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Desert Landscape

Remembering the Past and Looking to the Future

The grounds of Tvshka Homma were full of people on May 19, all honoring the thousands of Choctaws removed from Mississippi to start a new life in a new land.

As I always do, I looked at the families gathered together on that beautiful, warm Saturday and thought of the tragedies occurring along the Trail of Tears and the many obstacles met by those who survived.

It is because of their values of faith, family and culture, and of their resiliency and strength (Tushka/ warrior) that we are the tribe we are today.

Today, the Choctaw Nation is one of the strongest, tribes in the United States. The Nation has close to 200,000 members and over 10,000 employees, making a positive impact on lives around the world.

Focusing on Choctaw youth is one of the ways we help build a stronger Nation. Education literally begins with parents before the babies are born and there are services available from birth through college and career-training years.

Summer is an exciting time for youth in the Choctaw Nation. Several opportunities to grow, become independent and self-confident are provided through sports, educational and cultural camps, summer school, and summer jobs and internships.

The Choctaw Nation Special Projects Department kicked off two months of summer fun with stickball camp in May.

It also has camps lined up for cultural enrichment, wildlife conservation, golf, softball, baseball, basketball, and football. The youth are able to learn about their heritage and expand their skillsets.

A Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) Camp will be held June 24-29 at Jones Academy for students in the 9th through 12th grades.

Science and technology are everywhere, in everything we do. STEM Camp offers the students a chance to be hands-on as they meet fun and exciting challenges.

This summer’s STEM Camp will be full of workshops, recreational fun, and team building activities including an intense and engaging workshop provided by NASA.

College tours included during STEM Camp are the University of Oklahoma’s American Indian Institute, as well as its Engineering Department and an overall campus tour.

Some of the topics covered will include a robotics session with Sphero, engineering design, and graphic design, just to name a few.

The Partnership of Summer School Education (POSSE) is providing intervention in reading and math for 4,100 kindergarten through third-grade students who are attending the summer learning program.

Students are attending at 40 host sites and come from 74 of the 87 school districts in the 10 1/2 counties of the Choctaw Nation.

In addition to the morning academic intervention, students are provided enrichment activities in the afternoon in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

Students will also participate in physical education, Choctaw cultural activities and go on three theme-related field trips.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) helps prepare youth 16 to 21 years of age for entry into the workforce. It provides opportunities during the summer to gain experience with on-the-job training.

This is the fourth year we have offered the Internship Program. The program has opportunities for students who live throughout the United States and partners with several programs within the Nation such as WIOA, Higher Education, and Career Development as well as several colleges.

Empowering our youth to be leaders with good values, a servant attitude, and the knowledge to be stewards of the Choctaw Nation is one of the most significant things we can do for us all.

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