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,
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
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org.