Chief Alfred Berryhill.
rooms at Trinity Baptist Church were filled with students Thursday
testing their knowledge of Muscogee (Creek) Nation history, culture,
current events and language at the 11th annual tribe-sponsored
to traditional academic bowl competitions, teams answer toss-up
questions by ringing in on a buzzer system.
this year, the Creek Nation's office that oversees kindergarten
through 12th-grade tribal programing added a language round in which
questions are asked in English and teams must answer in Creek to
receive the points.
students are limited in the number of times per match they can answer.
not the win we're after," office manager Virginia Thomas said.
"It's the learning. This is a way to prevent coaches from bringing
in ringers and also encourage more kids to learn the material instead
of relying on one person to carry the load."
event has divisions for elementary, middle and high school teams.
Martel, one of the event's committee members, said the smallest
division had more than 30 teams signed up, with more than 40 teams
registered in the largest division, middle school.
addition to schools within the Creek Nation's jurisdiction, teams
from Oklahoma City, Norman and Tahlequah Sequoyah registered.
couple of teams from California were trying to come this year but
couldn't quite work it all out," Thomas said. "Maybe next
school students in grades three through five competed Thursday.
for middle school and high school teams, originally scheduled for
Feb. 3 and 10 respectively, were postponed because of the blizzard.
dates are still being determined.
sportsmanship, one team in each division will be given the Wilbur
Gouge Honors Team Award.
is our most important award," said Jeri Brandon, the event's
awards chairwoman. "It's about the spirit with which we teach
our children that there is honor in defeat and that it's not all
about the first-place ribbon.
look for teams that shake hands with their opponent after every
match and that show respect to the elders that come out and show
had a team from Beggs win the award last year who had never competed
before," she said. "They didn't finish anywhere near the
top, but everybody there knew that they deserved the award. The
kids knew it. The sponsors knew it. The staff knew it. They were
that well-behaved and that respectful."
the event is fully funded by the tribe's National Council, each
team is asked to contribute a $10 donation upon registering. That
money is put in a scholarship fund for participating high school
$500 scholarships will be awarded this year, one to a male and one
to a female, based on student essays written about what their Challenge
Bowl participation has meant to them.
a common thread in those essays," Brandon said. "Many
of these kids write about how their study habits have improved because
of preparing for this and how it's given them a greater appreciation
for who they are and what it means to be Creek."
by volunteers, Thursday's session had representatives from more
than a dozen tribal government departments, as well as members of
doing this for the kids," said Mallory Bible, who competed
when she was in middle and high school in Okemah.
I did it, my teammates and I didn't know any of this stuff. Now
I'm seeing little kids running around, learning the language and
getting really excited about it. It's pretty cool."
Thomas, the event serves a bigger purpose.
doing this because my generation failed," she said. "We
just assumed that our grandparents and parents would always be around
to teach the younger generation about our traditions and ways.
didn't dawn on us for a while that we'd eventually be someone's
grandparents and expected to take on that role," she said.
is a way to reach our children and show them that this is where
they came from."