Culture , Education

Osage students represent their skills at OK Native American Youth Language Fair

Photo caption: Daposka Ahnkodapi 2nd grade class performed "Inlonshka: Our Cooks" at the 2019 Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair in the Sam Noble Natural History Museum in Norman on April 1. CODY HAMMER/Osage News

Add Osage to the list of languages into which the “Baby Shark” has been translated.

As part of the 2019 Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair, the kindergarten students from Daposka Ahnkodapi performed the viral hit in Osage, earning third place for their work.

Daposka Ahnkodapi teacher Chris Cote admitted afterward that the students’ song was not exactly an exact translation into Osage – think closer to “baby fish” – but that did not bother his charges.

“It’s not designed for an Indigenous language,” he said. “But that’s alright. Those kids loved it.”

Launched in 2003, the two-day event at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History includes four age divisions and 12 categories, including modern song, traditional song, spoken poetry, skit, spoken prayer and essay. Over the years, the event has grown from about 200 participants to more than 1,300.

Held April 1-2, the 2019 theme was “Growing in my language.” A panel of Indigenous elders, speakers and educators judged the entries, with emphasis placed on fluency, language use and for the performance categories, stage presence.

Among the Osage students earning accolades was Stella Seagraves. A senior at Edmond Memorial High School, Seagraves entered at the urging of her school district’s Indian Education adviser, Synda Yellowfish, and won the high school division’s essay contest and presented her piece during the opening ceremonies on April 2.

A current participant in the tribe’s language program, Seagraves took Osage language classes as a child, but took an extended hiatus due to schedule conflicts, something she says she regrets. Citing her grandfather’s English-only boarding school experiences, Seagraves wrote her essay about how the intricacies of the Osage language have helped her grow both as a person and as a citizen of the Osage Nation.

“I wanted to include how important it is to learn the language,” Seagraves said. “It’s important to remember how we got here and to honor the (boarding school) survivors. For me, it’s a way to pay homage to my ancestors.

“In my essay, one of the major things I wrote about … is that I don’t have the same activities going on as Osages in say, Pawhuska or Hominy. Being able to participate in language classes has helped me feel more connected to my Osage heritage. By blood, I’m Osage, but there’s a big difference between just being Osage by blood and being culturally Osage. Learning the language has helped me bridge that gap.”

The awards were not limited to high school students. Alex and Emmary Elizando finished first and second respectively in the middle school division’s individual spoken prayer category. The pair live in El Reno and take classes through the Osage Nation’s language department. 

Additionally, multiple students from Daposka Ahnkodapi and the Wah-Zah-Zhe Early Learning Academy sites in Skiatook and Fairfax earned top honors, including all-Osage sweeps in the pre-kindergarten through second grade individual spoken word presentation, small group skit and group spoken prayer.

For Cote, the students’ successes serve as validation of the immersion school’s efforts.

‘To me, it means a lot,” he said. “Just to see them thrive in it, it shows that our work is starting to pay off. We take a lot of time and dedication to teach the kids, so to see them hold on to what we taught them … it’s pleasing.”

 

2019 OKNAYLF Winners

 

PreK-2nd Comics & Cartoons

2nd Place, Edward Gray "Captain Underpants Saves the Day"

 

PreK- 2nd Poster

1st, Sam Harding

2nd, Stellah McKinley

Honorable Mention, Kit Standing Bear, Teegan Hail

 

PreK- 2nd Small Group Modern Song

3rd Place, Daposka Ahnkodapi Pre-K “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes”

 

PreK- 2nd Large Group Modern Song

3rd Place, Daposka Ahnkodapi Kindergarten “Baby Shark”

Honorable Mention, Daposka Ahnkodapi Thabri “If You Are Happy & You Know It”

 

PreK-2nd Individual Traditional Song

2nd Place, Kit Standing Bear “Jesus Loves Me”

 

PreK-2nd Individual Spoken Language

1st Place, Joseph Duty “Who I Am: Joseph Duty”

2nd Place, Titan Harris “Who I Am: Titan Harris”

3rd Place, Luna Jacobs “Who I Am: Luna Jacobs”

 

PreK-2nd Small Group Skit/Short Play

1st Place, Daposka Ahnkodapi First Grade “Osages on a Picnic”

2nd Place Fairfax WELA Pre-K “Getting Ready for Dinner”

  

PreK- 2nd Large Group Skit/Short Play

2nd Place, Daposka Ahnkodapi Second Grade “Inlonska: Our Cooks”

3rd Place Daposka Ahnkodapi Pre-K “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party”

 

PreK-2nd Individual Spoken Prayer

2nd Place Emmett Smith “The Lord’s Prayer”

 

PreK-2nd Group Spoken Prayer

1st Place, Daposka Ahnkodapi Kindergarten “The Lord’s Prayer”

2nd Place, Daposka Ahnkodapi Pre-K “Bless the Children”

 

6th-8th Poster

Honorable Mention, Kennedy Algieri

 

6th-8th Individual Spoken Prayer

1st Place, Alex Elizondo “My Osage Prayer”

2nd Place Emmary Elizondo “I Pray Every day in Osage”

 

6th-8th Individual Traditional Song

2nd Place, Kristo Revard “Leta^ma^ze”

 

9th-12th Book & Literature

Honorable Mention, Mackenzie Thomas, Courtney Domres “Coyote & Bear”

 

9th-12th Poster

Honorable Mention, Mackenzie Thomas & Jade Haynes

 

9th-12th Topical Essay

1st Place, Estella Seagraves