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Cherokee Nation to open $20M Durbin Feeling Language Center

Durbin Feeling Language Center.jpg
Cherokee Nation
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Durbin Feeling Language Center

The Cherokee Nation is set to open the Durbin Feeling Language Center this week.

The language center will house all the tribe’s language programs under one roof for the first time.

The 52,000 square-foot building on Highway 62 in Tahlequah features 17 classrooms, a library, archive room, gym, playground and everything inside the building is written in Cherokee Syllabary.

The new language center is named in honor of the late Durbin Feeling, Cherokee Nation’s single-largest contributor to the Cherokee language since Sequoyah.

In 2019, the Council of the Cherokee Nation approved the Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act, legislation introduced by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner to provide an initial $16 million into preserving the Cherokee language. It's the largest language investment in Cherokee Nation history.

“This site will house our Cherokee language programs and the hundreds who come through its doors and occupy its classrooms will continue to carry our language forward,” said Deputy Chief Warner in a statement. “Cherokee speakers like Mr. Durbin Feeling have laid such an incredible and immeasurable foundation for perpetuating the Cherokee language, and it is no small responsibility we now have to make sure it thrives for generations to come.”

The Durbin Feeling Language Center will house the Cherokee Immersion Charter School, the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program, and the Cherokee Nation translation team, along with other programs and services offered through the tribe’s language efforts.

It is estimated that there are only about 2,000 fluent Cherokee speakers in the Cherokee Nation, according to a news release from the tribal nation.

The Durbin Feeling Language Center grand opening celebration will be held Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 10 a.m.

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