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Sequoyah Students Chosen to Decorate Native Christmas Tree at Capitol

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Cherokee Nation students from Sequoyah Schools were recently chosen as one of 44 school groups in Oklahoma to decorate a tree during the Governor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Capitol building in Oklahoma City on December 1.

Using traditional Cherokee crafts and the Cherokee syllabary as their inspiration, the group was able to create a unique Native American Christmas tree that will be on display throughout December on the second floor in the rotunda.

Students from the tribe’s immersion school and high school student council joined forces to make traditional Cherokee crafts that served as the tree’s ornaments. Fifth and sixth-grade students made reed baskets and a corn husk doll tree topper, while the student council crafted clay pots that read “ulihelisdi danistayohihvi,” which means Merry Christmas in Cherokee.

“We are very fortunate to have been chosen for this experience,” said Rebecca Brant, Sequoyah Schools library media specialist and student council co-sponsor. “It provided us an opportunity to share with others throughout the state pieces of our culture, while allowing them to see how talented, proactive and knowledgeable our students are.”

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Brant said the trip was a memorable one for the students because not only did they get to decorate the tree, but they got to meet Gov. Mary Fallin and tour the Oklahoma Capitol building.

"It was a great experience to be selected to go to the Capitol and be able to represent our school,” said Tyler Stroth, Sequoyah Schools student council president. “Making the ornaments was fun and a great way to show our heritage.”

All 45 trees will be on display at the Capitol throughout the holiday season, including a 30-foot Christmas tree clad with more than 2,000 energy-saving LED lights that sits outside the south steps of the building. Tours are available at the Capitol Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.