Words of Wisdom: A Review of BEGINNING CHEROKEE
~  Dr. Dawn Karima
 
BEGINNING CHEROKEE

by Ruth Bradley Holmes and Betty Sharp Smith.  

Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1977.
 
As many Americans seek to embrace their Cherokee

heritage, numerous ways to learn the Cherokee

language have appeared. Facebook groups, YouTube

videos, college courses and language learning apps have all assisted students of this powerful tribal tongue.  Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma's free online language lessons, taught by Elder Ed Fields, educate students all over the world through conversation and phonetic expression.  Modernity melds with tradition as technology makes language learning possible.
 
Students may be looking for a strong textbook to accompany their learning through technology or need a visual representation to teach themselves or feel more comfortable studying a written resource.
 
BEGINNING CHEROKEE is a helpful classic for anyone who wishes to learn to speak or read Cherokee.  "Recent increased interest has created a demand for Amerindian language courses," writes the author.  "Many Cherokees who ignored past opportunities to learn the language from their families are now regretting the loss." 
 
Sequoyah's sophisticated syllabary represents a major intellectual achievement. Creating an alphabet as a means of expressing Cherokee words demonstrates Sequoyah's dynamic skills and proficiency with language.  As a result, Cherokee words and phrases can be written in a culturally specific syllabary.  In addition to teaching the Cherokee alphabet in syllabary, this book also proffers phonetic pronunciations for reading, speaking and writing this valuable language.
 
BEGINNING CHEROKEE starts readers on the path to learning Cherokee. Readers learn greetings, kinship terms, conversational phrases and useful words.  An extensive vocabulary list contains common words and phrases.  Expounding on verb structures and tenses gives pupils a chance to learn some of the complexities of this language.  
 
Exercises offer the chance to practice conversations and test students' knowledge of what they have learned at the completion of each lesson.  This oversized textbook is filled with glimpses into the Cherokee culture, as revealed through its language.  Utilizing this text as part of a class, or in connection with online teachings may be an excellent way to reinforce pupils' understanding of Cherokee.  
 
Language shapes culture and worldview.  Linguistic perspective permeates the lifeways of tribes and their descendants.  Learning Cherokee provides insights into living as a member of the culture. BEGINNING CHEROKEE opens the door to learning language and applying it to learning more about a powerful way of life.