January 28, 2014
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Four elementary schools within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction received more than 1,000 books earlier this month from Chattanooga, Tenn. fourth graders, who held a book drive after learning about the tribe’s history and removal on the Trail of Tears.
The East Brainerd Intermediate School students formed a project to honor about 16,000 Cherokees who 176 years ago made the 1,000-mile journey from the ancestral homeland to present-day Oklahoma. With help from their teacher, the students organized a school-wide book drive and then shipped 96 boxes of books to schools in the Cherokee Nation.
“I was touched that a group of young children would put together such a heartfelt service learning project,” said Shelley Butler-Allen, who manages the tribe’s Johnson O’Malley program and coordinated with East Brainerd school. “The generosity by the students in Chattanooga is truly admirable. Hundreds of students here in the Cherokee Nation will benefit from their good deed.”
A private shipping company in Chattanooga volunteered to deliver the books to Belfonte School in Sequoyah County, Bell School in Adair County, and Kenwood and Oaks Mission schools in Delaware County. The four schools have a high percentage of Native American students.
“They’re really polite to think of us and send us good books to read,” said Oaks sixth-grader Christian Sequichie.
Sequichie picked out a donated James Patterson novel to read since he had read two others in the series.
The schools are sorting through the books, which will then be used for classroom reading.
“It’s nice to see them get excited about paperbacks when we’re moving into a digital world,” Oaks Mission Counselor and Principal Barbara Tucker said. “The students will really enjoy these.”