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Speaker service extends the life of your Cherokee speaker.culture

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TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation Executive Director of Languages, Howard Padden, told the Tribal Council at its Cultural Commission meeting on September 29 that the Speaker Services Program has made a significant contribution to improving the lives of Cherokee speakers. reported that there is

“There’s a lot going on with language activation,” Padden said. “We definitely stand on the shoulders of giants. It’s really, really humbling to see it all happening.”

Paden reports that since January, more than 500 Cherokee speakers have benefited in some way through their speaker service.

“If you look at the list of speakers that we have worked with since January, there are 518 speakers who have done some kind of project, replaced the stove, or something like that,” says Paden. “It could have been a small one, it could have been a roof or a walk-in he was like a shower. But it’s a huge honor to touch at least a quarter of the speaker population. It’s something that’s close to the heart of all of us.”

Tribal Councilor Keith Austin praised Padden and the Language Department’s efforts to “improve the quality of life” for Cherokee-speaking elders.

“I love hearing about the work you’re doing to improve the quality of life of a very precious resource that we have,” Austin said. We know that replacing it will change lives. Fixing a broken toilet in their home will change their lives.”

Speaker Services can somehow ease the minds of Cherokee speakers, says Paden, so they can focus more on sharing their family and culture.

“Some of them say, ‘Just let me know, we don’t speak English to our grandchildren anymore,'” Padden said. “When I’m not sitting dead scared of what might happen in my house, I have time to think about language. So it’s exciting.”

Paden also said that with fewer deaths this year than in previous years, Speaker Services appears to be extending the lives of speakers by helping them identify health and other issues they face. reported that it looks like

The tribe has lost 119 speakers in 2019, 134 speakers in 2020, 150 speakers in 2021, and 70 speakers so far in 2022.

“So far there are probably about 30 fewer people than normal. I know it’s not just COVID. I know the speaker service is helping. I’ve seen people in my life, and things have happened where I didn’t take care of them,” Padden said.

Paden also reported that since the number of speakers is currently less than 2,000, efforts to create second language learners and Cherokee-speaking families are essential. His 1962 report, which he shared, estimated that there were 10,500 Cherokee speakers in 1,890 households at the time.

“To see families come back, as well as a few seniors in their 70s and 80s,” Paden says. “It’s going to be the biggest change my generation has ever experienced because it hasn’t happened. Not just one of them, but the whole family lives in Cherokee. ”