The groundbreaking production company OsiyoTV spotlights the spirit of the Cherokee Nation.
Storytelling has long been a cherished tradition within the Cherokee Nation, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the nation. For generations, members of the tribe have passed down their legends, creation stories, wisdom, and culture through narratives and oral-traditional stories.
One of the largest Native American tribes in the U.S., the Cherokee Nation continues to embrace innovative forms of storytelling, including film and TV. Enter OsiyoTV (osiyo.tv), an Indigenous-created, documentary style television program featuring the people, places, history, and culture of the Cherokee Nation.
The first-of-its-kind series is breaking barriers and helping change how Native Americans are represented by bringing the rich traditions and compelling modern stories of the Cherokee people to viewers across the globe.
“The power of storytelling is ingrained in Cherokee culture, and there’s something truly remarkable and powerful in having the opportunity to tell our own story in a way that connects people to their very core,” says Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “It is wonderful that now people across the United States can join us in experiencing that same overwhelming sense of belonging the show offers while celebrating our history, language, culture and values.”
Few shows on the air in mainstream media have displayed accurate and authentic representation of Native Americans. Since premiering in 2015, Osiyo is the first show created by an all-Native American team highlighting Native-centered content that’s educational and enjoyable for all audiences.
When we approach the show and each segment of the show, we approach it in a way that is inclusive of people who are steeped in Cherokee culture. ~ Jennifer Loren
Cherokee Glossary: Osiyo
OsiyoTV gets its name from the Cherokee word that means “hello,” but carries more significance than that of a simple greeting. According to the Visit Cherokee Nation “Cherokee Word of the Week” YouTube series, the word evokes “a deeper spirit of welcoming and hospitality that has been a hallmark of the Cherokee people for centuries.” Find more at youtube.com/@visitcherokeenation.
The show focuses on compelling stories of the Cherokee heritage, culture, and leaders in the Native American community. Cherokee history and modern culture come alive in half-hour episodes profiling star athletes, talented musicians, and traditional artists. There are human interest stories and showcases of “Cherokee National Treasures,” shining the light on citizens that preserve the language, traditions, art, and crafts of the tribe.
“When we approach the show and each segment of the show, we approach it in a way that is inclusive of people who are steeped in Cherokee culture, and those who have never known anything about Cherokee culture,” says Jennifer Loren, executive producer and host. “Not only is it an entertaining show, but it’s also correcting a lot of false stereotypes. And correcting a lot of ill-conceived notions about who Native Americans and Cherokee people are, and so it’s something that we take a lot of pride in.”
Loren, a Cherokee Nation citizen and Emmy-winning journalist, has been in the TV and film industries since 2001. Behind the scenes, the production team consists of enrolled members of Native American tribes, and the show is clearly a team effort.
“We’re successful because of the team that we have and the passion that our team has,” Loren says. “When I lead this organization, we try to maintain a community focus. Everything that we’re doing is for a purpose; our whole team and everybody plays a really important role in accomplishing our mission.”
Known for high production quality and combining engaging storytelling with visually stunning cinematography, OsiyoTV has won multiple awards and accolades, including numerous Telly awards and 22 Regional Emmy Awards (with more than 35 nominations).
Now in its 9th season, the show continues to pave the way for Native-led stories. A favorite among fans of the show (as well as one of Loren’s most memorable episodes) is the “Remember the Removal Bike Ride” episode from Season 1. It provided thoughtful coverage of young Cherokee cyclists who ride along one of the Trail of Tears routes, giving viewers the opportunity to learn about the tragic past that’s part of the nation’s history.
The series is now available nationwide to more than 250 PBS member stations and as well as on FNX (short for First Nations Experience), an all-Native programming TV network, as well as other platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and Twitter.
The power of storytelling is ingrained in Cherokee culture, and there's something truly remarkable and powerful in having the opportunity to tell our own story in a way that connects people to their very core. ~ Chuck Hoskin Jr.
“It is really incredible to see our series become nationally syndicated. OsiyoTV will now be available to hundreds of public TV stations across the U.S., bringing our authentic Cherokee stories into the living rooms of millions of people, many of whom have likely only known inaccurate accounts of Cherokee history and still believe stereotypes passed on by generations of non-Native media and pop culture references,” Loren says.
“Being on the air regionally for eight seasons, garnering 22 Emmys and now receiving national syndication prove that there is a hunger for new and accurate portrayals of our people and our rich culture and history.”