ᏓᏗᏬᏂᏏ (We Will Speak)
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The Cherokee language is deeply tied to Cherokee identity; yet generations of assimilation efforts by the U.S. government and anti-Indigenous stigmas have forced the Tri-Council of Cherokee tribes to declare a State of Emergency for the language in 2019. While there are 430,000 Cherokee citizens in the three federally recognized tribes, fewer than an estimated 2,000 fluent speakers remain—the majority of whom are elderly. The COVID pandemic has unfortunately hastened the course. Language activists, artists, and the young must now lead the charge of urgent radical revitalization efforts to help save the language from the brink of extinction.
This feature-length documentary was shot on-location in Oklahoma and North Carolina throughout 2019-2022; through intimate interviews, vérité footage of community gatherings, and extensive archival materials, the film explores the nuanced ways the Cherokee language is vital to maintaining a unique cultural identity and relationship with the world. The collaborative project is also meant to act as an empowering agent of hope for Indigenous voices despite enduring inequity and oppression.
Join us after the screening for an in-person Q&A with Co-Director Schon Duncan (ᎤᎶᎩᎳ),
2023, 94 minutes, USA, In English and Cherokee with English Subtitles, Unrated, Directed by Schon Duncan & Michael McDermit
“We Will Speak captures a period of hope for the Cherokee people through documenting the initiatives that have led to a rebirth of Cherokee language and culture.”– Alex Sitaras, CINECCENTRIC