TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation recently launched a pilot program to ensure students who learned to speak Cherokee at the tribe’s Cherokee Immersion Charter School continue to use the language as they enter high school.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Shawn Slaton signed a memorandum of understanding to create the program, called the 14th Generation Master Apprentice Program, during a ceremony at the tribe’s Cherokee Immersion Charter School in Tahlequah on Wednesday, Jan. 10.
“CNB’s monetary commitment to the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program will further advance the preservation and usage of the Cherokee language, as graduates of the program are placed in supervised teaching roles,” Baker said. “That means language lessons can be utilized at Sequoyah High School as well as in community settings. Creating Cherokee speakers, and in turn letting them pass along what they have learned, will help keep the language flourishing for generations to come.”
CNB is providing $180,000 to cover the costs of the new language program.
“Along with our investment in job creation, it’s essential to continue advancing our mission of preserving Cherokee culture and history,” Slaton said. “Supporting the tribe in its pursuit of keeping the Cherokee language alive falls directly within that mission. Our employees work eagerly to generate revenue for creating jobs and helping fund the tribe’s vital programs. Language is an important component of a thriving culture, and this investment, along with our investment in tourism and cultural art, is part of sharing the Cherokee story with the world.”
In 2015, the Cherokee Nation created the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program to promote revitalization of the language and to teach adults to be conversationally proficient Cherokee speakers and teachers. Participants of the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program typically spend 40 hours per week immersed in the language.
Through the tribe’s new 14th Generation Master Apprentice Program, select graduates of the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program will provide language lessons to Sequoyah High School students who graduated from the Cherokee Immersion Charter School.
“This program is there to bridge a gap between the immersion school and high school,” said Ryan Mackey, curriculum supervisor for CLMAP. “The immersion school does a good job of teaching the Cherokee language to students, but full-time immersion in the language stops at sixth grade. We hope this new program is an opportunity for these students to polish their language skills and at the same time pass along the teaching techniques we developed in the Master Apprentice Program, so they can one day be teachers of the language.”
The new program kicked off in January with a dozen Sequoyah High School students who meet in an after-school setting. The program will continue in the summer, with participants gathering from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for 10 weeks.
Info: Cherokee Nation Community & Cultural Outreach office (918) 207-4950
– Anadisgoi, Cherokee Nation News