The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina are working to preserve the Cherokee language for future generations.

Only about 3,000 Cherokee Nation citizens speak the language on a regular basis, language program manager Roy Boney Jr. told The Wall Street Journal. That’s less than 1 percent of the tribal population.

“No one under 50 is fluent in Cherokee anymore,” Boney told the paper.

The Eastern Band, a much-smaller tribe, counts upwards of 400 fluent speakers, or less than 3 percent of the population. A successful immersion school, though, is helping to turn those numbers around and a tribal member and a tribal employee have developed software to teach the language to others.

“If their methods were so good, why do we keep losing the language?” tribal member John Standingdeer Jr. told The Journal, referring to other methods that he believes have failed.

Read the entire article in the Wall Street Journal, here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                               Feb. 29,2016
Contact: Press Office
(202) 401-1576 or press@ed.gov

Support Aimed at Helping Native Students Become College-, Career-Ready

The U.S. Department of Education today announced it is more than tripling – from $5.3 million to $17.4 million – the availability of funding for grants to help Native American youth become college- and career-ready.

The extra support is being provided for Native Youth Community Projects (NYCP) as an ongoing step toward implementing President Obama’s commitment to improving the lives of American Indian and Alaskan Native children. The grants will support the President’s Generation Indigenous “Gen I” Initiative to help Native American youth.

 In a Federal Register notice, the Department said it expects to make approximately 19 demonstration awards ranging from $500,000 to $1 million to tribal communities before Sept. 30.

 “In too many places across Indian Country, Native youth do not receive adequate resources to help prepare them for success in school or after graduation,” said Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.  “The Native Youth Community Projects are an investment in bringing tribal communities together to change that reality, and dramatically transform the opportunities for Native youth.  When tribal communities join together around shared goals for Native youth, we will see locally driven solutions coming from leaders who work most closely with students and are best-positioned to lead change.”

William Mendoza, executive director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, said, “These resources are desperately needed in tribal communities and are rooted in the value of tribally driven partnerships and strategies as a foundation to addressing the challenges Native youth face.”

 Today’s announcement builds on the NYCP grants awarded last year to a dozen recipients in nine states that impacted over 30 tribes and involved more than 48 schools. The NYCP program is based on significant consultation with tribal communities and recognizes that these communities can best:

·         Identify key barriers to and opportunities for improving educational and life outcomes for Native youth, and

·         Develop and implement locally produced strategies designed to address those barriers.

Each grant will support a coordinated, focused approach chosen by a community partnership that includes a tribe, local schools and other optional service providers or organizations.

 For example, the program allows tribes to identify ways to achieve college and career readiness specific to their own populations – which could include any number of approaches, such as early learning, language immersion or mental health services. Communities can tailor strategies to address barriers to success for students in college-and-career readiness.  The success of these projects will guide the work of future practices that improve the educational opportunities and achievement of preschool, elementary and secondary Indian students.

 The President’s recent fiscal year 2017 budget proposal calls for increased investments across Indian Country.  The plan would:

 ·         Significantly expand the overall funding for NYCP to $53 million.

·         Provide $350 million for Preschool Development Grants – an increase of $100 million over fiscal year 2016 – to help develop and expand high-quality preschool programs in targeted communities, including planning grants to tribal governments.

·         Help nearly 470,000 Native students with increased support for Title I programs serving low-income schools with funding necessary to provide high-need students access to an excellent education.  The proposal seeks $15.4 billion – a $450 million increase – for all Title I efforts.

 In addition, Acting Secretary King will be visiting the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota in the coming months to listen to the needs of tribal officials and share information on the efforts by the Administration to help Native youth and adults.

 For more on the Administration’s investment in Native American issues, visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/nativeamericans.