Ryan Spring shares his knowledge of Choctaw weaponry with Bradley McMillian and Paul Buntz.
Southeastern OK State University hosts Choctaw Day on campus
Students get a hands on experience with traditional Choctaw culture
Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s (SE) observance of Native American History Month received a boost from the Choctaw Nation with a Choctaw Day event hosted on campus Monday, Nov. 26. Several cultural experts, artists and dancers filled the Glen D. Johnson Student Union atrium to share knowledge and demonstrate traditions of old.
“It’s a great thing,” said SE student John Crews who expressed his satisfaction with the event. “Though I am a Choctaw, I don’t get much exposure to the culture, so this is absolutely wonderful,” he continued.
Fellow student Erin McDaniel reflected the sentiment with, “It is really exciting to bring Choctaw culture to campus. In high school I didn’t get to experience it much, so having it on campus is great.”
Choctaw Day at SE was a cooperative effort between the Choctaw Nation and SE’s Native American Center. “We thought it would be a nice thing to include in Native November events,” stated academic advisor for SE’s Native American Center, Chantelle Standefer.
Previously in the month, Native American culture was celebrated with a host of events including “To Us It Wasn’t Code,” a play highlighting the Choctaw Code Talkers, a Native student visitation for high school students, and even traditional Choctaw cuisine served in the cafeteria.
“I think a lot of people seemed to enjoy it,” said Standefer. The Native American Center has received positive feedback from those who were in attendance and look forward to another Choctaw Day in 2013.
Monday’s event began in the early afternoon with Standefer presenting the opening remarks. She then turned over the mic to Choctaw language teacher, Lillie Roberts, who filled the room with the sounds of the Choctaw language as she lead the opening prayer, speaking in both Choctaw and English.
Miss Choctaw Nation Cheyenne Murray then displayed her vocal talents as sang the Lord’s Prayer in Choctaw. Following the song, Roberts involved the audience by teaching a small lesson on the Choctaw language, encouraging everyone to speak to one another.
Attention was then drawn to the middle of the room for the Choctaw dancers who demonstrated the Wedding, Stealing Partners and Snake dances. Many people were plucked from the crowd during the Stealing Partners and stayed to enjoy the Snake Dance.
Brad Joe, who had chanted during the dances, remained in front of the mic where he performed Amazing Grace with a handmade Choctaw flute. Then storyteller Terri Billy shared her knowledge of several Choctaw tales and concluded the presentation of Choctaw Day.
Visitors were then free explore various booths, ask questions and get a hands-on experience with Choctaw artifacts. Choctaw weaponry, pottery and basketry were among the exhibits.
More information on the Choctaw culture can be found by visiting choctawnation.com or by calling 800-522-6170.
The Choctaw dancers get the crowd involved