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Hometown Hero: Star Yellowfish of Oklahoma City

Star Yellowfish connects Native American students to their culture

For 12 years, Star Yellowfish has made it her mission to connect Native American students in Oklahoma City Public Schools to their roots. It’s a complex mission that focuses on the future of about 3,000 Native American students in the city’s school while delving deep into the past.

Yellowfish leads Native American Student Services, a program with two goals. She’s determined to give the students everything they need to succeed in school, from supplies to uniforms to motivation. She also wants them to understand their rich cultural heritage.

That also means teaching teachers.

“We are teaching teachers about native culture, and specifically native history,” Yellowfish says. “We go into schools and teach the third-graders and their teachers Oklahoma history from a native perspective.”

Yellowfish, a Cherokee on her father’s side, grew up on a Navajo reservation. She understands the value of being immersed in native culture.

Native American students in Oklahoma City get that immersion in activities outside the classroom. Summer camps, art shows, and an annual Stompdance and Powwow keep students engaged throughout the year.

“She cares about her students a lot,” says Talia Mendoza, a former student and co-worker.

Mendoza says Yellowfish was instrumental in helping her attend a program to get a close up look at the state legislature. “She paid my fees. She helped with our clothing and our school supplies,” Mendoza says. “She is really one of those genuine people you meet once in a lifetime.”

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