Tahlequah Public Schools has a very diverse student population.  A significant portion of that population includes tribal members representing twenty-nine (29) federally recognized tribes.  As of October 15th, 1,975 Native American students were enrolled in the Tahlequah School District.

With such a large Native American student population, Tahlequah Schools offers a considerable number of activities, programs, resources, and services for our Native American students.  These offerings are primarily made possible through federal and tribal funding sources. 

Tahlequah Schools uses funding from the Indian Education Formula Grant and JOM to provide a variety of resources and services to Native American students.  Resources available to Title VI and JOM Eligible Native American Students include school supplies, tutoring (administered in conjunction with Tahlequah Boys and Girls Club), Student Advocacy, Oklahoma Indian Student Honor Society membership fees, and cap and gown assistance for JOM eligible Seniors. 

Furthermore, Tahlequah Schools provides Native American Language, Art, and Literature classes that offers students the opportunity to gain additional knowledge and understanding of Native American language, culture, history, and traditions.

Similarly, Tahlequah Public Schools utilizes its Formula Grant and JOM funding to provide the following activities to its Native American students.  Tahlequah students can annually compete or participate in Challenge Bowls, Language Bowls, Writing Contests, Career Fairs, STEM Fairs, Test Prep Courses, Art Contests, Cultural Enrichment presentations, Tribal Museum visits, and tutoring.  A few highlights of activities that have occurred this school year are as follows. 

First, Middle School students participated in a cultural enrichment session entitled “Remember the Removal” presented by Faith Springwater.  This enrichment detailed the Remember the Removal bicycle ride.  The program is designed to teach Cherokee youth leadership skills and to provide them with confidence to take on future challenges.  Springwater, a Tahlequah High School graduate, gave a detailed personal account of her experiences on the ride.

Second, The Native American Culture class at Tahlequah Middle School had a contest where groups built historical Native American homes.  Before the build, students researched the homes and drew blueprints.  Pictures of student with their structures were included in the October 16th electronic version of Tahlequah’s Indian Education Newsletter.

Third, the High School Heritage Club and newly formed Cherokee Club participated in the Tahlequah High School Homecoming parade.  These organization entered a float with club members dressed in traditional clothing.

From October 23-27, 2023, JOM eligible students participated in the Cherokee Challenge Bowl Competition.  Tahlequah Public Schools students ranged in grade level from 2nd grade through 12th grade.  Eighteen teams consisting of a total of seventy-two players represented Tahlequah Schools in the competition.  Six of the eighteen teams placed in the top three of their divisions.

Native American Student Advocate, Heather Taylor, produces a biweekly newsletter in electronic format that provides a significant amount of information for Native American Students and Families.  The newsletter includes but is not limited to the School Calendar, a cultural enrichment section, a language section, student cultural activities highlights, tutoring, senior cap and gown ordering details, available scholarships and deadlines, workshops, college fair resources, financial aid, tribal awards programs, college and career resources, tribal contact information, and Act Test and registration deadlines. You can find the newsletter and other information on the “TPS Native American Education” Facebook page.

November is Native American Heritage Month.  As part of that celebration of Native American Heritage, Tahlequah Public Schools’ hosts a Native American Dance Demonstration for its students in grades PK through 12th grade.  The event is divided into two performances: one performance for grades PK -5th Grade and one performance for grades 6th – 12th grade.  This event brings the powwow experience to the school. 

Chris Ray – Title VI/JOM Director