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The history, legacy behind the Cherokee Immersion School

Lesson being taught at Cherokee Immersion School
Posted at 6:29 AM, Dec 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-03 07:29:10-05

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — First Lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland are set to visit Oklahoma on Friday afternoon.

Both women will travel to Tahlequah and tour the Cherokee Immersion School. The trip is to highlight and support the importance of native language preservation.

READ MORE: First Lady Jill Biden coming to Tahlequah to visit Cherokee Nation school

The history of the Cherokee Immersion School goes back decades. On July 13, 1991, the Cherokee Nation Language and Cultural Preservation Act #10-91 was signed officially. The Act stated there was a recognized need to preserve and promote the Cherokee culture, language, and history.

According to the Cherokee Nation's website, they followed in accordance with the Act and opened the Cherokee Immersion School. The school is also known as Tsalagi Tsunadeloquasdi or ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ in the tribe's written language.

At the time, the Cherokee Immersion School started as a language preservation site that had around four staff members and up to 26 students learning Cherokee. By 2010, the Cherokee Nation accepted the charter of the school. This made it the first public school in Oklahoma to be for Cherokee language and culture immersion.

Today, it operates as a full-running education site for over 100 students in grades ranging from kindergarten through 6th grade. All lessons and instructions are exclusively taught in the Cherokee language. Students are also encouraged to speak and write in the Cherokee during school.

The school has been a rounding success. According to the Tahlequah Press, the Cherokee Nation acquired the Greasy School in 2021 with the goal of repurposing the campus into a second Cherokee immersion school.

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