Cherokee-speaking students form hoops teams
Cree Drowningbear, left, and Daylon Dunn practice basketball Jan. 17 in the old gym at Sequoyah Schools in Tahlequah, Okla. Both are students in the Cherokee Language Immersion Program where they play for the school’s basketball teams and are instructed in and speak only Cherokee.
CRAIG HENRY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – In the “old gym” at Sequoyah Schools, familiar sounds can be heard – shoes squeaking on the hardwood floor, a ball being dribbled up and down the court and the swish of the net as a ball goes through it.
And then…“Osda, osda!” The Cherokee word for good.
No, this isn’t some run-of-the-mill basketball game. This game involves one of the Cherokee Language Immersion Program’s basketball teams. And just like the rest of the LIP, basketball is taught exclusively using the Cherokee language.
“Everything goes hand-in-hand, and we’re just trying to provide more opportunities for every child at immersion,” said LIP Principal Holly Davis. “All of our activities are in Cherokee, and we hope to just expand on it yearly. We’re looking at something new to add every year.”
The boys and girls teams are comprised of 19 students in third, fourth and fifth grades. Though the basketball program was formed in 2009, the 2010-11 season is the first the teams competed with area schools.
“I think it’s a good outlet to use the language out in the community,” said Jeromie Hammer, LIP physical education coach, said. “It teaches the kids about competition, dedication. I think that it gives the language a little action.”
Jolie Morgan, a fourth grade student on the team, said it can be a little more difficult playing on an all Cherokee-speaking team, but she’s getting used to it.
“Well, you’ve got to remember not to speak English,” she said. “And sometimes you’re not too sure what they’re saying, but you’ll figure it out.”
And Morgan isn’t the only one having difficulties with learning the sport in Cherokee.
“It is hard to speak basketball terminology in Cherokee,” Hammer said. “A lot of the basic actions like jumping and throwing and catching – those sorts of things aren’t hard. But when you get into the sports terminology and the philosophy of sports, it’s definitely a challenge.”
Jolie’s mother, Candessa Tehee Morgan, said she thinks the skills her daughter is learning on the team are important.
“I thought it would be a great experience for her because it introduces her to a whole new set of terms,” she said. “She gets to work with the other kids. It’s about teamwork whenever you’re on a basketball team, and I thought that all of those things together were important for her.”
Davis also said using activities such as basketball is a good way to teach students because it not only gives them a way they can use what they learn in the classroom, but it teaches them skills such as teamwork.
“When we’re on a ball team, it’s different than being in a classroom,” she said. “We’re learning teamwork. We’re learning how to work with others, which carries right into the classroom.”
While the boys’ team has struggled for a win this season (0-5 as of press time), the girls’ team is looking to finish strong (4-1 as of press time).
Regardless of the records, Hammer said he thinks both teams have been successful.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the kids and the effort they’ve put forth,” he said. “Not only do they practice and they commit to reaching a goal that we’ve all established for ourselves, but they do this along the way adapting the sport into Cherokee – using the language.
“I told these kids when we played softball before that when we pull up to another school and we compete with another group of kids and we know that we’ve given them a good game and they hear us speak only Cherokee on the field, then we’ve accomplished two major goals. And so that’s what we’re after,” he added.
By CRAIG HENRYwilliamemail@example.com • (918) 207-4975
ᎯᎸᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏓᎴ ᎢᏯᏛᏁᎯ:
ᏓᎵᏆ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎻ.— ᎾᎿ “ᎤᏪᏘ ᎠᏓᏁᎸ ᎤᎾᎳᏍᎦᎸᏗ” ᏏᏉᏲ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ, ᎠᏛᎪᏗ ᎨᏐ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏯᏛᎾ ---ᏚᎾᎳᏑᏢ ᏚᏃᏴᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏗᎾᎳᏍᎬᏍᎬ ᏯᏖᏃ, ᏍᏆᏞᏍᏗ ᎠᏓᏕᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎦᏐᏆᎸ ᏂᏗᎬᏅ ᏳᏭᏂᏝᏂ ᎤᏃᏴᎬ ᎬᏅ ᎦᏛᎢ ᏍᏆᏞᏍᏗ ᏫᎦᎶᏍᎬᎢ.
ᎠᎴ ᎯᎠ……..”ᎣᏍᏓ, ᎣᏍᏓ!” ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎧᏁᏍᏗ ᎣᏍᏓ.
ᏝᏃ, ᏙᎯᏳ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏔᏁᎬᏊ ᏱᎩ ᎯᎠ ᏍᏆᏞᏍᏗ ᏗᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎩ. ᎯᎠ ᏓᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎬ ᎠᏠᏯᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᎯ ᏍᏆᏞᏍᏗ ᏗᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎩ. ᎤᏠᏯ ᏭᏅᎪᏛ LIP, ᏍᏆᏞᏍᏗ ᏓᏁᏲᎲᏍᎬ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎪ.
“ᏂᎦᎥ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏓᏙᎵᎪᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏃᏣᏛᏁᎲ ᎣᏣᏁᏢᏍᎪ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᎥᎲᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ LIP ᏄᎬᏫᏳᏒ Holly Davis ᏧᏙᎢᏓ. “ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᎠᏣᎳᎩᎲ ᎨᏐ, ᎠᎴ ᎤᏚᎦ ᎣᎬᎭ ᎤᎪᏙᎯᏍᏗ ᏓᏕᏘᏴᎯᏒ. ᎣᏥᎦᏖᏃᎭ ᎢᏤ ᎦᏲᎩᏁᏉᏍᏗ ᏂᏓᏕᏘᏴᎯᏒᎢ.”
ᎠᏂᏧᏣ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᎨᏳᏣ ᏗᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎩ ᏐᏁᎳᏚ ᎾᏂᎠ ᎾᎿ ᏦᎢᏁ, ᏅᎩᏁ ᎠᎴ ᎯᏍᎩᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙᎯ. ᏙᏃ ᎯᎠ ᏍᏆᏞᏍᏗ ᏗᏂᏁᎶᎲᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᎯ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏅ ᎤᎳᎪᎲᏍᏗ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏐᏁᎳ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ, ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏍᎪᎯ---ᏌᏚ ᏓᏟᎢᎵᏒ ᏥᎬᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎢᎬᏱ ᏚᎾᏁᎶᏅ ᎾᎿ ᏐᎢ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ.
“ᎨᎵᎠ ᎣᏏᏊ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎤᏅᏙᏗ ᎤᏣᏘᏂ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏓᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎬ ᏍᏆᏞᏍᏗ” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Jeromie Hammer, LIP ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏓᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎬ ᏗᏘᏂᏙᎯ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎪᏃ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎤᎾᏓᎪᏅᏙᏗ, ᎤᎾᏟᏂᎬᏗᎢ. ᎨᎵᏍᎪ ᎤᏂᏁᎰ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎤᏅᏙᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎲᎢ.”
Jolie Morgan, ᏅᎩᏁ ᏗᎦᏂᏙᎯ ᎾᎿ ᏗᏁᎶᎲᏍᎩ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎡᎵᏃ ᎠᏍᏓᏲ ᏗᏁᎶᏗ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏣᎳᎩ---ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᏓᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎬᎢ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎠᏕᎶᏆᎠ.
“ᏙᎯᏳᎢ, ᏣᏅᏓᏗᏍᏗ ᏲᏁᎦ ᏣᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗᎢ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.
“ᎠᎴ ᎢᏴᏓᎭ Ꮭ ᏲᏅᏙ ᎾᏂᏪᏍᎬ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᏫᎪᏟᏍᏓ ᎨᏐᎢ.”
ᎠᎴ Morgan Ꮭ ᎤᏩᏌ ᏱᎩ ᏳᏩᏂᏍᏔᏂᏙᎰ ᎠᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎾᎿ ᏍᏆᏞᏍᏗ ᏓᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎬᎢ.
“ᏍᏓᏱ ᏍᏆᏞᏍᏗ ᏓᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎬ ᏗᎧᏁᎢᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩᎭᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Hammer. “ᎤᎪᏛᏃ ᏗᎧᏁᎢᏍᏗ ᏯᏛᎾ ᏔᎵᏔᏚᎦ, ᎡᏫᏚᎦ, ᎠᎴ ᎯᏍᏆᏞᎩ---- ᎾᎿ ᏝᏙ ᏗᏍᏓᏯ ᏱᎩ. ᎾᏍᎩᏂ ᏂᎦᏓ Ꮓ ᏳᎦᎷᏣ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏗᎪᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏍᏆᏞᏍᏗ ᏓᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎬ ᎡᎵ ᎠᏓᏅᏖᏗ.”
Jolie’s ᎤᏥ, Candessa Teehee Morgan, ᎤᏛᏅ ᎠᎴ ᎡᎵᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏗᎢ.
“ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏖᎸ ᎯᎠ ᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎤᎦᏙᎯᎲᏍᏗ ᎾᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎢᏤ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎢᏤ ᎠᏕᎶᏆᏍᎪ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᏂᎦᏓᏃ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎤᎾᎵᎪᏐᎢ. ᏄᏍᏛᏃ ᎠᎵᎪᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏍᏆᏞᏍᏗ ᏗᏁᎶᏗ ᎨᏒ, ᎠᎴ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏖᎸ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎯᎠ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏛᏗᎢ.”
Davis ᎤᏛᏅ ᎯᎠ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᎠᏅᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎪ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏝᏙ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᎢᎦ ᏱᎩ ᎠᏅᏗᏍᎪᏍᎩᏂ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᎠᏂᏯᎥ ᎧᏅᏤᎸ, ᎠᎵᏗᏍᏊ ᎤᏁᏲᎲᏍᎪ ᏗᎵᎪᏗ ᏌᏊ ᏗᏁᎶᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ.
“ᏃᏊᏃ ᏗᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎩ ᏱᏄᎵᏍᏔᏂ, ᏄᏓᎴ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᎾᏃ ᎧᏅᏤᎸ ᎠᏂᏯᎥ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ ᎣᏣᏕᎶᏆᎠ ᏌᏊ ᏗᎾᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ. ᎣᏣᏕᎶᏆᎠ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᏌᏊ ᏦᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏫᏗᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᎧᏅᏤᎸ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᏠᏯ.”
ᏙᎯᏳᏃ ᎠᏂᏧᏟ’ ᏗᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎩ ᎤᏅᏂᏍᏔᏂᏙ ᎤᎾᏓᏠᎯᏍᏗ ᎯᎠ ᏣᏟᎢᎵ (0-5 ᎦᏌᏙᏴ ᎠᏟᎢᎵᏄᎢ), ᎠᏂᎨᏳᏣᏃ ᏗᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᎦᏖᏃ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᏗᏍᏗ ᎤᏝᏂᎩᏓ (4-1 ᎦᏌᏙᏴ ᎠᏟᎢᎵᏒᎢ).
ᏄᏍᏛᏃ ᎤᏂᎲ ᏧᏂᏅᏅ, Hammer ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎢᏧᎳ ᏚᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏄᎾᏛᏁᎳ.
“ᎢᎦᏃ ᎦᏥᎵᎡᎵᏤᎰ ᎯᎠ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᎴ ᏂᎦᎥ ᎠᎾᏟᏂᎬᏁᎲᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ. “ᏝᏃᏙ ᎠᎾᎵᏏᎾᎲᏍᏗᏍᎬᏊ ᎢᎦ ᏱᎨᏐ ᎠᎾᏁᎸᏗᏍᎪ ᎠᏎᏍᏛ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎰ ᎤᏅᏌ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎢᏳᏅᏁᎯ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎪ ᏧᎾᏁᎶᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎤᏂᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏓᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎬᎢ.
“ᎦᏥᏃᏎᎸ ᎯᎠ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᏍᏆᏞᏍᏗ ᏱᏗᎦᏁᎶᎾ ᎢᎬᏱ ᏱᏬᎩᎷᏥ ᏐᎢ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎣᏥᏍᏆᏗᏍᎪ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᎴ ᎣᎦᏅᏙ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏗᏁᎶᏗ ᏙᏥᏁᎸᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᏛᎩᏍᎪ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎣᏥᏬᏂᏍᎬ ᏙᏣᏁᎶᎲᏍᎬ, ᏔᎵ ᎢᏳᏓᎴ ᎣᎩᏍᏆᏙ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎣᏥᏍᏓᏩᏛ,” ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏭᏝᏅᎢ.