Kemper (2016). Cultural Hybridity, Resilience and the Communication of Contemporary Cherokee Culture through Mobile Technologies. (Indigenous People and Mobile Technologies.)

Kemper, K. R. (2016). Cultural Hybridity, Resilience and the Communication of Contemporary Cherokee Culture through Mobile Technologies. In L. E. Dyson, S. Grant, & M. Hendriks (Eds.), Indigenous People and Mobile Technologies (pp. 239–252). New York: Routledge.

[“Introduction” (p 239) …]

“It is easy to fall into sentimental notions about American Indians, thinking of us as historical artifacts instead of present realities. It is more accurate to see how American Indians have used new technologies to adapt to new cultures and preserve the old culture as much as possible. This produces a contemporary culture that is a mixture of various Indigenous and colonizing influences. There are four types of spaces within this type of hybrid culture — … Stolen space is misappropriated culture; sacred space is protected culture; self space is retained culture; and shared space is disseminated culture… . Mobile technology facilitates shared space, where anyone inside or outside a culture can access language and other available cultural information.” (p 239)

“Over the past two centuries, the Cherokee people have evolved their language from word-of-mouth to written to wired.” (p 239)

“The thesis is straightforward — there is an ideology of contemporary Cherokee culture that insists that the self spaces of original Cherokee culture should be infused into shared spaces like technology innovations to help Cherokee culture to persevere and thrive.” (p 240)

[“Research Questions and Methodology” (p 240) …]

“This chapter generally engages with cultural expressions from people of the three federally recognized bands of Cherokee — … . Those state recognized and non-recognized bands are most controversial among Cherokee people because of disagreements over ethnic and cultural authenticity (Snell 2007).” (p 240)

[“Cultural Hybridity and Shared Spaces” (p 241) …]

“An academic term to describe the mixture of cultures is cultural hybridity, which simply means that culture constantly changes and morphs under the influences of competing cultures (see Bhabha 1994; Kemper 2012, 2013; Brennan 2009; Meredith, 1998). … at least four spaces are created within cultural hybridity when Indigenous cultures become hybrid with colonizing cultures …. …the use of mobile technologies by the Cherokee people functions as a way for reclaiming self space within shared space after their culture and language have been stolen or eradicated.

“This could be a function of what some scholars call cultural resilience, which has been used to assess the persistence of Aboriginal cultures in Canada, for instance (Tousignant and Nibisha Sioui 2009).” (p 241)

“‘Although schools, churches, constitutions, and syllabaries were adopted from Anglo-Americans, the Cherokees used them to serve their own purposes. In some respects, the ‘civilization’ of the Cherokees was really cultural revitalization that produced an intense pride in being Cherokee and a sense of Cherokee nationalism previously unknown in the history of the principal people.’ (Perdue 1989, 73)” (p 242)

“Since adaptability is inevitable, the original culture makes the best of things, as we will see in the example of the Cherokee and mobile technologies.” (p 243)

“In discussing Clifford (2001, 479), she also says, ‘Cultural perseverance, then, would be viewed as a place where Native cultures, for example, enact part of their sovereignty — a process that allows them to name who they are, what practices count, what structures govern, and what technologies allow for adaptation’.” (p 243)

“It is common for scholars — or even those casually glancing at the issue — to assume the Cherokee want to survive as a people. The deeper truth is that the Cherokee survive by using up-to-date technology. … I have friends who use Cherokee fonts in their Facebook pages.” (p 243)

“That does not mean there are not pressing threats that could drive the language and syllabary into practical extinction, but it does mean that the Cherokee are neither passive nor victims.” (p 244)

[“The Ideology of Shared Spaces: Historical Background of Cherokee Language and Technology” (p 244) …]

“… the second piece of art in the comic book shows Sequoyah changing into a live, present-day image. Sequoyah says, ‘But first, I must do a little adjusting … because we can’t go much further if we don’t adjust’. This reflects a commitment to cultural progress, a common theme in the historiography of the Cherokee syllabary (Figure 15.1).” (p 244)

“Traveller Bird said that Sequoyah believed in the syllabary as ‘their most effective and defensive tool’ against the whites (Traveller Bird 1971, 93–94), but also that Sequoyah and his wife Eli were punished by disfigurement because of accusations of witchcraft for using the syllabary (Traveller Bird 1971, 106–107). Scholars do note the accusations of witchcraft (see Bender 2002, 26), but questions remain as to the historical accuracy of Traveller Bird’s work (see Wadley 2014).” (p 245)

“Margaret Bender (2002, xii) argues that the written language empowered by the syllabary ‘itself is ideological, enacting categories that structure the Cherokee social world.’ That is, she does not think that external ideologies were superimposed upon the syllbary [sic].” (p 245)

[“Shared Spaces and Mobile Technology” (p 246) …]

[Corporate name-dropping: Facebook, iTunes, iPhone. –oki]

“If you do not have Apple technology, never fear. You can find Cherokee games for Android … at the Google Store …. There is a Cherokee language pack for the newest Microsoft Windows systems at Windows Language Packs Web page.” (p 247)

“… you are invited to like the band’s Facebook page …” (p 248)

“Simply put, the intentional insertion of Cherokee syllabary and language into mobile dialogue flips colonization on its head; if Cherokee culture and other Indigenous cultures have to be infected with Euro-American culture, then Euro-American culture can expect cross-contamination with the cultures it colonizes.” (p 248)

[More corporate name-dropping: YouTube, Gmail, Twitter. — oki]

“Cherokee language and culture embedded in mobile technologies are in shared space, offered to anyone willing to learn and use the language.” (p 249)

[“Conclusion” (p 250) …]

“… take photographs of activities and help keep Cherokee culture alive for another seven generations and beyond. All that with just an iPhone.” (p 250)

Selected References

  • Bender, M. C. (2002). Signs of Cherokee culture: Sequoyah’s syllabary in Eastern Cherokee life. Univ of North Carolina Press
  • Bhabha, Homi. The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge Classics, 1994.
  • Boney, Jr., Roy. ‘Exclusive: Artist Roy Boney’s Special Graphic Feature on the Cherokee Language.’ Indian Country Today Media Network, September 20, 2011. Accessed March 23, 2015.
  • Brennan, Niall P. ‘Representing National Culture, Values, and Identity in the Brazilian Television Mini-Series.’ Networking Knowledge: Journal of the MeCCSSA Postgraduate Network 2, no. 1 (2009): 1–21. Accessed March 23, 2015.
  • Clifford, James. ‘Indigenous Articulations.’ Contemporary Pacific 13, no. 2 (2001): 468–90.
  • Kemper, Kevin R. ‘Sacred Spaces: Cultural Hybridity and Boundaries for Visual Communication about the Hopi Tribe in Arizona.’ Visual Communication Quarterly 19 (2012): 216–31.
  • Kemper, Kevin R. ‘You Have to EARN Access: A Case Study of Arizona Tribes and Reporting About Indigenous Religion Around the Pacific Rim.’ Asia Pacific Media Educator 23, no. 1 (2013). doi: 10.1177/1326365X13510095.
  • Meredith, Paul. ‘Hybridity in the Third Space: Rethinking Bi-Cultural Politics in Aotearoa/New Zealand.’ Paper presented at Te Oru Rangahau Maori Research and Development Conference, Massey University, 1998. Accessed March 23, 2015.
  • Perdue, Theda. The Cherokee. Indians of North America, edited by Frank W. Porter III. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1989.
  • Snell, Travis. ‘Non-Recognized ‘Cherokee Tribes’ Flourish.’ The Cherokee Phoenix, January 19, 2007. Accessed March 23, 2015.
  • Tousignant, Michel, and Nibisha Sioui. ‘Resilience and Aboriginal Communities in Crisis: Theory and Interventions.’ Journal of Aboriginal Health (2009): 43–61. Accessed March 23, 2015.
  • Traveller Bird. Tell Them They Lie: The Sequoyah Myth. Los Angeles: Westernlore Publishers, 1971.
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