Cherokee Culture in Oklahoma

If you are visiting Oklahoma, you should be aware that it is a place of diverse cultures, and that cultural awareness is vital if you don’t want to make a nuisance of yourself during your stay there. Oklahoma has a heavy Indian population consisting of almost 40 federally-recognized tribes. One of the five largest tribes is the Cherokees, and it may be a good starting point if you want to be acquainted with Oklahoma’s rich and diverse cultural landscape.

Pronunciation and Meaning

While Native Americans are generally polite and will understand if you mispronounce their tribe’s name, you should still put in the effort. Cherokee is pronounced as “Chair-uh-kee.” It is a Muskogee word that translates roughly to “speakers of another language.”

What Language Do they Speak?

The Cherokees’s native language is very complex and relies on soft sounds, which would make it very difficult for foreigners to learn immediately. A couple of words you can learn is “osiyo”, which is a friendly greeting and “wado,” which means thank you. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through all this trouble as most Cherokees these days speak English.

What Are the Gender Roles in a Cherokee Tribe?

The Cherokee Indians were very progressive even in the past, with men and women having an even division of roles and authority. While men were in charge of hunting and war, and had an authority to make political decisions, the women were in charge of property, farming, family, and were responsible for making social decisions. These days, the Cherokees have made even greater strides as they now allow Cherokee women to become chiefs, and some men also work as farmers.

Cherokee Legends and Folk Tales

People who love hearing folk stories straight from the people who own them should be glad to know that the Cherokees have many traditional legends and fairy tales, as storytelling is a very important part of their culture. If you can befriend them, you may get to hear a few.