The story of the Cherokee Nation is one of strength, heartache, survival and resilience, and its culture is among the richest, most vibrant and storied in all of Indian Country. Now, those stories are being shared with the world. “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People” is a new monthly, 30-minute news magazine-style program featuring the people, places, history and culture of the Cherokee Nation. “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People” is hosted by Emmy-winning journalist and Cherokee Nation citizen Jennifer Loren, a former longtime anchor at KOTV, News on 6.
“Being Cherokee has always been an important part of my life. My family still owns our original allotment on Monkey Island, which is very special to all of us,” Loren said. “As a longtime television journalist, I can’t think of a better way to share the stories of my heritage with the people of northeast Oklahoma and, really, with the world. We have so many beautiful stories to tell.”
The Cherokee Nation is the largest Native American tribe in the United States with more than 300,000 citizens, many scattered across the globe. This program will now allow Cherokees living anywhere in the world the opportunity to learn about and celebrate their heritage.
“Our people have been asking for this kind of storytelling for so long,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “I often hear people say, ‘We have a great story to tell. Our people are doing great things. Why aren’t there more stories about what we’re doing?’ This program is the answer to that question. We’re so proud to share with the world stories about our culture and about Cherokees who are excelling and bettering their communities.”
The program will highlight a variety of aspects of the Cherokee Nation, including historical sites, artwork and artisans, language preservation efforts, young Cherokees who are making a difference in their communities and more.
La’Tasha Atcity, a Cherokee Nation citizen and senior at Northeastern State University, participated in the tribe’s annual Remember the Removal bike ride that leads Cherokee youth across the Trail of Tears from Georgia to Oklahoma. It’s the same route their ancestors journeyed on foot more than 175 years ago, and the type of experience the program will document.
“The Remember the Removal ride was such a powerful experience. We learned so much about our heritage by visiting sites in our former homelands and about the strength of our ancestors,” Atcity said. “I wish it had been documented in a way that those who weren’t able to make the journey with us could still experience it in some way.”
Show host Jennifer Loren has been connecting with Cherokees in all parts of Oklahoma and elsewhere, seeking out unique stories that will give people a better understanding of the authentic Cherokee experience.
“There is so much more to our tribe than many people know. I learn something new every day. I think this is going to be an eye-opening experience for a lot of people, and a journey they will embrace,” said Loren.
“Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People” is produced by a pair of renowned Native visual artists, Cherokee photographer and filmmaker Jeremy Charles and Muscogee Creek filmmaker Sterlin Harjo. Both are highly decorated in their field.
“The opportunity to create a program focused on the Cherokee people is both an honor and a thrill for me as a Cherokee citizen,” Charles said. “I think viewers will be excited by the interesting characters and memorable stories we’ll share each month.”
Veteran filmmaker and documentarian Sterlin Harjo is a founding member of the 1491s, an all-Native comedy troupe. He’s also had several films shown at Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival.
“When making a documentary TV show, the idea is to try and understand people on a deeper level,” said Harjo. “It has been great getting to tell the stories of the Cherokee Nation. We’ve been met with open arms by everyone.”
The program will air monthly in local television markets and online at Osiyo.tv beginning February 15. Special screenings of the show will be held in four locations across northeast Oklahoma. Each event will include a meet and greet with host Jennifer Loren and filmmakers Jeremy Charles and Sterlin Harjo, followed by a screening of the program and Q&A session. Dates and times are as follows, and screenings are free and open to the public:
February 17 at 7 p.m. – Dream Theater, 312 N. Muskogee Ave., Tahlequah, Oklahoma
February 22 at 2 p.m. – Circle Cinema, 10 S. Lewis Ave., Tulsa, Oklahoma
February 23 at 5 p.m. – Cherokee Nation’s Vinita Health Center, 27371 S. 4410 Rd, Vinita, Oklahoma
February 25 at 5:30 p.m. – Three Rivers Health Center, 1001 S. 41st St. East, Muskogee, Oklahoma