Right Path holds graduation ceremony 

by Oct 2, 2020COMMUNITY sgadugi


The 2020 ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ Right Path Adult Leadership cohort gathered at the Unto These Hills Outdoor Theater on Thursday, Sept. 10 to accept their certificates of achievement for completing the ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ Duyugodv’i Right Path Adult Leadership program. Graduates included: Abigail Long, Agnes Reed, Landon French, Melissa Smith, Melody Little, Olivia Blankenship, Dr. Blythe Winchester, Chelsea Martinez, and Bear Chekelelee. 

The 2020 ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ Right Path Adult Leadership cohort with their certificates of completion from left to right: Melody Little, Landon French, Melissa Smith, Agnes Reed, Abigail Long, Dr. Blythe Winchester, Olivia Blankenship, Bear Chekelelee, and Chelsea Martinez. (Right Path photos)

The ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ Right Path Adult Leadership program is a culturally-based leadership program that focuses on teaching leadership competencies through strengthening Cherokee identity and culture using the seven core values: group harmony, spirituality, string individual character, sense of place, honoring the past, educating the children, and sense of humor. Participants spend two full days per month, for one year, in the program learning from various community experts on topics such as the Cherokee relationship with the natural world, lifeways and traditional foods, governance and leadership traditions, history and homelands, and traditional spiritual beliefs.  

Each cohort is also required to complete a group project. This year’s cohort planned to do a Cherokee language puppet show video. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, they had to change their project and completed a Cherokee Syllabary learning workbook. They packaged the workbooks along with syllabary masks they sewed and travel hand sanitizer and gave those to several youth organizations on the Qualla Boundary and in Snowbird. 

The 2021 ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ Right Path Alumni Program participants are shown, left to right, Ahli-sha Stephens, Abigail Long, Mariah Mahan, Dr. Blythe Winchester, Sheyahshe Littledave, Landon French, Michelle Long, Melissa Smith, and Windall Toineeta. Not pictured: Mike Thompson

In addition to recognizing the 2020 cohorts program completion achievement, the 2021 ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ Right Path Adult Leadership Alumni pilot program was announced. Selected participants include: Mike Thompson, Windall Toineeta, Dr. Blythe Winchester, Ahli-sha Stephens, Sheyahshe Littledave, Mariah Mahan, Landon French, Abigail Long, Michelle Long, and Melissa Smith. This program, specific to program alumni, is to allow participants the opportunity to build on the knowledge they gained in the in the ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ Right Path Adult Leadership Program. Further, participants will spend more time researching topics and planning an individual or small group project. 

Program officials noted, “We want to send out our heartfelt congratulations to both the 2020 ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ Right Path Adult Leadership Program and the 2021 ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ Right Path Alumni Program cohorts. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for you!”

The ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ Right Path Adult Leadership Program (and ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ Alumni pilot program,) is a program under the Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute which is a department at the Cherokee Boys Club and is funded by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. For more information about this and other programs under the Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute please visit our website www.rkli.org, email: info@rkli.org, or call (828) 359-5542. To see videos from the graduation please go to our you tube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCT3_Noo3RYZcBRQnwfHndVQ . Safety recommendations for COVID-19 prevention were required at this event.  

– Submitted by Tara McCoy, ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ Right Path Leadership Specialist