Cherokee Nation Receives Grant to Train Cherokee Teachers
TAHLEQUAH, Okla.- The Cherokee Nation recently received a $266,860 grant to develop the curriculum for a bachelor’s degree for Cherokee language teachers.
There is a shortage of Oklahoma state certified teachers who are fluent in the Cherokee language according to Gloria Sly, director of the Cherokee Nation Cultural Resource Center.
“We have many fluent Cherokee speakers that would make excellent teachers,” said Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. “This program will allow them to develop professionally and teach our next generation in public schools.”
The Cherokee Nation currently offers Cherokee immersion classrooms for three and four-year olds in Tahlequah and a Cherokee immersion kindergarten class at Lost City School. Immersion classes teach children subjects appropriate for their age, but teachers and students communicate in Cherokee.
“We’ll begin working as soon as possible,” Sly said. “By next August, we hope to have at least one class for people to take.”
The grant, from the Department of Health and Human Services, will fund the eighteen-month development program to establish the new degree. At that point, the degree will be available for universities to adopt into their curriculum.
“Were working with a group of consultants from Northeastern State University, Kansas University, and the University of Hawaii to develop a degree to teach people how to teach Cherokee,” Sly said. “Our long-range goal is to get more certified Cherokee teachers. We want to be able to say that our children’s education is equal to that in any other Oklahoma school while still teaching them the Cherokee language.”