Published On: Sun, Oct 11th, 2020

Cherokee Nation loses nine fluent speakers in September 

 

The Cherokee Nation has lost nine fluent Cherokee speakers in the month of September. 

Those who passed away include: 

– Rachel Mae Best (Dec. 26, 1942 – Sept. 1, 2020) 

– Eliza Mae Deere (June 12, 1942 – Sept. 9, 2020) 

– Nathaniel Teehee (April 12, 1942 – Sept. 11, 2020) 

– Melvin T. McCoy (June 23, 1939 – Sept. 16, 2020) 

– Alfred Nix (Jan. 13, 1935 – Sept. 21, 2020) 

– Jennie Sue (Kingfisher) Ballou (Aug. 28, 1930 – Sept. 23, 2020) 

– Peggy Jane Locust (June 10, 1956 – Sept. 24, 2020) 

– Mariah Gonzalis (April 13, 1932 – Sept. 27, 2020) 

– Jim “Leonard” Buckhorn (Sept. 13, 1943 – Sept. 28, 2020) 

“It saddens me to lose our Cherokee speakers and I take great pride in knowing the legacy they each leave behind not only to their family and friends but to their Tribal Nation as first-language Cherokee speakers,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement.  “When we lose our language, we lose our identity, and their legacy reminds us that we must absolutely do everything we can to preserve the Cherokee language for future generations. Sadly, we know that Cherokee Nation loses more than a hundred Cherokee speakers per year, and with the current global pandemic in our midst, our elders speakers and our language have been even more at risk. To their families, on the behalf of the Cherokee Nation, we are truly sorry and know, that each will be sorely missed.” 

– Cherokee Nation release 

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