Community

Saving an Endangered Language

“The Cherokee language could be gone in a few decades. We need to change that.”

“The Cherokee language could be gone in a few decades. We need to change that.”

“The Cherokee language could be gone in a few decades. We need to change that.”

Indigenous people have spoken Cherokee in North Carolina for 11,000 years. Now, only 238 people — 1.4 percent of the 17,000 citizens of the Eastern Band of Cherokees — speak the tribe’s Kituwah dialect. Most are 65 and older.

American studies assistant professor Ben Frey ’05 is working to revitalize that language through the weekly “AniKahwi,” meaning Cherokee Coffee Hour, for students interested in learning to speak Cherokee. Walk past Abernethy Hall Room 102 on any given Friday afternoon during the semester and you’ll likely hear sounds of an endangered language wafting through the halls.

Read the complete Carolina Story from the UNC College of Arts & Sciences… Opens in new window

This is story number 221 in the Carolina Stories 225th Anniversary Edition magazine.

UNC College of Arts & Sciences Funding Priorities

Readers Also Viewed...

UNC - Chapel Hill

An Unexpected Partnership

Developing tomorrow’s leaders

Environment

Combining Carolina Courses

Exploring and writing about the everchanging coast of North Carolina

Donor

Transformational Gift to Fund New Sports Medicine Complex

Gift from Don and Billie Stallings will advance traumatic brain injury research at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Student Support

Recognizing Influential Initiatives

Honoring the initiatives of a former dean

Donor

Preparing the next generation of energy leaders

The Duke Energy Foundation funds Carolina programs that prepare future leaders for the energy workforce.

Innovation

Harnessing PRINT

"I think at the end of the day, we learn the most from those we have the least in common with."