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Tribal Council Funds Identification Survey of Fluent Cherokee Speakers

TAHLEQUAH, Okla.  — The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council passed a budget modification Tuesday, funding a survey that will identify the current number of fluent Cherokee speakers living in the Cherokee Nation.

With nearly 2,000 fluent speakers already identified, the Cherokee Nation Community & Cultural Outreach department will use the $50,467 to host local community events in hopes of identifying more fluent speakers. Once complete, the tribe will be able to use the data to apply for more grant funding for language programs.

“The Cherokee language is an integral part of our identity as Cherokee people,” said Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Through the work of our CCO staff, we are able to identify and honor our first-language speakers, while at the same time using the data from the survey to apply for new grants that will allow us to continue our language revitalization efforts.”

As part of the survey, the tribe will be awarding special medallions to the identified fluent Cherokee speakers. Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd said the survey is another positive step in growing the Cherokee language.

“Currently, our study shows that most of our fluent speakers are older than 60 years of age, making it more important than ever before that we identify the first-language speakers so they can share their knowledge with our younger generations,” said Byrd, who is a fluent Cherokee speaker. “I commend the work of our Community & Cultural Outreach department and look forward to what this survey will yield in our language revitalization efforts.”

Last month, the Cherokee Nation hosted the first Cherokee Language Speaking Employee Appreciation Day to kick off the identification survey of fluent Cherokee speakers. More than 150 fluent Cherokee-speaking employees gathered to discuss ways to continue growing the language as well as receive a special thank-you from tribal leaders and learn about the tribe’s various language programs.

For more information on the identification survey of Cherokee speakers, contact the Cherokee Nation Community & Cultural Outreach department at 918-207-4995.

The next meeting of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council is Monday, December 17, at 6 p.m. at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah.

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