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Cherokee Nation Creates Cherokee Activity Books For Kids
by Tesina Jackson - Reporter, Cherokee Phoenix
credits: all photos by Tesina Jackson - Cherokee Phoenix


TAHLEQUAH, OK. – The Cherokee Nation's Education Services, in collaboration with other CN departments, has created two activity books for children so that they can have fun while learning the tribe's language, culture and history.

"As a department we're always looking for ways to promote language, culture and history," Lisa Trice-Turtle, Education Services liaison, said.

The books consist of 10 story and activity pages such as word searches and mazes, a glossary and solutions to the activity pages.

Several years ago, after noticing that children didn't have anything to do at CN community meetings, Trice-Turtle asked Robert Lewis, Education Services school communication specialist, to create drawings that children could color.

"I do storytelling, so I started going through all the stories that I do and started taking certain images out and simplifying them for the kids," Lewis said.

Lewis created drawings of a rabbit, bear, wildcat and turtle, and soon after stories began to develop with the drawings, which were translated and added by the CN Translation Department.

Once the translations were complete, the stories and drawings were sent to CN Communications, which made the images digital. Activities such as word searches and mazes were added and once the pages were put together, an activity book was created.

"And we run them in-house. It's all an inside job, everything from start to finish," Trice-Turtle said

The two activity books, involving the four animals, were first distributed this summer to children who participated in Camp Cherokee.

"This is a way to give people comprehensible input with the language that they can spend some time with, and we're also hoping to incorporate Sequoyah's numbering system," Candessa Tehee, Cultural Resource Center Cherokee language program manager, said.

Now the books are handed out during CN community meetings to children and adults.

Winston Dunaway, who attended a Nov. 5 community meeting in Jay, said he planned to give the book to his granddaughter.

"I feel very strongly that every kid should learn Cherokee," he said. "It's a beautiful language."

Tehee said a third book is being drafted and the tribe expects to produce three or four books annually.

"This third book, which is drafted now…it's also activity pages, but it's a story about hunting wishi because that's what we would do this time of year," she said. "This is a great time for going out and hunting and the story was written by David Crawler over in Translation (Department) and he wrote it in Cherokee and we have a translation page in the back of the translation to English. There are some games in there with words that appear in the story. There's a glossary that explains each word, and the artwork was done by Roy Boney Jr. over in (CN) Language Technology."

Other possible topics for future books include holidays, fishing, traditional clothing, stickball and basketry.

"Eventually, we're going to have a book for everything," Tehee said. "We're going to have a book for every interest, and we're just trying to build toward that. We're representing different facets of Cherokee culture, different facets of Cherokee history and definitely tying language in very strongly to that."

Department officials plan to use different artists for different books and make the books available in eBook format so people can download them.

"The goal is to try to get other different artists involved with this to give back to the community so the children have access to it and then they can look at the language and see 'this is part of my Cherokee heritage and culture so I should become a traditionalist as well,'" Lewis said.

For more information, call Trice-Turtle at 918-453-5000, ext. 4991 or email

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