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Push to certify teaching Cherokee language

Push to certify teaching Cherokee language (Photo credit: WLOS)

SWAIN COUNTY, N.C. -- Leaders in Swain County and Cherokee are looking at ways to streamline the ability to teach the Cherokee language.

Swain County educators say federal and state requirements make it difficult.

They say teachers must be certified as "highly educated" to teach the native language, but there's no test to meet that licensing requirement

"Maybe we can advocate to the Department of Public Instruction, or give us maybe our exception so that we are able to teach the Cherokee language without getting our exception for Title One Federal audits," said Superintendent Dr. Regina Mathis.

Swain said county educators would like to see an agreement worked out with the state and the Eastern Band.

Angie Gunter teaches Cherokee at the middle school, and says if there was a test to become "highly qualified" she'd take it. She says making that happen will require efforts between state educators and the tribe, to develop an agreement between the two of them that would allow the Eastern Band to certify teachers to teach Cherokee language.

Tribal leaders plan to meet with school officials in Bryson City Friday.

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