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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Cherokee Language Showcased At Language Fair
by Lindsey Bark- Cherokee Phoenix Staff Writer

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.
The 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 trophies.

Students 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…we're 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," Littledeer said.

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 learners.

"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 brain."

Cherokee Immersion Charter Schools winners

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, first place
  • Dayci Starr: "Lord's Prayer," Individual Spoken Prayer, second place
  • Second Grade: "Lord's Prayer," Group Spoken Prayer, second place
  • Dayci Starr: "At the Cross," Individual Traditional Song, second place
  • First Starters: "Jesus Loves Me," Group Traditional Song, first place

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, first place
  • 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, first place
  • 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

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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.

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