Immersion students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade from both tribes have been exchanging activities, cards and cultural items, all written in Cherokee. Recently, Cherokee Nation’s second-grade immersion students received a package from their pen pals containing materials they collected in the forest. Each student bagged up items including sticks, moss, lichens and rocks and labeled the bags with their Cherokee name.
“The kids are excited and they feel like they’re getting to know the other kids a little bit,” said Denise Chaudoin, Cherokee Nation Immersion School second-grade teacher. “It’s a really good program for the kids in both areas to get to know each other and realize we’re all Cherokees, whether we’re from the east or west.”
The Cherokee Nation Immersion School, Tsalagi Tsunadeloquasdi, began in 2001 as a language preservation program, which aims to educate children in a cultural environment while revitalizing and promoting the use of the Cherokee language. Students in preschool through sixth grade are immersed into an environment where Cherokee is the only language spoken.