TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation is now accepting enrollment applications for its early childhood program at the tribe’s second Cherokee language immersion school location in Greasy. Classes are expected to begin in the coming weeks.
Enrollment packets are available for parents to pick up in person at the Greasy Immersion School from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 92009 S. 4676 Road in Bunch.
“With fewer than 2,000 fluent Cherokee speakers remaining, we know we must do everything possible to increase and perpetuate the Cherokee language. At the Cherokee immersion school now in Greasy, a new generation of youth offers hope,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “We are so excited to open this second Cherokee immersion school location in Adair County, joining the original school in Tahlequah. As more of our young people receive language education and learn to speak our Native tongue, they will grow better prepared to carry on our culture and traditions for future generations.”
The Greasy Immersion School will first open with its 3-year-old program and will add one grade per year through eighth grade.
To be eligible for enrollment, students must be citizens of a federally recognized tribe. Applicants must complete an application packet. Parents must apply in person. Due to limited class size, applicants may be placed on a waiting list.
“Education is such a critical component of our mission to not only save our beautiful Cherokee language, but to create an environment where the language grows into the daily lives of Cherokee society once again,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “The opening of our second immersion school campus is an important step toward the day when Cherokees all across our 14-county reservation will be communicating in our language.”
Cherokee Nation acquired the Greasy School campus in 2021 to repurpose the site for its second Cherokee language immersion school.
The Greasy Immersion School includes a gymnasium and kitchen located on 13 acres in the Greasy community south of Stilwell. The purchase also included all outdoor buildings, fixtures, furniture and equipment.
The tribe’s first immersion school operates in Tahlequah as part of the Cherokee Nation Language Department. In the immersion environment, students learn by reading, writing and speaking in the Cherokee language each day. The Cherokee Immersion School in Tahlequah will move into the new Durbin Feeling Language Center opening later this fall.
“Greasy is a small, traditional community surrounded by other traditional communities such as Bell, Cherry Tree, Dahlonegah, Rock Fence and Candy Mink Springs. This area is one of the few places left in the world where a child can spend all day in our immersion school and go home to a Cherokee-speaking home,” said Cherokee Nation Language Department Executive Director Howard Paden. “I’m proud of the Cherokee Nation and its leadership for taking advantage of an opportunity where we could put a Cherokee language immersion school in the middle of the largest hotspot of Cherokee speakers in the world.”
Creation of a new immersion school is part of the Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act signed into law by Chief Hoskin and Deputy Warner in 2019. The Act provided an additional $16 million to invest into language preservation efforts – the largest language investment in Cherokee Nation history.
For more information or to enroll, call Ramona Ketcher at 918-506-8986 or Jeromie Hammer at 918-207-4900 ext. 5171.