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Charlotte’s Web, in Cherokee

In 2010, the Hodges library acquired its 3 millionth volume, “Tsvlvki Sqclvclv, A Cherokee Spelling Book” originally published in 1819.  This October UT will acquire another Cherokee-language book, but one more familiar to non-Cherokees—Charlotte’s Web.  For the past four years, Eastern Band Cherokee (EBCI) member Myrtle Driver in conjunction with immersion school employee Bo Lossiah worked diligently to fill a need for reading materials at the New Kituwah Academy, a Cherokee language immersion school for EBCI children up to 6th grade.  Myrtle Driver is one of less than 230 remaining Eastern Band Cherokee language speakers.  She is one of even fewer literate in the syllabary.   New Kituwah is part of the larger efforts of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes, the EBCI, the Cherokee Nation, and the United Keetoowah Band to revitalize the language amongst its youngest members.  School officials worked with the EB White estate to publish 201 copies of the book translated into the syllabary invented by a Cherokee man named Sequoyah in 1821.

Newly tenured faculty member Dr. Julie Reed requested a copy of Charlotte’s Web from immersion school officials for use as her bookplate book to honor her promotion to tenure.  Hodges Library will house copy #197 in Special Collections.  The Native American Student Association (NASA) comprised of a number of EBCI members has diligently been working to secure Cherokee language classes on campus.  Bo Lossiah knew of these efforts and knew materials like Charlotte’s Web may be important to those efforts in the future.  When he gave the book to Reed, he made sure to remind her of the role that universities can play in aiding the language revitalization efforts of Cherokee communities through undergraduate classes and the language, employment of Cherokee language teachers, and linguists interested in Cherokee language projects.

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