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Keeper Of The Culture – Ardmore Runner Braydon Whitthorne Learns His Ancestors’ Tongue – Presented By Cunningham’s Flooring America

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Braydon Whitthorne learns the language of his ancestors to connect with his culture.

“I’m a proud Native American and, most importantly, a child of God,” Whitthorne says. “My family is very supportive with my goals.”

Those goals are representing his culture and “being proud of it.” One of two distinct methods Whitthorne uses to attain those goals is language.

“Nothing quite connects me to my heritage like speaking the way my ancestors used to,” Whitthorne says. “It’s extremely important to me to interact with others since there’s a small minority of us in America.”

Whitthorne’s education began about a year ago. He says, after completing his course to now retaking it for reinforcement, he can speak more fluently. He also works for the Chickasaw Nation Toksali Smart Youth Program with others who are learning the language, which helps him stay on-track. 

His inspiration came from his great grandfather and great uncles who have since died.

“They spoke a lot of Choctaw when they were living, and now that they’re gone, I don’t hear it as much.”

Whitthorne is a proponent for others to learn the language, too. 

“I would tell others that learning and understanding our culture is important. It shows you where we come from and who we are. We need to learn all we can so we can pass this knowledge onto others,” Whitthorne says.

The other method he uses to recapture his culture is running. The junior Ardmore cross country and track runner is one of the program’s standout returning racers from last spring.

“Running has given me a lot of determination in life when it comes to hitting the little goals in life and even getting up early in the morning and knowing all the hard work will pay off,” Whitthorne says. “Not only do I want to be a great leader and example to all Native Americans that run, but I also show them that with perseverance, their achievements are limitless.”

Whitthorne, whom Ardmore track coach Bryce Bell says “is capable of putting in some outstanding performances in the mid-distance and distance events,” this spring, says his faith in God has granted him faith in his abilities.

“Every day, we’re blessed with another opportunity to reach our full potential.”

This year, Whitthorne aims to be better than he was last year and break the Ardmore records in the 1600 and 3200.

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