http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgSince 1909, Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., has offered several Native American degree programs and courses, most of which are taught in Seminary Hall, shown here. Today, NSU is the only public institution in the U.S. to offer a teaching degree in a Native language. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Since 1909, Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., has offered several Native American degree programs and courses, most of which are taught in Seminary Hall, shown here. Today, NSU is the only public institution in the U.S. to offer a teaching degree in a Native language. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

NSU offers Cherokee language program

12/07/2011 08:14 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – In a cooperative effort between Northeastern State University and the Cherokee Nation, the Cherokee Education Degree Program allows students to major in the Cherokee language and give them the capability to teach how to speak, read and write Cherokee.

“This cultural understanding opens all sorts of doors to careers, not jobs,” said Dr. Leslie Hannah, director of the Cherokee studies and language programs at NSU. “I make a distinct difference between jobs and careers. A job is something one does for a check. A career is something one does for life and these Cherokee language and culture courses change lives and create lifelong learners who in turn become life changers.”

The bachelor’s degree program started in 2005 after NSU and CN announced that the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education had approved the program. The CEDP was founded to prepare students to be teachers, speakers, readers and writers of the Cherokee language.

Since 1909, NSU has offered several Native American degree programs and courses. Today, NSU is the only public institution in the U.S. to offer a teaching degree in a Native language.

There have been 10 students who have graduated from the program. One of those students, Meda Nix, currently works at the CN Immersion School.

Nix teaches kindergarten at the school. She also has taught Cherokee at Rogers State College and currently teaches a Cherokee language night course at NSU.

“I see these younger students coming up and we need Cherokee teachers,” Nix said. “I really encourage them to stay with it and to get the education part of it, the Cherokee education part.”
She decided to apply for the NSU program after retiring from Indian Health Services. She graduated from the program in May after 4-1/2 years of taking courses.

Nix said she grew up hearing the Cherokee language from her family and her church.

“I guess I learned a lot because when I started the program it was kind of like déjà vu, you’ve heard it before, that’s kind of the way it was for me and one day it just came together,” she said.
Students who graduate from the program are not limited to working at the immersion school or even within the CN.

“A side benefit that I am uncertain anyone saw coming is a more complete understanding of how Native people think, which can allow the students to do most anything they want within Indian Country,” she said. “They are not limited to Cherokee Country as they hold an understanding of the Native way of seeing life.”

On average, approximately 30 students major in the program annually, with an additional eight to 10 who minor in it.

“Many of the students who take the language courses are not going to be majors. They simply want the language,” Hannah said. “Those who are majors claim a very personal and some even say spiritual experience in learning, relearning or honing their language skills. It becomes very personal for them when they reach a certain level of skill. I have noticed this in Cherokees and non-Cherokees alike. They are proud of their accomplishments, as well they should be.”

The courses offered in the program include Elementary Cherokee I, Conversational Cherokee I, Intermediate Cherokee I, Cherokee Conversational Practicum and Cherokee Cultural Heritage.

However, there is no certification in the Cherokee language so some students have to take another language such as Spanish or French and then get alternate certification in Cherokee by using their course work as a substitute.

“As things are currently structured that is one of the only two ways to get certification,” Hannah said. “Many will go the alternate certification route from the beginning, thus adding at least one, sometimes two semesters to their degree track. We are working with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages to solve this.”

When students graduate they should be able to speak, write and read the language; analyze the morphology, phonology and semantics of the language; critique literature and historical documents written in the language; and access the status of Cherokee speech communities, the effects of language endangerment and approaches to language revitalization. • 918-453-5000, ext. 6139


04/25/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Sequoyah High School administrators will host a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. on May 8 in the school’s library regarding the proposed 2017-18 Title VI budget and its provided services. The proposed budget supplements students’ college and career readiness and allows for public feedback. The meeting is open to all interested stakeholders. Written comments can be submitted for up to 10 calendar days following the meeting and may be submitted either in person or by mail to Sequoyah High School, c/o Principal Jolyn Choate, PO Box 520, Tahlequah, OK 74465. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from discrimination based on race, color or national origin in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. According to the Office of Civil Rights, programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education are covered by Title VI. The school is located at 17091 S. Muskogee Ave.
04/18/2017 01:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials donated $14,000 to Kansas Public Schools in Delaware County to help construct an indoor hitting facility for the school’s baseball and softball teams. Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Tribal Councilor Curtis Snell presented KHS head baseball and softball coach Austin Graham the check at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. “Schools today don’t have the extra revenue to dedicate toward the needs of extracurricular activities,” Tribal Councilor Curtis Snell said. “It’s great that the tribe can step up and help schools like Kansas partially fill the funding gap so that students can have amenities like the baseball and softball teams’ indoor hitting facility.” Graham said that without the donation, the hitting facility would not be possible. “The tribe’s help is huge,” Graham said. “We wouldn’t even be able to think about getting new batting cages or a building built without their support.” The tribe donated the money from its special projects fund.
04/17/2017 12:00 PM
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced on April 11 that the Interior has made its final transfer to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund, bringing the total amount to $60 million to be made available to advanced technical training and higher education for Native youth. The fund provides financial assistance to American Indian and Alaska Native students wishing to pursue post-secondary and graduate education and training. It is funded in part by the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations and authorized by the Cobell Trust Management Settlement. “This scholarship program advances the Trump Administration’s commitment to tribal sovereignty and self-determination, as well as the President’s belief that ‘education is the civil rights issue of our time,’” Zinke said. “Investment in the next generation of American leaders will allow many of these young people to gain the valuable skills required for today’s competitive workforce and the knowledge and expertise needed to help their communities meet tomorrow’s challenges. Educational development and skills training are vital for sustaining the economic and political advancement of tribal nations and our nation as a whole.” To date, more than 2,000 scholarships totaling more than $5.25 million have been awarded to almost 1,000 Native American students for vocational, undergraduate and graduate study. The scholarship awards are up to $5,000 per semester for vocational and undergraduate students and up to $10,000 per semester for graduate and doctoral students. The application deadline for the 2017-18 academic year was March 31 and information regarding summer 2017 scholarship opportunities can be found via <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. Under the terms of the Cobell Settlement, the Interior made quarterly transfers to the scholarship fund up to $60 million. The latest transfer of $12.5 million allowed the DOI to reach this milestone in its fourth year of implementation. The fund is overseen by the Cobell board of trustees and administered by Indigenous Education Inc., a nonprofit corporation expressly created to administer the scholarship program. Alex Pearl, Cobell board chairman, said: “We look forward to continuing our commitment to the legacy of Elouise Cobell and the vision she had for an independent, sustainable and dynamic Indian Country. Our board understands that the barriers to education for Indigenous students are significant and multi-faceted. The funds made possible by Ms. Cobell’s determined pursuit of justice for individual Indians provide an essential vehicle for improving the lives of young Native people and their communities. Our goal of creating a uniquely tuned and permanent scholarship program attentive to the needs and issues of Native students will remain our steadfast focus.” The Buy-Back Program was created to implement the land consolidation component of the $3.4 billion Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractionated interests in trust or restricted land from willing landowners. Consolidated interests are transferred to tribal government ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal citizens. Since the Buy-Back Program began making offers in December 2013, more than $1.1 billion has been paid to landowners, nearly 680,000 fractional interests have been consolidated, and the equivalent of nearly 2.1 million acres of land has been transferred to tribal governments. Tribal ownership is now greater than 50 percent in more than 13,500 tracts of land. The amount Interior contributed to the scholarship fund each quarter was based on a Cobell settlement formula that set aside a certain amount of funding depending on the value of the fractionated interests sold. These contributions did not reduce the amount that an owner received. The Buy-Back Program recently released its annual Status Report, which highlights the steps taken to date to consolidate fractional interests. Individual participation in the Buy-Back Program is voluntary. Landowners can call the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 1-888-678-6836 or visit a local Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians to ask questions about land or purchase offers and learn about financial planning resources. More information and detailed frequently asked questions are available at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
Staff Writer
04/17/2017 08:30 AM
NORMAN, Okla. – Students from the Cherokee Immersion Charter School and Grand View School, both based in Tahlequah, participated in the 15th annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair on April 3-4 at the Sam Noble Museum. Students representing languages from different Oklahoma-based tribes also competed, but the CICS and Grand View students placed in numerous categories, taking home first-, second- and third-place trophies. The CICS sent around 90 students from grades pre-kindergarten through sixth, while Grand View sent 18 students, third through sixth grade, to Norman. Students from both schools used the Cherokee language to perform songs, skits and readings. CICS Principal Holly Davis said ONAYLF is the biggest event for the school to attend, and it spends most of the year preparing by having teachers tie in songs, skits and readings into lessons. “It’s a great even for our language portion because…we’re so unique that we don’t always have an opportunity to do something like this. So it’s our big event for our language,” Davis said. This year was the CICS’s 12th year attending and the first year for Grand View. Darlene Littledeer, Grand View School third grade math teacher and Cherokee language instructor, said her students spent the school year learning and practicing Cherokee in an after-school program taught by her and another teacher. “It makes me very happy to see that they’re picking it up,” Littledeer said. The CICS placed in 22 categories ranging from small group, large group and individual competition, while Grand View placed in three categories, large group and one individual grand-prize winner. Moze Factor of Grand View also won the grand prize for poster art with his “Creating a New Generation of Speaker” piece. “I was really proud because they had worked really hard on practicing those songs all this time. I didn’t expect anything like that to happen. They just totally surprised me,” Littledeer said. Davis said teaching the Cherokee language is important because second language learners have better comprehensive skills than single-language learners. “We are so convinced that making bilingual children and saving our language is making smarter kids. Research shows that if you’re bilingual or you speak more than one language, you use more of your brain.” <strong>Cherokee Immersion Charter Schools winners</strong> <strong>Pre-kindergarten through Second Grade</strong> Dayci Starr: “The Story of the Milky Way,” Individual Spoken Language, second place First Grade: “5 Little Monkeys,” Large Group Spoken Language, first place Dayci Starr: “Lord’s Prayer,” Individual Spoken Prayer, second place Second Grade: “Lord’s Prayer,” Group Spoken Prayer, second place Dayci Starr: “At the Cross,” Individual Traditional Song, second place First Starters: “Jesus Loves Me,” Group Traditional Song, first place <strong>Third through Fifth Grade</strong> The Story Tellers (fourth grade): “Cherokee Flag,” Large Group Spoken Language, second place Abigail Paden: “How Great Thou Art,” Individual Modern Song, first place Logan Oosahwe: “The Bible is a Treasure Book,” Individual Modern Song, second place Isaiah Walema: Untitled, Individual Modern Song, third place Dallie Dougherty and Alayna Paden: “My Friend,” Small Group Modern Song, second place Cherokee Songbirds: “Salute to the Armed Forces,” Large Group Modern Song, first place Jenna Dunn: “I Would Not Be Denied,” Individual Traditional Song (Group A), first place Maleah Bird: “North Wind,” Individual Traditional Song (Group A), second place Timothy Dunn: “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem,” Individual Traditional Song (Group A), third place Chet Patterson: “Where the Roses Never Fade,” Individual Traditional Song (Group A), Honorable Mention Isabella Sierra: “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” Individual Traditional Song (Group B), first place Ahnawake McCoy: “Heavenly Home,” Individual Traditional Song (Group B), second place Third Grade: “God’s Children,” Small Group Traditional Song, first place Third Grade: “Eternal Sabbath,” Medium Group Traditional Song, second place <strong>Sixth through Eighth Grade</strong> Sixth Grade: “Celebration,” Group Modern Song, first place Kaitlyn Pinkerton: “At the Cross,” Individual Traditional Song (Group A), second place <strong>Grand View School Winners</strong> <strong>Third through fifth grade</strong> Grand View Cherokee Choir: “This Land is Your Land,” Large Group Modern Song, second place Grand View Cherokee Choir: “Sunday School Song,” Large Group Traditional Song, first place <strong>Sixth through eighth grade</strong> Moze Factor: “Creating a New Generation of Speaker,” Poster Art, grand prize
04/16/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Woodall School will host its Scholastic Chess Open for students in grades kindergarten through 12 on April 22 at the school located at 14090 W. 835 Road. According to a press release, the event is a Swiss-system tournament, which is a non-eliminating tournament that features a set number of rounds. It is also school team sensitive with machine tie breaks (no blitz). Half-point byes are available for one non-played round except the last round. Players may only “play up” 100 points to a higher-rated section. Registration is from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. All players must check in 15 minutes prior to play in Round 1. Round 1 begins at 10 a.m. for Sections 4 and 5. Sections 1, 2 and 3 begin at 10:30 a.m. Section 1 is kindergarten through fourth grade at U500 with five rounds. Section 2 is kindergarten through sixth grade at U700 with five rounds. Section 3 is grades six through 12 at U700 with five rounds. Section 4 is kindergarten through 12th grade at U1100 with five rounds. Section 5 is kindergarten through 12th grade at Premier 1100+ with four rounds. All sections will be rated using the Chess Express Rating Service. All chess ratings will be looked up by the tournament director. For more information, call Geary Crofford at 918-456-1581 or Jannifer Smith at 918-457-9771 or email <a href="mailto:"></a> or <a href="mailto:"></a>. <a href="" target="_blank">Click here</a>to download the entry form.
04/15/2017 10:00 AM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club has opened applications for 10 scholarships for Cherokees students for the upcoming 2017-18 school year. According to a press release, the scholarships are open to male and female students and are for $600 per academic year. The scholarship applications are considered on a first-come, first-served basis for full-time students enrolled in an accredited college, university or vocational school. Applications must be received by July 31. For more information regarding eligibility requirements, call 918-798-0771 or email <a href="mailto:"></a> or visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.