Native Village
Youth and Education news
 MAY 1, 2010   VOLUME 2

Eisenhower Elementary School’s studies help preserve American Indian languages
Condensed by Native Village

Oklahoma: Niigan Sunray practiced 10 months to tell the story of "Tobi Ofi,” or white dog. The 3rd grader at  Eisenhower Elementary School told Tobi Ofi in the Alabama Six-towns Choctaw dialect.

"It’s our migration story, from the west to the east,” Sunray said of a Choctaw band that returned to the southeastern United States. "It was fun for me.”

Sunray's practice paid off:  she won the individual spoken language contest at the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair.

Niigan was among 636 children from grades PreK - 5 who took part in the 2-day event. It was held at the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

Candessa Tehee Morgan, the event’s coordinator, said 25 American Indian languages were spoken in 370 presentations.

"It’s a very unique event,” Morgan said. "It’s the only Native American language fair of its kind in the country right now, and it’s one of the largest Native American youth events as well.”

Morgan said the fair is open to everyone and could be the only chance to hear languages that are rarely spoken. She mentioned Euchee by name. So did Miss Indian OU Millie Bigler, who attend the fair both days.

Bigler, a Sapulpa freshman, said Euchee is a Creek Nation tribe with its own rarely spoken language. Her 5-year-old niece is in a Euchee language program designed to keep the tongue alive.

Cheyenne Drowningbear placed second in the 3-5th grade spoken language contest. She gave an animated storytelling of how the tortoise got a crack in its shell. Cheyenne attends the Cherokee Immersion School to learn all she can about the language.

"I like to let people know the Cherokee language is a beautiful language,” she said. "I won’t let it die.”

Oklahoma's Native American Youth Language Fair is the only Native language fair of its kind in the country.


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