A language of United States

Alternate Names
Tsalagi, Tslagi

10,400 (2010 census). Spoken by 10,000 of the 122,000 member Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, by 1,000 of the 10,000 Eastern Band of Cherokees in North Carolina, by a high percentage of the 7,500 members of the United Keetoowah Band of Oklahoma and Arkansas (Golla 2007). 130 monolinguals. Ethnic population: 140,000 (Golla 2007).


East and northeast Oklahoma, Cherokee Reservation; Great Smokey Mountains; western North Carolina.

Language Status

6b (Threatened).


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

Language Use

Regularly taught at University of Oklahoma and Northeast Oklahoma University. Adult classes held in many locations. Cherokee Nation sponsors language preservation project (Golla 2007). Used as L2 by Natchez [ncz].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 15%–20% can read, 5% can write (1986 Cherokee Heritage Center). Now taught in schools, churches, and other classes (1986 Cherokee Advocate). Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 1850–1951.

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

Other Comments

Christian, traditional religion.