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American Indian students display language skills in Norman

American Indian students spoke and sang their native languages in competitions at the annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.
FROM STAFF REPORTS Published: April 10, 2014

Young American Indians from across the state, and some from neighboring states, demonstrated their language skills at the 12th annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair.

The fair Monday and Tuesday at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History drew more than 600 participants speaking more than 27 Indian languages. Prekindergarten through fifth-grade students competed Monday, and sixth- through 12th-grade competitors performed Tuesday.

Award winners in each age group and category received trophies that can be displayed at their school or tribal center.

A panel of elders and teachers from several tribes judged the spoken language and language in song competitions. Indian artists and authors judged poster, book and poetry competitions.

American Indian communities place a high value on culture, oratory skills and creativity through expression, and the fair provides a venue for young people to share the knowledge of their ancestors and speak their native languages publicly, organizers said.

Languages represented at the fair include Apache, Arapaho, Cayuga, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Comanche, Dakota, Kickapoo, Kiowa, Mohawk, Myskoke (Creek), Navajo, Osage, Pawnee, Sauk, Seminole, Shawnee, Ute and Wichita.