Private Project

Say it! Sing it! Play it! In Cherokee

How do you keep alive an endangered Indigenous language?
Sing it loud and proud with Turtle & Wabbit!

Join in the fun of this musical adventure into the Cherokee language, created by award-winning multimedia artist Chris Griffith (member of Cherokee Nation, OK).

Grandmother Turtle is upside down. Dagsi Turtle and Jisdu Wabbit must race across time and space to help her get back on her feet. Through catchy original songs and lovable characters, Say It! Sing It! Play It! is an exuberant musical response to the Cherokee tribe’s declaration of emergency for the language.

This 3-episode series of musical shorts features live action and puppetry and is recommended for viewers ages 5-8.

Developed with support from NDN Collective, Tiwahe Foundation, Puppeteers of America, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and Minnesota State Arts Board.

  • Chris Griffith
  • Chris Griffith
  • Shari Aronson
  • Chris Griffith
  • Shari Aronson
  • Chris Griffith
    Key Cast
  • Shari Aronson
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Experimental, Short, Web / New Media
  • Genres:
    SciFi, Children, Educational, Puppetry, Music, Indigenous, Futurism
  • Runtime:
    56 minutes 35 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 1, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    28,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    Cherokee, English
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Chris Griffith

Chris Griffith got his start as a street performer. After touring as a comic juggler (featured at Edmonton’s International Street Performer Festival in Canada), Chris became Education Coordinator for In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre and editor of The Puppet Cookbook. Chris also co-founded and directed Galumph Interactive Theater, NEA-funded participatory theater innovators. He won the Twin Cities’ prestigious Ivey Award of Excellence for his puppetry design.

An enrolled tribal member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, in recent years, Chris has been creatively responding to the Cherokee declaration of emergency for the language. Growing up outside the region, during childhood visits to his grandparents in Tahlequah, Chris pleaded with his elders to teach him Cherokee. Later, he realized that government policies and cultural pressures prevented his relatives from speaking the language. He became the first in three generations of his family to learn Cherokee.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Many people disregard art for young audiences as trivial. But, truly effective family-friendly work sparks imagination from a root of innocence — a revolutionary act in this modern world.

My puppetry company, Z Puppets Rosenschnoz, strives to bring people of all ages into the power of playfulness that is essential to resilience, problem solving and survival. We’ve been amazed and delighted to experience tangible results of our work. Whether it is our musical mindfulness adventure or our glow-in-the-dark performance of cell division, program evaluators proclaim us as “sticky”: people often report that they talk and think about the ideas in our shows for years afterwards.

Mainstream culture often presents Indigenous history and culture with a focus on tragedy. While it is important to acknowledge trauma, positive representation is also vital for survival. SAY IT! SING IT! PLAY IT! IN CHEROKEE puts playfulness and humor at the heart of revitalizing Cherokee language and imagining a vibrant Cherokee future.