Students and their families woke up extra early on April 6 and 7 to make the yearly trip to compete in the 13th annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair in Norman on April 2.
Held every year at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History at the University of Oklahoma, students demonstrate their indigenous language skills in several categories throughout the two-day competition.
Categories include individual spoken word; group spoken word, singing, poetry, poster art contest, book and literature, film, cartoon, comic book and an advocacy essay.
“I am extremely proud of my kids, they loved the song when I first sang it to them. We practiced every week in class and I sent the words home with them to practice,” said Addie Hudgins, Osage language instructor. “The first few weeks, I had parents telling me about their kids singing in the car or in the shower at home.”
Hudgins said the song the students learned was one her grandmother used to sing to her when she was little.
“The beginning of the song ‘Little boy, little girl’ was of the song my grandma used to sing when I was little,” she said. “I couldn’t remember the rest of the words so I made up some to go with what we were learning in class.”
The competition draws in more than 600 participants from across Oklahoma as well as neighboring states, and more than 20 Native American Languages.
“Since January, the children worked hard preparing their Language Fair projects e.g. poster, comic, book, movie, and practicing their spoken language performances. I want all of them to be proud because, [in Osage] ‘The children did their best.’ and that is all I ask them to do,” said Cameron Pratt, Osage language instructor. “For the children that won an award, I want them to remember there were 600 + other children that had language fair entries.”
The Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade performed on the first day of the fair showing skills in language and art with their poster and comic books scoring winners in each category, all winning trophies and medals.
The theme for the poster art contest was, “ One Voice, Many Voices.” Participants were to create a drawing using the theme or their own ideas using language in their own way to express themselves.
“It makes me happy to know these kids are learning and absorbing what I teach them in class,” Hudgins said. “The Osage language is a hard language to learn, but it gives us, as Osages, an identity. It’s part of what makes us who we are. My kids received an honorable mention, to me they are all winners and I am so proud of my little Osages.”
Osage Language Department Director, Herman “Mogri” Lookout, and former Osage language instructor Billy Proctor both judged contests. Proctor is now an instructor for the Quapaw Tribe’s language department.
“Dr. Mary Linn initiated a Native language fair to help Indian Tribes enhance their revitalization efforts. It has been rewarding and a wonderful tool for language teachers to take their students to. I think the fair provides students the opportunity to showcase their accomplishments of what they have learned,” said Lookout. “Osage children, especially the younger ones, have done well. The fair asked me to judge six years ago and I have been a judge ever since. I enjoy doing it and they never let me forget how much they appreciate me helping them out.”
The Osage Nation Language department is having a honors dinner to celebrate their students and parents on May 3 at the Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center at 2 p.m.
For more information to enroll in Osage language classes, call (918) 287-5547 or email Danielle Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ONAYLF Osage winners
Pre-K through 2nd grade poster contest:
1st place - Emmary Elizondo
2nd place - Jonathan Ryder Riddle
3rd place - Alex Elizondo
Honorable Mention – Anna Cox
Honorable Mention – Meg Rumsey
Comic Books and Cartoons, Pre-K through 2nd grade:
1ST place - Jonathan Ryder Riddle - “Wazhazhe Spiderman”
Comic Books and Cartoons, 3rd-5th grade:
1st place - Tabitha Duty - “Talk Osage News”
2nd place - Henry Pratt - “The Race”
Spoken Language Traditional Song, Pre-K through 2nd grade:
3rd place - Leighton Shaw, Danene Long, Clifford Robertson, Kellan Roubideaux, Wyatt Joseph Cox, Chloe Olivia Cox, Anna Rose Cox, Alex Levi Elizondo, Emmary Rose Elizondo
Spoken Language, Pre-K through 2nd grade:
2nd place - Leighton Shaw, Danene Long, Clifford Robertson, Kellan Roubideaux, Wyatt Joseph Cox, Chloe Olivia Cox, Anna Rose Cox, Alex Levi Elizondo, Emmary Rose Elizondo
Modern Song, Pre-K through 2nd grade:
Honorable Mention - George Shaw, Jack Duty, Meg Rumsey, Jacee Leach, Lily Jones, Kynlie Jones, Pehan RedCorn, Signy RedCorn, Rose Yarbrough, Anya Brenzinski.
Individual Spoken Language, Pre-K through 2nd grade:
1st place George Shaw and Jack Duty, title “Dinner Blessing”.
Small Group Spoken Language, 3rd through 5th grade:
1st place: Michaela Pratt and Tabitha Duty, title “Playtime”
Small Group Spoken Language, Pre-K through 2nd grade:
1st place: Alex and Emmary Elizondo, title “Osage Prayer”
Small Group Spoken Language, 3rd through 5th grade:
2nd place: Jason Duty, title “Osage Dinner”
Individual Spoken Language, 9th through 12th grade:
1st place: Jade Jones, title “Prayers”
Poster and Comics, 9th through 12th grade:
1st place: River Riddle
Honorable mention: Devon Ewaldt