May 08, 2008

6th annual Oklahoma language fair

Maintaining identity

Youth fair shows validity of Native language in OklahomaRare are the opportunities to hear young Native people speak and sing in their traditional languages in Oklahoma. But when these Native students in grades pre-K through 12 can come under one roof, speaking and singing in languages as diverse as Creek, Choctaw, Kiowa, Cherokee, Comanche, Otoe or Apache, it is a wonderful experience for all involved.

Beginning in 2002, with the Indigenous Language Institute of Santa Fe, N.M., serving as a model, the University of Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair expected only 80 participants in individual and group speech and song categories. Instead, more than 200 participated in the inaugural event. This year on March 31 and April 1, the seventh annual event grew to include 1,055 pre-registered students and teachers.
Cherokee Nation immersion students excel at language fairCherokee Nation language immersion students recently participated in the sixth annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in Norman.

"Through our language immersion program, we are working diligently to teach future generations our native tongue," said Chad Smith, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. "The Cherokee language enhances the quality of life of our people and preserves the culture and traditions of our past. The Cherokee Nation is very proud of these young Cherokees and their accomplishments at the language fair."

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