Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program goes virtual with lessons
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program has been an outlet for learning the language since 2015. While previous years have had a traditional classroom setting, students and teachers have taken to virtual Zoom classes due to the pandemic.
CLMAP Manager Ryan Mackey (Wahde Galisgewi) said Executive Director Howard Paden, then manager, decided to send all speakers and students home.
“Our goal was to come back and work but he had just ordered a bunch of iPads and so when we sent everybody home they were able to take their iPads home with them and continue with classes online,” he said.
While not ideal, the classes continued through virtual learning. Kenny Glass (Ulogila ᎤᎶᎩᎳ), who is in his first year of the program, said he was in in-person classes approximately a month before everything went virtual. He added that he and his seven other classmates help each other and are “in it together.”
“We’ve all become pretty good friends. We have like group chats on Facebook where we’re constantly talking about stuff that we’ve went over during the day. We’re pretty in it together as we go,” said Glass.
Schon Duncan (ᎤᎶᎩᎸ), who graduated from the program in December 2019, is a teacher at Dahlonegah Public School near Stilwell. While the classrooms he teaches in may look different due to social distancing, it does not stop the children from learning Cherokee.
“I basically visit them twice a week and we talk about communicating in Cherokee. I don’t really try to teach grammar or directly words, I just teach them how to communicate,” he said. “Through that they learn their words and they learn their grammar but basically I just try to develop their skill of communication in the Cherokee language.”
Mackey said 15-20 language speakers are lost a month. For information, visit https://language.cherokee.org/language-programs/cherokee-language-master-apprentice-program/