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We're Celebrating our 2019-2020 NAS Graduates!!

Please click here to view our 2019-2020 graduates!! 


Native American Languages Collection Awarded NEH Grant

Dr. Raina Heaton, Assistant Professor of Native American Studies and Assistant Curator of the Native American Language Collection (NAL) at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, received the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Foundations Grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities. This grant will provide funds for a 1-year, collaborative planning phase for the development of a large-scale, stand-alone digital platform that will make all unrestricted recordings, manuscripts, and other materials in the NAL collection available online. The NAL supervisory board will host workshops with archival & tech professionals, depositors, and tribal & community stakeholders to develop an plan for implementation. The grant will produce detailed mock-ups of a new user-oriented interface for NAL that will best serve the needs of our communities, which lays the foundation for a subsequent development/implementation grant. Congratulations to Dr. Raina Heaton and thank you for your important work.  


OU Native Peoples Initiative receives $4.8 million launch gift


Dr. Raina Heaton spends semester in Paraguay documenting Enenlhet language

Miguel Romero, Enenlhet elder, holding a plant and explaining its medicinal uses to Dr. Raina Heaton.

Dr. Raina Heaton is an Assistant Professor of Native American Studies and Assistant Curator of the Native American Languages Collection at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.  She has spent the past two months in Paraguay documenting the Enenlhet language, her account of her time and efforts there can be found below.

"As a linguist I'm involved in a number of projects to revitalize and document under-resourced indigenous languages in North, South, and Central America. I am currently interested in the reconstruction of linguistic isolates (primarily work with Tunica, a language of the Gulf South, USA), linguistic benchmarks for child language acquisition in situations of language revitalization (primarily Kaqchikel (Mayan, Guatemala), and antipassivization and other valency-altering voice phenomena in languages across the globe. In 2018 I also started a collaborative documentation project for Enenlhet (Enlhet-Enenlhet, Paraguay), described further below. 

The goal of the Enenlhet Documentation Project is to build a broad, multi-purpose linguistic corpus for Enenlhet (ISO 639-3: tmf). Since this language has not been previously documented, and there is little information available for this language family more generally, the materials that this project is producing will be a valuable resource for generations to come. My collaborator Manolo Romero and I are writing the first Enenlhet dictionary (Enenlhet, Spanish, and English), and I also plan to use these materials to write a descriptive grammar founded in a broad range of naturalistic data. Having these materials available will encourage future research on this language, and help raise the profile of the indigenous languages of the Chaco within Paraguay (while Paraguay is proudly a bilingual state (Spanish and Guarani), equal support is not afforded the other indigenous languages of the country).    
I have spent the last two months in the Enenlhet community of Mekkanekha' Pa'at (Pozo Amarillo) recording speakers talking on a wide variety of topics which interest them. These include family stories, indigenous histories of the migrations of the region and the settling of Mekkanekha' Pa'at, traditional tales of transformation and taboos, medicine, food, religion, schooling, and what people like to do on the weekends. I have also worked closely with elders to document ethnobotanical information, and we have collected names and photos of over 500 plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. These recordings are all transcribed, translated, and will be publicly available shortly via the Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA) at the University of Texas at Austin. This research trip constitutes the first in what will likely be a decade of collaboration to support Enenlhet linguistic self-determination." 


NAS Office Manager Receives College of Arts & Sciences Dean's Outstanding Staff Award

Katie Bayliss has served as the Office Manager and Assistant to the Chair for Native American Studies for just over a year and has become a great asset to the department.  She brings with her 18 years of experience working for the University, in Financial Aid Services.  Congratulations, Katie!    


NAS Major Selected to Intern with College Board, NYC

Tamah Minnis (Meskwaki), Native American Studies major and History minor, will be moving to Lower Manhattan this summer to intern for the Direct Marketing Department with College Board. As part of this internship, Tamah will be increasing access and opportunity for American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students. She was one of four students selected nationally to help bring an Indigenous perspective to College Board. 

Congratulations, Tamah!!

Dr. Toni Tsatoke Featured on Native American Calling

Toni Tsatoke-Mule

NAS Native American Lanuage Program faculty member Dr. Toni Tsatoke was interviewed on Native American Calling in a segment on indigenous languages being taught at the post-secondary level.  

Listen to the story here.

NAS Native American Language Program

Natha Little Crow Named Withrow Scholar

NAS student, Natha Little Crow, was selected as a Withrow Scholar for 2018-2019.

"Established by the College of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors in 1996, the Leadership Scholars program recognizes the brightest and most involved students in the college.

Leadership Scholars brings students together from a variety of backgrounds, academic disciplines and experiences for the purpose of expanding their leadership education. During bi-monthly meetings, students learn about important aspects of leadership, including ethics, volunteerism, diversity, personal responsibility and other topics." 

Congratulations, Natha!


NAS Graduate Assistant Jared Wahkinney Presents at M2M

Jared Wahkinney presents his project proposal - Negotiating in Two Worlds - at the Mountains to Main Street Summit in April 2018.


OU Foundation Priority Newsletter Article

"The Chickasaw Nation has made a major gift to the University of Oklahoma Foundation to benefit the OU Native Nations Center, a hub for study, engagement and research that connects students and tribal communities with the university’s exceptional resources."


OU Humanities Forum Exhibits Native Artwork, Hosts Discussion

Jacobson House hosted Native artists Derek No-Sun Brown and Kira Murillo



National Museum of the American Indian Magazine - Spring 2018

NAS Instructor, and curator for the National Museum of the American Indian magazine, Edgar Heap of Birds, exhibited his art and served on a panel for Art Basel Conversations.



Christine Armer - Faculty Guest Coach

NAS Cherokee language instructor, Christine Armer, was invited to serve as the Faculty Guest Coach for the OU Baseball team during their home game against Texas Southern on March 13th, 2018.  Armer was recognized before the game and was presented with a baseball signed by the team.



NAS Student Cornelia Vann Receives Cobell Scholarship

Cornelia Vann

Osiyo! My name is Cornelia Vann—I am 4/4 Cherokee and a proud, enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. As a non-traditional, first-generation college student, I raised a family first before starting on my endeavor to achieve a higher education. I realize that having a college education is very important in order to help with the many social issues that we as a people face in daily life.

In May of 2017, I earned an Associate of Arts degree in Sociology from OCCC. I am currently a student at The
University of Oklahoma majoring in Native American Studies with and minoring in Sociology. I want to use my college education to encourage others like me that, yes, it is possible to achieve the awesome goal of graduating from college. Some of the wonderful achievements and opportunities that I have had thus far as a college student include being named to the President’s Honor Roll, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Civic Honors, the Cherokee Nation Scholar Program, and the Cobell Scholar program. In addition, I have served as the Public Relations Officer for the Leadership Council, as President of the Native American Student Association, and as a Transfer Distinguished Academic Scholarship recipient at the University of Oklahoma. Through hard work and dedication, I am making my dreams come true. The life skills that I have learned along the way have greatly helped with my educational goals, and I will use my education to be an advocate working with and for my people. I have pledged myself to do this—it is within my heart.

Sam Noble Museum Receives International Award for Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair

NORMAN — The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is the recipient of the prestigious 2017 University Museums and Collections Award from the International Council of Museums, which was recently presented in Helsinki, Finland. The museum program that has been recognized for the international award is the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair, a program that for 15 years has reached thousands of young Native Americans across Oklahoma and the Southwest.

“The university is proud of the well-earned international recognition received by our natural history museum,” said OU President David L. Boren.

Each spring, hundreds of students, parents, teachers, elders and community members attend the fair at the Sam Noble Museum on the University of Oklahoma campus. Now approaching its 16th year, the event celebrates language diversity and recognizes the efforts of students and teachers to revitalize Native American language and heritage.

The fair provides a unique opportunity for teachers and students to share their experiences in live presentations of song, speech and story. Students also compete in material submission categories that include poster art, films, books, cartoons and advocacy essays. Native language speakers, teachers and elders serve as judges for the competitions.

Among the many nominations, the fair stood out to the award committee because of its “innovation, creativity, excellence, transferability and significant impact on the university, the community and society at large.”

“This award, coming as it does after winning the national conservation award, the U.S. National Medal and the European Heritage Award, underscores the quality and diversity of the museum’s programs and the quality of the staff,” said Michael Mares, Ph.D. “I think the museum is among the best and most visible departments of the University of Oklahoma. The repercussions of the IMLS 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Services and the 2015 Best in Heritage award of the European Heritage Association, continues to impress museum professionals throughout the world with our remarkable story.”

ONAYLF began in April 2003 at the Sam Noble Museum when elder and teacher Geneva Navarro (Comanche), Native American educator Quinton Roman Nose (Cheyenne) and the museum's first Native American Languages curator, Mary Linn, sought to recognize the Native language teachers and students in Oklahoma. The fair has encouraged and supported the efforts of Native communities in Oklahoma and the surrounding region to document, revitalize and perpetuate their ancestral languages.

Providing a unique event to showcase linguistic diversity in Oklahoma, the fair contributes to the public’s understanding of the value of maintaining ancestral languages. Steady growth in attendance over 15 years has established it as a major celebration of indigenous languages.

The Sam Noble Museum was one of three finalists announced in June. The other two were the University of Rennes, France, and the National Cheng Kung University Museum, China.

The international committee for university museums and collections, UMAC is an international forum for all those working in, or associated with, academic museums, galleries and collections. As a global advocate for higher education museums and collections of all disciplines, the organization supports the continued development of university museums and collections as essential resources dedicated to research, education and the preservation of cultural, historic, natural and scientific heritage.

The Sam Noble Museum is located on OU’s Norman campus at J. Willis Stovall Road and Chautauqua Avenue. For more information, call (405) 325-4712 or visit


NAS Hosts Peer2Peer

The Native American Studies department was pleased to host the Peer2Peer - Two Sides of the Globe: Connecting Indigenous People project for lunch and entertainment in Ellison Hall.  

Peer2Peer - Two Sides of the Globe: Connecting Indigenous People luncheon