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.
WASHINGTON – The Administration for Native Americans on Sept. 9 awarded the Cherokee Nation a grant of $399,996 to develop a Cherokee language curriculum for Cherokee language programs.
As part of the Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, the ANA awarded four tribes and one college grants for their site-based educational programs to demonstrate evidence-based strategies that integrate Native language and educational services within a specific community.
According to an ANA press release, the language community coordination grants will support the tribes to integrate stand-alone language programs into a broader educational system that can offer a continuum of Native language instruction from pre-school through post-secondary education. Also, the cooperative agreement awards are expected to be renewed annually for a five-year project period.
“The Cherokee Nation is committed to preserving and growing our language, and grants like the one from the Administration for Native Americans help us continue that mission,” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “I commend our employees for seeking out funding that supports our language efforts. With this funding, the tribe can cultivate more Cherokee speakers and enhance our language programs and resources.”
The release also states the CN would have the opportunity to create a Native language Teacher Certification program.
“I’ve visited several of our Native communities and found many have components of Native language programs for students, but they often lack the time and resources to fully implement programs,” Lillian Sparks Robinson, ANA commissioner, said. “This funding will help the Cherokee Nation develop comprehensive Native language courses that will be continued through the student’s life and ensure language preservation for native speakers.”
The Native Language Community Coordination program is a five-year demonstration project for tribes to create comprehensive education systems focused on high-quality Native language instruction, career readiness and academic success. Tribes will also have the opportunity to develop Native language certification for teachers under the NLCC program.
Its goal is to provide a seamless path for Native language achievements across generations for educational and economic success. The NLCC is a new funding program provided by the Administration for Native Americans to help Native communities achieve social and economic self-sufficiency.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Aug. 31, Grand View School students had a special storytelling guest who got them involved with Cherokee stories. That guest was Robert Lewis, a Cherokee Nation school community specialist and Cherokee National Treasure for storytelling.
Lewis said when telling stories he gets the students involved with roles within the stories.
“When I do storytelling’s it’s a little different because I pull them (students) out. Most storytellers will tell the story, but I pull them out here and interact and give them different parts to be where they get to be the bear or the wolf or the deer or the rabbit,” he said. “When I pull them out and physically involve them with the story it’s like something happens…when I come to the area schools and do this for this program it’s a way of reassuring me that out culture still gets passed down.”
Sixth grader Elizabeth Cox acted as a grandma in one of the stories.
“I thought it was really fun, and I enjoyed playing a character,” she said.
Lewis said working with students and spreading Cherokee stories is one of the “best” jobs he’s had.
“I get to involve myself with the community, and I love children. They’re a lot of fun,” he said.
He said it’s also important to help children understand the aspects of Cherokee culture.
“The museum (Cherokee Heritage Center) started doing this and the (Cherokee) Nation started doing this because a lot of the arts programs and a lot of different programs were being cut, and as they’re getting cut the children weren’t learning various aspects of the culture,” he said. “Even Cherokee children weren’t understanding things. They were mixing different cultures together. So we said, ‘let’s start a culture program, go out to the area schools and give them a taste of what our culture’s like.’ So that’s what this is.”
Margaret Carlile, Grand View federal programs director, said this is the second year Lewis has gone to the school for storytelling.
“We are honored and privileged to have Robert Lewis, a noted Cherokee storyteller, visit with our students,” she said. “He is so engaging and the kids love to have him here. He gets them involved in stories about Cherokee culture. He weaves that in with a message about being a good student and learning and getting along with people. He has so many life lessons in all of his Cherokee tales and fables and stories. He is just such a delight to have around our students whether they are Cherokee or not.”
Carlile said the engaging stories seem to be what keeps the students interested in what Lewis has to say.
“He is one of the best teachers ever, and I know he’s not in the classroom, but we can learn from everyone. He is so marvelous at getting the students to interact with him. They enjoy him,” she said. “Before he even got here, it was announced who was coming and they (students) started clapping and cheering.”
Carlile said Lewis also has a message within his stories that are “important” for the students to hear.
“Robert’s message about doing your best and staying in school and making friends and networking and doing all you can just fits right in with our activities where we’re trying to get the students to understand how important their education is and how important to know their culture is in their growth and development,” she said.
CHEROKEE, N.C. – As corporations around the globe rethink their business models to achieve the quadruple bottom line (people, planet, profit and purpose), a group of high school students from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Qualla Boundary is moving into its fourth year of a successful social entrepreneurship venture that uses its proceeds to improve schools in Costa Rica.
Each year, the Sequoyah Fund, a nonprofit community loan fund, works with a group of 10 high school students to operate TuYa Café, a coffee business that was originally developed by 2014 program participants. Since it’s launch, TuYa Café has sold more than 600 pounds of coffee and earned more than $14,000 in revenues.
“Each year with the students is really exciting. They always try – and succeed – in surpassing last year’s sales numbers. It’s great to see their competitive spirit come out to benefit a good cause,” Hope Huskey, Sequoyah Fund associate director, said.
In addition to sales experience, students get lessons in marketing and business finance through the program.
“Our goal is to not only instill entrepreneurial values in our youth, but also to help them understand how they can use these skills to bring good to others, their local communities and other communities around the world,” Huskey said.
All net profits are directed towards service projects for Costa Rican schools. Participating students actually travel to Costa Rica each summer to provide labor for the improvements. This year’s students focused most of their efforts on Tortugeuro Elementary where they worked on beautification and technology improvement projects, as well as established a recycling program.
“Our students are always considerate of the environment, and take time to incorporate some kind of environmental aspect into their work,” says Huskey. Last year’s students installed solar panels in Cabecar School, and groups have planted trees the past two years.
TuYa Café is part of the Costa Rica Eco Study Tour, a leadership development program that educates students in the areas of cultural diversity, service, environmental sustainability, and entrepreneurship. The program is made possible through a partnership of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Cooperative Extension Program and Sequoyah Fund.
The Sequoyah Fund is an independent, nonprofit Native American Community Development Financial Institution that focuses on economic and community development within the Qualla Boundary. To date, Sequoyah Fund has dispersed more than $14 million in loans, which has resulted in the creation of nearly 1,000 jobs. More information on Sequoyah Fund can be found online at <a href="http://www.sequoyahfund.org" target="_blank">www.sequoyahfund.org</a>.
For more information about the entrepreneurship program, call Heidi Cuny at 415-279-0185 or email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — About 76 kids are unable to attend a tribal school that has stopped enrolling students who are not registered with a tribe.
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians operates Chief Leschi Schools for kids from about 60 tribes in preschool through high school, the News Tribune reported.
Superintendent Amy Eveskcige said the board decided on stricter enrollment standards after it was discovered that students without tribal registration left a $930,000 gap in school funding that had to be made up with other sources. That accounts for about 20 percent of the schools $4.5 million operating budget.
The federal Bureau of Indian Education kicks in about $5,000 for each registered tribe member enrolled.
The schools have to be able to pay bills and put Puyallup Tribe kids first, Eveskcige said.
"We are a tribal school that belongs to the Puyallup Tribe," she said. "All the other tribes are guests in our home."
Enrollment this year is expected to stay about the same, between 800 and 900 students, Eveskcige said.
Notices were sent in late August to families like Breanna McNeece and her 10-year-old son Roland Ware. McNeece said she and her family have been trying to register as official members of the Cherokee tribe, her heritage, for years.
Ware has been attending the school since kindergarten and was anticipating the start of his fifth grade year there.
They received their notice Aug. 23, and McNeece said she is now trying to get her son into a nearby school.
"They are punishing the students," McNeece said. "It's not fair."
McNeece said she plans to appeal the school's decision so that her son can continue to receive an education that includes Native culture.
"I wish they would try their hardest and do the best they can to try to get kids back in school," Roland Ware said.
Classes start Thursday.
BROKEN ARROW, Okla. – Broken Arrow High School senior Jacob Taylor recently attended an engineering experience camp hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Office of Engineering Outreach Program.
Taylor’s late July visit to Cambridge, Massachusetts, was his second visit there in two years. In June 2015, the 17-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen traveled to MIT with fellow Broken Arrow students to present their idea for producing less costly food for tilapia fish farms that help sustain communities in developing countries.
Taylor said during his weeklong visit in July for the outreach program, students were invited to take courses such as electronics, aerospace engineering, computer science development or underwater robotics. He chose aerospace engineering.
He said he studied calculus and physics and made small rockets using water bottles to calculate how high they would travel. He said he also learned about financial aid opportunities, applying for college and what to look for in a college.
Taylor said his only cost was paying for the flight to Cambridge.
“So it was a very good experience and opened up our college options and seeing that we could go to a college as big as MIT,” he said.
Taylor said his has aspirations include mechanical engineering and continuing mission work like he did this summer in Kenya as part of his school’s InvenTeam. He and four other students traveled to Kenya in June to share research that helps Kenyan children living in an orphanage improve their diets. With the help of their teacher, the students created a better and more cost-efficient food for tilapia that are grown to feed the children to help against protein deficiency.
They also worked on ponds for algae and duckweed to grow in and built pens for the meal worms as well as worked on ways to dehydrate those ingredients on a reflective surface outside. They also worked on a machine that makes fish food pellets from the ingredients.
“We were able to build some things we imagined and shared with the Kenyans what we thought they could do to solve their (fish food) problem,” Taylor said.
In high school, he’s taken advanced placement courses in chemistry, physics and calculus for college credit. He participates in the school’s robotics team, is a National Honor Society officer and plans to stay active in student and leadership events. He also wants to learn more about his Cherokee heritage and culture.
<strong>A Student Spotlight features Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band or Eastern Band students whether they are in grades kindergarten through 12 or higher education, excelling in school or doing something extraordinary. To recommend a student, email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.</strong>
BROKEN ARROW, Okla. – Broken Arrow High School student Jacob Taylor has a heart for mission work to help the less fortunate and recently helped solve a food problem for children in Kenya, Africa.
The 17-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen, and four other Broken Arrow students who are part of the school’s InvenTeam, traveled to Kenya in June to share research that is helping children living in an orphanage improve their diets.
“It all began with my teacher, and she had a connection with this man named Bill Lester who lives in Oklahoma City, who went to Broken Arrow High School back in the (19)60s. He has a big heart for missions and mission work, and he began an orphanage named Generations Children’s Home,” he said.
The home is located in central Kenya and accepts orphans and children whose parents could no longer afford to raise them.
“The problem with a lot of kids in this region is that they don’t get enough protein in their diet. My environmental science teacher has been teaching on subjects like this. She knew about the issue of protein deficiency in children, so she decided she wanted to try out this new trend going on in east Africa called aquaponic systems or artificial ponds for fish,” Taylor said.
Four years ago, environmental science teacher Donna Gradel took Broken Arrow students to Kenya and built 20-foot-by-40-foot ponds and a greenhouse. The ponds were used to raise tilapia fish to help solve the protein deficiency.
“But it became a problem because the fish food they were purchasing from town cost about $3 or $4 a day to feed all the fish, in this region where people make less than a dollar a day. So the problem was how expensive it was and the sustainability of that kind of fishery because it (fish food) was being shipped from China. It (fish food) was filled with tons of non-natural ingredients for the tilapia to eat like...ground-up pieces of dead fish,” Taylor said. “Plus that food was being shipped 1,000 miles from China, and it just cost too much to get there.”
In 2014, Gradel attended a seminar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge after she submitted an idea for producing less costly fish food for tilapia farms.
“She came back and we had to write a grant proposal to MIT by October (2014) for all the things we were going to build and what we were going to do and why it was important,” Taylor said. “We decided we were going to make a new kind of fish food out of natural ingredients in the diet of the tilapia, which are algae, duckweed (an aquatic plant), meal worms (the larvae form of beetles) and filler ingredients like ground-up banana leaves.”
That October, the Broken Arrow team began working to create sustainable fish food for developing countries after it won a Lemelson-MIT Program grant, which provides funding for projects to help sustain communities.
From October 2014 to May 2015, the group spent 500 hours in the lab working on tilapia food. They worked on ponds for algae and duckweed to grow in, built pens for meal worms and worked on ways to dehydrate those ingredients on a reflective surface outside. They also worked on a machine that made fish food pellets from the ingredients.
“We had a lot of trial and error and failure, but we ended up coming up with a clear idea of what we wanted to do, so by the time we got to June 2015, we got to propose all of our ideas (at MIT),” he said. “Ours was unique because we had a set place (Kenya) where we wanted to solve a problem.”
Taylor said the process decreased fish food cost by 90 percent. Some students on the project in 2015 graduated high school, but the remaining students took the endeavor to Kenya this past June to share it with the orphanage.
“We were able to build some things we imagined and shared with the Kenyans what we thought they could do to solve their (fish food) problem,” Taylor said. “We will probably go back to check on how it’s doing next year.”
For two weeks the students stayed in the Kenyan village. One thing Taylor said he appreciated about his visit was that he learned some Swahili, the Kenyan people’s language.
“We got to try to talk to people on the streets and say ‘hello, how are you.’ And we got to play soccer with some of the kids and got to go to their church. All of those experiences were pretty amazing,” he said.