By Justin Neely, CPN Language Department Director

Bozho jayek (Hello, everyone),

It’s been a busy Mnokme (spring) for the Language Department. Stormy Hunter started a new eight-week beginner Potawatomi language course. She has had a pretty good, steady turnout. We have had about 15 to 20 regulars attending class. Class is going well. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves and are eager to learn.

We just got back from the University of Oklahoma Language Fair. This is an annual event that gives kids a chance to comment using their language. This year we entered the 4-year-olds in the traditional song category, and they sang the Seven Fires song. The kids did awesome and came in fourth with an honorary ribbon. They were competing in the youngest category they have, which is Pre-K to second grade. These little ones sang for almost 4 minutes in Potawatomi, sang well and had a great stage presence for 4-year-olds They were competing against several immersion schools and also kids who were 8 years old. They did awesome! We are extremely proud of them.

My daughter Peyton Neely also competed in the individual traditional song category and got first. Mrs. Serena Neely, a first-grade teacher and my wife, brought a group of first graders from Will Rogers Elementary in Shawnee, and they sang It’s Raining Tacos in the modern group category, and they got second place.

I also want to take a moment to recognize another young Citizen Potawatomi, Elora Stewart from Houchin Elementary of Moore Public Schools, who got third place for her comic book submission. Overall, a very good showing for our Citizen Potawatomi people.

We are working hard right now getting ready for our eight-week summer master apprentice program. We had a very good group of applicants and were able to select three for the program. We also had two additional folks who will not be official interns but are going to audit the course. Two of our newer staff are going to participate in this immersive apprenticeship as well. At the end of eight weeks, these apprentices will have spent a total of 320 hours working on the language and will be hopefully conversational in the language.

We are constantly creating new content for our YouTube channels and developing new online language courses as well as updating and adding to our online dictionary.
We are also wrapping up our high school courses at Shawnee, Tecumseh and Seminole Public Schools and our last nine-week Potawatomi course at the middle school. The high school course is online and self-paced and can be taken in any district in Oklahoma for world language credit, which will count towards graduation. So instead of taking it as an elective or having to take Spanish or French, a student can instead take Potawatomi.

Migwetch (Thank you),