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Get Paid to Learn Cherokee

With only 2,000 fluent speakers left, the tribe wants those who love the culture to help preserve it.

The Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program is an immersion course for adults who wish to learn the Cherokee language. It's geared for novice language enthusiasts, and it's full on: the 40-hour-per-week language course runs for two years.

Participants are paid $10 per hour, says Howard Paden, Cherokee Nation Language Department executive director. That's around $40,000 over 24 months, and you get to be able to speak a unique, ancient language.

The organisors hope to enroll 32 people on each course. It's important as the number of Cherokee speakers is dwindling at an alarming rate and is expected to die out without this admirable initiative.

The program, which started about six years ago, has grown. It went from having four students per year to 16, so at any given time, there will be 32 participants taking part in the two-year program when fully filled, Paden says.

For the Cherokee Nation - the largest tribe in the United States by population with more than 380,000 citizens worldwide - the language course is taking on ever increasing importance, as there are now only about 2,000 fluent Cherokee speakers left.

It's felt that a tribe can’t have culture without language, so that’s why the tribe is now placing such importance - and resources - on the future and learning the language.


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