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Native American Youth Language Fair

Public Invited to Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair

NORMAN — Those interested in Native American cultures are invited to attend the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History’s 16th annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair as the event kicks off once again April 2 and 3. The fair celebrates language diversity and recognizes the efforts of students and teachers to revitalize Native American language and heritage.

From 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day, visitors have the chance to immerse themselves in Native American languages as students from across the state participate in live presentations of song, speech, and story. Visitors also can view students’ poster art as well as comics and cartoons as part of the material submission categories. Native language speakers, teachers, and elders serve as judges for the competitions.

“The ONAYLF provides a unique opportunity for teachers and students to share their experiences in live presentations of song, speech, and story,” said Dan Swan, the museum’s curator of ethnology. “Students also compete in material submission categories that include poster art, films, books, cartoons and advocacy essays. The growth of the fair over 16 years establishes the event as a major celebration of Indigenous languages in Oklahoma.”

The museum offers complimentary admission for fair participants, spectators, and general museum guests during both days. This year’s theme, “Dreaming In My Language,” is based on poster art submissions from the previous year and highlights the accomplishments of language speakers, language teachers, and language learners.

ONAYLF began in April 2003 at the Sam Noble Museum. Elder and teacher Geneva Navarro (Comanche), Indian educator Quinton Roman Nose (Cheyenne) and the museum’s first Native American languages curator, Mary Linn, sought to recognize the Native language teachers and students in Oklahoma. The fair has encouraged and supported the efforts of Native communities in Oklahoma and the surrounding region to document, revitalize and perpetuate their ancestral languages. While many of the fair’s original goals are the same, they have grown as the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair has grown.

Sponsors for the 2018 fair include Whitten Energy Inc., Jones PR and Osage Casinos, and Hotels.

Because of the Sam Noble Museum’s longstanding work with ONAYLF, the museum received the 2017 University Museums and Collections Award from the International Council of Museums.

The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus at J. Willis Stovall Road and Chautauqua Avenue. For accommodations, call (405) 325-4712 or visit SamNobleMuseum.ou.edu.