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Cherokee immersion students win language fair
By Will Chavez
Fri, Apr 30, 2010
TAHLEQUAH – Fourth grade students at the Tsalagi Tsunadeloquasdi, the Cherokee Nation Language Immersion School, won first place at the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair in April at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.
The fair is an annual competition held for Native students from throughout the state. Students compete in eight language categories using their tribal languages. This is the fourth time Cherokee immersion school students won first place.
The students competed in the Film and Video Category with sixth and eighth graders entering a film titled “Night at the Indian Museum.” The script was written and developed by students Sean Sikora and Maggie Sourjohn, who also filmed, edited and acted in the play.
“This may be the first time that a play was written and acted fully in the Cherokee language, and it certainly is the first for children of this age,” said parent Andrew Sikora, who volunteered to help the students produce the film.
He said his son Sean and Sourjohn have a history of combining their creative talents and won the language fair’s 2008 singing competition. They enlisted their fourth grade classmates, as well as parent Jamie Hummingbird and Cherokee speaker and linguist Ed Jumper, to play supporting roles in the film.
The script was inspired by the movie “Night in the Museum” and is a story about three young Cherokee girls who mistakenly become locked in a museum at night. Spirits in the museum’s paintings bring the museum to life and frighten the girls as they run from room to room trying to escape only to find more spirits.
Finally, the night guards and girls come to a portrait of Thomas Gilcrease, founder of the Gilcrease Museum, where the movie was filmed, tells them if they can answer a riddle the doors will open. The riddle is: “What is made of hominy and hickory nuts?” The girls all know the answer and shout “kanuche.”
Dr. Duane King, executive director at the Gilcrease Museum, opened the museum in the evening so the children could film their play, Andrew Sikora said.
The fourth grade students are: Cambria Bird, Emily Chavez, Cheyenne Drowningbear, Lauren Grayson, Lauren Hummingbird, Wazhozha Palmer, Sean Sikora and Maggie Sourjohn. Third grader Ethan Winn also helped with the film.
To see the video, go to https://download.yousendit.com/THE1eVdrdkcwMEZFQlE9PQ.