“Osiyo” is the traditional greeting of the Cherokee people. It translates to “hello,” but within the culture, it’s also used to set the tone when beginning something new. Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People, is a magazine-style program featuring the people, places, history, and culture of the Cherokee Nation. The program is setting the tone for a new perspective on Cherokee peoples as a whole. This Emmy award-winning program first aired on local Tulsa station, KTUL in 2015 and is now on its fourth season airing on OETA, the PBS affiliate for the entire state of Oklahoma.
The show is not only bringing awareness to current day Cherokee lives, but it is also serving as a much-needed means of connection to the culture itself for the members of the Cherokee Nation.
Jennifer Loren, an award-winning television journalist, host and executive producer of the show shared in an interview with Indian Country Today, “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.”
The show is created by Clinton Loren, a Cherokee photographer alongside filmmakers Jeremy Charles and Sterlin Harjo. Each episode contains three to four major stories including documentary shorts on various topics. While some segments are profiles, others are dedicated to educating viewers on Cherokee culture. Let’s Talk Cherokee, a popular segment in the show, introduces viewers to simple Cherokee words and phrases that can be incorporated into everyday life. Other topics include food, history, fashion, and experiences.
American Indian peoples are rarely depicted in mainstream media. When and if they are, they are usually depicted as historical characters or romanticized versions of indigenous persons. Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People is challenging the notion that American Indians are an antiquated culture.
Another show, First Nations Experience, or FNX, launched with PBS affiliate KVCR in 2012, however, the program is only available in some states . Red Nation Television Channel is another attempt to bring visibility to Native peoples and is an online channel devoted to Native content, founded by actor and filmmaker Joanelle Romero.
In an interview with the Tulsa World newspaper, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker explained that Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People is long overdue.
“Other tribes have introduced various advertising and programming to showcase their people, and it’s finally time we did, as well. The Cherokee Nation is the largest Indian tribe in the United States, and we’ve always been leaders. This is one more way we are leading: by informing, educating and enlightening our people, other natives, and those who have a strong interest in our story of resilience and fortitude,” Baker said.
Not only does Osiyo educate, enlighten and share the truth about what it means to be Cherokee in 2017 but it’s using creative and beautiful storytelling techniques to bring visibility to people who are so often overlooked.