April 05, 2013

11th annual Oklahoma language fair

Native American Youth Language Fair has record attendance

By Susan ShannonDr. Mary Linn is the assistant curator for Native Languages at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Norman, Oklahoma. This past week the 11th annual Native American Youth Language Fair took place at the Sam Noble Museum.

Dr. Mary Linn has been one of the driving forces behind the Native Youth Language Fair and remembers those early years. “I never dreamed, well I dreamed, I really wanted... I could envision a day when there was so many kids and that they were really using their languages in so many new and creative ways.

"That’s what I wanted. But at first it was hard to envision that there would be that kind of enthusiasm with the younger kids because it did take a while for people, for younger kids to really feel comfortable I think. So when I first started working in Oklahoma in the early 1990's, the language teachers… that was they're biggest concern, that the children did not want to learn the language. They felt that there wasn't the interest with the youth. I don't think that’s the problem at all, it’s like this big snowball rolling down the hill and it’s so big now I don't think it can be stopped. And it’s because of the children, it’s because of the youth. If they want to learn the language they are going to learn it, they're going to find ways to learn it. So I'm really...enthused. And as I said I could dream about it but I think that it’s surpassed my dreams.”

With an all-time high of 921 registered students coming to the Language Fair, that came out to 446 live performance or submissions of posters, books, comic book, poetry and essays, all using native language, which all had to be viewed either prior to the Fair or at the Fair.
Below:  "Chickasaw Nation students perform."

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