Cherokee Nation Granted $900,000 to Enhance Cultural Legacy through Language Preservation

The Cherokee Nation has successfully obtained a substantial federal grant of $900,000 from the U.S. Department of the Interior to elevate its language preservation efforts.

In recent years, the Cherokee Nation has made several strides in its efforts to preserve its Indigenous language, and this grant is the latest development. In a statement, principal chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. emphasized the critical role of cultivating a new generation of Cherokee speakers in sustaining and passing on invaluable cultural heritage.

“Preserving and celebrating our shared Cherokee heritage involves creating a new generation of Cherokee speakers capable of perpetuating the language and imparting its nuances to others,” Hoskin said.

In 2019, the Cherokee people declared a state of emergency for their language, whose population of native speakers has declined significantly. While the language still has few native speakers (population estimates hover between 1,000 and 2,000 native speakers), immersion schooling programs and grants like this one have lent a sense of hope and optimism to preservation efforts.

Hoskin highlighted ongoing initiatives such as the Cherokee Language Master/Apprentice Program and immersion schools, showcasing the tribe’s unwavering commitment to keeping the language vibrant for future generations. The grant funds will contribute to these ongoing preservation efforts, including the recent permanent reauthorization of the Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act.

This substantial grant will extend the impact of the Teacher Bridge project, an initiative designed to enhance the proficiency and professional skills of program graduates transitioning into roles as Cherokee language teachers. Specifically, the funds will empower staff and candidates from the Teacher Bridge Program to craft comprehensive training curricula and materials.

These resources will be instrumental in providing professional development instruction to teachers within the Cherokee Language Department, underscoring the tribe’s resolute dedication to preserving and rejuvenating its distinctive linguistic heritage.

“These grant funds will bolster our work and support the historic, ongoing language efforts we have undertaken,” Hoskin said.

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