Native Village 

Youth and Education News

December 10, 2003 Issue 124, Volume 3

“There are lots of people who are poor and forgotten. We need to remember the elders and what they’ve done for us. We want them to know that we appreciate them.” Thomas Mentzer, Hopi High teacher.

Nickelodeon tackles tough issues in Indian country
The Nick News Special Edition, "This Land Was My Land: Kids on Reservations," premiered in November with journalist Linda Ellerbee reporting about three tribes: Navajo, Nez Perce and Crow. Ellerbee pointed out that long ago, American Indians did not believe they could own Mother Earth. She explained that white land-hungry settlers came and took over the territory. The United States government entered into treaties with Indian people which were not honored. Today, she found youth in Indian country riding bikes and playing games just like anywhere else, but also entering  the work force at a younger age. 
Among the comments from Indian youth who were interviewed:
When asked what an Indian reservation is, one Navajo teen said, "It’s like America, but smaller."
One 13-year-old Crow youth screams into his pillow or takes long walks when he becomes angry over the loss of his peoples' lands. 
A 12-year old Nez Perce youth keeps his hair long because it's part of his culture.  He respects Mother Earth and animal life.
Another Nez Perce teenager honors Nez Perce traditional fishing rights by fishing with a dip net.
A young Navajo sheepherder said the traditional way of life shows how to walk in beauty, the Nizhoni or Beauty Way, and to lead a good life.
"To know your culture is to know who you are," said one Navajo teen.
Crow and white relations are not good, said a 13-year-old Crow youth. "They treat us like dirt and kick us around."
An 11-year-old Crow girl said the people at the Crow Agency are turning to drugs because "No one has anything to do around here. There aren't enough jobs to go around, so they take drugs."

Christmas Cards for Dakota
Earlier this year, 3-year-old Dakota Kwiecinski was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a rare disorder primarily affecting young children.  A world-wide call for bone marrow donors began in May, 2003, and after months of prayers, the Navajo/Caucasian boy found a match. Dakota is now celebrating his recovery and recently returned home from the NYC hospital for a brief visit.  Native Village readers are invited to celebrate the holiday season with Dakota by sending him Christmas cards and messages. The mailing address is as follows:
Dakota  Kwiecinski
21-38 31st St. #C4M
Astoria NY 11105

To learn more about Dakota, visit:

Umbilical Cord Blood Donation 
Cryobanks International is a facility accepting umbilical cord blood donations throughout the United States. Umbilical cord blood is rich in stem cells used in place of bone marrow for transplants.  Cryobanks is now working with Dave Jackson, a Native American Advocate and high-risk OB physician, to sponsor an umbilical cord blood donation program.  Umbilical Cord Blood Donation is a painless, non-invasive process that utilizes cord blood that would otherwise be discarded as medical waste.  Currently,  Native Americans in life and death searches have little chance to find a stem cell match. Donations are accepted from anywhere in the Continental United States. There is no charge to donate.
Learn more about Cryobanks:

First Nations Control Own Child Care
The Manitoba government has passed legislation giving Manitoba's aboriginal and Metis communities control of their own child and family services agencies. The four new agencies are for the Metis, one for each First Nation in southern and northern Manitoba, and general authority for everyone else. Hopes are the tribal controlled agencies can provide children with culturally appropriate care that ensures they grow up connected to their own communities. David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, was near tears, saying it was "a very proud day for us as Metis people."
Daily Minder and News 

Tribal drug court works on early intervention for youths
The Washoe tribe is fighting juvenile drug and alcohol problems through a new and successful program, the Washoe Tribe Juvenile Healing to Wellness Drug Court.  The highly structured program helps modify juvenile behavior and educate teenagers.  "Early intervention," said Drug Court Judge Ron Cauley.  "Drugs and alcohol are a big problem in the Native American population. In the Washoe population, (the juvenile drug court) is a concerted effort by the tribe to deal with the young people to try to divert them from this path." The youth involved have been cited or arrested for drug and alcohol use. Requirements include weekly meetings, drug testing, counseling and punctual attendance at school. Each positive step teenagers make toward improving their own lives gains them program points and a step toward program completion. About half a dozen teenagers are currently participating in the program.

Report notes 'crisis' facing urban Indian youth 
For American Indian and Alaska Native children living in Los Angeles County, one in four live below the poverty line, few live in two-parent households, many face educational barriers and few have access to childcare. "As home to the largest urbanized American Indian population, this region should be on the forefront of developing and implementing policies and programs that address the challenges of American Indians,"said the  Los Angeles County American Indian Children's Council (AICC). Research shows  that:
  25% of Indian youth live below the poverty line;
More than 5,000 Indian families live below the poverty line;
  45% of homes were headed by a single parent;
  40% of Indian males did not complete high school;
  Only about 50% of Native students graduated with their class;
  The unemployment rate among Indians was nearly twice that of non-Hispanic whites;
  Indian men earned 45% less than non-Hispanic white men; 
  Indian women earned 31%  less than  non-Hispanic women;   
  The poverty rate among American Indians  is 250%  larger than the rate among non-Hispanic whites.
Get the Report:
The Status of American Indian Children in Los Angeles (November 2003)

Aboriginal leaders ask Martin for $100 Million to Fight AIDS,
Canadian Aboriginal leaders asked minister Paul Martin to devote $100,000,000 per year to fight the growing HIV epidemic in native communities. Spokesmen said poverty-stricken natives are losing the fight against HIV/AIDS with the government's current $42,000,000 budget. A study released by Health Canada found that aboriginals accounted for 26.5% of new HIV infections from January-June in 2002, even though they make up only 3% of the population. 
The Ottawa Citizen

The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) is urging  young Mexicans to remain in the country and avoid drugs and alcohol. A statement was released during celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Zapatistas' armed uprising in January 1994. The statement read:"Don't let yourself be deceived; stay here and fight for your country, for the motherland that gave birth to you ... you don't have to leave. We lack a lot of things, and so we get addicted and then we have to look for money in the United States or somewhere else. But that doesn't help us. Instead we find death, drug and alcohol abuse and prostitution, and that all that causes us to lose our beloved country."
Associated Press:

MADD looks to curtail Native American drunk driving
More than 70% of Native American highway fatalities are alcohol related. With sobering figures like that in mind, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has launched two awareness campaigns.  The campaign is dubbed "Path of Hope" and consists of a video featuring five families sharing personal and painful stories of drunk driving tragedies. One segment profiles Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley and his wife Vikki. The couple's 29-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver in 2001. "It is important that all Native Nations know about the devastation that drunk driving and underage drinking causes, and that they are not alone when dealing with these tragedies. I hope that by telling the story of my daughter's death to a drunk driver, the formation of two MADD chapters on the Navajo Nation and continued education, we will help save lives," Shirley said. 

According to a 1999 study, traffic fatalities that are alcohol related:  
Native Americans: 73.2%
Caucasians 44.1%
Asians and Pacific Islanders: 27.1%
The rate of alcohol-related pedestrian fatalities is 90% for Native Americans ages 16 to 70.

Sentencing Circles Save Money, Study Shows
Connie Fontaine and her husband wanted tough punishment for the teenage boy who stole their car and ran over several other young people. But after an aboriginal sentencing circle on the Ojibwa couple's Manitoba reserve, they were content to see the teen get community service and probation. Now he's part of the family and living with Connie's niece. Other victims, however, are not pleased with sentencing circles, a traditional process where victim, offender and community members meet to discuss the crime and how to punish the criminal. For Canada, the circles save millions of dollars in court and prison costs. In Manitoba's Hollow Water community alone, healing circles have handled many crimes, saving the government up to $13,000,000 in court and prison costs.
National Post (Canada) 

Researchers Find First Heart Attack Gene 
The first gene directly linked to heart attacks has been isolated. The gene was found in an extended Iowa family affected for generations by rampant coronary artery disease. The gene, called MEF2A, helps protect artery walls from building up plaque that slows blood flow and leads to heart attacks. "This is the first heart attack gene," said Dr. Eric J. Topol of the Cleveland Clinic. "Everyone who has this gene mutation is destined to have the disease. If you don't have this gene in the family, you appear to free from developing this disease." A report on the discovery can be found in the journal "Science." 
Cable News Network 

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