November 30, 2018
CHELSEA, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation launched its Cherokee 101 pilot program Thursday that is designed to give educators a crash course in Cherokee history and language in order to implement more Cherokee lessons in the classroom.
The pilot program, suggested by Tribal Councilor Keith Austin and designed by the tribe’s education department, consists of six lessons for educators to review, with a quiz at the end of each section. Once all sections are complete, educators will receive a certificate of completion, $500 stipend for classroom cultural activities, a copy of the tribe’s new history book, “Cherokee Nation: A History of Survival, Self Determination, and Identity,” and a copy of the Cherokee language book used by the Cherokee Language Program in its community classes.
“This program is a new, exciting opportunity for both the Cherokee Nation and educators at schools in the 14 counties,” Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “The Cherokee Nation has a right and duty to share its history accurately in the classrooms of our schools, and this new online tool will give our educators the resources and knowledge to reach students like never before. I commend the work of Councilor Austin and our staff on this project and am excited to see where it grows from here.”
The pilot program will begin with three staff members from Chelsea Public Schools taking the online Cherokee 101 courses. Falon Wilson, counselor at Chelsea High School and pilot program participant, said the chance to participate in the pilot program is a fantastic opportunity for her as well as her children and other students of Chelsea.
“This program is an overwhelming joy to have in our district. As a Cherokee Citizen, I did not learn much about my heritage until I was an adult. With my children in Chelsea Public Schools, this Cherokee 101 program will give my children an advantage I did not have,” Wilson said. “They will learn at an early age the importance of their Cherokee heritage and to have pride in it. I want my children to know what it means to be a Cherokee Citizen.”
Pam Phillips, sponsor for the Chelsea High School Native American Student Association, said Chelsea High School’s participation in the program will give the teachers the resources needed to provide culturally relevant programs to students using accurate information.
“We are very honored to be included in the Cherokee 101 pilot program. Our JOM and NASA programs are continually looking at ways to bring in culturally relevant programs into our classrooms. Education for our teachers is fundamental in making sure the information is accurate and correct. This program is giving our teachers the opportunity to learn in an easy and informative manner,” Phillips said.
The tribe will utilize feedback from the three pilot program participants to refine the program before rolling out to the other Cherokee Nation Johnson O’Malley schools in the tribe’s jurisdiction.
Austin said the program is truly special and a fulfillment of the oath of office.
“As elected officials, we not only take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the constitutions of the tribe and United States, but also to promote the culture, heritage and traditions of the Cherokee Nation. This program is a fulfillment of that oath to its fullest degree,” Austin said. “I am so proud of this program and believe it has the ability to grow and change how Cherokee history and culture are taught in the classrooms of our schools by providing a second-to-none resource on Cherokee history and culture to educators, as well as the opportunity for students of all ages to know our story from our perspective.”