TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- Recognizing her status as "first mother" of the Cherokee Nation, Dr. Isabel Baker, emeritus professor and alumna of Northeastern State University, is the inspiration for the name of the Izzy B Book Club in Claremore.
The book club, which will begin meetings in January 2013, will promote English and Cherokee literacy among Cherokee children ages pre-kindergarten through second grade. Organizers named the club for Baker because she is the mother of Bill John Baker, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, and made her career in education.
"I was invited to a meeting where they would kick off an undertaking to help tutor children to read," Baker said. "I gathered several books to give as a gift and they gave me a certificate and their thanks. It was not a ceremony, but a gathering typical of the American Indian community."
Farrell Prater, an NSU alumna, is organizing the Izzy B Book Club with the help of others with whom she worked during Bill John Baker's election bid.
"Several of us wanted to stay in contact after the campaign," she said. "We began the Covered Dish Dinner Group, which meets over a potluck once a month. We discuss what we can do for the community, and the book club is one of our projects."
Prater said plans include tutoring for older students once the book club is fully established.
"The tutoring camps for younger children will be called 'Isabel's Reading Under the Tree,'" Prater said. "We want to add evening sessions called 'Isabel's Reading Under the Moon' for older children. We also will offer services to Cherokees whether they live inside or outside the 14-county jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation."
Baker is professor emeritus of education at NSU. Her teaching career of more than 40 years included more than 12 at Northeastern prior to her retirement in 1994. Through political, social, civic and church involvement in Tahlequah, she and her late husband, Dr. Tim Baker, received NSU's President's Award for Community Service in 2006. She was also named an NSU Centurion in 2010. She graduated from Northeastern in 1950.
Today, Baker is on the board of directors at the Bank of Cherokee County and vice chair of the Tahlequah Hospital Foundation. She serves as vice president of membership development for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and is active with First United Methodist Church. She is also a life member of the NSU Alumni Association.
"I spent much of my life at NSU," Baker said. "I attended the Bagley School and went to high school on the campus. I got my bachelor's degree there and I came back and taught there. I've had a long love affair with Northeastern."
For more information about the Izzy B Book Club, or to make donations of books, call Prater at 918-406-0054 or write to P.O. Box 313, Claremore, Okla. 74018.
Published: 10/10/2012 4:07:31 PM