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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 28, 2003 - Issue 90


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Eastern Cherokees Visit Oklahoma for 2nd Annual Cultural Exchange Program

credits: Choogie Kingfisher, community/school cultural coordinator with the Cultural Resource Center, explaining stickball

Choogie Kingfisher, community/school cultural coordinator with the Cultural Resource Center, explaining stickballTAHLEQUAH, Okla.— Two busloads of Cherokee children from North Carolina recently visited Tahlequah for some history and fun as part of a cultural exchange program. This is the second straight year that young members of the Eastern Band of Cherokees and the Cherokee Nation have come together for the Cultural Renewal program.

"Bringing together the Cherokee youth from Oklahoma with the Eastern Band Cherokee youth is intended for them to gain perspective on their lives through learning about their history and culture, both common and apart, and the sacrifices made by their ancestors," said Marvin Jones, director of community services for the Cherokee Nation.

Last year, 70 children from the Cherokee Nation made the trip to North Carolina to start the exchange program between the two tribes. On the way back, they traced the Trail of Tears route, stopping at historical sites along the way.

"The children learned a lot of interesting things last year," said Rob Daugherty, case manager with the Cherokee Nation. "I think it's been really educational this year as well."

This year the Eastern Band of the Cherokees made the trek to Oklahoma to learn more about the culture of their brethren.

"The Eastern Band and Cherokee Nation children are realizing that we are from the same people," said Bugger Arch, part-time counselor with the Eastern Band of the Cherokees.

"This is the biggest scale meeting between the two tribes," Daugherty said. "Forty children from the Eastern Band have traveled here and we have fifty-two children from this area participating."

"To participate in the program the children had to do a family history project, identifying clans and family allotments," said Chuck Glass, programmer for Cultural Renewal 2003.

The weeklong activities included visiting historical sites in the area, participating in group activities, and playing native sports.

"It encourages the children here to be involved in their own community," Jones said. "And it allows the children from the Eastern Band to visit culturally significant places that they could not have otherwise visited."

"It's been fun," said Gabe Chekelelee, a 12-year old Eastern Cherokee tribal member. "We've been learning about our history and how to make stuff."

"I like playing stickball because it was how they solved problems a long time ago," said Nicole Hooper, a 12-year old Cherokee Nation tribal member from Pryor.

"We are especially interested in the Cultural Renewal program exposing Cherokee youth to the idea of Cherokees living and working together in communities for the common good as expressed in the Cherokee concept of ga-du-gi," Jones said.

Tahlequah, OK Map

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