A language of United States

Alternate Names
Aniyunwiya, Tslagi
Tsalagi, ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ‎ (Tsalagi Gawonihisdi)

1,520 (2018 Cherokee Nation Tribal Survey). Spoken by 1,200 of the 124,000 member Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, by 217 of the 8,600 members of the Eastern Band of Cherokees in North Carolina, by 101 of the 8,000 members of the United Keetoowah Band of Oklahoma and Arkansas. 130 monolinguals. Ethnic population: 376,000 (2018 Cherokee Nation Tribal Survey).


Oklahoma: Cherokee Reservation; North Carolina: Great Smokey Mountains area.

Language Status

8a (Moribund). Language of registered tribe: Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.


Elati (Eastern Cherokee, Lower Cherokee, Underhill Cherokee), Keetoowah (Kituhwa, Middle Cherokee), Otali (Overhill Cherokee, Upper Cherokee, Western Cherokee), Overhill-Middle Cherokee.


SOV; noun head final; animate/inanimate nouns; polysynthetic language; tense and aspect; 10 consonants and 12 vowels; pitch accent; inclusive/exclusive pronouns.

Language Use

Older adults only. Used as L2 by Natchez [ncz].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 15%–20% can read, 5% can write (1986 Cherokee Heritage Center). Cherokee Nation’s Tsalagi tsunadeloquasdi began in 2001 as a language preservation program through an Administration for Native Americans grant which led to establishment of their Immersion School serving tribal members for preschool through sixth grade. Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 1850–1951. Cherokee is regularly taught at University of Oklahoma and Northeast Oklahoma University as well as adult language classes at Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band tribal headquarters and communities. Online language classes are offered to Cherokee Nation citizens as are employee immersion programs and an adult immersion program. United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians offer language revitalization initiatives and classes through their Education Center and Cherokee introductory language initiatives.


Cherokee script [Cher]. Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Christian, traditional religion.

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