Gary Vann

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) — One of the last members of the Cherokee Nation who spoke and understood only the Cherokee language has died at 88.

Mack Vann’s nephew, Gary Vann, says his uncle died of pneumonia Monday in a hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, while undergoing treatment for an ongoing heart condition.

Mack Vann would greet people with the word “osiyo,” the Cherokee word for “hello.” He was a descendant of Andrew Ross, brother of Cherokee Chief John Ross, who led the tribe from its ancestral home in Georgia to Oklahoma during the forced relocation known as the “Trail of Tears.”

He told The Associated Press in 2014 that he learned some English in school but quit after fourth grade to help with the family farm and slowly forgot how to speak it.

Mark Medoff

(AP) — Mark Medoff, a provocative playwright whose “Children of a Lesser God” won Tony and Olivier awards and whose screen adaptation of his play earned an Oscar nomination, has died in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He was 79.

Medoff died Tuesday in a hospice surrounded by family, according to his daughter, Jessica Bunchman. He had been battling both multiple myeloma, a cancer, and renal failure, she said Wednesday in a family statement.

Medoff wrote 30 plays and wrote, produced or directed 19 movies. He found his greatest success with “Children of a Lesser God,” the tale of a troubled love affair between a speech teacher and a deaf woman who struggle to overcome the communications gap between their two cultures.

Phyllis Frelich won a Tony in 1980 for her Broadway portrayal of Sarah Norman, the deaf woman at the heart of the play, which ran for almost 900 performances. It was later made into a movie, which won an Academy Award for actress Marlee Matlin, who co-starred opposite William Hurt.