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Language and Culture

The language of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians is the Kituwa dialect. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of the membership of the tribe speak the Keetoowah Cherokee language. The Traditional Cherokee people, the Keetoowah Cherokees, use the language in their homes, in public and in their everyday lives. The tribe has also started efforts to promote the language and launched the Language, History, & Cultural Department in 2005 to assist in the effort.

About the UKB Department of Language, History, & Culture.

The Keetoowah Cherokee Language, History and Culture Department is dedicated to maintaining the importance of these three elements in the daily lives of Keetoowah Cherokees through many different avenues by:

1. Assuring the use of Keetoowah Cherokee language in tribal activities and materials.
2. Representing the tribe's interest in the areas of historic preservation in all geographic areas of historic and current interest to the tribe.
3. Presenting an accurate history of the Keetoowah Cherokee.
4. Maintaining archival and educational materials important to the Keetoowah Cherokee people.
5. Assuring the integrity of the Keetoowah Cherokee culture and its role in the everyday lives of all tribal members.
6. Providing education in all the above areas to the public and, particularly, Keetoowah Cherokee children.

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians has a rich and lush culture. Many of the members continue to practice and pass along the traditional crafts and stories from before European contact.

The ancient art of basket weaving is the most prominent tradition on display with artisans making everything from traditional single-weave and double-weave baskets to business card holders. Whether made from traditional honeysuckle vines, buck brush or commercial reed, the same skills used more than a thousand years ago are still in use today.

Today’s bowyers still take their time in producing one of the finest single-material bow systems ever designed. Using bois d’ arc (also known as Osage orange) wood from the east side of a tree cut during the Black Moon (Dec. 21 to Jan. 12), bowyers can spend several years perfecting a bow to be used for hunting or cornstalk shoots. Archers commonly use river cane arrows with flint tips for hunting and cedar arrows with 12-inch steel tips for cornstalk shoots.

Stickball is the ancient game that could either settle scores or choose warriors to fight for the tribe. Players use two sticks to pass and score points by launching a small leather-covered ball at a fish-shaped goal atop a long pole. Considered strictly a male sport in historic times, today’s stickball games allow females to play.

Keetoowah Cherokee Language Classes

The Untied Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma hosts Keetoowah Cherokee Language classes throughout the tribal jurisdictional area on an ongoing basis. Classes meet once a week for ten weeks and are free of charge. For more information, contact the United Keetoowah Band at (918) 772-4300.

Keetoowah Cherokee Font

The font was released by the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in early 2005. The Keetoowah Cherokee True Type Font is based upon the original Cherokee syllabary, completed in 1821 by Sequoyah. Download it here.

UKB Constitution and By-Laws in the Keetoowah Cherokee Language (PDF)

The Constitution and By-Laws of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma written in the Keetoowah Cherokee Language. View it here.

Keetoowah Stories From the United Keetoowah Band (PDF)

A collection of short stories submitted by elder members of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma presented in the Keetoowah Cherokee and English languages – Compiled by Durbin Feeling. View it here.

United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.