Cherokee Preservation Foundation

Last updated
Cherokee Preservation Foundation
Motto"Preserve our native culture, protect and enhance our natural environment."
Type Nonprofit foundation
Headquarters Cherokee, NC, United States
Executive Director
Bobby Raines
Key people
  • Jenea Taylor
  • Deb Owle
  • Monaka Wachacha
Revenue (2014)
$8,169,966 [1]
Expenses (2014)$5,644,477 [1]
The Cherokee language being taught to preschoolers at New Kituwah Academy CherokeeKituwahAcademy.png
The Cherokee language being taught to preschoolers at New Kituwah Academy

Cherokee Preservation Foundation is an independent nonprofit foundation established in 2000 as part of the Tribal-State Compact amendment between the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and the State of North Carolina. The Foundation is funded by the EBCI from gaming revenues generated by the Tribe; it is not associated with any for-profit gaming entity and is a separately functioning organization independent of the Tribal government. It works to improve the quality of life of the EBCI and strengthen the western North Carolina region by balancing Cherokee ways with the pursuit of new opportunities. The Foundation focuses on cultural preservation, economic development, job creation, and environmental preservation and is an engine for rural community development on the Qualla Boundary and the surrounding Haywood, Jackson, Clay, Macon, Graham, Swain and Cherokee counties.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), is a federally recognized Native American tribe in the United States, who are descended from the small group of 800 Cherokee who remained in the Eastern United States after the Indian Removal Act moved the other 15,000 Cherokee to the west in the 19th century. They were required to assimilate and renounce tribal Cherokee citizenship.

North Carolina State of the United States of America

North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. North Carolina is the 28th largest and 9th-most populous of the 50 United States. North Carolina is bordered by Virginia to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Georgia and South Carolina to the south, and Tennessee to the west. Raleigh is the state's capital and Charlotte is its largest city. The Charlotte metropolitan area, with an estimated population of 2,569,213 in 2018, is the most populous metropolitan area in North Carolina and the 23rd-most populous in the United States and the largest banking center in the nation after New York City. North Carolina's second largest metropolitan area is the Research Triangle, which is home to the largest research park in the United States.

Rural community development encompasses a range of approaches and activities that aim to improve the welfare and livelihoods of people living in rural areas. As a branch of community development, these approaches pay attention to social issues particularly community organizing. This is in contrast to other forms of rural development that focus on public works and technology.



Cultural preservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Much of Cherokee Preservation Foundation's work in support of cultural preservation is concentrated on the perpetuation of Cherokee craft traditions, the revitalization of the Cherokee language, and the development of a culture-based leadership initiative.

Cherokee language Iroquoian language spoken by the Cherokee people

Cherokee is a moribund Iroquoian language and the native language of the Cherokee people. There were 1,520 Cherokee speakers out of 376,000 Cherokee in 2018. The number of speakers is in decline. About 8 fluent speakers die each month, and only a handful of people under 40 are fluent. The dialect of Cherokee in Oklahoma is "definitely endangered", and the one in North Carolina is "severely endangered" according to UNESCO. The Lower dialect, formerly spoken on the South Carolina–Georgia border, has been extinct since about 1900. Cherokee speakers populate several counties within the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee, North Carolina. Around 200 speakers of the Eastern dialect remain and language preservation efforts include the New Kituwah Academy. The Cherokee Immersion School is also present in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Cherokee arts and crafts The Foundation supports the efforts of organizations such as Qualla Arts & Crafts Cooperative, the Oconaluftee Institute of Cultural Arts, RTCAR (Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources), Cherokee Central Schools and many others to share, preserve and perpetuate the rich art and crafts history and knowledge of the Cherokees.

Revitalization of the Cherokee language A survey of Cherokee speakers released in 2006 showed that there were only 275 Cherokee speakers on the Qualla Boundary at that time. By 2018, the number was reported to be 217. [2] Language preservation efforts include the New Kituwah Academy (a bilingual language immersion program for children), conventional language classes available to tribal members of all ages, and a partnership with Western Carolina University to create instructional materials in Cherokee and offer a scholarship to train students to deliver content in the Cherokee language in New Kituwah Academy classrooms.

Language preservation is the effort to prevent languages from becoming unknown. A language is at risk of being lost when it no longer is taught to younger generations, while fluent speakers of the language die.

New Kituwah Academy

The New Kituwah Academy, also known as the Atse Kituwah Academy, is a private bilingual Cherokee- and English-language immersion school for Cherokee students in kindergarten through sixth grade, located in Cherokee, North Carolina, in the Yellow Hill community of the Qualla Boundary. It is owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), and operated by the Kituwah Preservation and Education Program (KPEP); New Kituwah is a separate entity from Cherokee Central Schools. The school is part of a larger effort by the EBCI to save and revitalize the heavily-endangered Cherokee language and instill Cherokee cultural pride. The word Kituwah is used by the Cherokee to refer to both themselves and their language; it can also mean "center" or "mother town" depending on context.

Culturally-based leadership The Foundation supports several leadership programs that are based on the Cherokee culture. These include the following:

The Cherokee Youth Council, which empowers youth 13-17 by giving them a voice to speak out on issues important to them. The CYC is leading recycling awareness efforts on the Qualla Boundary and has produced a film about teenage pregnancy from a youth and a native perspective.

An annual cross-cultural Costa Rica Eco-Study Tour for high school students from western North Carolina.

The Jones-Bowman Adult Leadership Program, which enables tribal members who are college undergraduates to develop their leadership capabilities by participating in individual leadership learning programs.

The Right Path, a culture-based leadership development program for adult members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Economic development and job creation

Tourism is a principal driver of economic development on the Qualla Boundary, the homeland of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and significant funding from the Foundation has strengthened the Tribe's principal cultural attractions, including the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, [3] Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, [4] the Oconaluftee Indian Village, [5] and the Unto These Hills outdoor drama. [6]

Two grantees of the Foundation, the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce and the Sequoyah Fund, have been strong forces that are changing the course of local business development. The Sequoyah Fund, for example, has made low-cost loans available to merchants in the Cherokee business district for new roofs and building facades that complement the Tribe's new Riverbend development and enhance the visual appeal of Cherokee's downtown. Other Sequoyah Fund loans and support services are helping new and experienced entrepreneurs to start and expand businesses.

Environmental preservation

For many hundreds of years, it has been important to the Cherokee people that they be good stewards of the land. Through a community-wide planning effort begun by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation known as Generation Qualla, [7] many new green initiatives are underway, including work to make tribal buildings more energy efficient, development of a green building standard, a significant increase in local recycling, streamlining of the site review process for all construction on the Qualla Boundary, and engagement of Cherokee communities in environmental improvement projects.


  1. 1 2 "Cherokee Preservation Foundation Inc" (PDF). Foundation Center. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  2. "Cherokee: A Language of the United States". Ethnologue . SIL International. 2018. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  3. Museum of the Cherokee Indian
  4. Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual
  5. Oconaluftee Indian Village
  6. Unto These Hills
  7. Generation Qualla Archived July 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine

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