Learning My Ancestor’s Language Changed My Life

November is Native American Heritage Month

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my Dad, nestled into his green recliner, sharing the few Cherokee words and phrases he knew. The lamp cast a yellow glow over him, and his eyes would land on a random spot as he went back in time in his mind, to when he learned the words. Osiyo, wado, atsutsa, ageyutsa. Hello, thank you, boy, girl. These are the four Cherokee words he knew, and he shared them with us proudly. From the time his hair was a swath of darkness until it was streaked with silver and gray, he’d remind us of these words, and tell us the stories of our Cherokee heritage.

I recently had the opportunity to learn more Cherokee, and about halfway through my semester, I realized I now knew more Cherokee words than my dad ever had, or ever would. It’s one of the ways that grief pops up unexpectedly and blindsides you, these realizations that you’ve outpaced your teachers.

Today I’m sharing about how learning Cherokee, both the language and more about my heritage, over on the Knoxville Moms site. In it, I discuss what learning Cherokee has meant for me as I live with the never-ending grief of losing loved ones, and how it has impacted my behavior. Why am I suddenly trying to be more bold? Read on to find out. You can find the full post here.

Dodadagohvi, friends.


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