TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation will premiere “ᏥᏍᏚ ᎠᏥᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ,” or “Rabbit Stories,” an animated independent short film in the Cherokee language directed by Cherokee filmmaker and digital media artist Joseph Erb, on May 27 at Roots Church in Tahlequah.
The premiere of the 21-minute short, which takes viewers on a journey through the Cherokee culture and highlights themes of tradition, the supernatural and resilience, will start at 7 p.m. and be open to the public.
“Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and I know just how important it is for our Nation to preserve Cherokee language and culture, and ‘Rabbit Stories’ is just another way that our tribe is following through on that obligation,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “Wado to Director Joseph Erb and the many speakers and film professionals who helped create this entertaining and highly educational and cultural film.”
The film stars 10 Cherokee speakers, including Wes Studie as Digatsanuli, Phillis Sixkiller (Elisi Anasgvti, David Crawler as Didaniyisgi, Kathy Sierra as Ageya, Helena McCoy as Adelvdigatiya, Tony Owens as Ulogvlv, Tommy Wildcat as Didaniyisgi, Jerry Ross as Amagasga, Bobbie Smith as Anawegi, and Patrick Del Percio as Amayi.
Others involved in the film’s production include David R. Crawling (cultural advisement and casting), Nokosee Fields (opening music, interludes and closing credits music), Jamil Jaser (3D models and storyboards), Rockee Harjo (2D animation), Matt Mason (rendering), Amayi Lewis Erb (voice actor), Melissa Lewis (voice actor) and Kourtney Vann (voice actor).
Erb is a Cherokee citizen who has been at the forefront of Native American language and digital technology initiatives for over two decades, with expertise in two- and three-dimensional animation and a range of other media. As a passionate educator, Erb also shares his knowledge by teaching courses in film, digital storytelling and animation.
“What sets ‘Rabbit Stories’ apart is its masterful blend of action, suspense and family values,” Erb said. “This show is not just entertainment but also a celebration of a proud culture that deserves to be shared with the world.”
As the former Digital Media and Language Technology Specialist for Cherokee Nation, Erb made groundbreaking contributions to his community. He made history by creating the first computer-animated film and planetarium show in a Native American language.
In addition to these milestones, Erb has also helped lead a number of large-scale projects that saw him working with leading tech companies to embed the Cherokee syllabary on digital devices and social media platforms. These initiatives served as a powerful tool to preserve Cherokee culture and language for generations to come.
Today, Erb remains committed to creating meaningful animated independent shorts in indigenous languages and documentary films that highlight the rich and diverse histories of indigenous people. As a strong advocate for language and digital inclusion, he is tirelessly dedicated to making sure these vital aspects of indigenous cultures are never lost in the modern era of rapidly advancing technologies.
More information about Erb and “Rabbit Stories” can be found by visiting https://www.josepherb.com/.