By NANCY FOLTZ
CHEROKEE PRESERVATION FOUNDATION
Cherokee Preservation Foundation has announced that eight members of the EBCI have just completed The Right Path, a year-long adult leadership program grounded in Cherokee traditions and values. They were honored at a September 8 graduation ceremony held at the Kituwah Mound.
The Leaders who participated in the first year of Right Path are Tonya Carroll, David “Chunky” Jumper, Tara McCoy, Robin Swayney, Catcuce Tiger, Matthew Tooni, and Trista Welch.
The program, which was developed by Cherokee Preservation Foundation and members of the EBCI, included in-depth traditional and cultural elements and also introduced some contemporary leadership development competencies. Leaders spent two days each month learning in classes or in the field about Cherokee cultural values, social systems and gender roles, the Cherokee language, tribal governance, healthy living, artistic expression, the natural world and the environment, sports and recreation, storytelling and humor, historical and contemporary Cherokee leadership, and other indigenous peoples.
Right Path is one of four leadership programs Cherokee Preservation Foundation has helped develop so that new leaders are prepared to join the ranks of those already serving members of the EBCI in many different ways. The program is designed to highlight traditional Cherokee cultural approaches that create selfless leaders and have sustained the Cherokee over hundreds of years.
The other programs – the Jones-Bowman Leadership Award Program, the Cherokee Youth Council and the Costa Rica Eco-Study Tour – are developmental opportunities for youth.
Catcuce Tiger said he was inspired by what former Principal Chief (and current Superintendent of Cherokee Central Schools) Joyce Dugan told the Leaders when she met with them several months ago: “She told us that other people will pick you for things in life and you might be scared to fail, but put yourselves out there and be willing to do what you can to help everyone else.”
“The Right Path isn’t just a 12-month program,” said Tonya Carroll. “We have learned skills we will use the rest of our lives to help strengthen our community. It’s important to teach cultural skills so tribal members can become good, strong Cherokee leaders.”