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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Magazine Shines Light On Cherokee Writers
by B. Lynne Harlan - Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times

Last weekend, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian hosted a reading and autograph session for the fall 2009 edition of Appalachian Heritage magazine. The magazine is published by Berea College and edited by George Brosi.

George lived near Cherokee for many years and has always been a friend to our people.

The featured writer is Robert Conley, currently the Sequoyah Professor at Western Carolina University. The edition also features the artwork of Sean Ross, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. More than 20 Eastern Band members contributed work as diverse as traditional stories, Cherokee language stories, fiction and poetry.

The work is important in many ways, but perhaps most important is that it features works in the Cherokee language. Very few original writings were published in the Cherokee language during the 20th century. For those learning the Cherokee language, access to writing is limited, and to have another place to enjoy our language is important.

There are also works by young writers. These young people seldom have outlets for their creative writing outside the academic setting. It is my hope that this opportunity will stimulate their interest to seek other publications so that their worldviews might reach a larger audience.

Perhaps most important is the totality of Cherokee worldview. Former Principal Chief Robert Youngdeer, Marie Junaluska, a former tribal council member, and Freeman Owle, a cultural educator, have all contributed work. The diversity of the ages of the contributors provides the reader with the changing perspective of the Cherokee worldview and with the consistency that defines our people's traditions. The cultural traditions we learn through our everyday lives here in Cherokee show in our expressions of art.

In the Cherokee language, there is no word for art, but from our earliest contacts with Europeans, our leaders have valued education and having a written language. The belief that reading and writing would ensure the survival of our people has resonated through generations of leaders and of the directions we lead our youth. The new Appalachian Heritage magazine best illustrates that lesson by combining the Cherokee aesthetic and contemporary writing.

I am honored to be among the contributors to this edition. My fellow Cherokees have reinforced my belief that our cultural traditions survive not through formal education but through our everyday lives and through our enduring belief that it is our right to survive as a distinct people.

B. Lynne Harlan, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, works as a freelance writer, curator and tribal historian.

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