TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) – The Cherokee Nation is ready to open the renowned Durbin Feeling Language Center on November 15.

Historic Durbin Feeling Language Center. Image courtesy Cherokee Nation.

The Durbin Feeling Language Center, named in honor of the late Durbin Feeling, will store all of the tribe’s language programs under one roof for the first time.

“This site will house our Cherokee language programs and the hundreds who come through its doors and occupy its classrooms will continue to carry our language forward,” said Deputy Chief Warner. “Cherokee speakers like Mr. Durbin Feeling have laid such an incredible and immeasurable foundation for perpetuating the Cherokee language, and it is no small responsibility we now have to make sure it thrives for generations to come.”

The Council of the Cherokee Nation approved the Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act in 2019. Officials say Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner introduced legislation to provide an initial $16 million into preserving the Cherokee language.

It is the greatest language investment in Cherokee Nation history.

“Generations from now our descendants will judge us not by the size of our casinos, the expanse of our health system or the excellent things we do to address any number of challenges. They will judge us on whether we kept alive what it means to be Cherokee,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “Our language is part of that unbroken chain that links us back to our creation. This Durbin Feeling Language Center, will be the epicenter of our mission to ensure that our chain remains unbroken and we save and perpetuate our language.”

According to a news release, it is predicted that there are only around 2,000 fluent Cherokee speakers in the Cherokee Nation.

“For thousands of years our language has been influenced and supported by many people. Giants like Sequoyah and Durbin Feeling made sure we remained as a people,” Cherokee Language Executive Director Howard Paden said. “We currently have an administration– a Chief, Deputy and Council who understand the vision that without our language we have no tribe and it is humbling to enter a building of this magnitude knowing that it is saving our sacred language and that we will protect its integrity and cause with everything we have.”

The Durbin Feeling Language Center will hold the Cherokee Immersion Charter School, the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program, and the Cherokee Nation translation team, along with numerous other programs and services offered through the tribe’s language efforts.

The 52,000 square-foot building on Hwy. 62 in Tahlequah is equipped with 17 classrooms, a library, archive room, gym, playground and everything inside is written in Cherokee Syllabary.

The grand opening celebration is Tuesday, November 15 at 10 a.m.

For more information, visit here.