http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee language instructor Rufus King teaches a community language class at the Lost City Community Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays. King is a Cherokee Nation citizen and first-language speaker who became certified to teach in 2001. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee language instructor Rufus King teaches a community language class at the Lost City Community Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays. King is a Cherokee Nation citizen and first-language speaker who became certified to teach in 2001. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Classes encourage learning Cherokee language

The book “We Are Learning Cherokee Level 1” was developed by the Cherokee Nation’s Cherokee Language Program and is distributed to each student who partakes in community language classes. Text highlighted in blue means a first-language speaker has spoken the language and it has been recorded. Students can download audio files at www.cherokee.org. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee language instructor and Cherokee Nation citizen Helena McCoy showcases the syllabary and phonetics for the word “gravy” in Cherokee to her students on Oct. 17 at the Brushy Community Center in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. McCoy is a first-language speaker and also taught at the Cherokee Immersion Charter School for six years. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Several students attend Helena McCoy’s Cherokee language class on Oct. 17 at the Brushy Community Center in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. The class meets from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The book “We Are Learning Cherokee Level 1” was developed by the Cherokee Nation’s Cherokee Language Program and is distributed to each student who partakes in community language classes. Text highlighted in blue means a first-language speaker has spoken the language and it has been recorded. Students can download audio files at www.cherokee.org. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
10/27/2017 08:30 AM
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
LOST CITY, Okla. – Cherokee language classes recently started online and in communities across the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction, as teachers encourage students to read, write and speak the language to save it.

Part of the CN’s Cherokee Language Program, the free classes are held each spring and fall for 10 weeks.

“It’s preserving our language,” instructor Rufus King said. “We are all losing it, some of them say. There’s not that many speakers anymore here in Cherokee Nation. It’s an everyday business, and I’ve said this before, but we need to get into this business a little deeper than what we are now if we’re really going to stay up with it.”

King, a CN citizen and first-language speaker, teaches at the Lost City Community Center. His classes meet from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays. He became certified to teach Cherokee in 2001 and stresses practicing the Cherokee syllabary daily and the idea that learning takes time.

“Even after 20 lessons, you have to come back the next term,” he said. “You can’t quit. Those (symbols) are the most important things in the Cherokee language. You’ve got to know them if you’re going to write or read.”

Only those who attend community classes like King’s receive a copy of the book “We Are Learning Cherokee Level 1,” which was introduced this past spring.

The “See, Say, Write” book, which was previously used in classes for more than 20 years to teach beginners, was designed to teach fluent Cherokee speakers, Cherokee Language Program Director Roy Boney said.

“The previous book was mainly a lot of simple word lists for those that could already speak Cherokee and wanted to learn how to write it,” he said. “This new book is more designed for people that are learning the language, so we have things like grammar rules and how to make something possessive or plural. This way people actually create their own thoughts about what they would want to say to somebody, rather than just rote memorization.”

Boney said the new book took more than a year to develop and accompanies free supplemental material found online. “If you look in the text, you’ll see things that are highlighted in blue. Those items have been recorded, so on the www.cherokee.org website we have the link where students can download all of the audio files that go along with the book so they can listen to it on their phone, their computer, if they want to make CDs.”

While the book provides structure, Boney said language instructors could teach as they see fit.
CN citizen Helena McCoy, instructor at the Brushy Community Center near Sallisaw, holds class from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday.

Though she uses the new book, she also asks students what they are interested in learning. “At the beginning, I try to teach what they want to learn, that way they’ll be more interested in coming back. I don’t try to push anything on them. I just ask them, ‘What do you want to learn?’”

She said students asked about Cherokee names for family members and how to order foods at a restaurant.

“We write everything in syllabary and phonetics to let them know what it sounds like,” McCoy said. “It’s important to me for someone that is a fluent speaker to teach them the sounds because I hear so many people saying, and I’m not saying they’re wrong, but I hear so many people saying words different from what I’ve heard. Cherokee is my first language, that’s why it’s so important for me they hear it from me. I don’t tell them it’s wrong, but I tell them, ‘This is how we say it from my area.’”

This is the second year McCoy has taught language classes. She previously taught at Marble City Public Schools for 20 years and the Cherokee Immersion Charter School for six years.

“I always try to make them say the words because you have to see it and say it, and if you want to write it in the syllabary, you have to hear yourself saying those words,” she said.

CN citizen Melvin McCoy, Helena’s brother-in-law, said he hopes attending classes will help him with the language and syllabary.

“My parents were fluent, I mean really fluent, but they just didn’t teach us,” Melvin said. “They taught us English first, but we should have learned Cherokee first because it’s a whole lot easier to learn when you’re young. I can speak a little bit, but not fluently so I come here to try and learn a little bit more and we do have a really good teacher. I think if you can learn the syllabary, you can probably learn to talk Cherokee pretty good.”

CN citizen Gary Bolin was also raised in a fluent-speaking environment but moved from the area as a child and is now trying to reconnect with the language.

“I’m not around speakers every day,” he said. “About the only time I get to hear any (Cherokee) at all is when we’re in class, so that helps me, too.”

Bolin said anyone interested in learning should consider the community classes. “You kind of get your foothold at class, but you’ve got to take it home with you to really learn it. It’s really something that everybody should know. It’s a part of who you are and where you came from, and it’s something that nobody should want to lose.”

For more information, call 918-453-5151.

Locations for Fall Classes

• Tulsa: Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma

• Jay: Jay Community Center

• Hulbert: Lost City Community Center

• Porum: Oak Grove Baptist Church

• Webbers Falls: Webbers Falls Museum

• Tahlequah: Elm Tree Baptist Church

• Salina: New Jordan Baptist Church

• Sallisaw: Brushy Community Center

• Locust Grove: Ballou Baptist Church

• Salina: Salina Early Learning Academy

• Muldrow: Muldrow Cherokee Community Organization

• Kenwood: Kenwood Community Center

• Tahlequah: Northeastern State University

• South Coffeyville: Tom Buffington Heights

• Marble City: House of Praise Church
About the Author
Brittney Bennett is from Colcord, Oklahoma, and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band.  She is a 2011 Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and summa cum laude honors.
 
While in college, Brittney became involved with the Native American Journalists Association and was an inaugural NAJA student fellow in 2014. Continued mentorship from NAJA members and the willingness to give Natives a voice led her to accept a multimedia internship with the Cherokee Phoenix after college.  
 
She left the Cherokee Phoenix in early 2016 before being selected as a Knight-CUNYJ Fellow in New York City later that same year. During the fellowship, she received training from industry professionals with The New York Times and instructors at the City University of New York. As part of the program, she completed a social media internship with USA Today’s editorial department.
 
Now that Brittney has made her way back to the Cherokee Phoenix, she hopes to use the experience gained from her travels to benefit Indian Country and the Cherokee people.
brittney-bennett@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
Brittney Bennett is from Colcord, Oklahoma, and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band. She is a 2011 Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and summa cum laude honors. While in college, Brittney became involved with the Native American Journalists Association and was an inaugural NAJA student fellow in 2014. Continued mentorship from NAJA members and the willingness to give Natives a voice led her to accept a multimedia internship with the Cherokee Phoenix after college. She left the Cherokee Phoenix in early 2016 before being selected as a Knight-CUNYJ Fellow in New York City later that same year. During the fellowship, she received training from industry professionals with The New York Times and instructors at the City University of New York. As part of the program, she completed a social media internship with USA Today’s editorial department. Now that Brittney has made her way back to the Cherokee Phoenix, she hopes to use the experience gained from her travels to benefit Indian Country and the Cherokee people.

Education

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
02/13/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH (AP) – Projects ranging from lizard analysis to recyclable materials, and even a tin can telephone, took center stage at Northeastern State University on Feb. 1 for the 12th annual Cherokee Nation Science and Engineering Fair. The fair was open to all tribal citizens – in and outside of the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction – from grades 5-12. The rules follow International Sustainable World Project Energy Engineering Environment Project Olympiad guidelines. “It’s got the whole kind of green theme to it,” said Daniel Faddis, school community specialist. “There’s whole long list of subcategories. Robotics is a category, reuse and recycle is a category, water quality is a category, and so is noise pollution.” Participants could choose to work on projects as individuals or in pairs. Faddis said team projects are graded on stiffer criteria, with more ways to lose points than individuals. “Obviously, if you have two kids working on it, you would expect it to be better than one,” he said. “So the way ISWEEEP sets it up, there’s a whole other set of categories that the teamwork has to meet.” Caitlyn Luttrell, eighth grader from Westville, centered her project on paper domes. “It’s basically about the structural integrity of different types of paper to use for these domes,” said Luttrell. “I made two different type of domes: a construction paper one and a notebook paper one. I was trying to see which one was stronger and by how much it was stronger. The construction paper dome held 170 percent of its own weight and the notebook paper held 146 percent of its own weight.” Luttrell’s hypothesis was correct in that the construction paper would hold more weight, even though it costs less to purchase. The young science enthusiast’s the project took several hours to accomplish over the course of a few days, but Luttrell said she didn’t mind because the science fair is something she has come to enjoy. “Last year, it was introduced to me and I got pretty interested in it,” she said. “Now, I’m going to be doing it probably until I graduate. I really enjoy this a lot.” More and more jobs are becoming available for those who work in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – and Faddis said the younger students can get involved, the better. “STEM is the evolution of the future,” said Faddis. “Everything you see and every different discipline is focusing around STEM. So it’s really good for them to learn the proper, academic scientific method. And it’s good prep for college research, because they’re going to have to do it when they get to graduate school and undergraduate school.” Not all of the projects at the fair came without a trial-and-error phase. Breeze Ward, sixth grader from Rose, was among that group. “I wanted to see if I could blow up a balloon with baking soda and vinegar, and it can,” said Ward. “It was kind of messy. The first time I made it, it exploded on me. I think I added too much baking soda.” The overall high school winner was Kevin Guthrie, of Westville High School. Guthrie also won the High School Engineering division, as well as the “Live an Honest Day” Paul Bickford Memorial Award, which comes with a $1,000 scholarship to Rogers State University. Keysha Kendall, Westville, won the High School Environmental division. The middle school Outstanding Scientist Award went to Crystal Maggard, of Westville, and Hayden Faddis, also of Westville, won the Energy division. Leach School students Neveah Zuniga and Zylee Ward won the Middle School Engineering division and Environmental division, respectively. “The Cherokee Nation Science and Engineering Fair is a great opportunity for students to learn about the fields of science, technology, engineering and math while they also interact and network with their peers and professionals,” said Ron Etheridge, Education Services deputy executive director. “This is a healthy challenge that engages Cherokee students, and I’m positive those who participate could one day use the skills they learn to give back to the Cherokee Nation.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/13/2018 10:00 AM
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Each summer the Sequoyah National Research Center hosts three tribally affiliated student interns for June and July. Interns are required to work a minimum of 25 hours per week in the center doing basic archival and research work under the direction of SNRC staff. The SNRC at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock houses the papers and special collections of tribal individuals and organizations and holds the world’s largest archival collection of newspapers and other periodicals published by tribal individuals and organizations. The goal of the American Indian Student Internship Program is to provide students an experiential learning environment in which to acquire an understanding of the value of archives and the research potential of the collections of the center and to engage in academic research and practical database building activities related to tribal culture, society and issues. Interns are expected to demonstrate the value of their experience by either a summary report of work, finding aids for collections or reports of research or other written work that may be shared with their home institutions. To qualify for an internship students must be tribally affiliated, have completed at least 60 college hours and be in good standing at their home institutions of higher learning. Applications should include a unofficial copy of the student’s academic transcript, a recommendation letter from the head of the student’s major department or from another relevant academic official and a statement of at least 250 words expressing why the intern experience would likely be beneficial to the student’s academic or career goals. To assist the student in meeting expenses during the two-month tenure of the internship, SNRC will provide on-campus housing and $2,000 to defray other living expenses. Students interested in applying should send applications or inquiries by email to Daniel F. Littlefield or Erin Fehr at Sequoyah@ualr.edu. The SNRC must receive applications by March 15. SNRC staff will select three applicants and three alternates. Staff will notify students of their decision by April 3. For information regarding UALR and its guest housing facilities, visit <a href="http://www.ualr.edu/housing" target="_blank">www.ualr.edu/housing</a>. For information on the SNRC and its work, visit <a href="http://www.ualr.edu/sequoyah" target="_blank">ualr.edu/sequoyah</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/09/2018 03:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – GateHouse Media has launched its first ever-national scholarship competition for college-bound students. In order to participate, students must select one of four words - impact, trusted, community or local - and submit an essay of up to 500 words describing what the word means to them. The competition will award five $1,000 scholarships and one $3,000 grand prize scholarship. According to Alain Begun, vice president of marketing, the contest grew out of the company’s national branding campaign, which focuses on the role that GateHouse journalists play and the service they provide in local markets across the country. “Each ad in that campaign revolves around one of the key words that describe what we do and how we feel about our role in the community. We thought it would be a great way to give back to students in the communities we serve by creating a scholarship competition,” he said. “And tying it into our brand campaign was a way to hear from students about what those words, which are so important to our journalists, mean to them.” Deadline for essay submissions is Feb. 16. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.GateHouseScholarship.com" target="_blank">GateHouseScholarship.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/08/2018 12:00 PM
TULSA – The Cherokee Nation is accepting grant applications for its spring education tours. The sponsored tours provide an exclusive look at the Nation’s rich history and culture. Applications will be accepted Feb. 5 through March 23. Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism awards the grants in the spring and fall to elementary public schools within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction. Complimentary curriculum is provided to schools that receive the grant and is available to teachers upon registration. Curriculum includes a teacher’s guide to prepare students for the education tour as well as a student activity. The tour options are: • Cherokee History consisting of Tahlequah’s historic Capitol Square and Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum, Cherokee National Prison Museum, Murrell Home, Cherokee Heritage Center and ancient Cherokee village, Diligwa. • Will Rogers consisting of the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and Dog Iron Ranch. • Civil War consisting of Tahlequah’s historic Capitol Square, Murrell Home and Fort Gibson Historic Site. Grants are available for grades third through sixth and funding is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Minimum requirements for eligibility for schools include being located within the Nation’s jurisdiction, a majority of the school’s students must hold Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood cards, the school’s class size may not exceed tour capacity and the majority of the school’s students must be eligible for free and/or reduced school lunches. Schools that do not meet the requirements or miss the deadline may experience the program for a small fee. Special rates are available for seventh through 12th grade and college students. Applications are available at <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>. For more information or to book a tour, call 918-384-7787.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/02/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH — Registration is open for the Cherokee Nation Foundation’s spring ACT prep classes in Fort Gibson and Sallisaw. The six-week course is offered to juniors and seniors. The program is offered for free to citizens of any federally recognized tribe and costs $150 for non-Native students. Preference is given to Cherokee Nation citizens. Classes begin in late February and conclude with students taking the ACT exam on April 14. A practice test is available on Feb. 24 for students who have not previously taken an ACT test to establish a base score. Curriculum includes interactive instruction by a Princeton Review instructor and two practice tests. In previous years, students have increased their scores by an average of 3.5 points, and some individual scores have increased by as much as 10 points. The Fort Gibson classes are Monday evenings from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Fort Gibson High School Library located at 500 S. Ross St. A pre-test is from 8 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. on Feb. 24. A mid-test is from 8 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. on March 17. Class dates are Feb. 19, March 5, March 12, March 26, April 2 and April 9. The Sallisaw classes are Tuesday evenings from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.?at Carl Albert State College in the Sallisaw Campus?Back building, Room 8127 located at?1601 S. Opdyke St. A pre-test is from 8 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. on Feb. 24. A mid-test is from 8 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. on March 17. Class dates are Feb. 27, March 6, March 13, March 27, April 3 and April 10. No classes will be held during Spring Break. Applications are available at <a href="http://www.cherokeenationfoundation.org" target="_blank">www.cherokeenationfoundation.org</a>. Students may also pick up registration forms from their high school guidance counselors or call 918-207-0950. The deadline to enroll is Feb. 21.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/24/2018 12:00 PM
LONGMONT, Colo. – First Nations Development Institute on Jan. 23 launched a request for proposals for its newest effort, the Native Language Immersion Initiative. First Nations will award about 12 grants of up to $90,000 each to build the capacity of and directly support Native language-immersion and culture-retention programs. This request for proposals is for the first year of a three-year initiative. Similar requests will be conducted in each of the next two years. Under the NLII, First Nations is seeking to build a dialogue and a community of practice around Native language-immersion programs and consensus on and momentum for Native language programs. The effort is made possible through funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Lannan Foundation, Kalliopeia Foundation and the NoVo Foundation. The initiative includes American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian language programs. The full request for proposal can be found at <a href="https://firstnations.org/grantmaking/2018NLII" target="_blank">https://firstnations.org/grantmaking/2018NLII</a>. It contains information on eligibility, application process, grant requirements, selection criteria, allowable activities and more. The application deadline is March 23. Eligibility is limited to U.S.-based tribal government programs, tribal 7871 entities, Native-controlled nonprofit organizations and Native-controlled community organizations with a fiscal sponsor. There are currently about 150 Native languages spoken in the U.S., many of them spoken only by a small number of elders. Without intervention many of these languages are expected to become extinct within the next 50 to 100 years, which means a significant loss of cultural heritage. These grants can support curriculum development, technology access and recruitment and training of teachers. Language retention and revitalization programs have been recognized as providing key benefits to Native American communities by boosting educational achievement and student retention rates. They also support community identity, Native systems of kinship, and management of community, cultural and natural resources. Through this initiative, First Nations seeks to stem the loss of Indigenous languages and cultures by supporting new generations of Native American language speakers, and establishing infrastructure and models for Native language-immersion programs that may be replicated in other communities.