The Cherokee language is deeply tied to Cherokee identity; yet generations of assimilation efforts by the U.S. government and anti-Indigenous stigmas have forced the Tri-Council of Cherokee tribes to declare a State of Emergency for the language in 2019. While there are 430,000 Cherokee citizens, fewer than an estimated 1,500 fluent speakers remain. Through intimate interviews, vérité footage of community gatherings, and extensive archival materials, the feature-length documentary follows various Cherokee community members as they continue the long fight to help save the language.
Since its premiere in March 2023, the award winning film ᏓᏗᏬᏂᏏ (We Will Speak) has screened at more than thirty film festivals in three countries and will embark on several tours of university and museum screenings in early 2024. Johnstown Area Heritage Association will present the film on Thursday, February 22 at the Johnstown Flood Museum. Director Michael McDermit and Cinematographer/Editor Jacob Koestler are both from Johnstown and will be in attendance with Producer ᎨᎳᏗ/Keli Gonzales for a Q&A following the screening.