Native Village 

Youth and Education News

November 26, 2003 Issue 123, Volume 2

"Popular culture seems to represent Native Americans as these mythical beings of the past and the Heritage month activities are trying to break down those stereotypes. People should know that we aren't a monolithic group of people. We are comedians, authors, singers, and our cultures are very much alive today." Nickole Fox

Head Start shakeup sparks rally
Last summer, 150 employees, including bus drivers, cooks, teachers and teacher assistants, were informed they no longer had jobs at Head Start on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  "It was the only way to save the Head Start program," said John Steele, tribal council president. Government officials had told Steele to cut staff or Washington would cut off all funds. Most of the employees who lost jobs were in noncompliance with national Head Start Bureau regulations.  New employees were hired by Washington to take up the administrative positions that had been vacated. The Head Start Bureau pays their wages and benefits rather than the Pine Ridge grant, Steele said. Yet he said he is frustrated by the way the Washington bureau handled the situation. "I wanted to kick them off the reservation," Steele said. The Head Start program with Early Head Start serves an estimated 533 children in the reservation's nine districts. Nine centers are in Pine Ridge, with a total of 18 centers reservation-wide.

Keeping Their Word
The 64 students at the Akwesasne Freedom School may learn math and history and reading, but their real purpose is to maintain their people's cultural survival. The school immerses children in traditional language and customs and counts on them to emerge the faithkeepers of the new century. Mohawk is the only language allowed except for the final two years, during a crash catch-up in English to prepare for public school. "We saw what happened to one generation that lost their culture, lost their history, lost their language," said Sheree Bonaparte, one of the first teachers at the school. "We decided that we didn't want to raise American children or Canadian children. We wanted to raise Mohawk children." Immersion programs are considered by many experts as the most effective way to end cultural illiteracy and impart their tribal perspective on everything from geography to botany. Akwesasne Freedom School is located in Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, N.Y,,0,6803089.story?coll=ny-statenews-headlines 

American Indian speaker shares difficulties of passing down heritage
In the Crow Nation, family extends far beyond bloodlines.  "The child becomes your [family's] child for the rest of his life," said Tommy Round Face, of Ashland, Mont.    For his own daughter, Round Face is the disciplinarian while family members teach her clan rules and  how those rules pertain to daily life.  For example, one should not speak badly of one's brother-in-law; he is married to one's sister who helps bring children into the world.  Round Face also places much importance on learning Native songs which detail the clan and tribe's history. "These songs are important in developing the people," he said. "By them understanding who they are ... [our children] develop self respect."  Round Face said it helps to get the students to sing the songs as well — and in the process, relationships are formed. "As they are growing up, it allows me to enter their lives, and when they're in trouble, I can talk to them," he said.  Round Face spoke on Nov. 19 during "Clan Day," a day when clan leaders visit reservation schools to share the Crow culture.

Teacher, tribe strives to keep students in school
The Pala Band of Mission Indians are now in their sixth year of providing high school education at the Pala Learning Center. Students say the program helps them make up credits they fell behind on while attending Fallbrook High School.  "I just didn't do my homework," said one student. "It's kinda nice here. I'm not sure if I'll go back to the high school." Since its inception, 45 students have graduated from the program.  The Center provides high school classes,  a community library with tutorial services,  a computer lab, and holds the tribe's educational offices. The school district pays the teacher's salary and provides some computers for the library. It also gives each student $80 for classroom supplies. The tribe pays for the facilities and utilities, some supplies, and educational equipment

Loss of Language and Culture
It began in Carlisle, Pa. with the philosophy: Kill the Indian and save the man. Carlisle Indian Industrial School plucked children from reservations to take away their language and identity. When students arrived at Carlisle,  school officials stripped off their traditional dress, bathed them, cut their hair, then dressed them in Western clothes. "There is still a legacy from boarding schools," said Carmen Taylor, executive director of the National Indian School Board Association. "All the way from a lack of parenting to feelings of oppression, to say nothing of the loss of language and culture." Carlisle's founder, Army Lt. Richard Henry Pratt, deprived them of all things native and total immersed them in white society. He called it a "baptism."  "I believe in immersing Indians in our civilization," he said, "and when we get them under, holding them there until they are thoroughly soaked."  Nearly 11,000 students graduated from Carlisle Indian School. It was the model for Indian boarding schools across the country.

Native youth occupy church in Vancouver  
Twenty native youth and elders occupied St. James Anglican Church in downtown Vancouver to protest the continued refusal of the Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian and United churches to admit their Genocide of native people in Canada.  "We are not the people who need healing. You are!" declared elder Harriett Nahanee to the mostly Caucasian congregation. "Your church helped to take our land from us. And so I'm using this church to take our land back again." After Church officials called for police, the group left peacefully but vowed to conduct other church occupations to get their message out. The group handed out flyers which called for:
  1. The churches admission to the deaths of more than 100,000 Indian children in the Indian residential schools;
  2. An International War Crimes Tribunal calling for churches, the RCMP, and the Canadian federal government to be put on trial for crimes against humanity;
  3. A boycott of these institutions, and the revoking of their charitable tax status, until justice is done for native survivors of Christian Genocide.

19 Native Students Receive Wal-Mart Scholarships From the American Indian College Fund
Nineteen American Indian students at five tribal colleges have been awarded Wal-Mart Foundation scholarships. The students are:

Cankdeska Cikana Community College

Ruth Porter, Bois Forte Chippewa
Jessica McKay, Spirit Lake Sioux
     Amy Redfox, Spirit Lake Sioux
     Justin Yankton, Spirit Lake Sioux
     Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College
     Robert Dess, Menominee

Little Priest Tribal College

     Kandyce Horn, Winnebago
     Melanie Huerta, Omaha
     Faith Means, Oglala Lakota
     Lena Monrroy, Winnebago
     Misty Nez, Winnebago
     Angie Walker, Winnebago
     Phyllis Ware, Winnebago


Nebraska Indian Community College

     Sara Cota, Omaha
     Bernerd Jackson, Omaha



Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute

     Darralynn Hill, Crow
     David Jaramillo, Chemehuevi
     Angeline Moore, Navajo
     Varlene Wayne, Navajo
     Troy Webster, Menominee

Winona LaDuke brings message to Iowa university
Winona LaDuke, author and former vice presidential candidate, spoke to a near-capacity crowd at Iowa University about Global Environmental Justice, Native Peoples and Women. LaDuke began her speech in the Ojibwe language of her ancestors, thanking the school for having her and saying she belonged to the Bear Clan and was a resident of the White Earth reservation.  She mentioned that Minnesota had returned 800 acres of land to the White Earth tribe, which had promised 10,000 acres to area tribes. "Recovering our land base is probably going to take about another hundred years," she said. She also spoke about wild rice, a spiritual food as well as an economic product of her tribe. "Rice is our most important grain, as a people," LaDuke said. "It's used to tell the story of our migration."
Iowa State Daily

Training Program Offered to American Indians
Elizabeth Sprot recently began a medical internship at the Catawba Indian Nation Health Clinic. The 24-year-old Catawba woman got her internship through The Native American Vocational and Technical Education Program from York Technical College. The program helps American Indians and their dependents gain additional job skills or begin new careers. (NAVTEP) is paid by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant, received in 2000, funds continuing education and credit courses.  The program offers free tuition,  books,  supplies,  monthly travel allowance,  and child care. Eighty-four students are currently enrolled in the program.
The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C.

Prejudice breeds stupidity, study says
Racism can make you stupid. That is the message from experiments conducted at Dartmouth.  Using brain-imaging equipment, undergraduate students recorded volunteers' answers to an "Implicit Association Test," a test used to measure unconscious racial bias. Based on their findings, the study indicates that the more biased a student was, the more he used the area of his brain associated with executive control--conscious efforts to not to think inappropriate thoughts.  "I think people are getting caught in this trap where they are trying not to do the wrong thing, rather than trying to act natural," said Jennifer Richeson, an assistant professor at Dartmouth College. "Somehow we have to get past this awkward phase."

LI Student Charged in American Indian Prank
At State University of New York at Oswego , Michael D. Johnson has been charged with disorderly conduct after bursting into a Native American studies class. Wearing a headdress and shooting suction-cup arrows at teacher Kevin White, Johnson made whooping noises and shouted, "Go back to your own country." Johnson ran, and White, who happens to be Akwesasne Mohawk, reported the incident to campus police. They eventually found Johnson who told them he intended it as a Halloween prank, and he didn't know White was Mohawk.  White, who was teaching the class at Oswego for the first time, said he was shocked and disturbed. "I'm frustrated that it disrupted my exam and that it's problematic because it speaks to a lack of education and a lack of awareness about Native American issues," said White. White said he has received no apology from Johnson. Johnson faces up to 15 days in jail or a fine.

Return to traditions by teaching our history
David Wilkins, a Lumbee college professor, called on Native educators return to tribal tradition in educating Native children and youth.  "It is about respecting the autonomy of each single human child and trusting that child with the right to choose and study those subjects that he or she is most hungry to learn," Wilkins said. "I am  convinced that our tribal ancestors understood this intuitively and worked with it institutionally." Wilkins, who is co-authoring a book with Vine Deloria, Jr., has drawn several conclusions from his research, including:
Government child protective services received over 3000 reports of alleged child 
The U.S. Constitution provides no rights for children;
Children face compulsory education throughout their formative years;
Parents have absolute power over children in all aspects of child  rearing;
  Children lack property so they are politically powerless;
Children are underage and cannot vote;
Children are seen in the future and not in the present;
Children are treated as immature and incompetent, yet many courts  treat them as adults. 
Wilkins said that before federal schools, Natives respected their youth, taught by example, and built a series of experiences designed specifically for each child's needs, interests, and desires. "Equally important, I believe, is that we as parents, as teachers or staff, whatever level, must look deep into each of our children's eyes and souls and ask them what it is they want to learn," he said. Wilkins, who spoke before the National Indian Education Association convention, teaches at the University of Minnesota. 
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