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Native American Teacher Connects a New Generation With Cherokee Culture

Native American teacher takes her knowledge of Cherokee Nation culture, history and language to the classroom to inform Native American youth.
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The Cherokee Nation’s Teacher Enrichment Institute has inspired retired schoolteacher Susie Thompson to pass on her knowledge.

Thompson, a Cherokee Nation citizen, spoke the native language until the age of 8, and now when she speaks it she says it “takes her back in time, creating a connection to her mother and grandmother,” states a Cherokee Nation press release.

She volunteers two days a week teaching Cherokee lessons that parallel the class’s regular curriculum to fifth and sixth-graders.

“In the process the children have learned things about Cherokee history, language and culture that they didn’t know before and I have learned things better,” Thompson said in the release. “They responded in a really good way.”

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And teaching has made her a better student.

“I learn best by teaching and love learning,” Thompson added. “The new information I was learning through the Cherokee Teacher Enrichment program was something that I wanted to share with others. I knew there were many Cherokee speakers here in Bell and I asked Mr. Davidson, the principal, if he would allow me to come down here and teach Cherokee history, language and culture.”

The enrichment program provides participants with Cherokee knowledge, teaching skills, lesson planning, classroom management, curriculum development and class assessments. It’s a free program to prepare staff, teachers and community members to teach the Cherokee language, history and culture to other Cherokees.

The course helped Thompson realize the importance of preserving her culture.

“I thought about all of the thoughts, all of the history, all of the culture and the meaning of Cherokee words that cannot be translated into the English language and I realized as much as possible the Cherokee language needs to be preserved,” she said in the release.