Curricula

Choctaw Language - Story Telling

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Preparation

The teacher could introduce a story (see attached or pick something similar)

The teacher will be provided simple words (colors, numbers, and common animals in Choctaw) that can be used in the story.

Explain the importance of storytelling of the Native people and how storytelling that has been passed
down for generations is how we know what we do about our culture today.

Explain that it is their turn to create a story of their own.

Materials

·Construction paper

·Scissors

·Glue

·Pencils

·Crayons for illustrations

Procedure

Start by explaining the importance of storytelling and animals related to the southeast Native American
culture.

Tell the story (see attached) to get the students excited about storytelling.

Introduce the animals to choose from in both their English names and Native American language. The teacher will divide the students into groups of different clan animals by having them draw Popsicle sticks from a cup with animal names written on them. Once the students have drawn their animals, they will be asked to find their clan of the same animal. As a group the students will be asked to create a tall tale about their clan animal. Students will be assigned to be the author, narrator, illustrator, and actors. Once the story is brainstormed and written, each clan will use the materials provided to them to make animal masks that match their clan animal
for them to wear and each clan will have a turn to present their story in the form of a skit for the class. Students will use an outline to guide the flow of the storytelling structure and performance.

 

Additional Resources

 

Research Paper 1

 

Language is importantfor any culture;it is one of the things that make cultures unique from the rest. The differences in language end up serving many purposes later on. One of the purposes that language has had, especially for the southeast Native tribes, is protection. Language also changes and grows if people let it. The Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez tribes all come from the Muskogean language family, meaning from the southeast part of the United States. There are many tribes in North America, but they all had their own unique language. This is one of the many ways they were able to distinguish themselves from the rest. They all spoke a different language because many tribes did not get along and each tribe had its own way of doing things. Somethings were similar, but they wanted to stand out from the rest. This is one thing that the Europeans did not exactly understand.


One thing that was similar across the Southeast was storytelling. Passing down traditions orally was one thing that each tribe did to teach their young how to behave and it explained to the children the role in their family as well as their tribe. After the removal the idea was to put all Natives in one spot and to strip them of their beliefs, their language, and their way of life. This idea failed on many levels. First, they underestimated the amount of Native people that there actually were. They also underestimated the heart and spirit of the people. The Natives may have went along, whether by force or not, to do as they were told, but deep down they still had their culture.

Language, especially for the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes, has been hit hard within the last 100 years. Boarding schools forced the students to not speak in their Native tongue. Eventually, these children would grow up to have children of their own and would not continue the tradition of their Native tongue. Some generations have gone by, and only few have grown up in a home that still speaks the Native language. Another road block that is being seen in the language is that new words have not been developed, causing an overall standstill in the language. When the language is being taught, it is not words that people would use in modern speech. The Chickasaw tribe has seen this and is working with a team of first speakers as well as linguists to develop new words. This works because Chickasaw is a descriptive language when it comes to the meaning of a word.

Today, the tribes is getting better at encouraging those who still speak the language to step forward and to be honored and to speak for those who are no longer here. There are classes offered for Natives or for anyone who wants to learn the language, in most cases at no cost. The tribes are taking steps in the right direction to preserve the language as well as other traditions. Many tribes are also taking a look at their words and are working with a team to add new words to their dictionaries.

Native traditions are passed down orally, they are an ever evolving people. They are now writing down and recording their language as well as their history. This is happening in Native families across the board; they are talking to one another and gathering pictures, recipes, and sharing stories of how and why people did the things that they did. This is becoming so important because it is preventing the history of the culture from disappearing completely.Natives are taking the right
steps in the direction of keeping the language and culture alive.

Overall, the Choctaw and Chickasaw languages have has been through it all. These languages were spoken by a very large group of people at one time and despite everything have made it through to today. People that were not even considered citizens and that were treated horribly were able to use their language in wars to help their country they were called code talkers. There was a time when people were punished severely because of their language. Today the tribes are making great strides toward preserving these languages and keeping them alive;after all, it is what helps them stand out from the rest.

 

References

Brien, G. (2008). Pre-removal Choctaw history: Exploring new paths. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Byington, C., & Swanton, J. (1915). A dictionary of the Choctaw language. Washington: G.P.O.


Cushman, H., & Debo, A. (1999). History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

 

Haag, M., &Fowler, L. (2001). Chahta anumpa a grammar of the Choctaw language. Norman, OK: Univ. of Oklahoma Press.


Haag, M., & Willis, H. (2001). Choctaw language and culture: Chahta Anumpa.

Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press

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Curricula

Last updated: October 13, 2015