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First Lady Jill Biden to visit Cherokee Nation

jill biden.jpeg
Cameron Smith
White House
First Lady Jill Biden delivers remarks on joining forces April 7, 2021, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House.

The White House announced Tuesday First Lady Jill Biden will visit Cherokee Nation’s language immersion school in Tahlequah on Friday.

Biden has visited several tribes this year to promote the importance of preserving Native languages, and she will be joined in Tahlequah by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the country's first Native cabinet secretary.

Biden touched on the president’s efforts to help save those languages during a two-day tribal nations summit in mid-November, primarily a memorandum of agreement that promotes collaboration on programming, resource development, and policy related to Native languages. She said during the summit language is more than a collection of words

"Language has the power to create, defining the shades of our joy and sorrow, dividing what matters from the mundane. It helps us tell the story of our culture and traditions, containing the wisdom of the world that only we know. It connects us to our faith, naming the divine and our relationship with it. It’s a thread weaving through the past, present and future; the inheritance of our ancestors; and a gift we give our children. The ability to speak our own truth in our own words is power," Biden said.

Cherokee Nation announced a $16 million total investment in its language programs in 2019 and recently acquired an Adair County school it will turn into its second language immersion school. The tribe is also developing an online dictionary to help learners who don’t have access to first-language speakers.

Biden’s visit will likely be in the afternoon. She is visiting a children’s COVID vaccination clinic in Philadelphia Friday morning.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.