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Drowning Bear to become NSU's first Cherokee Cultural Studies graduate

Charlene Drowning Bear will walk across the stage at Northeastern State University's Spring 2010 Commencement on May 15 as the first graduate of the institution's Cherokee Cultural Studies degree program.

“Charlie has been a dedicated student – one who has worked hard, shown a lot of persistence, patience and resolve in getting to this point,” Cherokee language instructor Wyman Kirk said. “Everyone in the program is proud of her and hopes the best for her after she graduates.”

Drowning Bear said she could not have accomplished so much without the support of her family and her instructors.

“My husband, Greg Drowning Bear, who was the first to graduate with a Cherokee Education degree, has been a great husband and friend throughout this endeavor,” she said. “My children, Tsahani, Goga, and Asuyedv, who attend the Cherokee immersion school, have been great inspirations.

“I would also like to say thank you to my instructors, Wyman Kirk and Harry Oosawhee, who were the first two instructors in the program when I first started and also to Dr. Brad Montgomery-Anderson.”

The Cherokee Cultural Studies degree was officially approved by state regents in September 2009. The degree is the second offered by NSU in Cherokee Studies, in addition to the bachelor of arts in Cherokee Language Education. According to Kirk, Drowning Bear is the only Cherokee Cultural Studies graduate this spring, but there will be three more program graduates at fall commencement.

“The Cherokee Cultural Studies degree has become a good addition for our program, almost an essential one,” Kirk said. “We can now have a degree that offers our students options, makes us a more complete program and gives us a larger presence within the university.”

The Cherokee Cultural Studies degree is a B.A. consisting of 40 hours for the major. The focus of the degree is a language core and an option of choosing among three specialized areas: language revitalization, cultural heritage or sovereignty and self-determination.

The full program can be viewed online at

Published: 5/12/2010 11:47:42 AM

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