Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 12, 2013

Technology tells tribe’s story

TAHLEQUAH — American Indian tribes are known for preserving their history through storytelling.

Today, tribes like the Chickasaw Nation are embracing technology to keep their cultural values, languages and history alive.

Chickasaw Nation Executive Officer of Communications and Outreach Becky Chandler, and Executive Officer of Creative Services Karissa Pickett, demonstrated the ways their tribe stays in touch with citizens through media, starting with a historical video, during the 41st annual Symposium on the American Indian.

The video is shown to visitors to the tribe’s headquarters in Ada, as well as all new employees.

“Our nation covers 7,648 miles and 13 counties,” said Pickett. “Tishomingo is our capitol and our headquarters is in Ada. We have citizens living in all 50 states, and 12 countries on four continents. Technology plays a large part in our communicating with our citizens.”

Chandler said the tribe’s governor, Bill Anoatubby, encourages citizens to promote the tribe’s culture and pride and share its story with the world.

“The Chickasaw Nation is more than just a government,” said Chandler. “We work very hard to share our story, which is not just a story about the past, but as a thriving contemporary culture.”

According to Chandler, the tribe uses print, audio and video technology, along with social media.

“We offer several products, and print media appeals to our elders who like to receive things in their mailboxes at home,” said Chandler. “We have a  calendar of events, an annual report, a monthly newspaper, and a booklet of programs and services we update and send out annually.”

The Chickasaws also use other forms of technology to get their print information disseminated. The newspaper is offered as an online e-edition and through a iPhone mobile phone application.

“We’ve also started a ‘Chickasaw Adventures’ comic book series,” said Chandler. “Each volume follows ‘Johnny,’ a Chickasaw youth, through different events in our history. Volumes 1-7 are available now, and we’re working on 8-12. We’re trying to reach a younger audience and help them make a connection to their heritage.”

The Chickasaw Nation also has its own printing label, which publishes non-fiction works on the tribe’s history and culture.

The tribe runs its own community radio station, KCNP, which offers streaming programming online, too. Programming includes tribal language lessons, a weekly call-in forum, news, sports and weather. KCNP also offers programming on its website for on-demand download.

“In the video realm, we have CNTV, which is a bi-weekly news show, offered online, and we have public services announcements, and two full-length feature films,” said Pickett. “The CNTV programming is also streamed to our offices and health clinics.”

The first feature film, “Pearl,” was released in 2009, and tells the story of Pearl Carter Scott, the youngest female pilot in the United States in 1928. The second is a documentary about the Chickasaw’s contact with Hernando DeSoto, and is currently in production.

“The Chickasaw Nation also operates 20 websites,” said Chandler. “The most prominent is Chickasaw.net, which includes over 4,000 pages. We also have Chickasaw.tv, which is where the CNTV programming is broadcast, and Chickasawkids.com, which allows us to interact with our younger citizens.”

Social sites employed by the tribe include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and several blogs.

“Our government doesn’t use social media yet,” said Chandler. “We’re still working on the policies for use, but plan to launch a Facebook page in a few months. We have also developed a number of apps, including one for our newspaper, radio station, and one that teaches basics of the Chickasaw language. These are just a few more ways to connect people.

“We hope to evoke a sense of pride, not only as tribal citizens, but as Oklahomans. Our motto is, ‘United we thrive.”

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