Cherokee language. Proof of perseverance.
In the 1800s the Cherokee tribe went through three major changes, including the development and adoption of a written constitution and the invention of a written Cherokee language. The devastating third change happened in 1838 when the majority of the Cherokee people were removed from Western North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama and forcibly relocated to Oklahoma by the federal government of the United States. This removal is what began the Trail of Tears, one of the most painful parts of Cherokee history and culture.
In 1879 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Captain R.H. Pratt opened the first Native American boarding school to forcibly acculturate Indians to mainstream white society. “Kill the Indian and save the man,” Pratt said. Toward this goal, Indian children throughout North America were taken from their homes and families, given “white” names, wardrobes, and haircuts, and forbidden to speak any language but English. Yet today, their language still flourishes. This achievement continues to be an inspiration to all of us, reminding us of the Cherokee people’s great will to survive and carry on their richly distinctive culture against great odds.