Cherokee Nation explores language preservation efforts in classroom

The exhibit CWY 101: Cherokee Language Preservation in the Classroom runs through Dec. 31 and is part of the tribe’s bicentennial celebration honoring the impact of Sequoyah’s historic literary achievement. 

PARK HILL – With an estimated 2,500 fluent Cherokee speakers worldwide, the Cherokee Nation’s investment in the preservation and promotion of the Cherokee language has never been more important.

According to a CN press release, an exhibit at the John Ross Museum is providing a closer look at how that investment has been implemented in classroom settings, from the Cherokee Immersion School to the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program, and everything in between. 

The release states the exhibit CWY 101: Cherokee Language Preservation in the Classroom runs through Dec. 31 and is part of the tribe’s bicentennial celebration honoring the impact of Sequoyah’s historic literary achievement. 

“After Sequoyah revealed his syllabary 200 years ago, literacy in Cherokee Nation increased at an astounding rate,” Krystan Moser, CN manager of cultural collections and exhibits, said. “However, the Cherokee language was gradually spoken less over the time and within 100 years of the syllabary’s introduction, concerns grew that the language would eventually be lost forever.”

According to the release, the exhibit examines the tribe’s efforts to reverse the decline in fluent speakers, such as the introduction of language courses as early as 1941 by former Principal Chief J.B. Milam. It also states the exhibit features a look at the present-day Cherokee Immersion School and the 2019 Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act, which provided an additional $16 million to support language preservation, the largest language investment in CN history.

“Keeping our language alive is an important part of preserving our culture for the next generations,” Moser said. “We look forward to offering a variety of programs and exhibits throughout our yearlong celebration of the syllabary, and hope the public will join us to learn more about Cherokee Nation’s language preservation efforts and opportunities.”

The John Ross Museum highlights the life and legacy of John Ross and houses exhibits and interactive displays on the Trail of Tears, Civil War, Cherokee Golden Age and Cherokee Nation’s passion for education. The museum is housed in an old, rural school building, known as School #51, and sits at the foot of Ross Cemetery, where Ross and other notable CN citizens are buried. It is at 22366 S. 530 Road.

For information, call 1-877-779-6977 or visit www.VisitCherokeeNation.com.