Cherokee Nation to Debut Cherokee Language Animated Film Inage’i at Drive-In

The Cherokee language animated series ᎢᎾᎨᎢ, pronounced “Inage’i”, premieres at a drive-in theater on September 4th, during the 68th annual Cherokee National Holiday. 

The project, presented by the Cherokee Nation Film Office and produced by FireThief Productions, was funded by the Tribe as part of its Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act to preserve and revitalize the Cherokee language. FireThief Productions and its founder, Cherokee Nation citizen Jeremy Charles, worked closely with the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program to create the pilot episode. 

The Cherokee Nation Film Office (CNFO) provided FireThief with its Native American talent database, but the rest of the work on ᎢᎾᎨᎢ, or Inage’i, was performed by people passionate about preserving the Cherokee Language for future generations, CNFO states. 

Inage’i follows the adventures of four animal friends who live together in the forest of Turtle Island, with storylines that draw from traditional Cherokee storytelling. Free tickets to the drive-in experience are available on Eventbrite. 

“It is so important that our Cherokee people see themselves represented in the media. The Cherokee Nation Film Office is committed to seeing that through, and this event is just one way we are working to ensure that happens,” Jennifer Loren, director of the Cherokee Nation Film Office, said of the CNFO-hosted Drive-in Movie Nights. 

The Drive-in Movie Nights, taking place September 3-5, in honor of the 8th Annual Cherokee National Holiday, “will allow us to gather in a socially responsible way over Labor Day weekend. We can feel that sense of togetherness that Cherokee National Holiday always offers, even from the safety of our own cars,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. 

Inage’i will headline the schedule of films, short documentaries and animations — all of which highlight the culture and history of the Cherokee Nation.

Other shows to run at the drive-in include the season six premiere of the Regional Emmy Award-winning series “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People,” and Nanyehi, which shares the story of Nancy Ward, a Cherokee warrior turned peacemaker who fought to preserve Tribal land in the 18th century. Nanyehi was shot entirely in the Cherokee Nation with a majority of the local cast being Cherokee Nation citizens. The film will be screened on Saturday, Sept. 5th. 

A full lineup of each evening’s screenings at One Fire Field in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, can be found at holiday.cherokee.org.

Traditionally, the Cherokee National Holiday celebration draws more than 100,000 visitors from both Oklahoma and out of state on Labor Day weekend, though most of this year’s events will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Guests can enjoy the films from the safety and security of their own vehicle at this socially distanced event and can access audio through FM radio. The event is limited to 300 cars each night. 

The Cherokee Nation Film Office’s mission is to promote northeast Oklahoma as a prime destination for filmmakers. CNFO maintains database of Cherokee Nation locations, their resources and talent, as well as creates partnerships and offers incentives for filmmakers. The office also encourages more Natives to pursue careers in the film industry, leveraging its resources through partner the Oklahoma Film + Music Office. Interested individuals can visit okfilmmusic.org/gettingstarted to learn ways to plug in to the industry.

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