TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Production has finished on a new Cherokee language animated series pilot episode created through a partnership between the Cherokee Nation, the Oklahoma Film + Music Office, and FireThief Productions, an independent film company responsible for the Emmy-winning “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People” TV program.
The new animated series is title is pronounced “Inage’i” translating to “In The Woods.” The story follows the adventures of four animal friends who live together in the forests of Turtle Island. Iga Daya’i the mischievous rabbit, Juksvsgi the gruff wolf, Anawegi the conscientious deer and Kvliwohi the wise bear are characters drawn from rich Cherokee storytelling tradition.
The Cherokee Nation funded the animated language series as part of its overall Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act to preserve and revitalize the Cherokee language. The series also features voiceovers from Cherokee Nation speakers who are part of the Cherokee Nation Film Office’s Native American talent database.
“Preserving and perpetuating the Cherokee language for future generations requires new avenues that allow us to both share and teach the language,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “This partnership has produced an animated series pilot that I believe will grab the attention of children and adults alike. Whether they are introduced to the Cherokee language for the first time, or re-introduced to a language that they are already familiar with, we are excited about the groundbreaking possibilities this series will create for the Cherokee language in the years to come.”
FireThief Productions worked closely with the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program to create the pilot episode. Cherokee Language Program Manager Roy Boney created the animated characters’ looks by drawing from contemporary Cherokee culture, from clothing and accessories to dwellings and other elements that will be highlighted in the series pilot.
The series pilot will also include musical contributions from the Cherokee National Youth Choir and vocalist Cora Flute, who wrote and performed the lyrics to the theme song. Harry Oosahwee, Betty Frogg, Lauren Hummingbird and Schon Duncan provide the Cherokee voices for the animation. The tribe’s translation team also assisted in the production process.
“Cherokee communities saw a sweeping decline in Cherokee language usage among young children when television programming entered the homes of our rural communities,” said Howard Paden, Executive Director of the Cherokee Nation’s new Language Department. “This animation project, like others, will use the same technology to bring the language back into the home. Now young Cherokee children will be able to enjoy cartoons in Cherokee.”
A free public screening of the pilot episode will be announced soon.
In 2019, the Cherokee Nation established the Cherokee Nation Film Office to increase the presence of Native Americans in every level of film and television industries while also creating opportunities for economic development and jobs in the Cherokee Nation. To learn more about the Cherokee Nation Film Office, visit www.Cherokee.film.