Tsalagi is an endangered Iroquoian language and the native language of the Cherokee people. Ethnologue states that there were 1,520 Cherokee speakers out of 376,000 Cherokee in 2018, A tally by the three Cherokee tribes in 2019 recorded ~2,100 speakers. The number of speakers is in decline. About eight fluent speakers die each month, and only a handful of people under the age of 40 are fluent. The dialect of Cherokee in Oklahoma is "definitely endangered", and the one in North Carolina is "severely endangered" according to UNESCO. The Lower dialect, formerly spoken on the South Carolina–Georgia border, has been extinct since about 1900.
The dire situation regarding the future of the two remaining dialects prompted the Tri-Council of Cherokee tribes to declare a state of emergency in June 2019, with a call to enhance revitalization efforts.
Around 200 speakers of the Eastern (also referred to as the Middle or Kituwah) dialect remain in North Carolina and language preservation efforts include the New Kituwah Academy, a bilingual immersion school.The largest remaining group of Cherokee speakers is centered around Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where the Western (Overhill or Otali) dialect predominates.
Learn to speak key phrases in the Cherokee language with Dr. Candessa Tehee. This month, learn how to say "Where are you going?", "I am going home", and "I am going to work".
Learn to speak key phrases in the Cherokee language with Dr. Candessa Tehee. This month, learn how to say "What is your name?" and "My name is____".
Learn to speak key phrases in the Cherokee language with Dr. Candessa Tehee. This month, learn how to say "How much does this cost?" and "This costs $10".
Storytellers play a vital role in Cherokee culture. Watch this video to learn how to say “Storyteller” in the Cherokee language.
Daylight Savings always has us asking this question. Learn how to ask, “What time is it?” in Cherokee.