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International students learn native tribal culture

An international student from West Africa could see similarities between the stomp dance, a ceremony that dates back to early Chickasaw tribal history and a dance performed in her country to honor the dead.

“That looks like menag,” said Gaelle Ekvonne Ndong to a fellow student when the stomp dance was performed at the Chickasaw Cultural Center near Sulphur, Okla. She said the stomp dance reminded her of a dance performed to celebrate the departed in her native country, Gabon.

Twenty-three international students embarked on a trip in early November to visit the Chickasaw Cultural Center.


Students said they were excited about the trip because their professor, Abra Figueroa, had talked a lot about the native Indians in Oklahoma.

International students from about 10 countries gathered to learn more about the state they live in now.

“I was excited to go on this trip,” Trang Nguyen said. “Miss Abbie talked a lot about the Native Americans and I want to know more about them.”

At the center, the students learned about the Chickasaw nation and their contribution to Oklahoma and America as a whole.

According to the tour guide, the Chickasaws are the third largest Indian nation in Oklahoma and the 13th largest in the U.S.

The Chickasaws came to Oklahoma after they were forced to leave their land in the Southeast part of the U.S.

At the center, students watched a video about the Chickasaw people and why they tell their story.

“We believe that we have something special to share with the world,” according to the film narrator.

The students climbed an elevated bridge where they saw replicas of tribal homes where the Chickasaw people lived in the 17th century.

Students then saw the stomp dance which is usually done to welcome warriors when they came back from wars. Students joined in the dance which was led by Chickasaws in period costumes.

“I like this center,” said Graciela Lopez, who is from Mexico. “I would love to bring my children here to see and learn about the Chickasaw people.”

The following students participated in the field trip: Ninett Aquilar de Campos, from Nicaragua; Farouk Altaie, from Iraq; Rosa F. Dennison, from Peru; Gaelle Ekovone Ndong and Jean Mbo Meye, from Gabon; Pedro Grijalva, Graciela Lopez and Alberto Ruiz, from Mexico; Mingyuan Li, from China; Jongchul Lee, Kwang Won Lee, Aeran Shin and Boram Shin, from Korea; Hung P. Tran, Nhien Q. Tran, Lam T. Nguyen, Hien Nguyen, Lam X. Ngo, Huong T. Mach, Houng T. Le, Trung D. Le, Wy T. Le, and Thanh H. Vo, from Vietnam; Pome Mang, from Burma; Yadid Villalba and Celida Vannaman, from Colombia.

For more information, contact Professor Abra Figueroa at 405-682-1611, ext. 7326, or by email at afigueroa@occc.edu.