Cherokee Language Camp – Dr. Margaret Bender

This summer, the Department of Anthropology and Wake Forest’s iPlace  (The Interdisciplinary Performance and the Liberal Arts Center at Wake Forest University) collaborated to support the work of two Wake Forest students with the Cherokee Language Camp in the Snowbird Community of western North Carolina. This annual six-week camp teaches Cherokee children and youth about their language, culture, and heritage, and employs several Cherokee young adults as assistants.  Rising sophomore and theatre student Hayes McAlister worked with Cherokee teachers and students to write and direct a bilingual play based on traditional mythology.  Senior Anthropology major and Linguistics minor Jacob Daunais worked directly with students learning Cherokee (a language he has studied with supervising Anthropology professor Margaret Bender), and he helped prepare Cherokee language materials such as games for the classroom.

Camp founder and co-director Shirley Oswalt wrote to Bender, “Our young students loved [Jacob] and they miss him, as does the staff. We look forward to working with you in the future. Thank you so much, oganali (‘friend’).”

Theatre and Dance professor Sharon Andrews also got in on “the act,” helping with directing and producing in the final days before the bilingual play was performed.   “I have such tremendous admiration for the work [Oswalt and fellow camp director Mary Brown] are doing,” said Andrews.

Bender, Oswalt and Brown hope to forge an ongoing relationship beween Wake Forest and the Cherokee Language Camp in Snowbird.  Bender plans to select one or more qualified students to apply for Undergraduate Fellowships through the URECA program to work with the camp again in Summer 2016.

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