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Apr 10 2017
by Brooklyn Brown

College Students Attend a Cherokee Language Symposium in Cherokee, NC

By Brooklyn Brown - Apr 10 2017

From March 31 through April 2, students from Western Carolina University (WCU), the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), Duke University and Stanford University joined together to attend a symposium in which fluent speakers and teachers of the Cherokee language would discuss the fate of the Cherokee language. 

The Cherokee language is an endangered language: there are few fluent speakers left, and the majority of those speakers are over the age of 65. Consequently, there is a race to save the language as it is a crucial aspect of Cherokee identity and culture.

This symposium included people from all different backgrounds invested in helping preserve the language. There is a duty to educate and instill the language in generations to come, and that duty is being fulfilled by these teachers and learners of the language.

Below is an itinerary of the symposium:

Brooklyn Brown

As you can see, the students visited several historic locations in Western North Carolina, learning that the Cherokee language is interlaced with the historical context of the Cherokee people. They also visited the New Kituwah Academy, which is an immersion school in Cherokee, NC. The school produces bilingual children as a step toward preserving the Cherokee language, but the school also hosts an adult immersion class. Nevertheless, preserving the language is still a battle as resources and speakers are limited. That is why this symposium was so important: the intelligent college youth of America came together to discuss ways to make this battle easier and more promising. Here are some pictures from the weekend.

A panel of language instructors.

Raven Michelle Smith

Students listen attentively in a meeting.

Raven Michelle Smith

Four UNC students and one Duke student with fluent speaker, Meli Brown.

Dr. Ben Frey

Students and instructors meet within the New Kituwah Academy

Raven Michelle Smith

Dinner at the Kituwah Fields.

Raven Michelle Smith

These are just a few moments from a jam-packed weekend of fun, education and history. This symposium will be hosted again in years to come. If you are interested in learning and preserving the Cherokee language, get involved in the programs that the previously stated colleges offer or be the spark that starts a new Cherokee program at your university. ᏍᎩ (Sgi) — thanks!

Lead Image Credit: Raven Michelle Smith 

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Brooklyn Brown - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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