is a language that its people have struggled to preserve. The Cherokee language
is also slowly disappearing; only the older people can speak the language
fluently. Even as far back as 1974, the Cherokee were slowly losing their language. According to a census done nine years
ago, there were less than 400 Cherokee
speakers, mostly adults over forty years. Only 250 speakers are fluent in the language. There were attempts to teach the
language in school, but this produced only a few fluent Cherokee speakers.
the risk of disappearance of the language, schools now teach in Cherokee. The
process started in 2004 when they enrolled eight
infants and had raised them in the school. When they can’t translate words
correctly, teachers have to consult elders for them to come up with suitable words. At such times, it is difficult to
teach in this language. Nevertheless, the teachers at the school have put in
the effort to ensure that they preserve
the Cherokee language. For example, the signboards
in the school are written in English but
include Cherokee translations. They also have clear signposts in school
encouraging students and the entire school that they should use Cherokee to
communicate with each other.
efforts to restore the language have paid off. At New Kituwah Academy, children
can now speak the language because it is now the medium of learning and
communication in school. They are now able to learn, read, speak, laugh and sing in the language. Previously, Cherokee central schools have been teaching the language
for thirty years but didn’t produce fluent speakers. However, for the two years
that Myrtle Driver has been a translator at New Kituwah Academy, they have produced fluent speakers of the language.
Evidently, there have been improvements, which will contribute to retaining the
language for generations to come.