The Museum of the Cherokee Indian Presents

The Way We Speak with the World:
Cherokee Language Film & Concert

August 4 & 5, Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center

Presented by the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, The Way We Speak with the World is a two-night film and concert event celebrating the Cherokee language. With only 2,000 living fluent speakers alive today, The Way We Speak with the World signals the urgency of language preservation and honors the citizens who are working to preserve, perpetuate, learn, and teach Tsalagi. Held at the Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center at Cherokee Central Schools in Cherokee, North Carolina, the event is free and open to the public. Registration required via Eventbrite.

Schedule of Events:

Friday, August 4:  Screening of “ᏓᏗᏬᏂᏏ (We Will Speak),” a feature-length documentary collaboration chronicling the efforts of Cherokee activists, artists, and educators fighting to save the Cherokee language. A Q&A with members of the film’s production team will follow the screening. Doors open at 6pm, screening begins at 7pm.

Saturday, August 5: Cherokee language concert featuring Cherokee Nation musicians who contributed to the groundbreaking 2022 compilation album  Anvdvnelisgi (ᎠᏅᏛᏁᎵᏍᎩ). Doors open at 6pm, concert begins at 7pm.

ᏓᏗᏬᏂᏏ (Dadiwonisi / We Will Speak) (2023, 95 minutes)

The Cherokee language is deeply tied to Cherokee identity; yet generations of assimilation efforts by the U.S. government and anti-Indigenous stigmas have forced the Tri-Council of Cherokee tribes to declare a State of Emergency for the language in 2019. While there are 430,000 Cherokee citizens in the three federally recognized tribes, fewer than an estimated 2,000 fluent speakers remain—the majority of whom are elderly. The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately hastened the course. Language activists, artists, and the youth must now lead the charge of urgent radical revitalization efforts to help save the language from the brink of extinction. 

This feature-length documentary was shot on-location in Oklahoma and North Carolina throughout 2019-2022; through intimate interviews, vérité footage of community gatherings, and extensive archival materials, the film explores the nuanced ways the Cherokee language is vital to maintaining a unique cultural identity and relationship with the world. The collaborative project is also meant to act as an empowering agent of hope for Indigenous voices despite enduring inequity and oppression. Our film follows various Cherokee community members—specifically language activist and co-director Schon Duncan, educator Carolyn Swepston, and artist Keli Gonzales—as they continue the long fight to help save the language. The film’s “big concepts” of language revitalization are carried through the three characters’ stories and narrative trajectories.

Directors: ᎤᎶᎩᎳ / Schon Duncan & Michael McDermit
Producers: ᎨᎳᏗ / Keli Gonzales & Laura Heberton
Cinematographer & Editor: Jacob Koestler
Executive Producers: ᏪᏌ ᏍᏚᏗ​​​​​​​ / Wes Studi, Thomas Sadoski, Katherine Harper, The McClellan-Sorell Family, Gill Holland, Ben Speiser, & Mark Shlomchik​​​​​​​

Anvdvnelisgi ᎠᏅᏛᏁᎵᏍᎩ (Performers)

An Indigenous language is lost every two weeks around the world. With only 2,000 living fluent Cherokee speakers, the recorded album ᎠᏅᏛᏁᎵᏍᎩ (Anvdvnelisgi, pronounced Ah Nuh Duh Nay Lees Gi), celebrates the Cherokee language in a modern world.

Led by Cherokee citizens as part of a wide-ranging commitment to preserve and expand the Cherokee language, ᎠᏅᏛᏁᎵᏍᎩ, which translates to “Performers” in English, is produced by Cherokee filmmaker and creator Jeremy Charles and distributed by Horton Records, a non-profit 501c-3 committed to providing support and tools for Tulsa-area musicians to broaden their reach. The project was funded in part through the Commemoration Fund, dedicated to supporting bold and innovative efforts to correct social, political and economic injustices that impact Black, Indigenous, Latinx and People of Color.

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is honored to welcome all artists who performed on the Anvdvnelisgi ᎠᏅᏛᏁᎵᏍᎩ record to Cherokee for an unforgettable live performance.


Aaron Hale (Psychedelic Singer/Songwriter)
Agalisiga Mackey (Country)
Austin Markham (Pop)
Colby Luper (Metal)
Desi & Cody (Rock) 
IIA (Pop)
Kalyn Fay (Folk/Americana)
Medicine Horse (Metal)
Monica Taylor (Folk/Americana)
Ken Pomeroy (Alternative Folk)
Travis Fite (Reggae)
Zebadiah Nofire (Hip-Hop)

Sgi to our generous sponsors:

Cherokee Preservation Foundation • The Office of the Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians • Kituwah LLC • Harrah’s Cherokee CasinosCenter for Native HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Asheville American Indian & Indigenous StudiesCherokee Tribal Gaming Commission Walelu Cherokee Ball Team