VIDEO | 09:11
ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught)
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ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught)

‘ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught)’ explores expressions of reciprocity in the Cherokee world, brought to life through a story told by an elder and first language speaker.

For generations, storytelling has been more than just a means of expression for my people. Storytelling has been a way to teach and heal. It’s been a source of joy and even resistance. For me personally, storytelling is one of the ways I help contribute to my community and honor who and where I come from.

For me, an important part of being Cherokee means knowing your place within the larger whole and taking care of those around you. I try my best to do that when I’m creating. I can’t tell these stories alone, and I wouldn’t want to even if I could. “ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught)” is no different. This story was shaped by a team of independent artists from Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The merging of our individual perspectives and talents has made this film what it is.

It was important to us as a team that this film included the perspectives of western and eastern Cherokee people. Although our communities are separated by distance, our collaboration on this film offers a balanced perspective of what reciprocity means to our people and how it’s actualized in our lives.

When it’s all said and done, this is a film about responsibility — to land, language, community, to the next generation of Cherokee people, and to knowledge passed on.

Our stories have always been here. They will continue being here. I hope this film blesses someone and most importantly shows other Native people that they too can hold a camera and tell a story that matters to them.