American Indian students perform during Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair

About 600 students representing more than 20 tribes shared their language and creative arts skills during the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair in Norman.
BY ASHLEY WEST Published: April 4, 2012

“This is one of my favorite events of the year that happens in Oklahoma. It brings such joy to me to see the youth have an interest in their culture. My grandfather once told me that language is who you are,” said fair coordinator Christine Armer, a Cherokee language professor at the University of Oklahoma. “If the now generation takes it upon themselves to represent the importance of language, I think there's hope that the cultural values in Native American language will be around for many generations to come.”

The fair first took place in April 2003, with nearly 200 people in attendance. It was organized by Geneva Navarro, a Comanche educator, Quinton Roman Nose, a Cheyenne, and the museum's Native American languages curator, Mary Linn.

The categories have expanded since the first fair, from spoken language, language with song and dance and poster art on a language theme, to nine categories.

Languages represented at the fair included Apache, Arapaho, Cayuga, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Comanche, Coushatta, Dakota, Euchee (Yuchi), Hasinai (Caddo), Ho-Chunk, Jiwere (Otoe), Kanza (Kaw), Keres, Kickapoo, Kiowa, Mohawk, Mvskoke (Creek), Navajo, Osage, Pawnee, Pima, Prairie Band Potawatomi, Sauk, Seminole, Seneca, Shawnee, Shoshone, Ute, Wichita and Zuni.