TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. will speak as a panelist Wednesday morning at the White House Tribal Nations Summit at the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C.

The summit is the first in-person White House Tribal Nations Summit of the Biden-Harris Administration. 

Federal officials will join tribal leaders to meaningfully engage on ways to strengthen and invest in Indian Country, including language revitalization.

Chief Hoskin will speak at 9:10 a.m. ET on the Native Languages and Education panel, after opening remarks from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

“As difficult as it is, I think it’s important to have a conversation during the panel about the federal government’s role in Native language loss during the boarding school era and other anti-Indian policies put in place decades ago. I do appreciate the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration and Department of the Interior wanting to collaborate with tribal leaders and make decisions on ways they can help save our languages today,” Chief Hoskin said. “Deputy Chief Warner and I are unwavering in our commitment to preserving and perpetuating the Cherokee language. We are making historic strides in the Cherokee Nation Reservation to teach our language to future generations of Cherokees in part because we have this support and focus.”

The Cherokee Nation estimates there are about 2,000 first-language Cherokee Speakers with an average age of 70.

Chief Hoskin will speak on the panel about the tribe’s largest investment in language and innovative programs in place to protect and produce speakers which utilize many federal programs and grants as part of the Cherokee Nation’s mission.

A new Speaker Services program was launched earlier this year to ensure that elder Speakers’ housing, health care and basic needs are met. 

The Cherokee Nation opened a first-of-its-kind Durbin Feeling Language Center in early November to house all of Cherokee Nation’s growing language programs under one roof, from young students all the way up to elder Cherokee Speakers.

The Cherokee Nation utilized $19 million in funds from the Department of the Interior under public law 102-477 for construction of the language center.

The tribe will also soon build 30 additional homes to the tribe’s existing Cherokee Speaker village for Cherokee Speakers, a portion from Indian Community Development Block Grant funds.

The U.S. Department of Education also contributes $400,000 per year from an NAM grant to build curricula for Cherokee Immersion School students, among thousands in other grants to supply teachers and help students continue learning Cherokee.

The summit comes just weeks after Chief Hoskin testified before the House Rules Committee during a hearing on seating the Cherokee Nation’s treaty-mandated delegate, Kim Teehee, in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Preserving Native languages is also why we need the House of Representatives to seat our Delegate to Congress, Kim Teehee,” Chief Hoskin said. “At this moment, the bipartisan federal Durbin Feeling Language Act has been under review by Congress for a year. Seating our Delegate to Congress could be the impetus to major federal legislation to support native language preservation.”

Tune in to the White House Tribal Nations Summit, which will be livestreamed on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6xLtE8yFO0