Cherokee Nation initiates grant program for schools participating in historical field trips

Author:
Updated:
Original:

TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation is providing assistance to Oklahoma schools with a desire to take students on educational tours to cultural and historical sites that are significant to the Cherokee Nation in Spring 2010. Grant applications are now being accepted until all available field trips have been filled.

The grant-sponsored tours, available to third through sixth-graders, are designed to promote priority academic student skills (P.A.S.S.) in various general subjects while also providing an authentic look into Cherokee heritage. Cherokee Nation has also arranged for special tour rates for seventh through 12th-graders and college students. Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism department hosts the education tours.

“Educating our children is one of the most important responsibilities we have, and through this interactive experience they will gain a better understanding of the Cherokee people and appreciation for Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma history,” said Chad Smith, Cherokee Nation principal chief. “There are many historical sites throughout the Cherokee Nation that are more than 150 years old that were established long before Oklahoma became a state. Students will have an opportunity to visit an ancient village, learn about the Civil War and enjoy live demonstrations of Cherokee culture and traditions among other activities.”

While experiencing Cherokee life past and present, students will go to various historical sites in Tahlequah, Okla., and the surrounding area. Site visits include storytelling at the Murrell Home, a scavenger hunt held on the historic Capitol Square of the Cherokee Nation and blowgun shooting at the Cherokee Heritage Center. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in an authentic Cherokee art project where they can craft their own take home surprise.

Participants will also receive a tour activity workbook, which encourages children to ask questions about important things they hear or see during the tour. The tour and accompanying materials are free to participating schools.

“Education is one of the Cherokee people’s core passions and an integral part of our history,” said Travis Owens, senior project manager of Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism. “It is important that the students can visit Cherokee Nation to understand more about Cherokee heritage. As for teachers, the tours are the total package with corresponding curriculum and admission to the various historical sites.”

The Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism department will present 26 education tours in spring 2010, with approximately 20 tours or 75 percent dedicated specifically to schools within the Cherokee Nation 14-county jurisdiction. The remaining six tours or 25 percent will be made available to schools outside of the jurisdiction. Tour groups may be limited to a maximum of 60 students with special circumstances taken into consideration. Each school can qualify just once for a grant per tour season, but can participate in the education tours as often as desired through separate funding. Factors in the grant selection include school location, Cherokee and other tribe Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood enrollment, economic and social conditions and overall class size. Schools not meeting the grant criteria can still participate in the program at a special rate of $5 per student.

The response from teachers and administrators regarding the education tours has been extremely positive including a note received during the previous school year from Margaret Wagner, Sadler Arts Academy, Muskogee, Okla., that reads: “The fourth-graders went last week, and I have heard nothing but rave reviews. One teacher said it was the BEST trip she has ever had. They were thrilled with the variety of activities.”

Tours are offered during the 2009-10 school year. For more grant information or to book a school tour, call Jasson Brook at (918) 384-6917 or e-mail jasson.brook@cnent.com.