Yanasi - Origins and Intent

Osiyo (ᎣᏏᏲ) and happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day! In honor of the day, I thought I’d do a little introduction to the Yanasi YoYo name and my intent in choosing it for my company.

There are a few reasons I chose Yanasi as the name for my YoYo Company. The primary reason is an effort to try and expand the awareness and understanding of Native American culture. I’m a member of the Cherokee Nation, and like every enrolled member I can trace my lineage back to an ancestor on the Dawes Rolls. But that also means I am generations removed from my Cherokee heritage even though I spent the majority of my life in Oklahoma and North Carolina, surrounded by the historical and current homes of the Tribe. For the past few years I’ve made an effort to learn what I can about my Cherokee heritage, and I thought that trying to share what I’ve learned, in whatever small way I can, would be to the benefit of everyone.

Yanasi (ᏯᎾᏏ) is the Cherokee word for Buffalo; the Woodlands Bison that so many Native American tribes herded and hunted. My using Yanasi is a bit of a reference to the colloquialism about the Cherokee using every part of the buffalo. I wanted to use the opportunity of starting a YoYo company to share some of the Cherokee language, share some stories of the Nation’s historical and contemporary accomplishments, and to find a way to give back to the community that I grew up in and maybe some of the children growing up in Native Communities around the nation.

Another word important to Yanasi YoYo is Gadugi (ᎦᏚᎩ). Gadugi is a Cherokee word meaning working together for the communal good. Historically it referred to things like members of the tribe helping harvest for the infirm. In recent history, Chief Wilma Mankiller used it as a rallying cry to bring people together to complete a 20 mile long pipeline to bring running water to rural Cherokee communities in the early 80’s. It’s my hope to carry gadugi forward with Yanasi YoYo by giving opportunities for throwers to donate to charities and help in anyway I can with outreach to young or marginalized communities.

The Scissortail is releasing soon, but I’ll be talking about that tomorrow. Today is a day for reading, learning, and celebrating Native culture. If you’re looking for a movie, try The Cherokee Word for Water. If you’d like to do some more reading about Cherokee culture, try the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. If you’d like some short-form video, check out Osiyo TV on Youtube. If you want more information on the Cherokee Language, the Cherokee Nation has a weekly video series sharing words and their meanings and pronunciations.

Wado (ᏩᏙ - Thanks)!