Welcome to the Cherokee Wikibook! This is a work in progress.

Flag of the Cherokee Nation
Flag of the Cherokee Nation
Flag of the United Keetoowah Band
Flag of the United Keetoowah Band
Flag of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Flag of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Are you a Cherokee person endeavoring to learn your ancestral language?

Are you a non-Cherokee person interested in the Cherokee language?

If so, we hope this book may be of great use to you! The introduction provides a contextualization of the Cherokee language, its status, and its standout features. The lessons are designed to explain concepts in thorough, accurate, and unpretentious language that the common reader will understand.

Learning Cherokee, or any language, is a long process requiring great emotional investment, time commitment, and a dedication to using practical strategies to overcome inevitable challenges, anxiety, and frustration. You must be patient. We graciously invite you to proceed if you believe this undertaking to be worth it.

If you have any general questions about content in this book, feel free to leave a comment on the Discussion tab of the corresponding page.

Note: You must be using Cherokee Unicode Supported Fonts to view this book correctly. Information on obtaining and installing Cherokee Unicode Fonts for Windows 2000 and Windows XP is available on the Cherokee Unicode page. Mac OS X from version 10.3 (Panther), Windows Vista and some Linux Operating Systems include default support for displaying the Cherokee Language in syllabary.

Mission and Philosophy edit

Our mission is not necessarily that you become fluent in Cherokee. Rather, with language being a vehicle for human connection, our goal is that you are able to use the Cherokee language to the extent that you wish in order to form and maintain meaningful connections with Cherokee speakers and learners.

As such, this course's layout and pedagogical content are (currently being) designed to facilitate your ability to smoothly climb up the ladder of functional proficiency in the language. Practical, everyday terms are the first focus in the course. From there, you will be guided to learn and internalize the structures within the language instead of being inundated with vocabulary that you have not been given the framework to handle.

Regardless of your experience with linguistics, if you are interested in learning about Cherokee rather than learning to speak it, you will find that this site also has many useful pages for you outside the Course section.

Introduction edit

For Everyone edit

Reading these short articles is highly recommended to everyone! You will understand how the Cherokee language fits into the larger North American linguistic situation, get an overview of the history of the language, and become aware of the revitalization projects and how you can help out! The accessibility statement pertains to the current and upcoming features of this site designed to foster a smooth learning experience for all.

For the New Learner edit

The new learner of Cherokee may easily feel discouraged by the reputation of the language as tonally complex and polysynthetic. The articles below will help demystify these phenomena and show you the true nature of the structure of Cherokee. Also check out the article on learning tips.

For the Linguist and Dedicated Student edit

Lexicon & Vocabulary edit

This section contains the dictionary and vocabulary lists you may find useful for studying. Eventually we envision Anki decks (digital flashcards) for the vocabulary list to help you memorize the lexicon via spaced repetition.

Grammar edit

Below is a list of articles about specific areas of Cherokee grammar. Linguists will find this a good place to start research. The general learner is also highly encouraged to refer these articles as they are recommended throughout the course.

General Topics edit

Phonology edit

Orthography edit

  • On the Syllabary

Verbs edit

Pronouns edit

  • Pronominal Prefixes
  • Reflexive and Middle Voice

Other Affixes edit

  • Clitics

Nouns and Adjectives edit

  • Nouns
  • Adjectives
  • Derivational Morphology

Adverbs edit

Connectors edit

  • Adpositions
  • Conjunctions

Quantity edit

  • Expressing Quantity
  • Numerals

Niche Studies edit

  • Ambiguity in the Syllabary and Possible Solutions

Course edit

General (i.e. non-linguist) learners should feel free to start from these lessons! Some important grammar points are contained in their own lesson pages for neater reference.

Cherokee Lessons
Lesson Number Topic Associated Grammar Points

Preparation and Drills edit

i Syllabary: Reading and Writing
ii Listening for Vowel Length
iii Listening for Tones

Module 1: Fundamentals edit

1 Greetings and Introductions
2 Basic Vocabulary
3 Simple Sentences Word Order, Parts of Speech
4 Important Verbs Features of Verbs, Conjugation Overview
5 More Sentence Structures

Module 2: Core Content edit

6 Numbers and Quantity Cardinal and Ordinal Numbers, Counters
7 Time and Date
8 Stuff
9 Feelings and Emotions
10 Communication Using Tone
11 Sensory Perception
12 Cognition
13 Describing Life
14 Describing People
15 Interpersonal Relationships
16 Physics and Structure
17 Life Activities
18 Describing Stuff
19 Earth

Module 3: Culture edit


Temporary edit

Notes for the Book Writers

Additional Resources edit

Cherokee Nation Language Department

Cherokee-English Online Dictionary

CED Game

Digital Archive of Indigenous Language Persistence (DAILP)

Cherokee Writing the Keetoowah Way (DAILP)

Culturev Cherokee Resource