OKLAHOMA — Efforts are on to keep the diminishing Cherokee language alive, though the battle against time has always left languages with little room for survival.
The Cherokee language is spoken by the people indigenous to the southeastern United States.
According to wikipedia, in 2019, the Tri-Council of Cherokee tribes declared a state of emergency for the language due to the threat of it going extinct, calling for the enhancement of revitalization programs
Today, the majority of speakers live in Oklahoma, where the Cherokee Nation is based, and in North Carolina, where the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is based. Smaller communities of speakers can also be found in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee.
For decades, efforts have been made to revive the Cherokee language, which has been in decline since the forced removal of the Cherokee people from their ancestral lands in the 1800s, known as the Trail of Tears.
The Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have been at the forefront of these efforts, with both tribes establishing language preservation programs to ensure the survival of the language for future generations.
One of the main efforts is the Cherokee Language Preservation Program, which was established in the 1980s by the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee language has several dialects; the Kituwah and Overhill dialects are the two most commonly spoken today. But all variations of Cherokee were suppressed for centuries following the European “civilization” of the Cherokee Nation that began during the late 1700s, according to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.
The program focuses on language education, including immersion schools and classes for children and adults, as well as efforts to incorporate the language in daily use, such as in government and media.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians also has a similar program, which provides resources and support for language revitalization.
In addition to the programs established by the tribes, there are also efforts by individual community members and non-profit organizations to keep the language alive.
These efforts include creating language learning materials, organizing cultural and language events, and promoting the language through digital and traditional media.
Despite these efforts, the Cherokee language remains endangered. According to a 2017 survey by the Cherokee Nation, only 2% of the tribe’s enrolled population speaks the language fluently.
However, the language preservation programs have seen some success, with an increasing number of young people learning and using the language.
One of the keys to the success of the language preservation programs is the use of immersion education. Immersion schools, such as the Cherokee Immersion School in Oklahoma, provide a unique opportunity for children to learn the language in a natural and authentic setting.
The school has seen success in not only teaching the language, but also in improving academic performance and cultural identity for its students.
The use of technology has also played a role in the revival of the Cherokee language.
The Cherokee Nation has developed an app, called “Cherokee Language Master,” which allows users to learn the language through interactive lessons and games. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has also developed a similar app, called “Learn Cherokee.”
The revitalization of the Cherokee language is not only important for the preservation of the Cherokee culture, but also for the preservation of linguistic diversity.
The loss of a language is not just a loss for the people who speak it, but for all humanity. The efforts to revive the Cherokee language serve as a reminder of the importance of preserving and revitalizing endangered languages.
In conclusion, the Cherokee language is spoken by the Cherokee people, who are indigenous to the southeastern United States. Efforts to revive the language have been ongoing for several decades and are led by the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians with the help of community members and non-profit organizations.
These efforts include language education, including immersion schools and classes for children and adults, as well as efforts to incorporate the language in daily use, such as in government and media. Despite these efforts, the Cherokee language remains endangered, but with continued efforts, the language will be passed on to future generations.