http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee translation specialist Phyllis Edwards is part of an effort to bridge the generation gap that exists for Cherokee speakers. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee translation specialist Phyllis Edwards is part of an effort to bridge the generation gap that exists for Cherokee speakers. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

CHEROKEE TRANSLATORS: Cherokee translator making up for lost time

Cherokee Nation translation specialists are, from left, Dennis Sixkiller, Anna Sixkiller, David Pettit, Durbin Feeling, John Ross and Phyllis Edwards. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee translation specialist Phyllis Edwards is part of an effort to bridge the generation gap that exists for Cherokee speakers. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation translation specialists are, from left, Dennis Sixkiller, Anna Sixkiller, David Pettit, Durbin Feeling, John Ross and Phyllis Edwards. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
02/02/2012 08:03 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation translation specialists Phyllis Edwards first learned the Cherokee syllabary from her uncle Ben Bush when she was a young girl.

“My first language was the Cherokee language. That was all that was taught in the home. I was about 6 years old when I first starting learning the English language and it was very hard.”

She was 8 years old when her uncle began teaching her, her siblings and cousins how to use the Cherokee syllabary chart.

“After a stickball game at the (stomp) grounds, he would take the young kids and he would sit down and teach the syllabary charts,” she said. “He did that for maybe two years and then he passed away.”

After his death, everyone “drifted away” from the syllabary because nobody took his place, she said.

Edwards, who was raised in Marble City in Sequoyah County, was reintroduced to the syllabary chart about four years ago, when the CN began sponsoring Cherokee language classes in communities. She attended a class for two years and relearned how to read and write the syllabary.

About three years ago, the place where she had worked for 32 years in Fort Smith, Ark., closed, which led her to the tribe and its translation department.

“I had always wanted to work on something like this (language), and then somebody mentioned they (CN) may have an opening for a translator and so I applied and got it,” she said. “To me, I think everything that we do here in this department is important. You can’t say this is more important than this, and that’s also dealing with the public…if you can help them it makes you feel good that you were able to help somebody.”

Edwards said she didn’t teach her children how to speak Cherokee because of the difficulties she had while attending public school.

“The reason I really did not really push our language in my home was I had such a problem when I started when I was 6 years old. It was like going to a different world trying to understand the English language,” she said. “You were not allowed to talk Cherokee, and there was not anyone available at that time like a bilingual speaker to translate what was being said to us.

“I did not want to put my kids in that situation, so therefore I let them learn the English language so it would be easier on them because you don’t how it is to feel like that where you are thrown into a situation where you don’t understand what’s going or what’s expected of you,” she added.
Edwards said the trauma of being forced to learn English has stayed with her, but she regrets not teaching her two children to speak Cherokee.

“They understand (Cherokee) to a certain extent, but they do not speak the language,” she said. “My children are saying ‘why didn’t you just go ahead and teach us.’”

The result of her children’s generation not learning to speak Cherokee is a language gap between her generation and the generation of children attending the Cherokee Language Immersion School.

The future of the language may rest in the hands of the 100 or so students at the immersion school, and Edwards said she is happy to support the school and enjoys visiting the students.
“I just love to hear them talk. They’ll come running to you saying ‘osiyo, osiyo’ (hello). It’s so good to hear that.”

She said it’s not important that the children always speak proper Cherokee as long as the elder speakers can understand them and there is communication occurring.

“In each community the language is spoken differently, and there’s dialects, and I think it can be wrong. I mean, so long as two people can communicate with each other and understand what is being said, I think that’s fine,” she said.

She also understands that even with the efforts being made to save the language, it’s not safe from disappearing. But she’s hopeful the technology such as iPhones and iPads that translators and immersion students use will help save it.

“There are also translated books that young children or anybody can use as a reference and then we have the (language) CDs,” she said.

Edwards added that thanks in part to the translation staff, there is more Cherokee syllabary material available for people who want to study the language and learn to read and write it.

will-chavez@cherokee.org

918-207-3961


ᏣᎳᎩ

ᏓᎵᏆ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ.-- ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏗᏁᎶᏗᏍᎩ ᎠᎦᏔᎯ Phyllis Edwards ᎢᎬᏱ ᏚᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏗᎪᏪᎶᏙᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏚᏥ Ben Bush ᏚᏪᏲᏁ ᎤᏍᏗ ᎠᎨᏳᏣ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ.

“ᎢᎬᏱ ᎠᎩᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᏩᏌ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏅᎿ ᏚᏁᏅᏒᎢ. ᏑᏓᎵ ᏯᏆᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏆᎴᏅᎲ ᎦᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᏲᏁᎦ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦ ᏍᏓᏯ ᎨᏒ.”

ᏧᏁᎳ ᎢᏳᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏚᏣ ᎤᎴᏅᎭ ᏕᎨᏲᎲᏍᎬᎢ, ᏧᏙ, ᎠᎾᏓᎸᎢᏴ ᎠᎴ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏧᏩᏂ ᎤᏅᏙᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏗᎪᏪᎶᏙᏗ ᏗᎪᏪᎵ.

“ᎤᎾᎳᏍᎦᎸᎰᏅ ᎠᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᎩᏍᏗᎢ, ᏓᏘᏁᎬ ᏧᎾᏍᏗ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᏅᏍᎪ ᎠᎴᏂᏍᎩ ᏕᎨᏲᎲᏍᎪ ᏗᎪᎵᏰᏙᏗ ᏗᎪᏪᎳ ᏣᎳᎩᎭᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ. “ᎾᏍᎩ ᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᎠᏎ ᏔᎵᎭ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏲᎱᏒᎢ.”
ᎤᏲᎱᏌᏃ, ᏂᎦᏓ “ᎣᎦᏗᎦᎴᏲᏨ” ᎾᏍᎩ ᎣᎦᏕᎶᏆᎥ Ꮭ ᎩᎶ ᏳᏭᎴᏅᎮ ᏙᎨᏲᎲᏍᎬᎢ, ᎤᏛᏅ.

Edwards, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏛᏒ ᏗᎦᏓᏲᏍᏗ ᏏᏉᏲ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ, ᎤᎴᏅᎯᏌᏅ ᎾᎿ ᏗᎪᎵᏰᏙᏗ ᏗᎪᏪᎳ ᏓᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᎢ ᏅᎩ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏧᎾᎴᏅᎲ ᏗᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏓᏁᏲᎲᏍᎬ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᎢ. ᏚᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᏔᎵ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏕᎶᏆᎢᏌᏅ ᎤᎪᎵᏰᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏬᏪᎶᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩᎭᎢ.
ᏦᎢ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏈᎨᏒ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎳ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏦᏍᎪ ᏔᎵ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎾᎿ Fort Smith, Ark., ᎤᎵᏍᏚᎾ ᎢᎪᎯᏓ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᎷᏨ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᎾᏁᎸᏗᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ.

“ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᎠᏆᏚᎵᏍᎩ ᏗᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ (ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ) ᎤᎬᏩᏟ ᎠᎴ ᎩᎶ ᎠᎩᏃᎯᏎᎸ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎡᎵᏊ ᏳᏠᏅᏓ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏗᏁᎶᏗᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎠᎴ ᏩᎩᏢᏅ ᎪᏪᎵ ᎠᎴ ᎥᎩᎾᏢᏅᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅ. “ᎠᏯᏃ ᎨᏒ, ᎨᎵᏍᎪ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎠᎭᏂ ᏥᏃᏣᏛᏁᎭ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏗ. ᏝᏃ ᎯᎠ ᎤᎪᏓ ᎤᎵᏍᎬᏗᏯ ᎾᏃ ᏐᎢ ᎨᏒᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏭᏂᎪᏛ ᏙᏯᏗᏜ ᎠᏁᎭ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏂᏙᏣᏛᏁᎭᎢ……… ᎢᏳᏃ ᏱᏓᏍᏕᎸᎭ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᏓᏅᏓᏍᏗ ᎨᏐ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎩᎶ ᎯᏍᏕᎸᎲᎭ.”

Edwards ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ Ꮭ ᏱᏚᏪᏲᏁ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏚᏪᎧᎲ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎤᏂᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗᎢ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏂᎦᎥ ᎤᏦᏎᏗ ᎤᎶᏒ ᏲᏁᎦ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᎴᏅ ᏓᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᎢ.

“ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎬ ᏙᎯᏳ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏂᏗᎨᏲᏅᎾ ᎨᏒ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᏇᏅᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎦᎥ ᎤᏦᏎᏗ ᎠᎩᎶᏒ ᏣᏩᎴᏅᎲ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏑᏓᎵ ᏯᏆᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏯᏊ ᎨᏒ ᎤᏣᏘᎾ ᎡᎶᎯ ᏱᏩᎩᎷᏣ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎪᎵᎬᎾ ᎨᏒ ᏲᏁᎦ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ,”ᎤᏛᏅᎢ. “ᏝᏃ ᏲᎦᎵᏍᎪᎸᏓᏁᎮ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎣᎩᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗᎢ, ᎠᎴ Ꮭ ᎨᎶ ᏰᏙᎮ ᎪᎵᎦ ᎢᏧᎳ ᏗᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎦᏲᎩᏍᏕᎸᏗ.

“ᏝᏃ ᏯᏆᏚᎵᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᎾᎵᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᏓᎩᎧᎲ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎠᏆᎵᏍᎪᎸᏔᏅ ᏲᏁᎦ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎠᎯᏗᎬ ᎢᏳᎾᎵᏍᏓᏁᏗ Ꮭ ᎠᎩᎶᏒ ᎤᏠᏯ ᏯᏆᏚᎵᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᎶᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏧᎾᏓᏅᏓᏗᏍᏗᏱ ᎾᏃᎵᎬᎾ ᏱᎨᎦᎵᏃᎮᏔᏂ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ.

Edwards ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎾᎬᏁᎸ ᎠᏎ ᎤᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏲᏁᎦ ᏄᏍᏛ ᎤᏓᏅᏓᏛ Ꮟ ᎤᏕᏯᏙᏗᏍᎪ, ᎠᏎᏃ Ꮭ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏳᏰᎸᏐ ᏂᏚᏪᏲᏅᎾ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏂᏔᎵ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎤᏂᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ. “ᏗᏇᏣ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᎾᏗᏍᎬ ᏝᏃ ᏱᏙᏍᎨᏁᏲᏁ.”

ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᏧᏪᏥ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎤᎾᏕᏅᎢ Ꮭ ᏳᎾᏕᎶᏆᎡ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎤᏂᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗᎢ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎤᏩᏌ ᎤᏕᏅ ᎠᎴ ᏧᏪᏥ ᎤᎾᏕᏅ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎨᏒ Ꮭ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏳᎾᏕᏁ ᎨᎳ Ꮎ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏥᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᎠ.

ᎤᏩᎪᏗᏗᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎤᎾᎵᏐᏈᎳ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᏯᏂ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏥᏓᏁᏕᎶᏆᎠ, ᎠᎴ Edwards ᎤᏛᏅ ᎠᎵᎮᎵᎪ ᏗᎬᏩᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᏥᎩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎨᏐ ᏱᏚᏩᏛᎯᏙᎳ.

“ᎣᏍᏓ ᎨᏐ ᏗᏛᏓᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ. ᏗᎾᏝᎢᏐ ᏳᎦᎷᏥ ᎣᏏᏲ, ᎣᏏᏲ ᎠᎾᏗᏍᎪ. ᎣᏍᏓ ᎨᏐ ᏗᏛᎪᏗᎢ.”

ᎤᏛᏅᏃ Ꮭ Ꮩ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᏱᎩ ᏚᏳᎪᏛ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏯᏂᏬᏂ ᎾᏍᎩᏊ ᏧᎾᏔᎾᏯ ᏯᏃᎵᎦ ᏗᎬᏩᎾᏟᏃᎮᏓ ᏱᎦ.

“ᏗᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᏚᏓᎴᎾᎢ, ᎢᎦᏓ ᏄᏓᎴ ᎾᏅᏁᎰ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎡᎵᏊ ᏄᏓᎴ ᎢᎬᏩᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎥᎧᏁᎬᎢ. ᎠᏂᏔᎵ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎬᏩᎾᏝᏃᎮᏗ ᏱᎦ ᎠᎴ ᏱᏓᎾᏓᏙᎵᏤᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎣᏏ ᎨᎵᏍᎪ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.

ᏐᎢᏃ ᎪᎵᎬ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᎠᎾᎵᏏᏅᏗᏍᎬ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ, ᏏᏊᏃ Ꮭ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎠᏚᏓᎴᏓ ᏱᎩ ᎢᎩᏲᏎᏗ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ. ᎠᏎᏍᎩᏂ ᎠᏬᎯᏳᏐ ᎾᎿ ᎯᎠ ᏃᏊ ᎢᏤ ᎦᎾᏅᎪᎬ ᏯᏛᎾ iPhones ᎠᎴ iPads ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎾᏁᎶᏗᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏛᎾᎵᏍᏕᎸᎯ ᎠᎵᏏᏅᏙᏗᎢ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ.

“ᎾᏍᎩᏍᏊ ᏗᏁᎶᏔᏅ ᏗᎪᏪᎵ ᏚᏂᎾ ᎾᎿ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏂᎥ ᏗᎬᏩᏂᏙᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎦᏬᏂᏓ ᎾᎿ CD ᏓᏂᏂᏱᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏂᎴᏴᏗᏍᎪ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.
Edwards ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᎿ ᎨᎳ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᏁᎶᏗᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ, ᎤᎪᏓ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏗᎪᏪᎳᏅ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏗᎪᎵᏰᏙᏗ ᏕᎦᏃ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏗᎬᏩᏂᏙᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᎾᏚᎵᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎦᏬᏂᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᏂᎪᎵᏰᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏂᎪᎵᏰᏗᎢ.


About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

Culture

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/19/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Thanks in part from an Oklahoma Arts Council grant, the Northeastern State University Center for Tribal Studies will host the Indigenous Arts Education Series in November for American Indian Heritage Month. The series will include the following: <strong>Nov. 2</strong> Marcus Harjo (Pawnee/Seminole) will present “Creative Writing and Music Production Workshop” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the University Center Redbud Room. Harjo uses writing, music production and live performances to promote his passions of youth outreach, cultural awareness and promoting healthy, drug-free lifestyles, specifically among American Indian populations. His workshop will focus on teaching participants how to use writing and music composition skills to enhance the delivery of their message. His workshop will conclude with a live performance. <strong>Nov. 8</strong> Sandy Fife Wilson (Muscogee Creek) will present “Shell Carving Demonstration” from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the University Center Redbud Room. Wilson is an experienced artist having learned her art techniques through both formal education and traditional means as she comes from a long line of family artists. Wilson specializes in Southeastern design shell carvings, finger-woven items and Creek basketry. She will host a demonstration that will educate the audience on this traditional form of art and lead participants through the process using a direct, hands-on approach to instruction. <strong>Nov. 14</strong> Yatika Starr Fields (Muscogee Creek/Osage/Cherokee) will present “Becoming a Mural Artist” from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the University Center Redbud Room. Fields’ presentation will highlight his experience and work as a mural artist and provide attendees with some insight into the highly specialized field of mural art. This event will include a live art demonstration. The Oklahoma Arts Council is the official state agency for the support and development of the arts. The agency’s mission is to lead in the advancement of Oklahoma’s thriving arts industry. Additional information is available at <a href="http://www.arts.ok.gov" target="_blank">arts.ok.gov</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/18/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee National Youth Choir’s album “Celebration” was named Best Pop Recording during the 17th annual Native American Music Awards on Oct. 14. This year’s award marks the fifth honor – referred to as a NAMMY – the Cherokee National Youth Choir has garnered since the choir’s inception in 2000. The youth choir was also nominated for Group of the Year and Record of the Year for its latest album. “We were so excited to win Best Pop Recording at the Native American Music Awards,” Mary Kay Henderson, Cherokee National Youth Choir director, said. “Our CD, ‘Celebration,’ is a collection of Motown music and has been a fun way to encourage our young people to learn our language. Language teacher and choir coordinator Kathy Sierra and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to vote for the Cherokee National Youth Choir.” The “Celebration” record is a combination of the 2017 Cherokee National Youth Choir and its soloists and members of the 2006 youth choir. Songs on the “Celebration” album include “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Celebration,” “Lean On Me,” “My Girl,” “Respect,” “My Guy,” “Stand By Me” and “We Are Family.” Sierra translated the lyrics from English to Cherokee for the recording. The Cherokee National Youth Choir has performed dozens of songs in the Cherokee language in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and at venues across the country, including the Oklahoma State Capitol. The choir also previously performed with such legendary artists as Foreigner, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Roy Clark, Kenny Rogers and the Oak Ridge Boys. The choir is made up of 30 to 40 young Cherokees from northeastern Oklahoma communities. Members are middle and high school youth in grades 6-12. The students compete in auditions every year for inclusion in the group. “The Cherokee Nation Youth Choir has proven time and time again to be excellent cultural ambassadors for our tribal government and our people,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “We are so proud of them for bringing home another NAMMY honor. The accomplishments of these young people should be celebrated, as they are learning and utilizing the Cherokee language. Additionally, they have volunteered their time and talents to be part of the youth choir, which is an opportunity to grow their leadership skills. Congratulations to everyone involved with this wonderful achievement.” The choir’s newest album, “Just Jesus,” as well as past albums will be available for purchase later this year at Cherokee Nation Gift Shop locations and online at <a href="http://www.CherokeeGiftShop.com" target="_blank">www.CherokeeGiftShop.com</a>.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
10/17/2017 04:00 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – Navajo artist Ric Charlie won Best of Show for his jewelry piece “Navajo Bling” at the 12th annual Cherokee Art Market held Oct. 14-15 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Artists from throughout the nation competed in eight categories: painting, sculpture, beadwork/quillwork, basketry, pottery, textiles, jewelry and diverse art forms. Sixty artists received awards, and 150 artists displayed and sold their art during the event. Charlie, 59, of Tuba City, Arizona, makes jewelry, paints and sculpts. “I can’t make a living with those (painting and sculpting), but I do it for therapy,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed all kinds of art, ever since I was a kid.” He said his winning necklace was inspired by “a nice summer day” when he was out of school and had time on his hands. “Navajo Bling” is a 14-karat gold jewelry set featuring more than 1,700 individually set diamonds and is valued at $75,000. “As a kid I was always involved in creating things because on the reservation you had to. I learned a lot from my grandfather because he was the creator of many things,” he said. “The work that I do now is something I only dreamed about doing. When I started making jewelry, I said, ‘I really want to get into gold. I really want to get into diamonds. I really want to do this type of work.’ It’s just a dream come true.” Charlie said he “dreamed big” as a child. “If you don’t dream big, it won’t happen.” He’s participated in other art shows such as the Santa Fe Indian Market, but this was the first time he entered the Cherokee Art Market. He said he plans to enter his work again. “I find it (Cherokee Art Market) really personal. People here are very, very friendly and welcoming, too. The level of artwork here is incredible,” Charlie said. Cherokee artist Bryan Waytula won Best of Class for Class 1: Painting, Drawing, Graphics & Photography for his painting titled “We Stand as One.” Cherokee sculpture Bill Glass Jr. won Best of Class for Class 2: Sculpture for his piece “The Discussion Revolves.” In the Class 5: Pottery Division, Cherokee artist Troy Jackson won Best of Class for his work “Bird Effigy.” Cherokee Art Market Manager Deborah Fritts said one artist came from Alaska and another came from Maine and other artists from in between. She said the show has come a long way from its first year in 2005 when it was held under tents in the casino parking lot. It has been held inside the casino since 2009. Fritts attends other art shows to “scope” out artists and to network. She also meets with other art market coordinators. “A lot of the people that win at the other shows, like at Santa Fe (Indian Market) or the Heard Museum (Phoenix), they come to our show,” she said. Dallin Maybee is chief operating officer for the Southwest Association for Indian Arts, the nonprofit association that produces the Santa Fe Indian Market. He said the Cherokee Art Market has its own “personality,” and he wouldn’t compare it to Santa Fe but “it’s a great show.” “This brings an incredible competitive field of artists. It’s a nice show. It’s intimate. You see a lot of your friends here, and the prize money helps,” Maybee said. “I come to this show every time that I can just because it’s a good time.” For a full list of winners, visit <a href="http://www.Cherokeeartmarket.com" target="_blank">Cherokeeartmarket.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/17/2017 12:00 PM
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. – The next meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 11 at the Bartow History Museum. The speaker will be Jim Langford, and his topic will be “Impact of de Soto on Southeastern Native Americans.” Langford is a member and former officer of the Society of Georgia Archaeology and has been doing research on the Native American presence in the Southeast for many years. The Bartow History Museum is located at 4 E. Church St. Its phone number is 770-382-3818. The TOTA was created to support the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail established by an act of Congress in 1987. It is dedicated to identifying and preserving sites associated with the removal of Native Americans from the southeastern United States. The Georgia TOTA chapter is one of nine state chapters representing the nine states that the Cherokee and other tribes traveled through on their way to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. GATOTA meetings are free and open to the public. People need not have Native American ancestry to attend GATOTA meetings, just an interest and desire to learn more about this tragic period in this country’s history. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.nationaltota.com" target="_blank">www.nationaltota.com</a> or <a href="http://www.gatrailoftears.org" target="_blank">www.gatrailoftears.org</a>. For more information about the November meeting, email Tony Harris at <a href="mailto: harris7627@bellsouth.net">harris7627@bellsouth.net</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/12/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Families looking for a fun, educational adventure for their children during fall break should plan to visit the Cherokee Nation museums on Oct. 20.  Museums participating are the Cherokee National Prison Museum, the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum and the John Ross Museum. Enjoy free admission and special activities at all three locations. There will be paper bandolier bags at the Cherokee National Prison Museum, Cherokee syllabary lessons at the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum and make your own clay beads at the John Ross Museum. The educational activities occur from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Cherokee National Prison was the only penitentiary building in Indian Territory from 1875 to 1901. It housed sentenced and accused prisoners from throughout the territory. The interpretive site and museum give visitors an idea about how law and order operated in Indian Territory. The site features a working blacksmith area and reconstructed gallows, exhibits about famous prisoners and daring escapes, local outlaws and Cherokee patriots, jail cells and much more. Built in 1844, the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is Oklahoma’s oldest public building. The 1,950-square-foot museum features exhibits on the Cherokee National Judicial System; the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers; and the Cherokee language, with various historical items, including photos, stories, objects and furniture. Touch screen kiosks offer visitors documentary-style learning on various legal topics as well as teaching conversational Cherokee. The John Ross Museum highlights the life of John Ross, principal chief of the CN for more than 38 years, and houses exhibits and interactive displays on the Trail of Tears, Civil War, Cherokee Golden Age and Cherokee Nation’s passion for the education of its people. The museum is housed in an old, rural school building known as School No. 51 and sits at the foot of Ross Cemetery, where John Ross and other notable Cherokee citizens are buried. The Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is located at 122 E. Keetoowah St., and the Cherokee National Prison Museum is at 124 E. Choctaw St., both in Tahlequah. The John Ross Museum is located at 22366 S. 530 Road in Park Hill. For more information, call 1-877-779-6977 or visit <a href="http://www.visitcherokeenation.com" target="_blank">www.visitcherokeenation.com</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
10/09/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With the hope of teaching more Cherokees soapstone carving, United Keetoowah Band citizen Matt Girty is spreading his knowledge of the ancient art by offering classes in Tahlequah to people willing to learn. His latest class was on Sept. 16 at the UKB Culture Center, where students gained insight and hands-on experience with soapstone carving. “My goal was to get more carvers out here because I see a lot of opportunity. So what many people are going to have to do around here is look within their self, look (at) who they are, and most of us out here are Cherokees,” he said. “If I can do it, there’s more out here that can do it. Even if they don’t get seen...then they’ve got a piece of their culture. They can show whoever they want to…so that way it’ll stay alive here within us and not die like it almost has been.” Girty said he starts his students with creating a turtle. “This right here is basically to get them to figure out their shapes and to get their hands on soapstone,” he said. “Figure out how to work it, how it feels on your hands.” As for tools, Girty uses X-Acto knives, files and hacksaws to shape his works. “I wanted these guys to get the feel of the grass roots of it because that’s how our people did it, not with power tools,” he said. “I want them to get the slow process of it, to get the blocking out and taking off a lot of the object to get to your main goal of making your object piece. So I want them to get used to doing it by hand first before they jump on any power tools.” By creating stone carved art, Girty said he feels he’s helping keep the art form alive. “It’s better for me to pass this on because this is all I know how to do that could better our people,” he said. “In my opinion, we should all be able to create beauty and make people smile in everything we do…to keep us going as Cherokee people.” UKB citizen Ernestine Berry said she is no stranger to the art world, so when she heard about Girty’s class she decided to take it. “I’m always interested in anything having to do with art,” she said. “I haven’t done stone carving before. I’ve done a little bit of woodcarving. I also have a degree in art for the University in Tulsa. So, I’ve done a little bit of artwork.” She said Girty is a “good” teacher and thinks what he does, by teaching and preserving the culture, is important. “I think anything to do with our tradition and our heritage is important to our people,” she said. “It helps us to know who we are. It helps to know where we came from, and it helps us to understand the ancestors and what they went through and the kind of lives that they lived.” Berry said she encourages anyone interested in preserving Cherokee culture to take Girty’s class. “It’s an enjoyable thing as well as a learning experience,” she said. “I just encourage anybody who wants to come, to come, because we’re not exclusive here. We accept everybody, Keetoowahs, Cherokee Nation, non-Indians, other tribes, anybody that wants to come.” So far Girty has taught two classes and hopes to continue teaching, while building upon each one to help students create more advanced pieces. “I have an idea for you to carve bears. The next class I want you to bring whatever you want to carve and then we can do it,” he said. “Next thing, I have a vision of our old pipe effigies that we used to make. That will be an advanced class because that’s what I’m (personally) doing now is recreating these ceremonial objects.” Girty hopes to have his next class in either late November or early December. “I’m here for instruction. Everything I know, it’s no secret,” he said. “I want to show you everything I know, then in turn you go show who you know. Come back and show me what you did, and hopefully you become to be a lot better than I am.” For more information, find him under Matt Girty on Facebook.