http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee Nation citizen Susie Thompson reads a traditional Cherokee story, the “Origin of the Strawberry,” to students as they learn how to say “peach” in Cherokee. COURTESY PHOTO
Cherokee Nation citizen Susie Thompson reads a traditional Cherokee story, the “Origin of the Strawberry,” to students as they learn how to say “peach” in Cherokee. COURTESY PHOTO

Teacher connects new generation with Cherokee culture

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/17/2011 06:54 AM
BELL, Okla. – A retired teacher from Maryetta Public Schools is using her knowledge, old and new, to teach children about Cherokee heritage.

Susie Thompson, a Cherokee Nation citizen, said when she speaks Cherokee it takes her back in time, creating a connection to her mother and grandmother.

Thompson, a Cherokee speaker until age 8, said she was inspired to volunteer after completing the tribe’s Teacher Enrichment Institute. The TEI prepares staff, teachers and other citizens to teach the Cherokee language, history and culture.

After the course ended Thompson said she wanted to learn more.

“I learn best by teaching and love learning,” said Thompson. “The new information I was learning through the Cherokee teacher enrichment program was something that I wanted to share with others. I knew there were many Cherokee speakers here in Bell, and I asked Mr. (Tony) Davidson, the principal, if he would allow me to come down here and teach Cherokee history, language and culture.”

Thompson volunteers two days a week teaching Cherokee lessons that align with the class curriculum. She tells stories such as “The Origin of the Strawberry” to fifth and sixth-graders. Words such as man, creator, huckleberry, peach and strawberry are written on banners that display the English word, the Cherokee word and the pronunciation in Cherokee.

“In the process, the children have learned things about Cherokee history, language and culture that they didn’t know before and I have learned things better,” said Thompson. “They responded in a really good way.”

The TEI is a free program that provides participants with Cherokee knowledge, teaching skills, lesson planning, classroom management, curriculum development and class assessments. The tribe’s Co-Partner Program, a federally funded program designed to provide educational opportunities to Cherokee children that would otherwise not be offered in the public school system, administers it.

Thompson said after taking the course she realizes the importance of preserving Cherokee culture.

“I thought about all of the thoughts, all of the history, all of the culture and the meaning of Cherokee words that cannot be translated into the English language and I realized as much as possible the Cherokee language needs to be preserved,” she said.

Education

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Media Producer – @cp_rgraham
05/23/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Sequoyah High Schools drama department on May 12-13 held its bi-annual “Are You Not Entertained” variety show at the school’s “The Place Where They Play” gymnasium. Cherokee Nation citizen and SHS drama teacher Amanda Ray said she switches from Broadway-style plays to variety shows on alternative years for several reasons. “This year we decided to do a variety show because we have so many students at Sequoyah that come from all different walks of life when it comes to the performing arts. We have musicians. We have dancers, and we have singers. I just wanted to showcase as much talent as we had this year,” she said. Ray said this year’s 25-act show included a lot of seniors. “I wanted to showcase their talents especially.” CN citizen, SHS junior and veteran performer Katelyn Morton said participating in variety shows is a great change of pace. “I’m involved in several numbers, which include singing and dancing,” she said. Morton said it’s the exposure variety shows allow that can be most beneficial. “It’s a great opportunity for students who have all different kinds of talent to come and showcase it in front of the whole school,” she said. SHS student and CN citizen Nicollette Stroud Littlecook said she and her variety show partner Jada Whitecloud decided to do a cultural dance. “We wanted to show our school and the community the cultural side of Sequoyah, and we wanted to perform.” There were 25 acts in all, including a Donald Trump impersonation with Secret Service agents named Duran Duran, musical renditions of “I Got You Babe” by Ray and fellow teacher Becca Brandt and a performance of the song “I Fall to Pieces” by Principal Jolyn Choate.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/17/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Education Services announced on May 12 that it still has slots available for students ages 14-17 for its Safeguarding Natural Heritage Youth Residential Camp in June. According to CN email, the 14-day residential camp is limited to 10 female and 10 male students who are interested in learning more about safeguarding their natural heritage in the CN. Students will experience hands-on labs, workshops, discussions, field trips, team-building activities and Cherokee language, history and culture activities. The program is designed to expose students to natural resources, agriculture, science (veterinary, plant, environment) as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM areas. Students will visit local colleges and universities, while learning about potential job opportunities within the CN and its service area as well as opportunities with U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The USDA/APHIS is partnering with the CN to sponsor the program. Students will check into the Sequoyah High School dorms at noon on June 4 and check out at noon on June 17. Students will be responsible for transportation to and from SHS. The USDA-APHIS will pay for costs for housing, meals, field trips and activity admission. To apply, students must turn in completed and signed application forms, as well as medical release, liability and media release forms. Students also must submit short essays detailing their interests and hobbies, future plans, areas of interest in agriculture, natural resources, sciences (veterinary, plant, environment) and/or STEM and two letters of recommendation. One letter must be from a teacher or counselor and one from a person who knows but is not related to the student. All items must be mailed to Cherokee Nation Education Services, Jennifer Pigeon, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465. Students will receive written notification if selected to attend. For more information or to get an application, call Neesie Blossom at 918-453-5341 or Jennifer Pigeon at 918-453-5367 or email <a href="mailto: neesie-blossom@cherokee.org">neesie-blossom@cherokee.org</a> or <a href="mailto: jennifer-pigeon@cherokee.org">jennifer-pigeon@cherokee.org</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
05/15/2017 12:00 PM
PRYOR, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials on May 10 signed a proclamation at Pryor High School that they hope will interest more Native female students to venture into the science, technology, engineering and mathematic fields. As part of a partnership with the Million Women Mentors, the tribe pledged to mentor at least 500 female students a year with their pursuits of STEM-related education and careers. “These careers drive new innovations in health care and natural resource development and increases to safety and quality of life. These career paths require rigorous studies and preparation, and without adequate mentorship, many students give up on attaining the skills necessary to pursue these careers,” Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor, who is also a Million Women Mentors Native American Council advisory board member, said. “With only 29 percent of STEM careers being held by a woman and even less by minority women, it becomes more vital that our tribe step up and provide our young Cherokee ladies with the support and resources to pursue STEM academic studies and career opportunities.” Taylor said the initiative resulted after she was approached about starting a Native American group to steer women toward STEM careers. She said the new group is under the Million Women Mentors and focuses on Native women. The Million Women Mentors group mentors young women and encourages them to look into STEAM-related fields. STEAM includes arts along with the other fields. Taylor said she hopes to get 50,000 pledges by March 2018 and is encouraging other tribes to get their respective female citizens interested in STEM fields. “At the Intertribal Council back in April, Cherokee Nation sponsored legislation to draft a resolution to try and get those other tribes on board,” she said. “So the Oklahoma tribes are leading the march in getting Native American women mentored in STEM technology careers.” Francis Head – a CN citizen who teaches biology, honors college preparatory anatomy and physiology at PHS, said the movement would allow Cherokee girls to have firsthand experiences. “This is going to allow the Cherokee girls to get a valuable experience on hands-on activities, project-based learning using query-based activities. It’s going to give them the critical thinking skills that they’re going to need to solve world problems,” Head said. Cheyenne Gardner, CN citizen and PHS junior, said the STEM program offered at the school has given her the experience she needs to continue her STEM-related education into college. “I feel that the labs and that the dissections and things that we do in here has given me the knowledge I need to continue into college and that’ll come easier in college to me,” she said. Feather Smith Trevino, a CN citizen and cultural biologist for the tribe, said although it’s not always a “glamorous” job, being in a field like she is, it raises “excitement.” “Oftentimes, especially in a field like biology, it can be so hands-on and it’s not always a glamorous job, but it tends to be more popular among the men, but once women realize that women can do it, it is popular among the women,” she said. “Just the time that I’ve been doing this job, I regularly get approached by young college-age and high school-aged girls wanting to know more about how I ended up getting into this field and how I found this position.” Thanks to her classes, Olivia Rains, a CN citizen and PHS sophomore, said she is considering a career in science. “I just take my personal experiences from my labs and all the science classes that I have taken, and I believe that all of those experiences will help me in the future because I have had so many hands-on experiences, and I’ve had positive results and I personally love science and I love that everything about it, and so I feel like those positive experiences will lead to possibly a career in science,” she said. For more information or to be a mentor, visit <a href="http://www.millionwomenmentors.org" target="_blank">www.millionwomenmentors.org</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
05/15/2017 08:00 AM
STILLWATER, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Emma Kincade, 21, a junior at Oklahoma State University, was recently awarded a Udall Scholarship, which is for undergraduate sophomores and juniors interested in Native American issues such as health care or tribal policy. Kincade said the scholarship awards up to $7,000 to up to 60 students yearly, and receiving it means a “great deal” to her. “It means a great deal to me because of the values that the Udall Foundation emphasizes, being leadership, family, community, and those are three things that not only are important to me but are important to my family,” she said. “It means a great deal to me to be able to honor them through academics as well as honor fellow members of my tribe.” Kincade said she is working toward her communication sciences and disorders degree and upon graduation she hopes to obtain a master’s degree. “I’ve been really interested in working in Native issues. I want to be an occupational therapist, which means I will need to continue on to my master’s,” she said. “I’m hoping to go to Washington University in St. Louis, but I still haven’t decided.” After obtaining her master’s degree, Kincade said she would “love” to work for the tribe. “I’d love to come back and work for Cherokee Nation. My father (Thomas Kincade) works there as a pediatrician,” she said. “If I don’t work for Cherokee Nation, definitely somewhere that’s medically underserved would be my next route.” While attending OSU, Kincade said one of her “favorite” things she does is work at the Center for Sovereign Nations. “That is a center on campus that connects students back to their tribal communities and also to academic opportunities on campus,” she said. “We have a threefold mission and it’s sovereignty, students, partnerships. It’s really taught me a lot about myself and how to stay connected to two things that are really important to me, which is school and my tribe.” <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: stacie-guthrie@cherokee.org">stacie-guthrie@cherokee.org</a>.</strong>
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/12/2017 04:00 PM
STILWELL, Okla. – Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden was recently named one of two 2017 Stilwell High School Outstanding Alumni. Crittenden is a 1962 SHS graduate who lives in Peavine with his wife Lynda. Crittenden was selected by an alumni committee to receive the award during the 36th annual All-School Reunion on May 12 and participate in the Strawberry Festival Parade in Stilwell on May 13. He will receive the honor with fellow 1962 graduate Jerry White. “He definitely loves Stilwell, having worked for many years overseeing the Stilwell Post Office and meeting lots of the many citizens through the mail process,” said Cherokee Nation Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley, of Stilwell, who nominated him. “He was a member of the Stilwell Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Club and has long exemplified a level of commitment to his community that can serve as a model for others.” Crittenden has served as deputy chief since 2011. Prior, he served two terms on the Tribal Council and was a former Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation commissioner. He also worked for the U.S. Postal Service until his retirement in 2004. In the community, he has served as a Peavine and Marble City school board member and on the Mid-County Rural Fire Department. Crittenden has served on the Five Tribes InterTribal Council and was regional vice president for Eastern Oklahoma National Congress of American Indians. While serving the tribe, he has been a champion for education by helping build Stilwell’s Child Development Center, investing $21,000 in Adair County Boys and Girls Club and providing funding for school robotics kits and backpack snack programs. In March, when the community of Greasy lost its ball field, concession stand and student activity center, Crittenden was among the first on the scene, bringing food and helping clean up debris, Kelley said. “Adair County is my home, and I’m a proud product of the public school system in Stilwell, where many leaders have come and gone through its doors,” Crittenden said. “Thank you to the committee for this honor. I am humbled and pledge to continue to help the families and students of Stilwell High School prosper.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/12/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – More than 30 Cherokee Nation citizens were presented awards on April 21 during Northeastern State University’s 49th annual Honors Assembly. Those receiving Honor Society Awards were Rebecca Walsh of Chouteau, Alison Johnson of Claremore, Micala Rice of Cookson, Tammy Dry of Fort Gibson, Erin Reynolds of Fort Gibson, Jessie and Kayse Stidham of Grove, Marsha Alleman of Haskell, Codi Barnett of Morris, Destiny Towe of Muskogee, Ryan Christie of Stilwell, Caitlin Chevalier of Tahlequah, Jaclyn True of Tahlequah, Tiffany Copeland of Tahlequah, Sky Wildcat of Tahlequah, Allison Frazier of Tahlequah, Heather Perry of Tahlequah, Syndey Rappe of Tahlequah, Lauren Condry of Tulsa, Marjorie Gooding of Tulsa and Charles C. Knight of Tulsa. Those receiving Academic Achievement Award in their respective majors were Jennifer L. Abernathy of Broken Arrown, Walsho of Chouteau, Kyle Box of Gore, Kevin Briceland of Jenks, Amber Wigington of Langley, Sarah Leatherland of Owasso, Steven Hatcher of Sallisaw, Jeremy Watkins of Sapulpa, Sherry Chennault of Tahlequah, Kaitlyn Kelley of Tahlequah, Ryan Young of Tahlequah, Tiffany Glass of Tulsa and Marjorie Gooding of Tulsa. Those receiving Who’s Who Awards were Kayse Stidham of Grove, Allison Frazier of Tahlequah and Gemini Creason of Tahlequah.