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Cherokee Linguist Durbin Feeling Dead At 74

Durbin Feeling

Beloved Cherokee Linguist Durbin Feeling, died on August 19th at the age of 74, will be honored by the Cherokee Nation on Tuesday.

His work preserving and protecting the Cherokee language earned him praise from Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., who passed legislation named after him that would invest in the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program and create a new language hub.

Feeling, who has been called a "modern day Sequoyah," created the Cherokee syllabary grew up speaking Cherokee in his home near Locust Grove.

Feeling's long list of accomplishments included writing a Cherokee language dictionary in 1975, adding the Cherokee syllabary on a word processor in the 1980s and getting Cherokee on Unicode, something that makes it possible to use the language on smartphones.

Cherokee Nation Language Department Executive Director Howard Paden said Feeling was committed to anyone that wanted to learn the language, from simple words to being a fluent speaker.

"He was committed to the language to make sure it was a living language," Paden said. "It wasn't just a preservation where we preserve something, like putting it up somewhere. But that it remained alive."

Memorial Services will be held for Durbin Feeling in Tahlequah on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Allison Herrera is a radio and print journalist who's worked for PRX's The World, Colorado Public Radio as the climate and environment editor and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk.
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