April 12, 2010

8th annual Oklahoma language fair

Eisenhower Elementary School’s studies help preserve American Indian languages

Children study to preserve American Indian languages

By James S. Tyree
Niigan Sunray, a third-grader at Eisenhower Elementary School, said she practiced 10 months to tell the story of "Tobi Ofi,” or white dog, in the dialect called Alabama Six-towns Choctaw.

If practice didn’t make perfect, it was close enough, as she won the individual spoken language contest Monday during the eighth annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair.

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

Niigan is one of 636 children of all ages registered for the two-day language fair at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Candessa Tehee Morgan, the event’s coordinator, said 25 American Indian languages will be spoken in 370 presentations.

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