http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee elder Wynema Smith reads to students at the Cherokee Language Immersion School in Tahlequah, Okla. COURTESY PHOTO
Cherokee elder Wynema Smith reads to students at the Cherokee Language Immersion School in Tahlequah, Okla. COURTESY PHOTO

CNF to create Cherokee–language focused reading center

BY TESINA JACKSON
Former Reporter
02/09/2012 08:24 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Through a partnership with Cherokee Media Ltd., the Cherokee Nation Foundation plans to create a reading center featuring audio books in the Cherokee language.

“The reading center is a portable resource used in a classroom setting,” said CNF Executive Director Kimberlie Gilliland. “It is incorporated into daily lesson plans to help with literacy and Cherokee language fluency. The reading center is currently being used in the Cherokee Nation Language Immersion School in a first grade classroom.”

The books were written by Ray D. Ketter and Wynema Smith and illustrated by America Meredith. Cherokee sisters America and Samonia Meredith of Noksi Press donated the first audio books. Audio recordings were produced by Andrew Sikora, director at Cherokee Media and feature the voice of Wynema Smith. The book titles are “The Three Bears,” “The Little Red Hen” and “Origins of Oak Leafs.”

“The Immersion School is now a charter school and Cherokee literacy is their main goal,” Gilliland said. “The project was designed around the needs of the first grade classroom, in cooperation with first grade teacher Glenda Beitz. Beitz previously taught in English language classrooms and wanted to bring the same learning opportunities to her Cherokee classroom. The audio books were her first choice to expand literacy efforts and assist in annunciation skills.”

CNF officials hope to expand the project by donating 250 audio kits to local libraries and schools within the CN 14-county jurisdictional boundaries. Each kit would include the three print books accompanied by its audio book.

“Our mission is to provide higher educational assistance to the Cherokee people and to help revitalize the Cherokee language,” Gilliland said. “To succeed, we have to make sure the language lives in every medium and is available to the people who will be responsible for keeping it alive, our Cherokee youth.”

The kits will be made available for purchase to the general public this spring. All proceeds will go to the advancement of the audio book initiative and fund the creation and distribution of additional books. The project was funded through private donation to the CNF.

Along with the audio books, the foundation also purchased digital textbooks for the immersion school, which will be used in conjunction with existing classroom technology and the addition of the Kindle application for students in the sixth grade and in a partnership with CN Natural Resources, CNF also published an ethnobotany book, which examines the relationships between the Cherokee culture and its uses of plant life throughout history.

About 1,500 copies of the book has been translated in both Cherokee and English and will become a part of the fifth and sixth grade curriculum at the immersion school.

“It is because of our generous donors and loyal supporters that projects like these are possible,” Gilliland said. “As we continue to move forward, embracing today’s technology and engaging our youth, we will ensure that the Cherokee language continues to thrive for generations to come.”

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org


918-453-5000, ext. 6139



Education

BY STAFF REPORTS
11/21/2017 12:00 PM
SEATTLE – A newly released report highlights the challenges facing urban Native American youths in public schools and showcases seven alternative public education programs that are positively impacting these challenges. The report, “Resurgence: Restructuring Urban American Indian Education,” was released Nov. 16 by the National Urban Indian Family Coalition. According to a release, it tracks the history of the U.S. public education system’s relationship with Native American communities and the ongoing disparities that exist within academic achievement data for urban American Indian students, commonly referred to as “the achievement gap.” The report states that educators and administrators have worked with policy officials and the philanthropic community to reform the system to close this achievement gap, but the gap still persists for all students of color and is especially bleak for urban American Indian students. “We wanted to provide a roadmap for other urban Indigenous communities to follow on behalf of their own students,” Dr. Joe Hobot, the report’s author, said. “I hope (the report) will spark further evaluation and discussion by those involved in this arena.” The report identifies six major urban centers – Denver, Seattle, Albuquerque, Portland, Minneapolis and Los Angeles – that have high concentrations of American Indian students who attend local public schools and investigates seven alternative education programs offered to these students in each city. The report states these alternative education programs leverage traditional Indigenous culture as a means of securing academic achievement and have earned respect and widespread support from the urban American Indian communities they serve. “Education is an extremely critical area of need and attention for urban Indian communities across the country,” NUIFC Executive Director Janeen Comenote said. “The NUIFC is proud to be able to amplify the voices and practices of the phenomenal sites and schools highlighted in this critically needed work.” Edgar Villanueva, Schott Foundation for Public Education vice president and one of the report’s sponsors, said closing the achievement gap is just the beginning. “Policy leaders, philanthropic partners and community leaders must also focus beyond academic achievement to close the opportunity gaps that contribute to inequitable education outcomes,” Villanueva said. “Closing the opportunity gap is the only way we will make progress toward closing academic achievement gaps that separate most American Indian, black and Hispanic students from their white peers.” Visit <a href="http://nuifc.org" target="_blank">http://nuifc.org</a> for more information or a copy of the report.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
11/20/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Students from the Tahlequah area had the opportunity to learn about colleges, universities and vocational schools during the Cherokee Nation’s College and Career Night at Sequoyah School’s “The Place Where They Play” gym, with a second event planned for Nov. 30 in Vinita. “The College and Career Night was a way for us to inform students and the parents about scholarship opportunities not only available from Cherokee Nation, but from federal and state sources that they may qualify for, like FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), to attend either vo-tech or college,” Jennifer Pigeon, CN finance manager and College Resources interim manager, said. With 22 representatives present from schools such as Northeastern State University, University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, Pigeon said the event allowed students and their families the opportunity to learn about schools and programs. “This night is important to us so that we can help share opportunities, let families meet the various colleges that are available, any vo-techs that they might want to attend and to familiarize themselves with application processes, admission criteria. Some schools offer scholarships that are only available at their school, so this will let them know about some of those opportunities that are available,” she said. Aside from meeting school representatives, Pigeon said students also had the chance to attend higher learning-related presentations. “We are going to have a presentation from FAFSA, and then Indian Capital (Technology Center) from Tahlequah will do a presentation followed by (CN) Career Services, who will let us know what they offer to assist in that area, and then we’ll talk about colleges,” she said. CN citizen Hannah Hudgens, a Sallisaw High School senior, said although she knows what her plans for the future entail, she thought it would be good to attend to learn of tribal scholarships. “I know I want to do speech language pathology, but I was just wondering what the Cherokee Nation could help me do in terms of scholarships and giving back to my tribal heritage,” she said. She said she encourages other high school students to take “advantage” of available opportunities. “Just take advantage of the opportunities around you in terms of scholarships and just learn more about Cherokee heritage,” she said. OU College of Nursing academic advisor Dawn Johnson said she hoped to speak with students who had an interest in nursing. “We have several programs at the undergraduate level, but the one that high school students may be most interested in is what we refer to as the traditional BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) program,” she said. “This is a program where you take two years of your basic prerequisites and you could do that close to home. You could do it at OU-Norman or at another accredited school and then you would apply to the College of Nursing and you would be with us for two years.” Johnson said the event gives students the opportunity to find out that college is “accessible” regardless of career choice. “I just think this affords them an excellent opportunity to find out what opportunities are available, what scholarships, what might be the best fit for them as far as a career, but also a school,” she said. Pigeon said a second event was planned for 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 at the Craig County Fairgrounds and Community Center in Vinita.
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/08/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation’s College Resource Center is hosting two College & Career Night events in November – one in Tahlequah and a second in Vinita. On Nov. 14, representatives from at least a dozen colleges and universities as well as vocational schools at 5:30 p.m. will be at Sequoyah Schools’ The Place Where They Play in Tahlequah. Visitors will receive information on CN’s college and vocational scholarships and on the Free Application for Student Aid or FAFSA. A similar event will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 in the Craig County Fairgrounds and Community Center in Vinita, with college and university representatives as well as vocational school representatives on site. “We know it is never too early for students and their families to begin thinking about life after high school, including the scholarship and career opportunities they might have,” Ron Etheridge, Education Services deputy executive director, said. “These are important decisions for students. We believe the College & Career Night events in Tahlequah and Vinita will make the process more informative and convenient by placing all of these resources together in one setting.” Doors will open at 5 p.m. and both events are free and open to the public. Refreshments and door prizes will be available. The grand prize is a Dell laptop computer. For more information, email <a href="mailto: chrissy-marsh@cherokee.org">chrissy-marsh@cherokee.org</a> or <a href="mailto: jennifer-pigeon@cherokee.org">jennifer-pigeon@cherokee.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/07/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Foundation recently completed its “Leave a Legacy” matching campaign, which created more than $200,000 in new scholarship opportunities for Cherokee students. The campaign, launched in 2016, allocated $100,000 to match gifts ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 on a first-come, first-served basis. Two recent endowments helped CNF achieve its fundraising goal. “The matching campaign has been a huge success, and we can’t thank everyone enough for the support and encouragement along the way,” CNF Executive Director Janice Randall said. “Our board of directors, (Principal) Chief (Bill John) Baker and many council members played a huge role in helping us spread the word about this opportunity, and we are so happy to see so many people take part in creating opportunities for Cherokee students.” The Peruzzi Family Scholarship was established to honor the memory of Faye Fogleman Kircher, a longtime educator from Locust Grove. The scholarship will support a student living within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction who is enrolled full time at a four-year, post-secondary institution. The Beauchamp family of Fayetteville, Arkansas, established its fund to honor the legacy of Alan Beauchamp. The parameters of this scholarship are to be determined. At a Sept. 26 meeting, the CNF board voted unanimously to continue matching qualifying donations beyond the $100,000, as funds allow. “We know that there is no greater investment we can make than in the education of our youth, but the simple truth is that we can’t do it alone,” Tonya Rozell, CNF board president, said. “By extending the matching program, we hope to find new partners interested in honoring a legacy and creating new opportunities for Cherokee students. We are certainly more effective when we work together and combine our resources.” Anyone interested in establishing an endowment is encouraged to call Randall at (918) 207-0950 or email <a href="mailto: jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org">jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org</a>. For more information on scholarship opportunities or to apply online, visit <a href="http://www.cherokeenationfoundation.org" target="_blank">www.cherokeenationfoundation.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/03/2017 04:00 PM
ADA, Okla. – Sequoyah High School’s drama department placed fourth overall in the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s One-Act Play Competition on Oct. 28 on the East Central University campus. Teams were judged on their sets, crew loads in and loads out of the set, acting abilities and directing, with rules requiring the production be completed in less than 45 minutes. To qualify, the SHS drama team first competed at regionals held Oct. 6 at Oologah High School where it placed second, advancing to state. SHS senior Katelyn Morton and junior Michael Lenaburg received All-State actor awards and will receive All-State letter jackets for the achievements. “I’ve been acting under my drama mama and teacher, Mrs. (Amanda) Ray, since I started as a freshman at Sequoyah Schools. To achieve the All-State actor award as a senior is very special to me. I want to thank fellow All-State actor Michael Lenaburg, my SHS drama team and Mrs. Ray for allowing me to take part in this awesome competition,” Morton said. For more information on Sequoyah’s drama department, call 918-453-5400.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
10/31/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Current and upcoming college students seeking higher education funding can apply for several scholarships with the Cherokee Nation Foundation beginning Nov. 1. Students must visit www.cherokeenation.academicworks.com and create an account to complete the general scholarship application, which closes Jan. 31. Once completed, the system will match students to individual scholarships for which they are eligible to apply. The general application takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete and will require students to have their Certificate Degree of Indian Blood cards, copies of their most recent transcripts and contact information for personal references. Scholarships are awarded on an annual basis and selected recipients will be announced in April. More than 15 scholarships are available, with some being tailored to a specific field of study such as pottery, business, engineering or psychology. Some scholarships are also specific to the institution in which a student is enrolled such as Oklahoma State University, Rogers State University and the University of Tulsa. Each scholarship has specific requirements, including meeting a minimum grade-point-average and location of residence. The Bill Rabbit Legacy Art Scholarship is also open to Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band citizens alike. Students are encouraged to review all requirements before submitting their applications. CNF scholarships are not income-based, Whitney Dittman, Cherokee Nation Businesses public relations specialist, said. This means students will not have to produce income statements or documents relating to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA when completing their applications. CNF officials announced on Oct. 27 that the organization has raised more than $200,000 in scholarship opportunities due to its “Leave a Legacy” matching campaign. “The matching campaign has been a huge success, and we can’t thank everyone enough for the support and encouragement along the way,” CNF Executive Director Janice Randall said. “Our board of directors, (Principal) Chief (Bill John) Baker and many council members played a huge role in helping us spread the word about this opportunity, and we are so happy to see so many people take part in creating opportunities for Cherokee students.” The announcement follows a Sept. 26 meeting in which CNF board members voted to continue matching qualifying donations beyond $100,000, as funding allows. “We know that there is no greater investment we can make than in the education of our youth, but the simple truth is that we can’t do it alone,” Tonya Rozell, CNF board president, said. “By extending the matching program, we hope to find new partners interested in honoring a legacy and creating new opportunities for Cherokee students. We are certainly more effective when we work together and combine our resources.” CNF scholarships differ from the undergraduate and graduate scholarships offered by the tribe’s College Resource Center, which require students to complete one community service hour for every $100 received. The application for that scholarship opens Feb. 1 and can be completed at <a href="http://www.scholarships.cherokee.org" target="_blank">www.scholarships.cherokee.org</a>. For more information on CNF scholarships, visit <a href="http://www.cherokeenationfoundation.org" target="_blank">www.cherokeenationfoundation.org</a> or call 918-207-0950.