http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgEd Fields, a Cherokee Nation online Cherokee language course instructor, uses a live video stream to reach thousands of students across the world each year. COURTESY
Ed Fields, a Cherokee Nation online Cherokee language course instructor, uses a live video stream to reach thousands of students across the world each year. COURTESY

Online classes, new texts helping revitalize Cherokee language

05/10/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Research of Native American languages and how they are taught is helping revitalize the Cherokee language, in part, through online courses and textbooks the Cherokee Nation developed.

Using these methods, the CN’s Cherokee Language Program has up to 3,000 students taking online courses and around 400 students in community classes annually. Participating students represent all ages and parts of the world.

“There are so many people interested in preserving the language,” Ed Fields, a CLP online instructor who has taught courses for more than a decade, said.

Fields teaches a 10-week online course each spring and fall, with participants convening two hours weekly. His spring course started in April, and fall class will start Sept. 11 with registration opening Aug. 28.

Via a camera, students see Fields as he uses his curriculum and life experiences to teach Cherokee. Online language classes are offered for free at

Courses are divided as Cherokee I for beginners, Cherokee II for intermediates and Cherokee III for advanced students. While classes are live, archived videos and materials are also posted online for those who have conflicting schedules. There is no limit to the number of participants, nor to the number of times a student can take the classes.

“Students have quizzes to test themselves and see if they’re learning, and they also help each other in the classroom. It’s what we call ‘gadugi’ – you know, togetherness,” Fields said. “We emphasize gadugi to be resourceful. Quite a few students might not have anyone else to talk to, so the online interaction keeps them refreshed.”

Fields said he teaches young children, high school students, college students, graduates with master’s degrees and doctorates and elders who are teaching neighborhood children the language.

“A lot of people who want to come to the class, their relatives spoke Cherokee but they don’t, so they want to honor their ancestors who spoke the language,” he said. “This is a good way to do it. One student recently said her father speaks Cherokee but she doesn’t know what he’s saying. One of these days, she’s going to answer him back in Cherokee. She’s going to surprise him, she said.”

Fields earned his bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State University. He grew up exposed to the Cherokee language and uses stories he learned to teach.

“I want them to learn. That’s what I’m here for,” he said. “There’s nothing that says you have to learn the Cherokee language, so those who enroll are taking the class because they have a genuine desire to learn it.”

Beginning in May, the CLP was to introduce a new textbook in its community language classes. The book “We Are Learning Cherokee” incorporates newer methods of teaching Cherokee, compared to the book, “See, Say, Write,” which had been used since 1991.

“See, Say, Write” focused on basic words and phrases and how to write them in the Cherokee syllabary. Its primary goal was to help fluent Cherokee speakers learn to read and write in syllabary. Teaching second-language learners was its secondary goal.

While it saw revisions through the years, language revitalization grew and changed.

“A lot more research and studies have been conducted on the teaching methods of Native American languages,” CLP Manager Roy Boney said. “Many students in the community language classes are repeat students, with some taking the classes since the introduction of the ‘See, Say, Write’ book in the 90s. In recent years, an increasing demand from our communities was for an updated Cherokee language textbook that could act as a companion to the classic ‘See, Say, Write’ but one that incorporated some of the new methodologies.”

“We Are Learning Cherokee” was designed with the second-language learner of Cherokee in mind. Lessons focus around grammar concepts and verb forms rather than memorization of words and phrases.

“This will help students learn how to create their own sentences and express their own thoughts rather than repeating simply what they have memorized,” Boney said. “’We Are Learning Cherokee’ is designed to be used in the classroom as well as for use by students on their own.”

It is color-coded with marked phrases that have been recorded by fluent Cherokee speakers for proper pronunciation. Audio accompanying the book can be downloaded at Click here to

It is available only to students attending CN community language classes, and more than 400 copies of it were distributed for the March classes.

The CLP consists of translation, community language and language technology. It offers various services, including translation of Cherokee documents, the creation of Cherokee language teaching materials, community and employee Cherokee language classes, as well as the development and support of Cherokee language on digital devices such as smart phones, tablets and computers.

For more information, visit or email


05/08/2017 02:00 PM
SULPHUR, Okla. – More than 100 esteemed artists representing 25 Native American tribes throughout the U.S. and Canada will be featured on May 27 during the Artesian Arts Festival. Hosted by the Chickasaw Nation at the Artesian Plaza, the festival is one of the fastest growing arts markets in the U.S. A live paint by distinguished Chickasaw artist Mike Larsen will begin at 10:30 a.m., in the ARTesian Art Gallery. Other noteworthy artists giving demonstrations and discussing their craft include Jimmie Harrison, Venaya Yazzie, Daniel Worcester, Kimberly Ponca, Merlin Little Thunder, Buddy Parchcorn, J. Nicole Hatfield, Tyra Shackleford and Josy Thomas. The fourth annual Memorial Day weekend event features diverse art media and various visual art such as painting, basketry, jewelry, sculpture, metalworking, bead work, photography, textiles and pottery. Open to artists from all federally recognized tribes, a total of 116 Indian artists selected for the juried show will compete in as many as 21 categories. Artists scheduled to participate include Chickasaw jewelry designer and California native Kristen Dorsey; national award-winning Cherokee ceramicist Troy Jackson; E. Dee Tabor, a Chickasaw artist who specializes in 3D art and is inspired by nature and her Chickasaw heritage; and contemporary Comanche artist J. Nicole Hatfield, a native Oklahoman who draws inspiration from historical photos of proud tribal women. Artwork will be displayed in dozens of booths along the length of Muskogee Street. Various musical entertainment is planned, as well as tribal dance demonstrations and regalia. Bands will provide continuous entertainment on two stages. The musical lineup for the event includes a range of entertainment, including children’s music, alternative rock, pop, Latin pop, country and more. A 10 a.m. opening ceremony and demonstration by the Chickasaw Nation Dance Troupe kicks off the entertainment on the main stage, followed by performances by “Injunuity,” “Sugar Free Allstars,” “Highwater Gamble,” “John Bomboy and the Underscores,” “Boyd Street Brass,” “Tequila Azul,” and the “Conner Hicks Band.” Bands scheduled for the Plaza stage include “Overdrive,” “Conflict of Interest,” “Church of the Saturday Saints,” “The Hideouts,” “Billy K. Band,” and “Right Place, Right Time.” The Chickasaw Nation Stomp Dance troupe, Aztec Dancers and Magic Circle Entertainment are scheduled to demonstrate Native dances on both stages. Several food trucks and food booths will be serving festival fare such as Indian Tacos, corndogs, barbecue, funnel cakes, roasted corn, kettle corn, fried Oreos, pie, ice cream and more. A special area for children’s activities and a senior citizens’ arts and crafts booth are also planned for the day. Open to the public at no charge, the Artesian Arts Festival welcomed more than 6,500 to the 2016 festival. Cash awards will be presented for first, second and third place in each category, as well as “Best of Show.” Festivities begin at 10 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. For more information about the Artesian Arts Festival, call the Chickasaw Nation Arts & Humanities at 580-272-5520 or email The Artesian Plaza is located adjacent to the Artesian Hotel and Spa at 1001 W. First St. <strong>2017 Artesian Arts Festival artists</strong> Absentee Shawnee/Seminole?Ben Harjo, Jr. Caddo?Wayne Earles, Chase Earles, Chad Earles, Yonavea Hawkins Cherokee?Verna Bates, Karen Berry, Martha Berry, Eva Cantrell, Toneh Chuleewah, Melvin Cornshucker, Vivian Cottrell, Mike Dart, J. Ross Davis, Gary Farris, Matthew Girty, Bill Glass Jr., Daniel Horsechief, Troy Jackson, Dino Kingfisher, John Knotts, Tonya Lowrance, Ron Mitchell, Jane Osti, Buddy Parchcorn, Traci Rabbit, Tama Roberts, Jerry Sutton, Mary Beth Nelson-Timothy, Kristie Vann, Karin Walkingstick, Tana Washington, Jeffrey Watt, Bryan Waytula Cherokee/Otoe Missouria?Tom Farris Cheyenne?Merlin LittleThunder Chickasaw?Steve Adamietz, Mary Ruth Barnes, Melvin Burris, Misti Butler, Larry Carter, Margaret Dillard, Kristen Dorsey, Linda Edgar, Wayne Edgar, Sr., Ellen Etzler, Sue Fish, Garry Harrison, Billy Hensley, Lisa Hudson, Tyson Hudson, Peggy Immohotichey, Elihu Johnson, Stephanie Kauffman, Brian Landreth, Paula Loftin, Dustin Mater, Doneeta Nowlin, Tyra Shackleford, Rena Smith, Vicki Somers, Jetawn Spivey, Lance Straughn, E. Dee Tabor, Richard Thomas, Ben Trosper, Jim Trosper, Joanna Underwood, Jeremy Wallace, Ashley Wallace, Ben White, Daniel Worcester Chickasaw/Choctaw?Tracie Davis, Norma Howard Chickasaw/Choctaw/Cherokee?Courtney Parchcorn Chickasaw/Choctaw/Creek?Danielle Fixico Chickasaw/Mississippi Choctaw?Nancy Johnson, Uriah Looney Chickasaw/Pueblo Jemez?Marcella Yepa Choctaw?Dylan Cavin, Paul Hacker, Doug Maytubbie, Candace Shanholtzer, Brenda Mackey-Musgrave Comanche?Rita Heath Comanche/Kiowa?J. Nicole Hatfield Creek?Jon Tiger Creek/Euchee?Les Berryhill Dine/Hope?Venaya Yazzie, Jicarilla Apache, Damon Neal? Laguna Pueblo?LuAnne Aragon Mississippi Choctaw?Randy Chitto?Gene Smith Mississippi Choctaw/Laguna Pueblo?Hollis Chitto Muscogee (Creek)?Leslie Deer, Johnnie Diacon, John Timothy II, Jimmie Fife(Stewart), Sandy Fife-Wilson Navajo?Esther Belin, Norris Chee, Suzanne Hudson Navajo/Dine?Jimmie Harrison Northern Arapaho?Jackie Sevier Onondaga?Josy Thomas Osage?Clancy Gray, Anna Jefferson, K (Wendy) Ponca Otoe Missouria/Kiowa?Lester Harragarra Otoe-Missouria?Regina Waters, Rhonda Williams Ponca?Sid Armstrong Prairie Band Potawatomi/Chickasaw?Mitch Battese Sac and Fox?Tony Tiger? San Felipe Pueblo?Jennifer Garcia, Ray Garcia
05/05/2017 05:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Speakers Bureau will be held Thursday, May 11, 2017, from 12:30 - 4p.m. We will meet in the Community Ballroom that is located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokees. All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. If you want to bring a side dish or a dessert, feel free to bring it. Come speak Cherokee and enjoy food and fellowship. For further information about the event, please contact: the Language Program at 918-453-5151; John Ross at 918-453-6170; or Roy Boney Jr. 918 453-5487 Tsalagi aniwonisgi unadatlugv dodvnatlosi Nvgineiga Anisgvti 11, 2017, ganvsulvi 12:30 p.m. adalenisgi 4 p.m. igohida. Na anitsalagi tsunalisdayetiyi tsigotlv unaditli wayvsdi onadilvyvi utani kanvsula dodvnatlosi. Naniv Anitsalagi aniwonisgi otsitayohiha uniluhisdii. Alisdayvdi ayohisdi yodulia. Dodayotsadatlisani aledodayotsalisdayvna hilutsvi. Ugodesdi tsadulihesdi tsadelayohisdi hiina wigehiyadvdi: Tsalagi Gawonihisdi Unadotlvsv 918-453-5151; John Ross 918-453-6170; or Roy Boney Jr. 918-453-5487.
05/03/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Discover the history of the Cherokee Advocate newspaper and explore odd stories and occurrences reported from 1844 to 1906. The “Oddities of the Cherokee Advocate” exhibit runs May 5 to Nov. 24 and features original excerpts from the paper, alongside work from Cherokee artists complementing their favorite stories. In addition, a lunchtime discussion will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on May 9. This event is open to the public and free to attend. Guests are encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch. The museum will offer free admission throughout the day. Originally built in 1844, the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is Oklahoma’s oldest public building. The 1,950-square-foot museum features exhibits on three historic aspects: the Cherokee National Judicial System, the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers, and the Cherokee language, with a variety of 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. Cherokee Nation museums are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information on Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism, call 1-877-779-6977 or visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
04/27/2017 08:15 AM
ROCK FENCE, Okla. – Leading a school bus of Greasy School fifth and sixth graders in his pickup truck, Cherokee Nation ethno botanist Roger Cain stops near a bridge overlooking Little Lee Creek, east of the Adair County school. After the children and teachers unload, he leads them to a nearby river canebrake where he shows them how cane grows, discusses how Cherokee people used it for tools and weapons and to hide in when they were attacked by enemy tribes. For the past few years, Cain has researched and catalogued river cane fields in the tribe’s jurisdiction for the Cherokee River Cane Initiative. The initiative encourages people to understand better and preserve dwindling river cane fields in the jurisdiction. Since January, Cain has visited fifth and sixth graders at Greasy School to teach them about river cane and how Cherokee people used it. The students have had opportunities to shoot blowguns made from river cane and learn how to throw river cane spears using an atlatl, which gives the spear more force. “We’re finally finishing up the school year by coming out to a canebrake and seeing what a canebrake looks like and how it impacts the environment,” Cain said. “We’ve been talking about river cane and how it’s used for baskets, for blowguns, atlatls as well how it’s good for the environment...for water quality. Cain also told students how he uses Google Maps to map and catalog river canebrakes in the CN. Next fall he said he plans to show the students how he creates his maps. Teaching Greasy students about river cane and how it affects their environment is needed, he said, because 99 percent of river cane found in Adair County is located near the school. “What we figured (through the initiative) is we need to start addressing this with the local school systems and working at keeping them (canebrakes) clean and teaching how important the ecosystems are. Hopefully we’ll expand the coverage area for future use and future Cherokees,” he said. “I’m hoping to continue it and expand it into other schools next year.” During the April 13 field trip, Cain also showed students other plants and their importance to Cherokee people such as the bloodroot plant, which is used for medicine as well as dye to color woven baskets including baskets made from river cane. Greasy student Sadie Ritter said she’s learned a lot about river cane including how it grows, where to find it and how it can be made into various things. “I learned about (river cane) rhizomes and how to find it on Google Maps. It’s really cool to learn about it,” she said. Sixth grade teacher Marilyn Bynum said she believes her students learned a lot about their environment from Cain and the role it played for Cherokee people. “The children have had the opportunity to use the blow darts and throw the atlatl and experience hands on some tools their ancestors had used for many years, and it really brought it to life. It was like living history,” she said. “Today, we have talked about the natural resource (of river cane) and how it protects the banks of the river. We’re at Little Lee Creek in Adair County, and Roger has shown us how the river cane helps maintain the soil along the banks.” For more information, visit the Cherokee River Cane Initiative page on Facebook.
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
04/18/2017 08:15 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Sac and Fox artist Tony Tiger took home the grand prize award for his work “Metamorphosis” at the Cherokee Heritage Center’s 46th annual Trail of Tears Art Show. Winning artists for the show were announced April 7 during an opening-night celebration for the show, which can be viewed through May 6. The TOTAS is the longest-running Native American art show in Oklahoma and features a variety of authentic art. Featured artwork is available to purchase throughout the show’s duration. CHC Interim Director Tonia Hogner Weavel said the show is open to any federally recognized tribal citizen. Artists competed for more than $14,000 in prize money in seven categories: paintings, graphics, sculpture, pottery, basketry, miniatures and jewelry. “The art is the most prestigious in the country, and it is for sale to the public. The art show gives people the opportunity to see some of the most contemporary artists that are being featured nationally. So, we are pleased and happy to host this show,” she said. Tiger said he has been participating in the art show for about 10 years, and this is the first time he’s won the grand prize. “I was very surprised,” Tiger, who is also Seminole and Creek, said. “Artists have to have opportunities to exhibit their art, to sell their art, and this (TOTAS) is a wonderful way to do that.” Cherokee Nation citizen Renee Hoover entered her contemporary double-wall baskets using round reed material in the show and won a first place award for her “My Mother’s Basket.” “The Trail of Tears Art Show is really a special show. It recognizes the wonderful traditions of Native people and the artistry that we have. I especially like participating in it because of the quality of the art is outstanding. It’s very competitive, and I always come in worried ‘will I be good enough, will I be juried in?’ So, there’s a lot of anxiety,” she said. “It’s wonderful to also appreciate the artwork that’s here and the way we as Native people use our art to continue to allow our traditions and culture to thrive.” For a complete list of awardees, visit <strong>2017 TOTAS Winners & Awards</strong> Painting: Roy Boney Jr., Cherokee Nation, “She Led Her By the Hand ” Sculpture: Troy Jackson, Cherokee Nation, “Exodus, The Assembling of Displacement” Basketry: Renee Hoover, Cherokee Nation, “My Mother’s Basket” Pottery: Chase Earles, Caddo Nation, “Caddo Story of the Flood: Respect Land and Animals” Jewelry: Toneh Chuleewah, Cherokee Nation, “Copper Style Bracelet” Graphics: Brenda Bradford, Cherokee Nation, “Light Through Fire” Miniature: Merlin Littlethunder, Cheyenne Nation, “Chiefs Meeting on Water Rights” Emerging Artists: Kellie Vann, Cherokee Nation, “Bath Time for Super Heroes” Bill Rabbit Legacy Award: Karin Walkingstick, Cherokee Nation, “Tsi-s-du” Betty Garner Elder Award: Paul Hacker, Choctaw Nation, “The Chief”