Native Village 

Youth and Education News

October 29, 2003  Issue 121 Volume 2

"The American Indian has only one country to defend, and when you're picked on, the American Indian never turns his back." 
Ernest Childers Muscogee (Creek), Congressional Medal of Honor

 Iroquois Flag to fly in Lafayette
New York's LaFayette school district has a 23% Native-American student population. To honor their Native students, the schools will begin flying the Iroquois Confederacy flag outside its school buildings.  During a November ceremony, the flag will be raised on a pole to a height equal to that of the U.S. flag, said Superintendent Mark Mondanaro said.  The school board unanimously approved flying the Haudenosaunee flag despite a community petition for a public vote. 
The Post-Standard (Syracuse)

Tribe builds earthen lodge like those used by its ancestors
In Nebraska, the Ponca Tribe has built an earthen lodge like those used by their ancestors years ago. "The lodge is built as close as possible to what we know about the original Ponca lodges," tribal Chairman Mark Peniska said.  Construction began in September when the site was staked out, and peeled poles were erected. Dirt was excavated to form a circle, leaving a bench 10 inches high and 4 feet wide around the interior walls. After placing the support poles, green willow branches were woven into place. Brome grass was layered over the willows, and that was covered with a thick layer of soil. Students from the Native American studies program at Mount Mary College in S.D., will help with finish work. The tribe  is applying for grants to plant a demonstration garden, like one from 1804, and for interpretive materials. The tribe plans educational programs for children to show how their ancestors lived, the foods they ate and the games they learned.

World class
A remarkable campaign is being waged by students at Peter Burnett School in Sacramento, CA. The elementary students are determined to raise $12,000 to build a modern, one-room schoolhouse in Malawi, a critically impoverished country in east Africa. The campaign is even more incredible because at Peter Burnett,  all students qualify for a subsidized lunch. Many students are from immigrant families, making Burnett a severely impoverished school.  "My family is poor," says 11-year-old Anna.. "We were once farmers. Well, we're not that poor," she hastens to add, upon further appraisal of her meager wealth. "But we're not rich, either. I think we're in the middle." Even a world away, these kids at Peter Burnett have a chance to better things. "People will say, 'Wait a minute. We have kids who are needy here! Why are we doing this?' " says principal Irma Marquez.  "But I think we have to look beyond that. What are our children's moral responsibilities? They need to do things that are good for others. That's really the message here."

Pine Ridge gets education grant
Over the next three years, the U.S. Department of Education will send $810,000 to Pine Ridge High School for a ninth-grade program called Woonspe Epazo.  Woonspe Epazo, which means "to point to education," is designed to increase attendance, academic standards and decrease student dropout. The program takes a holistic approach that combines academic, social and cultural experiences. Ninth-grade students will be organized into year-long academic support groups focusing on core academic subjects.  Woonspe Epazo will also create a transition program between Pine Ridge School and other reservation middle schools by bringing students, parents, teachers and other support staff together. Currently:
aOnly 50% of the high school's 200 ninth-graders are in attendance each day;
aOnly 50- 60 students from a freshman class of 200 students will graduate from high school.

Program helping prepare tribal kids for casino money
Thanks to casino profits, Cherokee Indian children in North Carolina receive as much as $30,000 when they turn 18 and graduate from high school.   To help them handle that money, a new initiative from Junior Achievement and First Citizens Bank teaches personal finance concepts to children on the Qualla Boundary. "Without education, young people don't always make the best decisions about how to spend that money, especially when it comes as a windfall at age 18," said Junior Achievement Director Lisa-Gaye Hall. "This is really significant stuff they are hearing for the first time. "  The JA program, which also is taught at schools in the five counties around Asheville, stresses entrepreneurship, she said.

Tribes Form Task Force to Create American Indian University
Oklahoma State University and Oklahoma tribal leaders are hoping to create the state's first tribally controlled college. Leaders of the Five Civilized Tribes agreed to endorse a small, two-year college, called "American Indian University," for Oklahoma's America Indian population. If established, the American Indian college would be overseen by the Creek Nation Board of Regents, which also would have to be established. The Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee and Seminole tribe are supporting the establishment of AIU. American Indian University also has the endorsement of OSU President David Schmidly, who said the joint venture between OSU and the Five Civilized Tribes looks to be a good fit.
The Associated Press State & Local Wire

Breakthrough Book Shatters Stereotypes of American Indians 
The American Indian College Fund will soon released a new book, Real Indians: Portraits of Contemporary Native Americans and America's Tribal Colleges Filled with photographs and first-person narratives, the book chronicles the tribal college education movement, which now enlists 34 colleges in 12 states. These schools, their leaders and students are revitalizing Indian education and bringing social and economic change in the communities they serve.   "Yes, take a look at the wondrous and surprising details that contradict everything you thought you knew about Indians," said author Sherman Alexie, Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian,  in his introduction to the book. "Look at all of these Native-Americans successfully living on both sides of the hyphen … Go spend a few minutes with their faces and a few more minutes with their stories. These Indians, and all other Indians, are not who you think they are. They're not even who they think they are. Every Indian in this book is a mystery, and you're going to have a good time trying to figure them out."

Haskell teacher challenges system
Venida Chenault has taught social welfare, addictions and American Indian studies classes at Haskell Indian Nations University  for 12 years. She was recently interviewed by Erin Adamson, of the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Where did you grow up?
Topeka. I've got most of my extended family at Prairie Band (Potawatomi) or at Kickapoo, because I'm Prairie Band and Kickapoo...
What path did you take to becoming an instructor at Haskell?
I worked as a social worker within the state public welfare system and have also worked in the field of addictions...
How does your work relate to issues facing Potawatomi and Kickapoo people in this area?
What we try to do within AIS (American Indian studies) is we look broadly at issues that are facing tribes across the nation...
If you were going to address Columbus Day in a class, how would you go about teaching it?
...Columbus is definitely not one of my heroes. It's like asking Jews to celebrate Hitler. I was thinking about Iraq -- it would be like asking the Kurds to celebrate Saddam, when he was responsible for their slaughter.
Do you think it is time that maybe it wasn't a holiday?
I think we really have to start examining -- what are we celebrating?
Do you think Native American history still is invisible to the majority of Americans?
... I think sometimes people have a hard time accepting that the United States is the homeland of indigenous people. This is where the Creator placed us. And people get very angry and upset about the rights we have. If we shouldn't have rights, then who should?

The Council for Opportunity in Education has named Richard B. Williams, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, as a National TRIO Achiever. "Williams was chosen for the award by the National TRIO Achievers Committee because of the extraordinary circumstances he faced as a low-income, first generation American Indian student and for his tremendous contributions to educational opportunity for American Indians and all Americans," said Tressa Penrod of TRIO.   Williams, a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, has served as president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund since October 1997

N.C. universities trying to attract American Indians 
American Indian students and other school officials are noticing greater interest from UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, two schools that historically wouldn't admit Indian students. Much of the new recruitment drive comes because the universities are continuing their efforts to increase diversity and want to reach new groups of students, said Gretchen Bataille, a vice president and scholar in Native American literature. North Carolina has more American Indians than any other state east of the Mississippi, with nearly 100,000 residents.

Rowland, Blumenthal Oppose BIA Funds For UConn Law School 
Two Connecticut politicians are advising the University of Connecticut not to ask the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Connecticut's gaming tribes to help fund a proposed Eastern American Indian policy center. Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Rowland say that using BIA and gaming tribes monies would taint the policy center. “It is clear that the receipt of a BIA grant to fund a law center could compromise the center's ability to conduct unbiased research in a manner worthy of the University of Connecticut law school,” Rowland said. But the Mohegans wonder where Nell Jessup Newton, the law school's dean, could look for funds without turning to the federal government, tribes or state.  “If the argument is that tribal or federal funding is going to bias the research, I assume that same argument means that state funding would taint it also, because the state is involved in or potentially involved in lawsuits against tribes,” said Mohegan Charles F. Bunnell. Newton, an expert in Indian law, has been floating the idea of a center that would focus on issues such as land claims, federal recognition, gaming, tribal government and federal Indian law. She said several policy centers deal with Western tribes, but none exists to help the public deal with Eastern Indian issues

U.S. Department of Education Elevates Office of Indian Education
The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Indian Education will now report to the Office of the Under Secretary. Until now, the office had been housed within the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. The change reflects the importance of Indian education programs and student achievement levels. Tribal leaders and national Indian organizations have all expressed support for the organizational change. "The U.S. Department of Education is committed to providing opportunities for American Indian and Alaska Native children to achieve educational excellence," said Secretary Ron Paige. "The elevation of the Office of Indian Education to a higher reporting level reflects its responsibilities for policy formation and coordination in all department programs affecting Indian education, so that no Indian child or adult is left behind."

Heads Up: Educational Resources in Curriculum
The ERIC Clearinghouse and 15 other clearing houses will be closing at the end of this year.  The ERIC database will be revamped and operated as a centralized service via a single website.

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