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Singing, storytelling and fashion on display at Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair

Young models show off the work of Indigenous fashion designers at the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair in Norman.
Cheyenne Leach
/
OPMX
Young models show off the work of Indigenous fashion designers at the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair in Norman.

Oklahomans gathered at the Sam Noble Museum to celebrate 20 years of Native American language learning this week.

The purpose of the event is to celebrate language diversity and cultural heritage. With more than 1,000 student speakers present, hundreds of presentations were performed in native languages from Oklahoma and surrounding states.

For years, native language teachers have played an important role in keeping languages alive. In honor of celebrating 20 years, the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair recognized teachers in the program that have brought students to the fair for15 years or more.

Students participated in singing, storytelling, skits and poster contests. Judged on their ability to perform fluently in their native language and how they present themselves,513 presentations were accounted for at this year's fair.

A special Native American fashion show was presented in honor of the fair’s anniversary. Among the three designers was Courtney Little Axe, artist and designer ofALTRN8V.

Courtney Little Axe speaks on stage at the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair in Norman.
Cheyenne Leach
/
OPMX
Courtney Little Axe speaks on stage at the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair in Norman.

Little Axe is a Cheyenne, Absentee Shawnee, and Seminole designer from Montana. Little Axe’s inspiration is to bring Native-owned businesses to the forefront of the alternative scene.

Her line combines traditional designs and styles with an alternative twist. Little Axe aspires to “boost visibility of alternative Natives and to provide a specific fashion for them.”

The fashion show exhibited native inspired designs, including traditional language.

The fair’s theme was “Carrying Our Languages.” The Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair aims to keep traditional languages alive for the next generation of Native speakers.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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