Language Department


The Cherokee Nation Language Department is committed to preserving and perpetuating the Cherokee language through day to day spoken use and by generating more proficient second-language Cherokee speakers.

The Language Department includes the Cherokee translation office; community and online language classes; the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program, Cherokee Immersion School and language technology. 

In September 2019, Chief Hoskin announced the Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act, which made the largest investment into language programs in Cherokee Nation history.

Today, there are an estimated 2,000 first language Cherokee Speakers, with several thousand more, considered beginner or proficient speakers through the tribe’s language programs.

The Cherokee language is considered a Class IV language in its degree of difficulty in terms of spoken form. The Cherokee syllabary is the written form of the language. It is not an alphabet, but instead contains 85 distinct characters that represent the full spectrum of sounds used to speak Cherokee – one character for each discrete syllable.

Together, these programs offer a variety of services including translation of Cherokee documents and other teaching materials, including the language on all computers and digital smartphone devices; community and employee Cherokee language classes and resources, and opportunities for Cherokee students and adults to be fully immersed in the Cherokee language daily in the classroom through the master-apprentice program and Cherokee Immersion School.

Howard Paden, a Sequoyah County native, serves as the executive director.