The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Youth stickball League operated by the Cultural Services Department and assisted by a number of tribal and community volunteers recently received a grant from the First Nations Development Institute of Longmont, Colorado. This award will support new and enhanced programming for the Choctaw Nation Youth Stickball League for the 2014/2015 season.
The Choctaw Nation Youth Stickball League was established this past year with the first practices held in February of 2014. Over 100 youth have participated in the program thus far. The goal of the program was to instill the time-honored philosophical importance of the game of stickball, a traditional sport among the Choctaw people of both Oklahoma and Mississippi, as well as promote cultural knowledge, health, and leadership among Choctaw youth. Youth players from across the 10 ½ county tribal service area formed four teams that participated in a full season of activities and games. The program touched on aspects of language, cultural preservation, nutrition, healthy lifestyles, physical education, character-building, leadership, mentoring, as well as understanding tribal values and practices. “Our goal is that our youth to be empowered and educated by playing the game of stickball. We want them to be proud Choctaws…Playing stickball gives them the opportunity to explore what that means- strengthening cultural identity, teamwork, self-reliance, and hard work to achieve goals” says coach Jared Tom.
The funding from First Nations Development Institute, along with tribal funds, will allow the youth league to grow in the 2014/2015 season. Funds will be used to train more coaches and establish additional youth teams across the tribal service area, as well as offer enhanced programming, more mentorship opportunities, and increased community involvement. “It is our mission in the Cultural Services Department to preserve our Choctaw cultural values, to be dedicated and strong as we sustain and revive what was and always will be our Choctaw traditions and culture. It is one of our greatest hopes that by focusing on our youth, that these traditions will continue to be passed from generation to generation as they have been for centuries” says Tom.
For more information about the Youth Stickball League, contact Choctaw Nation Cultural Services Department at 580-924-8280, or visit www.choctawnationculture.com .