Cherokee National Youth Choir Preserving Cherokee Language and Culture- Tahlequah, Oklahoma

The Cherokee Nation is the largest of three federally recognized Cherokee tribes comprised of over 315,000 citizens.  Today fewer than 8,000 people speak Cherokee fluently, so the Nation has recently taken a number of creative measures to revitalize the language.  The Cherokee National Youth Choir was founded in 2000 specifically to foster interest in Cherokee language and culture among youth.  The auditioned choir, comprised of 40 Cherokee tribal citizens in grades 7-12 from 14 northeastern Oklahoma counties, is dedicated to performing traditional songs in the Cherokee language.

According to their website, “The group is an important symbol to the world at large, demonstrating that Cherokee language and culture continues to thrive in modern society.  Choir members act as ambassadors, their beautiful and energetic voices uniting to show the strength of the Cherokee Nation and culture more than 160 years after a forced removal from our eastern homelands.”  The group has performed at the Kennedy Center, for former President George W. Bush at the White House, and for the opening ceremonies of the Smithsonian Institutions’ National Museum of the American Indian.  Funded solely by the Cherokee Nation, the choir continues to play a pivotal role in rekindling interest in the Cherokee language through their performances, outreach and recordings.