“It was the first time I recorded a radio show, and I was so nervous. I had no clue what to say,” Sixkiller said.
That was a decade ago, in July 2004, when Sixkiller broadcast his very first “Cherokee Voices, Cherokee Sounds” radio show, the only program in Oklahoma to air in the Cherokee language. After recording, he would deliver his cassette tapes to the radio stations.
The Cherokee Nation celebrates Sixkiller’s 10-year milestone as radio show host. “Cherokee Voices, Cherokee Sounds” is an hour-long program in both the Cherokee and English languages and includes Cherokee music, interviews with elder speakers, and information on Cherokee Nation community news.
The program has exposed the Cherokee language and culture to people around the world.
“It may be the only place outside of the Cherokee Nation for many people to hear the language,” Sixkiller said. “I’ve had people call from as far away as Canada and Australia to say they listen. One guy called from Canada to say hearing all the Cherokee songs on the show is so refreshing that it’s like standing in a shower. People from everywhere say they like to listen.”
Sixkiller, a native of Jay, grew up with Cherokee as his first spoken language. He was not exposed to English until first grade. He learned to read and write the Cherokee syllabary in 2001 through classes offered by Cherokee Nation.
He started working for the tribe 23 years ago in housekeeping and then the mailroom before being approached to host the radio show since he is a fluent speaker.
“When I was first asked to do the program, I thought it was a joke,” Sixkiller said. “But when offered the opportunity again I said I would try, and I’ve been trying for 10 years now.”
Sixkiller now works in the communications department recording his shows weekly and works part time in language translation.
“‘Cherokee Voices, Cherokee Sounds’ is a wonderful outreach language experience for speakers and learners of the Cherokee language,” said Dr. Hugh Foley, professor of cinema and Native American studies at Rogers State University and faculty advisor to KRSC-FM. “The program illustrates the unique environment of northeastern Oklahoma where the Cherokee language is still spoken and sung by many people. Airing the program on RSU Radio allows us to understand that we are all part of a very rich cultural tapestry in the state of Oklahoma.”
The radio program airs on five stations within the Cherokee Nation’s tribal jurisdiction and can be heard onhttp://www.cherokee.org/News/RadioShow.aspx.
The show can also be heard on these stations during the following times:
KEOK 102.1 FM – Sundays, 8 to 9 a.m.
KTLQ 1350 AM – Sundays, noon to 1 p.m., and Wednesdays, 5 to 6 p.m.
KRSC 91.3 FM – Sundays, noon to 1 p.m., and Saturdays, 8 to 9 a.m.
KGND 1470 AM – Sundays, 9 to 10 a.m.
KWON 1400 AM – Sundays, 9 to 10 a.m.
For program requests, contact Dennis Sixkiller at 918-453-5433 or firstname.lastname@example.org.