‘Aya Your Fitness Journey’ app now available

This article appeared in the January 2019 edition of the Chickasaw Times

ADA, Okla. – An application that combines health and Chickasaw history is now available for download on iPhone and Android smartphones.

AYA is an interactive mobile walking app designed to keep users moving while learning about Chickasaw history and culture.

Governor Bill Anoatubby announced the app during his 2018 Chickasaw Nation State of the Nation Address in October.

“We are pleased to introduce AYA, a walking app that integrates Chickasaw history, language and culture,” Gov. Anoatubby said. “We keep our culture alive through language, culture and songs as well as through the games we play.”

Much like the games of chunky and stickball, AYA gets participants moving, prompts them to compete, offers a venue to improve and reaches back to traditional Chickasaw lifeways.

The Chickasaw word “AYA” means “to go” or “to journey.” Using step-tracking technology, the app rewards users as they move throughout their day.

The app tells a historical story through walking partners brought to life by voice actors. These partners are fictional Chickasaw characters living during important periods in Chickasaw history. Their stories unfold as users unlock new chapters with their steps.

Characters were voiced by Chickasaws. The character Eliza is voiced by Cameron Mitchell; Solomon, by Ace Greenwood; Akanowa, by Virginia Bolen; and Hikatubby, by Vincent Baptiste. LaDonna Brown voiced the narration over points of interest.

Chickasaw citizen Monica Copeland voiced the character Mah Wah Ta. As part of the character’s introduction in the app, Ms. Copeland explains “Mah Wah Ta” means to hunt or find, and the character gathers plants to use as food and medicine for her people.

“As your walking partner, I will be with you every step of the way,” says Mah Wah Ta. “Along our walking path we will find important pieces of Chickasaw history - treasures, landmarks and keepsakes from the past. I will tell you about each one, so as we walk together, we learn together.”

More motivation to maintain momentum appears as educational unlockable content, which consists of items like traditional prayers, hymns, locations and Chickasaw words.

Users take an active role in walking to the Homeland. The journey is mapped along the same route Chickasaw ancestors walked during Removal from the Chickasaw Homeland to Indian Territory, a path that is reversed for the app from current-day Oklahoma to Mississippi. Along the way, users become acquainted with historical sites and landmarks.

In addition to the learning journey, AYA users can compete for position on the leaderboard and discover hidden Chickasaw treasures.

AYA syncs to step counters in Fitbit devices or directly to phones with Apple Health kit.

The app is now available for download in the Apple App Store and with Google Play. For more information and updates, visit AYAWalk.com, Facebook.com/AYAWalkApp, Twitter.com/AYAWwalkApp or Instagram.com/AYAWalkApp.