Cherokee An American Indian Culture

The Cherokee language is from the Iroquoian language. It is believed that the Cherokee migrated from the Great Lakes over three thousand years ago, settling in the southeastern part of the United States. Today these areas include Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In 1821, a writing system was invented where symbols represented syllables. To this day the Cherokee people fight to preserve both their spoken language, as well as their written language.

Symbols and pictures used for communication

Health Concerns related to Cherokee/American Indian Culture

American Indians have had a decline in health status for decades. It is believed that these disparities are due to inadequate education, high poverty levels, economic adversity, and poor social conditions. A majority of the Cherokee Indian community live in rural areas and reservations. These reservations are miles away from hospitals and healthcare access. Medicinal use of plants is also used in some communities. Many traditional Cherokees see only Indian doctors, and some believe the "white doctor" cures only the "white man"

Traditional "Indian Doctor"

Indian Health Service (IHS)

Indian Health Service is a Federal health program for American Indians and Alaskan Natives. Their mission is to, "raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaskan Natives to the highest level." This program assists in providing health services for federally recognized tribes. An agreement that dates back to 1787, and is written into the US Constitution.

Continued Healthcare Concerns

Even with the IHS, there are still continued concerns with the health of the Native American culture. Cherokee Indians face the same healthcare concerns as any other culture. With a high occurrence of diabetes, alcoholism, suicide, and obesity, education is a key part in decreasing mortality rates.


Advocating for the Indian culture won't be easy due to the lack of access, however it is possible. The main recommended resource to utilize is monthly newspaper circulars. The first newspaper to utilize is called "The Cherokee Advocate." This newspaper was originally published in 1977, and reaches approximately 95,000 Indians monthly. There is also the "Cherokee Observer" which is an independent monthly newspaper. The final newspaper resource to assist in reaching the Cherokee community is the "Cherokee Tribune." This is a newspaper that was founded in 1934, and circulated weekly.


In the newspaper there will be advertisements on "How to get healthy." Integrating Indian customs into a healthy lifestyle. Using the traditional cuisine of deer, buffalo, squirrel, nuts, grain, and vegetable crops. Recipes can be printed and implemented into the weekly circular. It's traditional to use beans, grapes, walnuts, potatoes, corn, and onions. A cookbook could also be useful. Educating young people on healthy traditions in food preparation. Incorporating suggested recipes for improved health could possibly have an impact on diabetes and decrease the mortality rates.

Traditional grain used in the Indian culture

Exercise in the form of Dance

Song and dance is a big part of the Indian traditions. Stomp dance is often used as a religious activity, and powwow dancing is used with traditional songs. By incorporating dance into a daily routine, we will be implementing an exercise program. Utilizing traditions already implemented into the culture, while increasing the rates which it's used.

Demonstrating traditional Indian dance

Advertising: Where to get help?

In any culture often we seek guidance and assistance on who and where to get help. Included in the monthly and weekly newspapers, will be advertisements and guidance on assistance, where to get help. The IHS has a website that assists those who have internet access. However, what about those who don't have access. This individual group is our main focus. Each month will have a different awareness, for example, April is Alcohol Awareness month. Tips and resources on alcoholism, signs and symptoms of alcoholism, and where to get help locally will be provided. Local drug prevention, intervention, and aftercare programs provided in this section. American Indians have what is called the Tribal Action Plan, or TAP. This plan assesses the scope of the tribes alcohol and substance abuse problems. Identifies the available resources, and establishes goals. Advertising the TAP program shows the additional resources available, and where to get help.

You can't change traditions, however you can provide education and alternatives...

Tobacco plays a key role in the Indian culture

Its a traditional custom in the American Indian culture to smoke tobacco. We've all heard of the "peace pipe." The Native Americans believe tobacco to be a sacred and powerful plant. They plant, grow, harvest and sell tobacco products. There is no way to change traditions, however adding advertisements on the harmful effects of tobacco may be helpful with the younger generations.

Custom Dream Catcher often sold in the villages

Job Advertisements

A final concern related to lack of healthcare in the Cherokee/American Indian culture is the economic adversity. Educating the community where to find employment, how to apply for educational grants, and how to advertise the homemade products can be integrated into the newspapers. This could assist in decreasing poverty levels, increasing job security, and possibly help integrate education into the community.


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7 Most Popular Native American Languages in U.S. (2014, June 30). Retrieved April 13, 2017, from

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Cherokees. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2017, from

Project created by Holli Butcher, Health Informatics, University of Cincinnati

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