Immersion school grads speaking Cherokee less

BY TESINA JACKSON
Former Reporter
02/14/2013 08:41 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cheyenne Drowingbear, a Sequoyah Schools seventh grader and Cherokee Language Immersion School graduate, reads an assignment during class in Tahlequah, Okla. Drowningbear and her classmates who graduated from the immersion school have seen their Cherokee-speaking opportunities dwindle at Sequoyah since graduating from the immersion school in May. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Since nine Cherokee Language Immersion School graduates started the seventh grade at Sequoyah Schools, their use of the tribe’s tongue has dwindled from speaking it all day to speaking during short lessons and breaks.

Immersion school Principal Holly Davis said Sequoyah has made efforts to continue the immersion graduates’ learning of the Cherokee language, but that it’s a work in progress.

“We want to expose them to the language daily, and it’s just getting that perfect schedule together and we get closer every time. So eventually we’ll get there, but we are providing those opportunities to speak Cherokee everyday,” she said.

In May 2012, the students who attended the immersion school since its inception were the first sixth graders to graduate into Sequoyah’s seventh grade. They are Cambria Bird, Emilee Chavez, Cheyenne Drowingbear, Cree Drowingbear, Lauren Grayson, Alayna Harkreader, Lauren Hummingbird, Sean Sikora and Maggie Sourjohn.

Cheyenne Drowingbear said it’s been difficult transitioning into using English all the time instead of Cherokee.

“The transition has been taking an effect on us because you’ve gone from speaking Cherokee, reading, writing nothing but Cherokee to everyday English, and the hardest thing for me is not speaking Cherokee,” she said.

While attending the immersion school, the students studied Cherokee culture and history, as well as subjects such as science and math. English was introduced to them in the fifth and sixth grades to help transition them into seventh grade.

“When I started here and they were fifth graders we knew we needed to start preparing for seventh grade because we knew they would be in an English environment again, but we wanted them to have Cherokee,” Davis said. “We don’t want them to lose those years that we put into them as speakers.”

Since the immersion school graduates started the seventh grade, Davis said Sequoyah officials have tried incorporating the Cherokee language for them.

“We want to provide a quality education, and we want to provide the opportunity to continue the Cherokee language,” she said. “These kids have invested 10 years of their life in it, and we want to them to have that opportunity to continue to grow with that.”

The school incorporated Cherokee into their lessons at the beginning of school year by having the immersion school’s sixth grade teacher go to Sequoyah and teach science in Cherokee for more than nine weeks. However, the instructors felt the graduates weren’t getting enough Cherokee conversation. So the sixth grade teaching assistant took them on nature walks for conversations. Both efforts continued until Christmas break.

“We know we need to do better. We just can’t find that perfect schedule combination yet, so right now what we’re doing is Mr. (Jim) Carey, the high school Cherokee teacher, has become involved,” Davis said. “He cannot wait to get a hold of the immersion kids, so he now comes in daily and has short Cherokee lessons everyday.”

Cheyenne Drowningbear said a lot of what Carey is teaching all of Sequoyah’s seventh graders is basic Cherokee, but that doesn’t stop the immersion graduates from speaking Cherokee.

“He comes in and teaches us the basics. It’s basic Cherokee I, so he’s teaching the rest of them dog, cat and everything, but we’re way past that. But we’re still speaking it around each other,” she said.

Davis said because other students who didn’t attend the immersion school have become interested in learning Cherokee, the school created a Cherokee club. As for the immersion graduates, she said the plan is to have them get more advanced in speaking Cherokee in each grade by continued speaking and learning and keeping the lessons engaging.

“We are offering Cherokee. We just can’t get the right combination yet. But we give it a while, we evaluate and then we adjust,” she said. “That’s really all we can do right now.”

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org


918-453-5000, ext. 6139

ᏣᎳᎩ

ᏓᎵᏆ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ.---- ᏂᏓᎬᏩᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏐᏁᎳ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏥᏚᏂᏍᏆᏛ ᎤᎾᎴᏅᎲ ᎦᎵᏉᎩᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙᎯ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᏏᏉᏲ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ, ᎠᏅᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏅᏌ ᎤᏂᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎢᎦᏲᎶᏣ ᎾᏂᏬᏂᏍᎬᎾ ᎨᏒ ᎤᏙᏓᏆᏗ ᎦᏲᏟ ᎠᎾᎦᏎᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᏳᏂᏲᎯᏍᏔᏂ.

ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏄᎬᏫᏳᏒ Holly Davis ᎤᏛᏅ ᏏᏉᏲ ᎠᎾᏁᎶᏗ ᏂᎬᏂᏱᎵᏐᏊ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏧᏂᏍᏆᏛ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ, ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎠᎢ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎤᎬᏩᏟ.

“ᎣᎦᏚᎵ ᏧᎩᏨᏅᏓ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏛᎪᏗ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ, ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎬᏗ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏕᎦᎷᏤ ᏧᏂᏨᏅᏓ ᏓᎾᎦᏎᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏎᏃ ᎾᎥᏂ ᏄᏍᏗᏕᎦ. ᏫᏓᏲᏥᎷᏣ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎣᏣᏁᏢᏍᎬ ᏧᎩᏨᏅᏓ ᎤᏂᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.

ᎠᏂᏍᎬᏘ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏔᎳᏚ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏱᏚᏂᏍᏆᏓ ᏑᏓᎵᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙᎯ ᏓᏂᏍᏆᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿᏃ ᏏᏉᏲ ᎦᎵᏉᎩᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙᎯ ᏭᏂᏴᏍᏗᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎯᎠ Cambria Bird, Emilee Chavez, Cheyenne Drowingbear, Cree Drowingbear, Lauren Grayson, Alayna Harkreader, Lauren Hummingbear, Sean Sikora ᎠᎴ Maggie Sourjohn.

Cheyenne Drowingbear ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏍᏓᏯ ᏲᏁᎦᎭ ᎬᏙᏗ ᎾᏃ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎨᏒᎢ.

ᎤᏓᏁᏟᏴᏒᎢ ᎡᎵ ᏃᎬᏙᏗ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎣᏥᏬᏂᏍᎬ, ᏙᏥᎪᎵᏰᏍᎬ, ᏙᏦᏪᎵᏍᎬ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏧᎩᏨᏅᏓ ᏃᏊᏃ ᏲᏁᎦᎭᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏩᏍᏓᏴ ᎠᏯ ᎨᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏂᏥᏬᏂᏍᎬᎾ ᎨᏒ ᏧᏙᏓᏋᏓ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ.

ᎾᏍᎩᎾ Ꮟ ᏥᏕᎦᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ, ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎠᎾᎦᏎᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏂᏧᎵᏍᏔᏅᏍᏔᏅᎢ, ᎤᏠᏯᏊ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎦᏙᎥᎲᏍᏗ ᎡᎶᎯ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏅ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏎᏍᏗ. ᎪᏪᎶᏗ ᎤᎬᏩᏟ ᎯᏍᎩᏁ ᎠᎴ ᏑᏓᎵᏁ ᏦᏥᏂᏙᎯ ᎣᎩᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᎣᎬᏙᏗ ᎦᎵᏉᎩᏁ ᏳᏬᎩᏴᏝ.

“ᏣᏆᎴᏅᎲ ᎠᎭᏂ ᎠᎴ ᎯᏍᎩᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙᎯ ᎣᎦᏃᏛ ᎣᎩᏂᎬᎬ ᎣᎦᏛᏅᎢᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎦᎵᏉᎩᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙᎯ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎣᎦᏅᏛ ᏲᏁᎦ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎠᏁᏙᎲ ᏓᏲᏣᏑᏴᏂᏒ ᏏᏊ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎣᎦᏚᎵᏍᎬ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎣᎩᎯ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Davis. “Ꮭ ᏲᎦᏚᎵ ᎤᏂᏲᏎᏗ ᎯᎠ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎣᎩᏱᎵᏙᎸ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏄᎾᎵᏍᏔᏅᎢ.”
ᏂᏓᎬᏩᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏗᎬᏩᏂᏍᏆᏛ ᏧᎾᎴᏅᎲ ᎦᎵᏉᎩᏁ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Davis ᏏᏉᏲ ᎠᏂᏁᏥᏙ ᎠᎾᏁᎶᏗ ᎤᎾᏠᏯᏍᏙᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ.

“ᎣᎦᏚᎵ ᎣᎦᏛᏅᎢᏍᏙᏗ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ, ᎠᎴ ᎣᎦᏚᎵ ᎣᎦᏁᎶᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏜᏅᏓᏗᏍᎬ ᏂᎦᏯᎢᏐ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ ᎯᎠ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎦᏳᎳ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᎪᎸᏔᎾ ᏍᎪᎯ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᎴᏂᏙᎲ, ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦᏚᎵ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏜᏅᏓᏗᏍᏗ ᏂᎦᏯᎢᏐ ᎠᎴ ᏧᎾᏛᎯᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎢᏗᏜ.”

ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏠᏯᏍᏔᏅ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎪᏪᎵ ᏓᎾᎦᏎᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏓᎴᏂᏍᎬ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᏑᏓᎵᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙ ᏗᎾᏕᏲᎲᏍᎩ ᎤᏁᏅᏍᏗ ᏏᏉᏲ ᎠᎴ ᏭᏚᎾᏕᏲᏗ ᎠᎦᏙᎢᎲᏍᏗ ᎡᎶᎯ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏔᏂᏙᎲ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎾᏃ ᏐᏁᎳ ᎢᏳᎾᏙᏓᏆᏍᏗ. ᎠᏎᏍᎩᏂ, ᏗᎾᏕᏲᎲᏍᎦ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᎰᏒ ᏧᏂᏍᏆᏛ ᎢᎵ ᏂᎦᎥᎾ ᎾᏂᏬᏂᏍᎬᎾ ᎨᏒ ᏣᎳᎩ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏑᏓᎵᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙ ᏗᏕᏲᎲᏍᎦ ᎠᎵᏍᏕᎸᎯᏙ ᏓᏘᎾᏫᏗᏍᎬ ᎢᎾᎨ ᏧᏍᏗ ᏕᎦᏅᏅ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎬ ᎠᏂᏃᎮᏢᏍᎬᎢ.
ᎢᏧᎳ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᏂᎦᏯᎢᏐ ᎨᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏓᏂᏍᏓᏲᎯ ᎠᏲᎯᏍᏙᏗ ᎢᎪᎯᏓ.

“ᎣᎩᎾᏅᏔ ᎢᏧᎳ ᏓᏤᎸ ᏲᎩᎾᏛᏗ. ᏝᏊ ᏲᏍᏗᏩᏘ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏗᎪᏪᎵ ᏗᏍᏓᏩᏛᏍᏙᏗ Ꮟ, ᏃᏊᏃ ᎨᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏃᏍᏓᏛᏁ Mr. (Jim) Carey ᏓᏕᏲᎲᏍᎬ ᏏᏉᏲ ᎦᎵᏉᎩᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙ ᏣᎳᎩ, ᎾᏃ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᏗᏂᏂᏙ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏗᏕᏲᎲᏍᎩ, ᏃᏊ ᎠᏖᎳᏗᎠ,” ᎤᏛᏅ Davis. “ᎤᏩᏅᎦ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᎥᎢ, ᏂᏓᏙᏓᏈᏒ ᎠᏴᏟᎯᎰ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏍᏆᎳ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏗᎪᏪᎳ ᏙᏣᎦᏎᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᏂᏓᏙᏓᏈᏒᎢ.”

Cheyenne Drowningbear ᎤᏛᏅ ᎤᎪᏕ Carey ᏕᎨᏲᎲᏍᎬ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏏᏉᏲ ᎦᎵᏉᎩᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙ ᎠᏓᎴᏅᏗᏍᎬ ᏣᎳᎩ, ᎠᏎᏃ Ꮭ ᏯᎴᏫᏍᏙᏗ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᏓᏂᏍᏆᏗᏍᎬ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎪ.

“ ᎠᏴᏟᎯᎰ ᎠᎴ ᏙᎨᏲᎲᏍᎪ ᎠᎴᏅᏙᏗ, ᎠᎴᏅᏙᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎢᎬᏱ, ᏕᎨᏲᎲᏍᎪ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᏯᏛᎾ ᎩᏟ, ᏪᏌ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎪᎯᎨ ᎦᏲᎩᎶᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ. ᎠᏎᏃ Ꮟ ᎣᏥᏬᏂᏍᎪ ᏬᏤᏙᎲᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.

Davis ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᏄᎾᎵᏍᏓᏁ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ, ᎾᎿ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏅ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᏅᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏣᎳᎩᎭ ᏧᏂᏍᏆᏛ, ᎤᏛᏅ ᎠᎾᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬ ᎤᏂᏴᏍᏗ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎤᏂᎦᏙᎲᏒ ᎤᏂᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏓᏂᏯᎾᎥ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᏂᎬᏱᎵᏒᏊ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᏂᎬᏱᎵᏐ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᏗᏣᎳᎩ.

“ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᏙᏢᎭ. ᏙᎯᎽᏃ Ꮭ ᏚᏳᎪᏛ ᏲᎬᏗ ᏦᎦᏕᏲᏗ ᏲᏥᏕᏘᎭ Ꮟ. ᎠᏎᏃ ᏝᎦ ᏙᏛᏟᎵᏙᎳ, ᎣᏥᎪᎵᏰᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᏃᏊ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏃᏨᏁᎰᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅ. “ᎾᏍᎩᏊᏃ ᎢᎦ ᎢᎦᏲᎦᏛᏗ ᏃᏊ ᎨᏒᎢ.”

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