The Snowbird youth completed the fourth year of a six-week summer language camp recently. The students were involved in learning vocabulary, colors, numbers, animals, family members, Cherokee syllabary, conversation on words, and various other lessons along with writing short stories using the Cherokee syllabary.
The camp is funded by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and has been supported by Principal Chief Michell Hicks and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Western Carolina University’s Cherokee Language Department, The Junaluska Museum, The Snowbird Library, and Graham County Schools.
The graduation program was held on Friday, Aug. 6 at the Robbinsville Elementary Auditorium. A slideshow presenting the student’s classroom learning experiences indoor, as well as outdoor, were enjoyed by family and friends. A short play entitled “The Turtle wins a Face against the Rabbit” involved the students in a dramatic display of their skills in acting and speaking the learned language.
Camp officials related, “A heartfelt appreciation is extended to our strong supports: Chief Michell Hicks; Dr. Barbara Duncan; Chip Carringer, superintendent of Graham County Schools; Dr. Hartwell Francis and Tom Belt, WCU Cherokee Language Dept.; Alice Lewis and Zena Rattler, Snowbird Library; and Louise Reed and T.J. Holland, Junaluska Museum.
Shirley Oswalt, Cherokee Language Camp teacher commented, “We, as Cherokee speakers, must do everything possible to assist these young people and enable them to learn and save the language. We are losing Cherokee speakers at an alarming rate so we must act now, not tomorrow. We must help all who want to learn the language. It is our obligation. It is the Tsalagi way.”
Source: Mary Brown