NORMAN, OK Students from the Cherokee Immersion Charter
School and Grand View School, both based in Tahlequah, participated
in the 15th annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair on
April 3-4 at the Sam Noble Museum.
Grand View (Elementary) Cherokee Choir sings "Sunday School
Song" in Cherokee at the 15th annual Oklahoma Native American
Youth Language Fair on April 3 in Norman. The school brought
home first-, second- and third-place awards from the competition.
(photo by Lisa Snell - Native Oklahoma)
Students representing languages from different Oklahoma-based
tribes also competed, but the CICS and Grand View students placed
in numerous categories, taking home first-, second- and third-place
from the Cherokee Immersion Charter School perform the song
"Eternal Sabbath" in Cherokee at the 15th annual Oklahoma
Native American Youth Language Fair on April 3 in Norman.
The school sent around 90 students to the competition. (photo
by Lisa Snell - Native Oklahoma)
The CICS sent around 90 students from grades pre-kindergarten
through sixth, while Grand View sent 18 students, third through
sixth grade, to Norman. Students from both schools used the Cherokee
language to perform songs, skits and readings.
CICS Principal Holly Davis said ONAYLF is the biggest event
for the school to attend, and it spends most of the year preparing
by having teachers tie in songs, skits and readings into lessons.
"It's a great even for our language portion because
so unique that we don't always have an opportunity to do something
like this. So it's our big event for our language," Davis said.
This year was the CICS's 12th year attending and the first year
for Grand View.
Darlene Littledeer, Grand View School third grade math teacher
and Cherokee language instructor, said her students spent the school
year learning and practicing Cherokee in an after-school program
taught by her and another teacher.
"It makes me very happy to see that they're picking it up,"
The CICS placed in 22 categories ranging from small group, large
group and individual competition, while Grand View placed in three
categories, large group and one individual grand-prize winner. Moze
Factor of Grand View also won the grand prize for poster art with
his "Creating a New Generation of Speaker" piece.
"I was really proud because they had worked really hard on practicing
those songs all this time. I didn't expect anything like that to
happen. They just totally surprised me," Littledeer said.
Davis said teaching the Cherokee language is important because
second language learners have better comprehensive skills than single-language
"We are so convinced that making bilingual children and saving
our language is making smarter kids. Research shows that if you're
bilingual or you speak more than one language, you use more of your
Cherokee Immersion Charter Schools
Pre-kindergarten through Second Grade
- Dayci Starr: "The Story of the Milky Way," Individual Spoken
Language, second place
- First Grade: "5 Little Monkeys," Large Group Spoken Language,
- Dayci Starr: "Lord's Prayer," Individual Spoken Prayer, second
- Second Grade: "Lord's Prayer," Group Spoken Prayer, second
- Dayci Starr: "At the Cross," Individual Traditional Song,
- First Starters: "Jesus Loves Me," Group Traditional Song,
Third through Fifth Grade
- The Story Tellers (fourth grade): "Cherokee Flag," Large
Group Spoken Language, second place
- Abigail Paden: "How Great Thou Art," Individual Modern Song,
- Logan Oosahwe: "The Bible is a Treasure Book," Individual
Modern Song, second place
- Isaiah Walema: Untitled, Individual Modern Song, third place
- Dallie Dougherty and Alayna Paden: "My Friend," Small Group
Modern Song, second place
- Cherokee Songbirds: "Salute to the Armed Forces," Large Group
Modern Song, first place
- Jenna Dunn: "I Would Not Be Denied," Individual Traditional
Song (Group A), first place
- Maleah Bird: "North Wind," Individual Traditional Song (Group
A), second place
- Timothy Dunn: "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem," Individual Traditional
Song (Group A), third place
- Chet Patterson: "Where the Roses Never Fade," Individual
Traditional Song (Group A), Honorable Mention
- Isabella Sierra: "Sweet Hour of Prayer," Individual Traditional
Song (Group B), first place
- Ahnawake McCoy: "Heavenly Home," Individual Traditional Song
(Group B), second place
- Third Grade: "God's Children," Small Group Traditional Song,
- Third Grade: "Eternal Sabbath," Medium Group Traditional
Song, second place
Sixth through Eighth Grade
- Sixth Grade: "Celebration," Group Modern Song, first place
- Kaitlyn Pinkerton: "At the Cross," Individual Traditional
Song (Group A), second place
Grand View School Winners
Third through fifth grade
- Grand View Cherokee Choir: "This Land is Your Land," Large
Group Modern Song, second place
- Grand View Cherokee Choir: "Sunday School Song," Large Group
Traditional Song, first place
Sixth through eighth grade
- Moze Factor: "Creating a New Generation of Speaker," Poster
Art, grand prize
About the Author
Lindsey Bark grew up and resides in the Tagg Flats community
in Delaware County. She graduated from Northeastern State University
in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication, emphasizing
in journalism. She started working for the Cherokee Phoenix in 2016.
Working for the Cherokee Phoenix, Lindsey hopes to gain as much
knowledge as she can about Cherokee culture and people. She is a
full-blood Cherokee and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band.
Her favorite activities are playing stickball and pitching horseshoes.
She is a member of the Nighthawks Stickball team in Tahlequah and
enjoys performing stickball demonstrations in various communities.
She is also a member of the Oklahoma Horseshoe Pitchers Association
and competes in sanctioned tournaments throughout the state.
Previously a member of the Native American Journalists Association,
she has won three NAJA awards and hopes to continue as a member
with the Cherokee Phoenix.