NSU students present Cherokee play at symposium

BY TESINA JACKSON
Former Reporter
04/21/2011 07:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Students of Northeastern State University’s Intermediate Cherokee II and Advanced Cherokee II classes normally present talks on a topic or theme at the school’s annual Symposium on the American Indian. But for this year’s symposium, held April 11-16, they presented a play in Cherokee.

“There was a number of students who indicated and said they would work and spend time putting on a play,” Wyman Kirk, NSU instructor of the Cherokee Language Degree Program, said. “So we identified the story. They did their characters line-by-line translation and then we met as a group. They had their lines reviewed by fluent Native speakers to adjust, correct and then we talked about, not just the script and what they had, but language ideas.”

The idea of a play was brought up at the beginning of the semester. The students decided on the Cherokee traditional story “ Jisdu Jujalesdi Anehldi” or “Rabbit and the Sticky Doll” and presented it as a puppet show at the symposium on April 14.

The story of the “Rabbit and the Sticky Doll” is a Cherokee tale about the animals finding themselves without water during a drought. They get together and build a well. All of the animals help except for rabbit, who sleeps while they work and claims he can gather water from dew drops.

The animals finish the well and find that someone had stolen water from the well. They suspect rabbit but have no proof. So they decide to build a doll out of tar in the shape of an animal so that when rabbit comes for water he will be surprised and want to fight it. He fights the doll and gets stuck to it, unable to run away. The animals find him stuck to the doll and discuss what to do with rabbit. Rabbit starts to beg not to be thrown in the thicket, which is what the animals do. As soon as they throw rabbit in the thicket, he turns and says “I live here” and runs off.

The cast consisted of Chris Holmes as Yona (Bear), Ben Kester as Kanuna (Bullfrog), Tommy Wildcat as Sogwili (Horse), Hayley Miller as Daksi (Turtle), Shrerry Gammon as Jisdu (Rabbit), Jaime Dry as Ditli (Skunk), Dianna Thompson as Jitaga (Chicken), Brandon O’Field as Doya (Beaver) and Ed Jumper as Kanohesgi (Narrator).

“They use it as a learning process so if they had used a word or form or something that was not, say, necessarily as accurate as what a speaker would have or if there was something that made it wrong, understanding why that was the form they had or what they used was not going to work in their line or the presentation,” Kirk said.

The students worked on translating and speaking their lines two weeks prior to presenting it. After they play, they introduced themselves, provided information about themselves and the characters they portrayed in the play, all while speaking Cherokee.

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org • (918) 453-5000, ext. 6139

Education

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/14/2017 12:00 PM
TAHELQUAH, Okla. – The Northeastern State University Alumni Association board of directors has chosen two Cherokee Nation citizens as 2017 honorees of the university’s Distinguished Alumnus awards. CN Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and Julie Erb-Alvarez were selected as distinguished alumni and will receive their honors on Sept. 29 at the Alumni Association Honors Dinner and again Sept. 30 at the homecoming Emerald Ball. Both events are open to the public. Awards are presented annually to NSU alumni who, through personal achievement and service, have brought honor and distinction to both themselves and the university, a NSU release states. Crittenden graduated from NSU in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration. Crittenden has previously served on the Tribal Council, as the Eastern Oklahoma vice president for the National Congress of American Indians and as a U.S. Postal Service postmaster. He is also a Navy veteran. “It is an honor to receive this award from Northeastern State University,” Crittenden said. “It has been 43 years since I graduated from the university, and I still wear my gold NSU class ring every single day. I was an atypical college student, returning to school after serving in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam. However, I was blessed to receive an excellent education at NSU, and what I learned there helped guide me on a long career of public service.” Crittenden has given back to NSU by supporting the tribe’s efforts to restore Seminary Hall and install modern classroom technologies. He also offers support and advice to youth in their pursuit of higher-education opportunities. “I am proud to say I am an alum of a school that is so committed to Native students and developing leaders for Indian Country,” Crittenden said. “Cherokee Nation and NSU have established one of the most unique and successful collaborations between a tribal government and public higher education institution.” NSU President Dr. Steve Turner said Crittenden was extraordinarily qualified to be recognized as a distinguished alumnus. “His career path is highlighted by many years of service to the Cherokee Nation and to our country. I am so excited for Joe and his family and am honored to call him friend,” Turner said. Erb-Alvarez is a distinguished epidemiologist and chief of patient recruitment for the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute who graduated from NSU in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in health and human performance. She continued her education at the University of Oklahoma, earning a master’s degree in epidemiology. She has served as an epidemiologist for the Oklahoma Tribal Epidemiology Center, the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Public Health, Ministry of Health in the Republic of Palau. Erb-Alvarez was commissioned into the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in 2010 and was deployed to Monrovia, Liberia in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2014-15. She is a life member of the NSU Alumni Association. “I was truly honored when I received the call from NSU President Steve Turner. I was completely surprised and really excited when he told me I had been selected as one of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni. And then when explained who the other honorees were, it instilled another sense of pride and emotion. I am deeply grateful for this honor, and am completely humbled with the company I now keep, with those who are also being honored this year and those who have been honored in the past,” she said. “I look forward to NSU Homecoming Weekend in September when I can come back to my beloved alma mater and experience NSU all these many years later. I can’t wait to talk with students, educators, other professionals and friends – those who helped build my education – and share my post-graduation career and life experiences. I want them all to know and understand how much NSU has given me. I had a very solid foundation thanks to my years at NSU. It was easy for me to find my way and excel after an educational experience like that. Both of my parents are NSU graduates, and I was born while my parents were students and living at NSU married student housing. I have a long, long and wonderful history with NSU. The fact that NSU began as a Cherokee Seminary gives it all the more meaning to me as a Cherokee citizen.” Turner said Erb-Alvarez has amassed an outstanding list of accomplishments since her time at NSU.” “Her commitment to preserving the health of the nation and serving others through the National Institute of Health and the United States Public Health Service is admirable and makes her more than deserving of this honor,” he said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/09/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — According to a Cherokee Nation Communications release, the Sequoyah High School Alumni Association has created a scholarship opportunity for Cherokee students with the Cherokee Nation Foundation. The $15,475 donation was matched through the foundation’s “Leave a Legacy” program and now totals more than $30,000, the release states. “We learned about the foundation’s matching program and couldn’t resist the opportunity to double our dollars and make a lasting impact on future generations of Sequoyah graduates,” Dewayne Marshall, Sequoyah High School Alumni Association president, stated in the release. “We know that scholarships can sometimes be the deciding factor on whether or not a student goes to college and hope that our endowment will help bridge that gap. It’s important for them to know that there are alumni that care about them and support their pursuit of higher education, and hopefully, they return one day and do the same for others following in their footsteps.” According to the release, the endowment will support one $1,500 scholarship each year to a SHS graduating senior to attend the university of his or her choice. The scholarship is payable to the university and can be applied to tuition, books, fees, housing or other education-related expenses. “It is a great thing to impact the life of a student, and we are thrilled to have another donor join us in our mission to support Cherokee students,” CNF Executive Director Janice Randall said in the release. “We are thankful for the support we have received from our board of directors and Cherokee Nation administration and hope others will take advantage of this opportunity while it lasts.” According to the release, CNF launched the “Leave a Legacy” matching program in 2016, allocating $100,000 to match gifts ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call Randall at 918-207-0950 or email <a href="mailto: jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org">jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/09/2017 12:00 PM
LONGMONT, Colo. – The First Nations Development Institute is accepting applications for its First Nations Native Agriculture& Food Systems Program that aims to encourage more Native American college students to enter the agricultural sector. First Nations will award five $1,000 scholarships to Native college students majoring in agriculture and related fields, including but not limited to agribusiness management, agriscience technologies, agronomy, animal husbandry, aquaponics, environmental studies, fisheries and wildlife, food production and safety, food-related policy and legislation, food science and technology, horticulture, irrigation science, nutrition education and sustainable agriculture or food systems. Complete information and a link to the online application can be found at <a href="http://www.firstnations.org/grantmaking/scholarship" target="_blank">www.firstnations.org/grantmaking/scholarship</a>. All applications must be completed and submitted by 5 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time on Sept. 28. To be eligible, applicants must: • Be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student majoring in an agricultural-related field, or be able to demonstrate how their degree program relates to Native food systems, • Be tribally-affiliated and able to provide documentation, • Have a grade point average of at least 2.75, and • Demonstrate a commitment to helping his or her Native community reclaim local food-system control. Each applicant will be asked to complete an online application and provide other required information, including proof of tribal affiliation, college enrollment verification, unofficial transcripts, a letter of recommendation from a faculty member and a short essay submission of 250 to 500 words. First Nations officials said reclaiming control over local food systems is an important step toward ensuring the long-lasting health and economic well-being of Native people and communities. Native food-system control has the potential to increase food production, improve health and nutrition and eliminate food insecurity in rural and reservation-based communities, while also promoting entrepreneurship and economic development. The Native Agriculture & Food Systems Scholarship Program’s purpose is to encourage more Native American college students to enter these fields so they can better assist their communities with these efforts, according to a First Nation press release.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
08/06/2017 04:00 PM
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — At the time of his death in 1999, Parker McKenzie was regarded as the oldest living member of the Kiowa tribe. Born in a teepee in Oklahoma three years prior to the 20th century, he was also widely recognized as an amateur linguist who played a fundamental role in developing a dictionary of his native Kiowa language nearly 100 years ago. "He was just known for being the guy that you would go to," Andrew McKenzie recalls of his great-grandfather, whose many projects included the documentation of Kiowa history, cultural artifacts and language. The elder McKenzie's method for writing Kiowa using English characters is still used, in a modified version, by researchers today. And Andrew McKenzie, who grew up knowing bits and pieces of the language, is one of them. McKenzie, an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of Kansas, recently secured a grant from the federal government that will allow him to continue his great-grandfather's work in preserving the Kiowa language — a pressing need, McKenzie says, as the number of fluent Kiowa speakers dwindles by the year. "Languages only exist in our minds, so once those speakers leave us, they take the knowledge with them, essentially, unless that knowledge is preserved through documentation," says McKenzie, who began formally studying Kiowa about 20 years ago. "In that sense, the documentation becomes essential because it would allow the language to survive into the future." The more complete that documentation is, McKenzie adds, the better chances are for the language's survival as native speakers pass away. Kiowa, like many North American languages, is "extremely endangered," says McKenzie, who estimates there are about 60 fluent speakers left. They're mostly elderly and concentrated in McKenzie's home state of Oklahoma, where he often travels to conduct interviews with remaining Kiowa speakers. And they likely won't be around much longer, he says. "I think the youngest person I've worked with was in their 80s," McKenzie says. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that earlier this month, McKenzie learned he'd won a three-year grant from the Documenting Endangered Languages program of the National Science Foundation. The $112,000 award will allow him to "fill a gap" in the study of Kiowa grammar, work his great-grandfather started as a kid passing notes in his native tongue — speaking Kiowa was strictly forbidden at the boarding school he and other Native Americans were forced to attend — during class to his girlfriend, funnily enough. That early system devised by Parker McKenzie became the basis for methods still used today, though there's no consensus on the matter, McKenzie says. The Kiowa tribe has never voted to designate an official writing system. These days, McKenzie is using his great-grandfather's system to document and expand our understanding of Kiowa's semantic grammar. Or, as McKenzie describes it, "the meaning of the language, and how that meaning interacts with the structure." Linguistically, Kiowa's closest relatives are the handful of languages spoken by Pueblo peoples in New Mexico, McKenzie says. It's far removed from more well-known North American dialects such as Cherokee and Navajo, he says, and completely unrelated to European languages. Kiowa is unique, among other traits, for its ejective sounds and tone system, in which "the pitch of the sound can be as distinctive as two distinct sounds," McKenzie explains. Throughout the duration of the grant, McKenzie will work on a book, associated scholarly articles and teaching materials such as booklets, games and flashcards. "Growing up I remember he would frequently lament that his progeny were not learning the language," McKenzie says of his great-grandfather. "In that sense, I think he'd be excited." "I think if he were still around, he'd be the first to help me out," McKenzie said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/04/2017 04:00 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation is accepting grant applications until Sept. 29 for its fall education tours. The sponsored tours provide an exclusive look at Cherokee Nation’s rich history and culture. Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism awards the grants in the spring and fall to elementary public schools within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction. Complimentary curriculum is provided to schools that receive grants and is available to teachers upon registration. Curriculum includes a teacher’s guide to prepare students for the education tour as well as a student activity. The Cherokee History Tour visits the tribe’s historic Capitol Square, Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum, Cherokee National Prison Museum, Murrell Home, Cherokee Heritage Center and the ancient Cherokee village Diligwa in the Tahlequah area. The Will Rogers Tour visits the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore and Dog Iron Ranch in Oologah. The Civil War Tour visits the Capitol Square and Murrell Home as well as the Fort Gibson Historic Site. Grants are available for grades third through sixth. Funding is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Minimum requirements for eligibility for schools include being located within the CN’s 14-county jurisdiction, a majority of the school’s students must hold a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood card, the school’s class size may not exceed tour capacity and the majority of the school’s students must be eligible for free and/or reduced school lunches. Schools that do not meet the requirements or miss the deadline may experience the program for a small fee. Special rates are available for seventh through 12th grade and college students. Applications are available at <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>. For more information or to book a tour, call 918-384-7787.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/02/2017 12:00 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials donated $15,000 to Claremore-Sequoyah Schools on July 20 to purchase the school’s first gymnasium air-conditioning unit. The Rogers County school has about 1,300 students enrolled in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Dist. 14 Tribal Councilor Keith Austin, of Claremore, visited presented the check to Claremore-Sequoyah Schools Superintendent Dr. Terry Saul. “We are very appreciative of this partnership between the Sequoyah School district and the Cherokee Nation,” Saul said. “Our school and community would like to extend a heartfelt thank-you to Chief Baker and Councilor Austin for hearing our need and providing for our school and community.” In operation since 1908, the gymnasium hosts events such as athletic events and practice to community events. “Unfortunately, problems like air-conditioning upgrades are a budget item that most of our local schools can’t afford right now,” Austin said. “Thanks to the partnerships that we continue to have with Claremore-Sequoyah and other local schools, we are able to make a positive difference in the lives of all children in our communities.” Funding for this donation came from the tribe’s special project funds.