Shawnee Tribe Names 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree
Monongahela National Forest announced today that the 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree has been named “wa’feem’tekwi” by the Shawnee Tribe. The name means “bright tree” in the Shawnee language and is pronounced phonetically “wa thame tech we”.
“We are grateful for the strong relationship the Eastern Region of the Forest Service has with the Shawnee Tribe,” said Regional Forester Gina Owens. “And we deeply appreciate the name they have bestowed on the tree that will be harvested from Monongahela National Forest this holiday season.”
The tribe has also contributed handmade ornaments and messaging for the educational exhibit that will tour with the tree in November. After the holidays, the Shawnee Tribe will use wood from the tree at their ceremonial grounds in White Oak, Oklahoma.
The Forest Service invited the Shawnee Tribe to name the tree as part of the ongoing celebration of the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree initiative and to honor the agency’s unique nation-to-nation relationship with the Shawnee Tribe.
“On behalf of Monongahela National Forest, I’d like to thank the Shawnee Tribe for naming this special tree. Names are important and “wa’feem’tekwi” reminds us of our connection to the Shawnee Tribe and the importance of our mutual relationship,” said Shawn Cochran, forest supervisor for Monongahela National Forest. “This is the third time Monongahela National Forest has provided the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree from West Virginia.”
About the Shawnee Language Immersion Program
In 2020, almost immediately following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, Shawnee Tribe leadership declared a state of emergency for the Shawnee Language, and the Decade of Shawnee began. The Shawnee Language Immersion Program (SLIP) initially started with in-person classes in three Oklahoma communities but moved to virtual classes due to the dangers posed by the pandemic. SLIP is now able to reach all Shawnees across the continent and even the globe!
First language Shawnee speaker George Blanchard helps the language department by creating a curriculum true to Shawnee culture. SLIP focuses on auditory learning and prioritizes speaking Shawnee over reading and writing. The team has also developed an online dictionary and archive through the Indigenous Languages Digital Archive and continues adding words as the program grows. SLIP’s goal is for all Shawnees to have access to language resources to ensure Shawnee can be used in daily life again.
Learn more about the Shawnee Tribe and the Shawnee Language Immersion Program at https://www.shawnee-nsn.gov/. A spokesperson for the Shawnee Tribe is available for media inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree
Since 1970 the Forest Service has been providing a tree harvested from a national forest to serve as the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree for the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. This year the selected tree is a 63-foot Norway spruce located on the Greenbrier Ranger District in Randolph County, home to the Supervisor’s Office for Monongahela National Forest. This annual project is made possible with support from partners including non-profit Choose Outdoors along with cash and in-kind contributions from companies large and small as well as volunteers locally and across America. We invite you to follow the 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree initiative at: https://www.uscapitolchristmastree.com/.