Cherokee scholars conduct litter cleanup at NSU

Beautifying the southern part of campus, members of the Cherokee Nation’s Cherokee Promise Scholar cohort at Northeastern State University took part in a litter cleanup August 25.

The project was suggested to the scholars by Dr. Les Hannah, associate professor of English and coordinator of NSU’s Cherokee language program.

“Turnout was high with about 30 students,” Hannah said. “We also had participation from other campus organizations, including the Native American Student Association and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. There were several students affiliated with other tribes who took part.”

Hannah recommended the cohort keep litter clear from Beta Field and Beta Pond, but the scholars asked to care for a larger area. They included Town Branch Creek between the Muskogee Avenue bridge and the Spring Street crossing.

“That was where the litter problem was bad,” Hannah said. “The students collected everything from aluminum cans to car parts from Town Branch. In all, they pulled about six bags of trash from the creek.”

Before the cleanup of the creek a Cherokee Going to the Water ceremony was held, led by Ryan Mackey, a language curriculum specialist with the Cherokee Nation Immersion School.

“A good parallel to Going to the Water would be a Christian going to the altar,” Hannah said. “Among Cherokee traditions, it is a very spiritual experience. However this also had an educational aspect to it. Some of the Cherokee students had never heard of Going to the Water, and a goal of the Promise scholars program is to acquaint Cherokee students with tribal traditions.”

Each month the Promise scholars will gather to remove litter from NSU’s highly visible “front porch” which includes Centennial Plaza, and the entryway fountain. The cleanups will span the area between Seminary Hall, Town Branch Creek, the west wall of Jack Dobbins Field House and the east wall of the Science building.

“The scholars additionally agree to pick up any trash they see when walking through the area,” Hannah said. “Their efforts should ensure the near elimination of litter on the south side of campus.”

The purpose of the Cherokee Promise Scholarship is to provide financial assistance to low income Cherokee students pursuing higher education. The Cherokee Nation Education and Human Services groups have partnered to develop and administer the program.

Cherokee Promise students live on the third floor of the Haskell Hall Annex at NSU, which is set aside for CPS recipients to facilitate Cherokee immersion. Students participate in cultural activities and specialized classes and speak Cherokee as often as practicable.

Published: 9/15/2011 2:16:09 PM

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