)

On the weekend of February 4, many people will observe the Ancestor Ceremony.
Some of you have asked how they can conduct the ceremony. While the Internet is hardly the place to teach or even discuss ceremonial practices, this is more of a family observance. The formal ceremony is one that has been passed down through your family. If none has been passed down, the simplest thing to do is to set an extra place at the table. This is in addition to the "spirit plate" that is prepared and taken outside to share hospitality with any creatures who care to partake.
Bring out the genealogies, photos, personal effects of various family members who have crossed. Share stories of their lives. Play or sing their favorite music and songs, prepare their favorite foods.
Ancestor         tsunigayvlige-iyu, tsunigayvliiyvlistanv
Family            dudatihnavi, duhldinavi, tsidanalu, sidanelvhi
Clan                 tsuniyvwi, usdahlvi

The Ancestor Ceremony has become the modern replacement for the Midwinter Ceremony, which sought to drive off the spirits of cold, hunger and disease that claimed so many lives. The spirit-repelling ceremony evolved into the Masked Dance, common called the Booger Dance. In that ceremony, community and family are clearly identified in an “us versus them” scenario, with a group of “demon” party-crashers parodied, satirized, and danced outside into the winter to go their own way in peace. The characters, originally personifications of hardships and diseases, evolved into hostile Indians, whites, blacks and Asians. More recent characters include an anthropologist, and a white woman on the prowl for a hot, buff Indian pow-wow dancer.  I know for a fact that the Booger Dance continued into the late 1940s in East Kentucky and Tennessee, and have heard that it continued into the 1960s in some communities.

Ancestor Ceremony allows us to define community and family on our own terms, as appropriate to our own situation. It’s you dinner table, so select your guests wisely.
Several of you asked about the Calendar Analysis, which had been reduced in December. I’m actually planning to back away from doing them, because each takes almost a full day to do right. But with Valentine’s Day coming up, and people looking for unique Valentine gifts, I decided to put it back up for ONE WEEK ONLY.

FOUR of my biggest selling Cherokee titles bundled together for a bargain price!

- 2012 Cherokee Calendar & Manual 
- New Cherokee Hymnal
- 13 Moons Calendar
- New Cherokee Dictionary

Over $40 if purchased separately, $29 as a package.

Until next time, 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Honoring the Ancestors


Ancestor Ceremony 

 On the weekend of February 4, or in some areas January 28, people will observe the Ancestor Ceremony. Some of you have asked how they can conduct the ceremony. While the Internet is hardly the place to teach or even discuss ceremonial practices, this is more of a family observance. The formal ceremony is one that has been passed down through your family. If none has been passed down, the simplest thing to do is to set an extra place at the table. This is in addition to the "spirit plate" that is prepared and taken outside to share hospitality with any creatures who care to partake. 

 This is the day in which the departed ancestors may be remembered with stories, or reviewing the photo album and family tree. It's a good day for teaching the younger generation about the ancestors they never had the chance to meet in this life, but who tradition says will be waiting on the other side to greet us. For example, I recently learned that one of my ancestors was a Confederate cavalry officer who was at the Battle of Petersburg, Virginia, the bloody encounter seen in the 2003 film “Cold Moon”. He also served with Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who led reconnaissance into the area of Marion, Kentucky, where I now live. 

 The important thing, according to all I've been shown, is not to "summon" the ancestors, especially not to "call" them back, but rather to let it be known that there is plenty of food, and all are welcome. One reader said this brought back memories of the family custom of holding family reunions in a graveyard, complete with table and chairs. The eldest grandmother, who was the ceremonial leader and stone carrier of the family, would say prayers in Cherokee over the headstones of the eldest ancestors. Since this was a private family cemetery, a table and chairs were set up, and a covered dish dinner held. Just why this had to be done in freezing mountain February never made sense to this reader, until she saw the mailing on the Ancestor Ceremony. She was able to recall details, even though none of the family had taken the time to explain what was happening to the youngest child. 

 One thing is to share parts of the ancestor’s lives… bringing out heirlooms they left. I have wooden candlesticks made by my carpenter grandfather, a steak knife from the family restaurant. Usually we’ll have cherry vanilla ice cream, because it was dad’s favorite. For those of you carrying an old tradition this weekend, bless you. For those of you renewing or initiating it, my best wishes. But either way, please take the time to explain it in ways that even the youngest among you can understand. Family gatherings and teachings, speaking, listening, hugging and sharing, are the true way to keep traditions alive. Blogs and mailing lists are a poor substitute. 


Ancestor: tsunigayvlige-iyu, tsunigayvliiyvlistanv 
Family:    dudatihnavi, duhldinavi, tsidanalu, sidanelvhi 
Clan:        tsuniyvwi, usdahlvi 


 - 2012 Cherokee Calendar with Manual
 - New Cherokee Hymnal
 - 13 Moons Calendar 
 - New Cherokee Dictionary 

Over $40 if purchased separately, $29 as a package. 


Brian Wilkes