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The mission of the Yuchi Language Project in Sapulpa, Oklahoma “is to keep alive the rich heritage of the Yuchi people by creating new young speakers of our unique language through breath-to-breath immersion methods with fluent speakers and children.”
To that end, Running Strong for American Indian Youth® is proud to be a long-supporter of the YLP’s immersion preschool, children’s program and youth class, as well as its work with elders in a master-apprentice program to capture their vast cultural and linguistic knowledge for present and future generations.
We even got the chance to see their amazing work in action when Halay shared a video of two children building a snowman — all while speaking fluent Yuchi!
“The YLP is working to keep alive our unique Yuchi language, ceremonies and worldview by linking our youth with remaining elder speakers and culturally-knowledgeable semi-speakers,” says YLP project administrator Halay Turning Heart.
“This program is creating new, young second-language speakers and culture bearers in order to keep alive the Yuchi language and identity.”
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the YLP has been able to adapt and continue its mission in a safe, responsible manner following Centers for Disease Control guidelines “and is especially cautious in order to protect the health of our small language community including the elders, children, youth and instructors.”
In the past year, the YLP served 28 families, comprised of 70 individuals including 35 children — the future of the Yuchi language and culture.
“Our partnership with Running Strong began in 1996,” notes Halay. “We continue to work to reclaim our mother tongue and the education of our children, in order to create new young speakers and carry on the vision of our elders.
And to the supporters of Running Strong who have made it possible to provide continuous support for this vital program for 25 years, Halay says:
“This program provides Native children with Yuchi language classes and cultural opportunities, which contributes to their overall wellbeing.
“They would not have access to this knowledge anywhere else.”