Three generations of Chickasaw citizens were in attendance Nov. 20 at Charles Evans Elementary School to talk to students about Native American Heritage Month.
Delores Monetathchi, daughter and Charles Evans teacher Clarece Shirley and granddaughter and Ardmore High School junior Caitlynn Sparlin were dressed in authentic Chickasaw regalia to explain to Shirley’s 1st grade students the importance of family before the Thanksgiving holiday.
“My family is one of the last full-blood Chickasaws in the Underwoods,” Shirley explains. “I bring in everything that I’ve grown up around and learned from my mother. I teach them how we speak different languages and how we ask for things. I teach them about our regalia and how not to call it a costume and just how we show different signs of respect for our elders and things like that in the classroom.”
Shirley is in her ninth year of teaching and tries to tie in her heritage wherever she can.
“I like to teach my kids in my classroom because it’s something that’s really close to me so that they can kind of experience it. I usually have them try a traditional Chickasaw food when they come and they just get to taste test it and things like that,” she added.Shirley has been reading the students Cherokee folk tales and different stories everyday to tie into the lessons about the Pilgrims.
“We listened to a Choctaw tale yesterday and they’re going to listen to a Chickasaw tale today. I just bring in all sorts of Native American tribe things that I think they will enjoy and they do. They like it,” she said.
Student Amaera Battice said it has been fun to be around the three teepees that currently fill the classroom and that his favorite story was the “Rough Faced Girl.”
Ella Moen said she’s liked all the stories so far and that she’s learning a lot.
“The pilgrims were the second ones to discover America,” she added.
Corbin Orr said, wearing a handmade headdress, said he liked dressing up in Native American regalia and that he likes that his teacher is an Indian.
“My favorite story was ‘Rabbit Tricks Otter,’” he added.
 Shirley said sharing her heritage with her students is a tradition she likes to carry down.
“Talking about family and sharing and things, that’s something I like to just do extra for them to kind of get them in the mood for Thanksgiving, reminding them that it’s about family and traditions and those times together,” she explains. “I’m very proud of my heritage. Family’s the most important thing to me. We’ve got a very big family. Just the way the Chickasaw Nation has grown, I’m just very proud of what we’ve done with our culture and how were sharing it. I’ve got family that works through all the Chickasaw Nation and I’m just proud of every one of them. They’re doing a good job.”