Grand View’s after-school program teaches students Cherokee language
A wall of the designated Cherokee language classroom at Grand View School north of Tahlequah has posters and pictures of shapes, directions, numbers, food, names for body parts, clothing and family members with words written in Cherokee that third through fifth grade students learn during the Cherokee language after-school program. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Grand View Elementary School in Cherokee County is one of several schools in the Cherokee Nation with a program in which students take part in learning the Cherokee language and competing in language and challenge bowls through the tribe’s Johnson-O’Malley program.
Grand View has around 20 students in grades third through fifth who participate in the school’s after-school program where they learn Cherokee words, phrases, songs and other material.
CN citizen and third grade teacher Darlene Littledeer took over Grand View’s language program in 2015 and began implementing more materials and recruiting more students. The program initially had six students.
“We had one team compete in the language bowls and the challenge bowls. The next year was when they wanted to incorporate the music into it,” Littledeer said. “Then the second year we did it. We did more recruiting trying to get more of them in here. We had about 20. It’s been about 20 (students) the last two years.”
She said the program also went from one team in 2015 to five teams in the 2018 competing in the language and challenge bowls.
Littledeer said when students come in after school they have to greet her by saying their names and then the Pledge of Allegiance in Cherokee. Then they go over a list of animals, fruits, vegetables and myths and legends for the first hour.
The next hour consists of learning Cherokee songs and hymns taught by CN citizen and second grade teacher Sara Downey.
“It’s definitely grown, and we have our own classroom and added more things to it because first it was just language and now its music and culture, too,” Downey said.
Littledeer said before the school administration got the program its own classroom, she and the students were using her classroom to meet. She said most of the Cherokee materials came from the CN Cherokee Language Program on flash drives and CDs, and she and Downey then created pictures and posters to hang.
“We’ve had great administration that has worked hard to get us this room. Not just the room, but the supplies and everything. Like we’ll ask for something and they’ll get it to us pretty quick if they can,” Littledeer said.
She said she does pre-and-post tests at the beginning and end of each school year to see how much her students have progressed in learning the Cherokee language, culture and history.
She said some students come in knowing little, about 10 percent of the pre-test and will leave knowing about 70 percent of the post-test. She said she can tell when students take what they learn home with them and continue to study with their families.
Downey said a lot of students don’t know anything about their Cherokee heritage when they come in to the program such as language and foods.
“I’m just so proud of them how they grew, not just with their language, but with their culture, just knowing more. I feel like we need to pass that on to them because who’s going to do it? Who’s going to pick up that torch and do that?” Downey said.
Grand View also introduced the Cherokee language into its summer school program for the first time this year, with Littledeer and Downey continuing lessons by introducing new stories and activities.
“Me and Ms. Littledeer are so privileged to be a part of this, bringing it back. And not just teaching them but kind of showing them how proud they can be to be Cherokees and who we are and where we came from,” Downey said.
ᏓᎵᏆ – Grand View ᎠᎾᎴᏂᏍᎩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏌᏊᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᎥ Ꮎ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏠᏯᏍᏗ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᎾᏖᎳᏗᏍᎪ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬᎢ Ꮎ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏓᎾᏓᏁᏄᎵᏍᎬ ᏖᎵᏙ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ Johnson-O-Malley ᎤᏂᎯ.
Grand View ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵᏍᎪ ᎾᏂᎠ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᏗᏂᏂᏙᎯ ᏦᎢᏁ ᏅᎿ ᎯᏍᎩᏁ ᎢᏯᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᏖᎳᏗᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᏛ ᏒᎯᏱᏯ ᏄᏓᎴ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎪᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎪᎢ ᏗᎧᏁᎢᏍᏗ, ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᏗᎧᏁᎢᏍᏗ, ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏐᎢ ᎠᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ.
ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᎴ ᏦᎢᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙᎯ ᏗᏕᏲᎲᏍᎩ Darlene Littledeer ᎤᎩᏒ Grand View ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎤᎬᏩᏟ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᎲᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏍᎩᎦᏚ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎴᏅᎲ ᎤᎪᏓ ᎧᏁᏉᏍᎬ ᏗᏕᏲᏙᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏯᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏂᎪᏛ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ. ᎯᎠ ᎤᏂᎲ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏗ ᏑᏓᎵ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᎥᎢ.
“ᏌᏊ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎦ ᏗᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᏁᏄᏟ ᎾᎿ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᏓᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏂᏁᏄᏟᎢ. ᏐᎢ ᏫᏄᏕᏘᏴᎯ ᏧᎾᏚᎵᏍᎬ ᎦᎧᏃᎩᏓ ᎤᏃᏣᎶᏗᎾᎿᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Littledeer. “ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏔᎵᏁ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏃᎦᏛᏁᎸ. ᎤᎪᏛ ᏙᎦᏟᏃᎮᏢ ᎣᏣᏁᎶᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏂᎪᏛ ᏦᏥᏯᏙᏗ. ᏯᏛᎾ ᏔᎵᏍᎪ ᏙᎩᎧᎲᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎾᏂᎥ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ.”
ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎯᎠ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᏌᏊ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏍᎩᎦᏚ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎯᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏓ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏁᎳᏚ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ ᏓᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎬ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎦᏁᏄᏢᎢ.
ᎠᏫᎤᏍᏗ ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᏴᏟᏢ ᎤᎶᏐᏅ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᎢ ᎤᏂᏲᎵᎸ ᏚᏙᎥ ᎾᏂᏪᏎᎲᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏃᎴ Pledge of Allegiance ᏄᏂᏪᏒ ᏣᎳᎩᎭᎢ. ᎤᎾᎴᏅᎲ ᎦᎾᏢᎢ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ, ᎠᏓᏔᏅᏍᎩ, ᎢᏤᏃ ᎠᎴ ᎪᎯᎩ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏂᏙᎸᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎢᎬᏱ ᎠᏟᎢᎵᏒᎢ.
ᏐᎢᏃ ᏑᏟᎶᏓ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᏗᏣᎳᎩ ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏓ ᏗᏕᏲᎲᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ ᎠᎴ ᏔᎵᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙ ᏗᏕᏲᎲᏍᎬ Sara Downey.
ᎢᎦ ᎤᏛᏌ, ᎠᎴ ᎣᎬᏌ ᎣᎦᏤᎵ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎪᏓ ᏲᎬᏅᏔᏅᏅᎢ ᏄᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎢᎬᏱ ᎨᏒ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎤᏩᏌ ᎨᏒ ᏃᏊ ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ, ᎾᏍᏊ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Downey.
Littledeer ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎦᏁᏍᎬᎾ ᏥᎨᏒ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏩᏌ ᎤᎲ ᎧᏅᏑᎸ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏩᏌ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎠᏅᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏧᏕᏲᏗ ᎧᏅᏑᎸᎢ ᏓᎾᏠᏍᎬᎢ. ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎤᏅᏙᏗ ᏛᏓᎴᎲᏍᎬ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎦᏟᏏᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ CDs, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ Downey ᏚᏃᏢᏅ ᏗᏓᏟᎶᏍᏔᏅ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎦᏃᏣᎸᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᏗᎦᏛᏗ.
“ᎢᎦᏃ ᎠᏃᏍᏗ ᏄᏂᎬᏫᏳᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏚᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᏚᏂᎩᏒ ᎧᏅᏑᎸᎢ. ᏝᏙ ᎧᏄᏑᎸᏉ ᎢᎦ, ᎬᏔᏅᏙᏗ ᎾᏍᏊ ᎠᎴ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ. ᏯᏛᎾ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎣᏥᏔᏲᎯᎰ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏟᏍᏗᏊ ᎣᏥᎩᏍᎬᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Littledeer.
ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᏓᏁᎰ ᎪᏪᎵ ᎢᏧᏅᏗ ᏎᏃ ᎾᎾᏁᏂᎩᏍᎬ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᏱᏚᏂᏍᏆᏓ ᎠᏓᎴᏂᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎵᏍᏆᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᏂᏓᏕᏘᏴᎯᏒᎢ ᎤᏕᎶᎰᎯᏍᏗ ᎢᎦ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ, ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎧᏃᎮᏢᏅᎢ.
ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎢᎦᏓ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᎷᎪ ᎤᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏅᏙ, ᏯᏛᎾ 10% Ꮧ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎦᏥᎪᎵᏱᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏳᏂᏍᏆᏓ ᏯᏛᎾ 70% ᎤᎾᏅᏙ ᎢᏓᎪᎵᏱᎢ. ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏕᎶᎰᏍᎪ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏫᏗᏍᎪ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏄᎾᏛᏁᎸ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏂᎬᏂᏱᎵᏐᎢ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᏏᏓᏁᎸ ᏳᏭᏂᎷᏥ ᏚᏁᏅᏒᎢ.
Downey ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ Ꮭ ᏳᎾᏅᏙ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎾᏓᎴᏅᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏳᏂᎷᏣ ᎠᎴᏍᏊ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ.
ᎢᎦ ᎦᏥᎵᎡᎵᎪ ᎢᎦ ᏓᎾᏛᏍᎬ, ᏞᏙ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗᏊ ᎢᎦᎢ, ᎠᏎᏍᎩᏂ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎸᏍᏔᏅ ᏗᎩᎶᏒᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎪᎢ. ᎦᏓᏅᏕᏍᎬ ᏱᏗᏗᎶᎯᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎦᎪ ᏄᏓᎴ ᏂᏛᏛᏁᎵ? ᎦᎪ ᏛᏴᎯ ᎯᎠ ᎦᏅᏍᏓ ᎤᏥᏣᏍᏟ?” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Downey.
Grand View ᎾᏍᏊ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏄᏅᏁᎸ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎪᎩ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎬᏱᎢ ᎨᏒ, ᎾᏍᎩᎾ Littledeer ᎠᎴ Downey ᏂᎬᏂᏱᎵᏐ ᏓᎾᏕᏲᎲᏍᎬ ᏗᏤ ᏗᎧᏃᎮᏢᏅ ᎠᎴ ᏯᏛᏗ.
“ᎠᏯ ᎠᎴ Ms. Littledeer ᎾᏍᎩ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎣᏍᏓᎵᎮᎵᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎦᏲᎩᎾᏛᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ, ᎣᏍᏗᏲᎯᎲᎢ. ᎠᎴ Ꮭ ᏙᏍᏓᏕᏲᎲᏍᎬ ᎤᏩᏌ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏂᏙᏍᏛᏁᎲ ᎠᏂᎸᏉᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎾᎵᎮᎵᎬ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎨᏒᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎨᏒ ᎢᏗᏴᏫ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎦᏓᎴᏅᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Downey.
– TRANSLATED BY ANNA SIXKILLER