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Movie Night: ᏓᏗᏬᏂᏏ (We Will Speak)

Join the Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) Research Seminar for a screening of the documentary film, ᏓᏗᏬᏂᏏ (We Will Speak). Preceding the movie there will be a reception with light refreshments. After the show, stick around for a discussion with the film makers, Michael McDermit and ᎨᎳᏗ (Keli Gonzales), who will be onsite for the evening.

Reception: 5pm
Film Starts: 6pm

About the film: 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 in the three federally recognized tribes, fewer than an estimated 1,500 fluent speakers remain—the majority of whom are elderly. The COVID pandemic has unfortunately hastened the course. Language activists, artists, and the youth must now lead the charge of urgent radical revitalization efforts to help save the language from the brink of extinction. This feature-length documentary was shot on-location in Oklahoma and North Carolina throughout 2019-2022; through intimate interviews, vérité footage of community gatherings, and extensive archival materials, the film explores the nuanced ways the Cherokee language is vital to maintaining a unique cultural identity and relationship with the world. The collaborative project is also meant to act as an empowering agent of hope for Indigenous voices despite enduring inequity and oppression. Watch the trailer

About the Film Makers:
Michael McDermit
makes and produces documentary films, books and other projects under a small independent creative imprint, Blurry Pictures. BP documentaries have enjoyed fruitful film festival runs at the Atlanta Film Festival, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Provincetown International Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival, Dallas International Film Festival, and the RiverRun International Film Festival, among others. BP film STRAWBERRY FOREVER, about McDermit’s father’s struggle with aphasia, took home the Audience Choice Award at the 2021 disABILITY Film Festival. McDermit earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon. In addition to filmmaking, he teaches English and Writing to underserved college students in South Los Angeles.

ᎨᎳᏗ / Keli Gonzales is a Cherokee artist from Welling, Oklahoma. Drawing on her experiences as a Cherokee woman, Gonzales creates paintings and drawings portraying the Cherokee people in a way that is true to life. She is the producer of the documentary ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (WHAT THEY’VE BEEN TAUGHT), which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is part of the Los Angeles Times “Short Docs” series.

Funding for the McClung Museum’s educational programming has been provided by the Knox County Tourism Consortium. This work is also supported in whole or in part by federal award number 21.027 awarded to Knox County by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Arts & Culture Alliance.

Wednesday, April 10 at 5:00pm

Frank H. McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture
1327 Circle Park, Knoxville, TN 37996

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations, Exhibits & Films, Social Events


Humanities & Social Sciences, Diversity & Inclusion, Visual & Performing Arts, Student Success


Current Students, Faculty & Staff, Alumni, General Public

McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture
Contact Name

Katy Malone

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