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Keetoowah Cherokee host mini-cultural camp

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TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During spring break, area kids got to take yet another break – this one from video games and TV. The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma hosted a Spring Break Mini-Culture Camp for kids in the fourth through eighth grade on March 14 and 15.

“These kids were one of the best groups I’ve ever worked with,” said Sammy Still, UKB Language, History and Culture Department director. “They all wanted to learn, and they picked everything up real well.”

The camp consisted of hands-on crafts and activities. Keetoowah Tradition Keeper Cindy Hair taught the children basketmaking. Everything from a miniature double-walled basket to a woven Easter egg basket resulted from the morning class, where only two of the children had ever made a basket before. Miss Keetoowah, Heather Goodrich, and Jr. Miss Keetoowah, Jordan Barr, assisted the students in their work.

In addition to the baskets, participants also made cornhusk dolls and miniature ballsticks. Lots of stickball was played, and another treat was a traditional culture meal, much of it prepared by and eaten along with tribal elders. The final afternoon of the camp included a presentation on Keetoowah Cherokee Stomp dancing and ceremonial customs, complete with a Stomp Dance exhibition hosted by Long Valley Kituwah Association of Chewey. All the kids joined in the dances, as well as a group of college kids from the University of Miami, Eastern Illinois University and Appalachian State University, who participated with the kids in other activities as well.

The UKB Language, History and Culture Department looks forward to hosting more camps for area children. “If all the future students are as good as this group, we’ll see Keetoowah Cherokee traditions being passed on for years to come,”

commented Still.