Tuesday, January 5, 2021
There are certain people across the country that are given priority for coronavirus vaccines. Those groups of people include, first responders, medical workers, and others. One of the groups that you may not have thought of are Cherokee speakers. "The Cherokee Nation, based in Oklahoma, offered vaccines to some of the few people who speak its language."
You may be wondering what the importance is of keeping Cherokee speakers alive. NPR's Steve Inskeep spoke to Media Nix, a Cherokee speaker from Oklahoma who was an early recipient of a vaccine, to discuss that very question.
Nix actually did not grow up speaking Cherokee, but her mother spoke it around their home. Meda Nix actually didn't begin trying to speak Cherokee until after she retired. Now, Nix teaches Cherokee to a class of fifth-graders.
Given the low number of Cherokee speakers, it is very important to keep them around in the interest of language preservation. In the wake of Coronavirus, Cherokee speakers are becoming ill and dying so the vaccine is necessary to protect Cherokee speakers and in turn, the Cherokee language.
See Fluent Cherokee Speakers Are Eligible For Early COVID-19 Vaccinations, NPR, January 4, 2021.
Special thanks to Carla Spivack for bringing this article to my attention.