BY AMBLE SMOKER
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Sedelta Oosahwee, associate director of The White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education (WHI-AIANE), arrived in Cherokee on Tuesday, Sept. 9 to visit the EBCI Tribal education facilities. This would mark the first visit from the WHI-AIANE to any tribal land in the southeast region of the United States.
“Sedelta is here touring all the facilities to talk and address students, teachers, and administration on any issues that we are having in our education system,” said Lori Blankenship. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to (receive) help with items we need help with, whether it is funding, support, or whatever. They are doing initiatives with the Choctaws and thought they would extend that to us as well.”
Renissa McLaughlin, New Kituwah Academy manager, added, “She comes from a background of Cherokee speakers; so it was a very interesting visit. She already had a background, and I was very pleased with the interest in our program. We discussed assessments and language maintenance of the tribe.”
Principal Chief Michell Hicks, Vice Chairman Bill Taylor, and several Tribal Council representatives including Wolfetown Rep. Bo Crowe, Yellowhill Rep. B. Ensley, and Painttown Rep. Tommye Saunooke congregated in the Council Chambers to meet and welcome Oosahwee to Cherokee. She then traveled to the Dora Reed Children’s Center, the New Kituwah Academy, and finally the Cherokee Central Schools where she was given a tour of the educational facilities available to the Cherokee community. Following the tour, Oosahwee took time to meet with select Cherokee students, teachers, and administrators from Cherokee Central Schools.
The visit from Oosahwee was made possible through the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET), Inc. office. USET is an inter-tribal organization with 26 federally-recognized Tribal Nation members.
According to information from the WHI-AIANE website, “The White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaskan Native Education is the President’s Executive Order 13592. The Initiative is located within the Department of Education and seeks to support activities that will strengthen the Nation by expanding education opportunities and improving education outcomes for all American Indian and Alaskan Native students. The focus is to further tribal self-determination and ensuring AIAN students, at all levels, have an opportunity to learn their Native languages and histories, receive complete and competitive educations, preparing them for college, careers, and productive and satisfying lives.”