By LESLIE MIELKE
FORT HALL — The festivities to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy (CTEA) on Thursday included warriors, drums, speakers and a friendship dance.
Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy will be a language immersion public charter school for grades kindergarten through sixth grade. Chief Tahgee is designated as its own school district, No. 483.
Ninety students have already registered for school that opens Wednesday, Sept. 4. The total number of students who will be accepted at this school is 114.
Modules for the school are coming in about mid-July, said board chair Nancy Eschief Murillo. The school will be located north of the Sho-Ban Junior/Senior High School.
The ceremony started with two warriors coming from the east.
“Our warriors are protecting us,” said Escheif Murillo. “Our language will help us carry on our culture and help carry forth the values that are so dear and valuable to us.”
Keynote speaker Zelphia Towersap said, “In today’s world, there is nothing but technology.
“I never talk about my family,” she said. “I don’t know how they will grow up or what they will do. There’s drugs, alcohol, violence, gangs.
“That’s not our way,” said Towersap. “Kids need to learn Indian values.
“All we need are teachers who will be dedicated; Indians will be challenged,” she said.
“I travel around the country and I know of very few Shoshone speakers and most of them are 50-plus years old, said CTEA kindergarten teacher Nancy Eschief Murillo. “We are preserving and salvaging our language.
“I have taught government for many years,” she said. “The foundation of sovereignty are a unique language, a unique religion and a unique culture.
“if we lose our uniqueness, there is no reason to have a separate political entity,” said Eschief Murillo. “We have to save our language.”
Alexandria (Alex) Alvarez, CTEA vice president, said the board started the process for a charter in April 2010.
Alvarez listed the objectives of CTEA. These are:
° To provide a quality education for our youth.
° To give the community control and a voice and say about the education of their students.
° “We must protect our Shoshone, Bannock languages,” she said.
“People have asked why we choose to become a charter school,” Alvarez said.
“There is more freedom with the curriculum,” she said. “We have greater accountability.
“We will accomplish the A, B, Cs that stands for Academic excellence, Bi-lingualism and Cultural Enrichments by using the power of two,” said Alvarez.
The school was named for Chief Tahgee who was a Bannock leader from 1863-1871.
“He was known as a peacekeeper who kept agreements,” said Velda Racehorse. CTEA board member. “He wanted a large reservation for all his people so they could go to and from buffalo country.
“In 1867, a 1.8 million acre reservation was established by executive order,” she said.
“This school will reverse the damage done by the U.S. through the 1930s, 40s and 50s,” said Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Nathan Small. “The school will be teaching language and cultural traditions of the Shoshone-Bannock tribes.
The Fort Hall Business Council named May 30, 2013, as Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy Day.
“In a hundred years, this date will still be celebrated,” said Small.