Language students take honors at fair
Oklahoma: More than 600 students attended the 9th Annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair last month. Participants from Oklahoma, Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico competed in several categories:
More than 32 Native languages were spoken during the 2-day event.
As tribal elders age, fewer and fewer fluent speakers are left to teach them. Many tribes have only a handful of speakers. Some have lost all elders whose Native language was their first tongue.
Today's schools and tribal programs encourage Native youth to learn and speak their ancestors' language. The Sam Noble Museum organized the Native American Youth Language Fair to support these efforts.
“An event like this provides a goal for the students to work toward through the year as they learn their languages.=," said Mary Linn, curator of Native American Languages at the museum.
"It also encourages students and teachers alike when they come together and get a chance to interact with so many others who are learning their Native languages. They can see how important it is to Native people all across the country, and how many people are working together to help prevent languages from being lost.”
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