Teams compete head-to-head during the recent Cherokee Language Bowl held at Tribal Complex in Tahlequah, Okla. The bowl encourages students to study and use the Cherokee language. COURTESY OF CN COMMUNICATIONS
Students compete in Language Bowl competition
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Recently, the Cherokee Nation held its annual Cherokee Language Bowl, a competition between CN-area students that encourages the study and use of the Cherokee language.
“The language bowl is a place where many of the students shine,” said Sue Thompson, CN Cherokee language specialist. “The competitive setting raises self-esteem while giving students an opportunity to show off not only the Cherokee words and phrases they have learned, but also the sounds of the Cherokee syllabary.”
The CN has held a language bowl for the past 11 years. According to the tribe’s website, this year more than 290 Cherokee students competed in 58 teams and collectively took home $6,000 in awards.
Each team consists of five players. They compete in several rooms ending with winners in each division for first, second and third place. Each student winning first place receives $50, second place receives $40 and third place receives $30.
“The Cherokee Nation is committed to preserving our language and keeping our youth connected to our culture in every way possible,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “The language bowl contest is a way for our students to demonstrate those skills in a fun environment.”
Several schools represented more than one teach in each division.
Grove and Collinsville were the Division 1 first place winners, which included kindergarten through second grade. Collinsville also took home second place along with Kenwood. Belfonte – Bell and Kenwood rounded out that division in third place.
Third through fifth grade made up Division 2. Two teams from Grove and one from Salina took home first place. Claremore, Kenwood and Salina took second place and Collinsville, Kenwood and Claremore took home third place.
Division 3 consisted of middle school students in grades sixth through eighth. Two teams from Grove and one team from Pryor took home $50 each and the first place title. Second place winners were Pryor and two teams from Grove. Rounding out the division with third place finishes were Collinsville, Catoosa and Maryetta.
High School students in grades ninth through twelfth made up Division 4. Teams from Sequoyah High School and Grove won first and second place. Grove also won third place in the division along with Tahlequah.
All participating students and two guests of their choice will attend the Cherokee Language Bowl Awards Ceremony and luncheon on May 10 to receive awards and plaques.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – People now have an innovative way of learning to speak the Cherokee language thanks to Mango languages, which offers its language lessons for free through public libraries.
Cherokee is the first Native language offered by Mango languages, and Cherokee Language Program translator specialists Anna Sixkiller and John Ross helped create two chapters of the 10 language lessons offered by the company.
CN Language Program Manager Roy Boney said most libraries in the area have access to Mango languages. The company offers one of the “most robust” Cherokee language applications he’s ever seen, he said.
“There are a few other Cherokee language apps, but most of them are basic word lists with colors or animals. This one is getting into how you interact, talk and speak back and forth, and the grammar notes explains why the language is the way it is,” Boney said. “It was something new to all of us. They have a linguist assigned to the Cherokee Nation to work with us, and the linguist helped parse out some of the information like the roots (of the language) to help put it together so that it made sense to a learner.”
People will see the written Cherokee language and English phonetics and hear a host explain how the Cherokee language works.
“And then Anna and I will be speaking – introductions, goodbye, and small conversations – in the Cherokee language. That goes on all the way through to lesson 10,” Ross said.
Boney said the partnership with Mango languages came about because Teresa Runnels (Sac and Fox), American Indian Resource Center coordinator for the Tulsa City-County Library, received a grant to develop a Native language project. TCCL CEO Gary Shaffer and Director of Strategic Investments for Cherokee Nation Businesses Jay Calhoun worked with Mango languages to have Cherokee included among the 66 languages Mango languages offers.
“They didn’t know which language to do first, and they went with Cherokee because it’s the most visible with all the technology (used to share the language),” Boney said.
Sixkiller said she and Ross worked on greetings and phrases such as, “what is your name,” “where are you going” and “where are you from.” Phrases one would use when interacting with Cherokee speakers.
“We had to create our own text. We created our own text, then we had to record, and then we also had to review the recording,” Ross said.
He said he and Sixkiller began working on the Mango application in August by watching videos on how the Mango process works. In September, they began gathering phrases and greetings and responses to greetings and finished that portion in October. Recording of their work began in November, and the finished project was released in January.
Each lesson has a different subject matter such as Lesson 2, which includes expressions of gratitude and how to greet people. Each of the 10 lessons has approximately 50 slides, and the lessons build on the previous lessons because people might use a phrase or greeting in Lesson 5 that they learned in Lesson 2.
“You can see the phonetic and tone pronunciation. You can actually record your own voice and compare how you’re pronouncing it to how they’re saying it,” Boney said. “You can have the pronunciation slowed down if you need to hear it better. So it’s got quite a lot of features in it.”
Mango languages also included culture and grammar notes to help people understand the language’s roots.
Ross said he also appreciates the fact a man and a woman converse in the lessons to teach the language. He said he’s seen numerous Cherokee language programs over the years and this one “rates pretty high.”
“We need to target everybody, but I think we need to inspire our young ones in learning our language, and I think this is a good start here,” he said. “They know what we can do with our language now, and we need to get them inspired to learn our language.”
Ross said the Mango lessons can be the beginning of someone becoming a fluent Cherokee speaker, but more importantly people can hear the tone of spoken Cherokee.
“I think that’s the key to learning the language, to be able to hear it all of the time, and it makes it easier to pronounce words,” Ross said.
Boney said a desktop computer version of the program exists, as well as an app version for iPhone and Android smart phones. He said it would take most people a few hours to go through all 10 lessons. The language program is free to people if their library has access to it.
“So, if you have a library card and you’re in Stilwell, and if the Stilwell library has it, you can go in there and log in through the library’s website and use your library credentials to log into Mango for free,” Boney said. “It’s the same with your app, too. You just put in that stuff to get access to it.”
He said people who don’t have a local library or a library that doesn’t have access to Mango can pay to use the lessons on the Mango website or app.
“One of the reasons why we liked this project when we got approached with it was the fact that it does give people an incentive to go to the library, and that’s an underused resource in a lot of communities,” Boney said.
For more information, visit <a href="http://www.mangolanguages.com" target="_blank">mangolanguages.com</a>. To find a library with Mango, visit <a href="http://www.findmango.com" target="_blank">www.findmango.com</a> and enter your zip code.
RAPID CITY, S.D. – The American Indian Education Foundation has set April 4 as its student scholarship deadline.
The AIEF seeks students of all ages who are focused on their educational goals and who demonstrate the ability to make positive change in their communities and in modern society. It expands opportunities for students to attend and remain in tribal or non-tribal colleges by providing educational leadership and networking services.
Along with scholarships, AIEF also offers services such as the Tools of the Trade, Emergency Funds and School Supplies.
Through Tools of the Trade, the AIEF offers small grants to vocational/technical schools so they can provide professional supplies to Native American students.
The Emergency Funds service provides small grants to selected colleges, which can then assist students with expenses that might otherwise threaten their ability to stay in school.
With its Schools Supplies service, the AIEF each fall distributes basic school supplies for young Native Americans in preschools, elementary schools and secondary schools serving reservations in the Northern Plains and Southwest. The program also helps vocational and technical schools provide professional supplies for Native American students who choose to learn a trade. The AIEF follows up on the School Supplies service by providing scholarships to Indian peoples pursuing higher education.
The AIEF is one of America’s largest grantors of scholarships to Native Americans, supporting more than 225 students each year. For more information or to fill out a scholarship application, visit <a href="http://www.nrcprograms.org/site/PageServer?pagename=aief_index" target="_blank">http://www.nrcprograms.org/site/PageServer?pagename=aief_index</a>.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Two schools in the Cherokee Nation brought home some new hardware in March.
Within hours of each other, the girls basketball teams at Sequoyah High School and Locust Grove High School respectively won the Class 3A and 4A state titles on March 14 at Oklahoma City’s State Fair Arena.
After losing their regular season finale at Fort Gibson, the Sequoyah Lady Indians rattled off seven straight postseason wins, including six by double digits, to earn the team’s first state title since 2007, when current Tulsa Shock guard Angel Goodrich led the Lady Indians to the third of their three consecutive titles.
Pouring in 33 points in the title game on 11-of-18 shooting, Sequoyah sophomore guard Cenia Hayes helped power the Lady Indians past the Chisholm Lady Longhorns in the title game. As a team, Sequoyah went 7-for-15 from beyond the 3-point line in the championship game and outrebounded the Lady Longhorns by a 36-25 margin.
Hayes was named the Class 3A tournament’s Most Valuable Player and her teammate, senior Jhonett Cookson, was named to the all-tournament first team, as was CN citizen and Adair High School senior Kylie Looney. Sequoyah senior Sierra Polk was named to the all-tournament second team.
In Class 4A, the Locust Grove Lady Pirates had a tougher road en route to the school’s first girls basketball state title.
After dropping the area final to Vinita, the Lady Pirates qualified for the state tournament by winning the consolation final against Berryhill and were bracketed with No. 4 Harrah and the back-to-back state champion Fort Gibson Lady Tigers. The Lady Pirates needed overtime to beat Harrah and squeaked past Fort Gibson by six in the semifinals.
In the final, Locust Grove held Oral Roberts University signee Ashley Beatty to 10 points on 3-of-19 shooting en route to a 51-33 win over the top-ranked Anadarko Lady Warriors.
Two CN citizens, seniors Kennedy Sokoloski and Madison Davis, earned Class 4A first team all-tournament honors.
The Sequoyah boys basketball team also qualified for the 3A state tournament, but was eliminated in the quarterfinals by eventual state runner-up Verdigris.
Other schools at least partially within the Nation’s jurisdiction to send teams to the state tournament consist of the 6A runners-up Muskogee Lady Roughers, the 5A runners-up Tulsa East Central Lady Cardinals, the 4A state champion Tulsa Central Braves, the 4A state runners-up Tulsa McLain Titans, Stilwell Indians, Chouteau-Mazie Wildcats, Sperry Pirates, Fort Gibson Tigers and Lady Tigers, Pryor Tigers, Owasso Rams, Okay Mustangs, Adair Lady Warriors, Vian Lady Wolverines, Hilldale Lady Hornets, Collinsville Lady Cardinals, Vinita Lady Hornets and Grove Lady Ridgerunners.
Averaging 25.5 points per game, Stilwell senior Chase Littlejohn was named to the 4A boys all-tournament first team. With Stilwell eliminated in a double-overtime semifinal game by eventual state champion Tulsa Central, Littlejohn was the only player on the first team who did not participate in the state title game.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas Native American Student Association plans on planting on campus various heirloom seeds obtained from the Cherokee Nation’s Seed Bank. This is first time heirloom seeds will be planted on the campus.
NASA President Elise Clote, a junior at the university, said she and other NASA members in February traveled to the W.W. Keeler Complex in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to get the seeds.
“We received several different kinds of seeds from the Cherokee Nation,” she said. “(Administration Liaison) Pat Gwin met with us and just showed some different seed options and what they have.”
She said they received corn, squash, bean, gourd and other seeds to plant.
Clote said NASA is teaming up with GroGreen, a campus organization with a garden on campus, to plant and manage the seeds.
“At one point, the Native American Student Association was trying to get our own garden started on campus and then we decided that it’s probably be better to partner with another organization. That way we could grow our members and also educate their members and then learn more from their RSO (Registered Student Organization) as well,” she said.
The seeds are to be planted in a courtyard garden near the campus’s Maple Hill dormitories.
Clote said it is important to have the seeds growing on the campus to help educate people about the plants.
“I think it’s important to bring some of the agricultural history back to the area considering how many tribes once lived here,” she said. “We also have a Trail of Tears marker on campus where some of the Cherokee camped out on what is now the University of Arkansas.”
Clote said NASA members are looking forward to the future of the garden and working with other students.
“We do have a lot of Native students that are involved and are really looking forward to not only planting these seeds on campus but also working with other RSOs on campus and educating their groups,” she said.
She said she’s eager about the path NASA is taking when it comes to the garden.
“I’m really excited that NASA’s growing and that we’re working on projects like this, that promote Native foods sustainability and promote using our own seeds to cultivate and grow our own food,” she said.
Clote said all food harvested from the garden would be be donated to local food pantries or academically studied.
“Everything will be eaten, or if some of the fruit goes bad or has some kind of disease problem, people will use those academically to study those plants,” she said.
NASA plans to have a public ceremony on May 2 at the garden.
“We’re going to have a opening ceremony and it’s just so that we can bring some indigenous plants back to campus, which is kind of the whole purpose of why we wanted to do get them from Cherokee Nation and have them planted this year,” she said.
Clote said she hopes to see the garden continues with the possibility of obtaining seeds from other tribes.
“I don’t know what next year will hold, I feel like we may branch out and talk to some different tribes about getting some of their seeds,” she said.
CN cultural biologist Feather Smith-Trevino said the NASA students planting the heirloom seeds helps with the preservation of the seeds and gives the students an educational experience.
“It helps us with the preservation, really continuing on these heirloom lines,” she said. “It’s going to help a lot with the education for all the students that are over there, getting them interested. Hopefully, it will be something that they can continue on so that we’ll be able to work together in this program.
“It’s nice to see that this younger generation is involved in this and they’re passionate about it,” she added. “It kind of helps them to learn how to take care of their own food, grow their own food. Not only is it educational in the Native American side of it, it just really helps everybody all the way around.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Northeastern State University’s 43rd annual Symposium on the American Indian is set for April 14-18 at its Tahlequah campus. The symposium features events that help celebrate and spread the importance of Native American languages, arts and cultures.
NSU Center for Tribal Studies Interim Director Alisa Douglas (Seminole) said this year’s theme is “Children: Seeds of Change.”
“The focus of the theme poses the question of where our tribes will be in the future when our younger generation steps into those roles, and the passing of our tradition and culture and how that is taught to students today, and how will they interpret our culture and the vision of the tribe and where we will be as a tribe in the future,” she said.
Douglas said the theme is relevant to not only today’s society, but to past societies as well.
“I’m sure those in the past have posed the same questions, too,” she said. “So, here we are in the present day and then we’re asking the same questions, ‘where will our tribe be?’”
Douglas said the symposium is a good for people who want to learn more about Native American cultures and about what individuals are doing to raise awareness about Native issues. Events will range from the American Indian Film Series to panels concerning Native issues.
“A lot of our speakers are not just those close to the Tahlequah area, but we have speakers nationwide,” she said.
Douglas said the symposium kicks off at 7 p.m. on April 14 with the screening of the film “Ronnie Bodean,” which stars Cherokee actor Wes Studi. She said Studi, along with the film’s director and producer, Steven Judd, would conduct a Q&A session after the screening.
The week also includes more film screenings, a concert, discussion panels, a stickball game and powwow.
Douglas said this year the symposium is adding a cultural art activity class with Elizabeth Scott. The Cherokee artist will lead participants in making their own copper art. The class is for 6 p.m. on April 16.
The class is free and open to the public with 25 seats available. Douglas said although there are only 25 seats, people are welcome to observe Scott teach.
Douglas said she believes this year’s symposium will be successful.
“We hope everybody can come out and enjoy it,” she said. “Everybody’s put in a lot of hard work and I’m thankful for those.”
The symposium’s main events will take place at NSU’s University Center, excluding the American Indian Symposium Film Series, which will have screenings in the W. Roger Webb Educational Technology Center. The stickball game will take place at NSU’s Beta Field and the powwow will take place in the campus’s multipurpose event center. To view the agenda, visit <a href="http://bit.ly/1MRWQ9W" target="_blank">http://bit.ly/1MRWQ9W</a>.
OKLAHOMA CITY – According to the Oklahoma State Senate Communications Division, the Senate passed a bill to allow for more flexibility when deciding the eligibility for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program by the State Regents of Higher Education.
Senate Bill 137 will “direct the Regents to create an appeals process for students denied OHLAP because of their families’ special financial situations,” the release states.
“The purpose of the OHLAP program is to help provide free tuition to any Oklahoma student who wants to get a college degree and meets the qualifications. However, many students have been denied the scholarship because of their parent’s Social Security disability payments or nontaxable military pay including combat pay, hazardous duty pay and active duty basic allowance for housing benefits among other payments,” said Brooks, R-Washington. “This bill will allow the Regents to review these special cases to ensure that the state isn’t keeping someone who truly has a financial need from getting a degree.”
In order to qualify for OHLAP, a family’s taxable and nontaxable income cannot exceed $50,000 annually, the release states, but because of this new bill each case can be reviewed when a family’s income includes nontaxable military benefits or federal Social Security Administration payments due to the death or disability of one or both parents.
The bill will allow a student to qualify if income is found to be less than $50,000 excluding those monetary benefits.
SB 137 will now go to the House for further consideration, according to the release.
For more information, call Sen. Brooks at 405-521-5522.