Native Village 

Youth and Education News

April 28, 2004,  Issue 132 Volume 2

"In Alaska, the beaches are slumping so much, people are having to move houses. In Tuktoyaktuk, the land is starting to go under water. The glaciers are melting and the permafrost is melting. There are new species of birds and fish and insects showing up. The Arctic is a barometer for the health of the world. If you want to know how healthy the world is, come to the Arctic and feel its pulse." Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Inuit

SF Fair Promotes Living Native Languages
The Fifth Native Youth Language Fair and Poster Contest will be held at Santa Fe Indian School on May 15. The event honors living American Indian languages and the young people who are keeping them alive. The language fair features youth performance and artwork illustrating this year's theme, "Learning from Our Elders." The fair is the brainchild of the Indigenous Language Institute, a national center that supports tribes around the country in preserving original languages. Of the 300 languages that existed when Columbus came to the Americas, only 175 survive with only 50 being learned by children.
Albuquerque Journal

Core Subjects to be Taught From Native Viewpoint
A new curriculum will require Alberta students to investigate math, science, social studies and language arts from an aboriginal perspective. The new curriculum was created by educators and the Metis community.  "I grew up on the Dick and Jane books," said Ramona Big Head, a high school English and drama teacher who lives on the Blood Reserve. According to those books, moms stayed home, dads went to work with their briefcases, and clean, tidy sidewalks and white picket fences lined the streets. That wasn't the world Big Head saw while growing up in her residential school. She said aboriginal students, like the ones she teaches in Kainai high school, need to see themselves reflected in school books and not depicted in the stereotypes and negative images she was raised on.
The Edmonton Journal

Students excel in Navajo knowledge
The annual Navajo Knowledge Bowl hosted in Shiprock, AZ, demonstrated that excellence in Dinι speaking, reading, writing and singing comes from a commitment to their home language. “This is just what our kids need to believe in themselves,” said Cuba High School teacher Ray Sisneros.
Ninth Annual Navajo Knowledge Bowl winners by school and in individual categories were:

General Knowledge Bowl

First — Kirtland Central High
Second — Newcomb High,
Third — Cuba High

Navajo Writing

Short Story 

First — Greg Atcitty, Kirtland Central High
Second — Jonathan Dakia, Newcomb High
Third — Ramondo Benally, Newcomb High
Fourth — Megan Chavez, Cuba Middle

Creative Writing

First — Dominikk Tsosie, NHS & Erik Luke, Navajo Prep
Second — Rachel Atcitty & Winifred Jumbo, both of Navajo Prep
Third — Ashily Mann, Navajo Pine & Leandra Yazzie, Navajo Prep
Fourth — Trista Sandoval, Navajo Prep

Joke Telling

First — Jonathan Wilson, Newcomb High
Second — Jourdan Washburn, Newcomb High
Third — Lenunsya Morris, Newcomb High
Fourth — Robert Bitsui, Kirtland Central High


First — Vanessa N. Toledo, Cuba High & Ramondo Benally, NHS
Second — Winoka Begay, Shiprock High & Tee Duncan, Newcomb High
Third — Terry Joe, Cuba High
Fourth — Vanessa Johnson, Shiprock High

Personal Narrative 

First — Jeannie DeDios, Cuba High
Second — Delayne Nez, Navajo Pine
Third — Jonathan Wilson, Newcomb High
Fourth — Delilah Bitsilly, Newcomb High


First — Eric John, Newcomb High
Second — Floyvin Yazzie, Navajo Pine
Third — Ashily Mann, Navajo Pine
Fourth — Raquel Hill, Navajo Prep & Andreanna Sandoval, Cuba High

Navajo Reading


First — Deanna Yazzie, Newcomb Middle
Second — Eugenia Armijillo, Cuba Middle
Third — Kevin Mitchell, Navajo Pine
Fourth — Brandon Mitchell, Shiprock High


 First — Tyrell Jim, Newcomb High School
Second — Michaela Johnhat, Newcomb Middle
Third — Liana Cleveland, Navajo Pine
Fourth — Ramondo Benally, Newcomb High


First — Dominikk Tsosie, Newcomb High School
Second — Roland Begaye, Newcomb High School
Third — Jonathan Dakia, Newcomb High School
Fourth — Durina Keyonnie, Window Rock High

Spelling Bee

First — Jonathan Wilson, Newcomb High School
Second — Autumn Tsosie, Window Rock High
Third — Durina Keyonnie, Window Rock High
Fourth — Vanessa N. Toledo, Cuba High School

Navajo Speaking


First — Terry Joe, Cuba High
Second — Victoria Joe, Cuba High
Third — Miranda Mutte, Newcomb High
Fourth — Delilah Bitsilly, Newcomb High


First — Jonathan Wilson, Newcomb High
Second — Eric John, Newcomb High
Third — Theresa Allen, Newcomb Middle
Fourth — Sherry Foster, Shiprock High


First — Dominikk Tsosie, Newcomb High
Second — Cordell Smith, Newcomb Middle
Third — Earl Herrera, Cuba High
Fourth — Tiffany Tracy, Window Rock High

Navajo Singing


First — Maranda Yazzie, Newcomb High
Second — Eric John, Newcomb High
Third — Michelle Tomlinson, Newcomb High
Fourth — Earl Herrera, Cuba High


 First — Savannah Smiley & Michelle Tomlinson, Newcomb High
Second — Savannah Brown & Tavish Brown, Newcomb High
Third — Jaime Grass & Billie Atsitty, Navajo Prep
Fourth — Michelle Descheenie & Raquel Descheenie, Navajo Prep


First — Navajo Prep
Second — Newcomb High
Third — Window Rock
Fourth — Thoreau High

For every 100 students who enter 9th grade, only 67% graduate from high school, 38% attend college, and 18% receive an Associate's or Bachelor's degree. The advocacy group Jobs For the Future is promoting four dropout prevention programs to reconnect out-of-school youth with education and a future of solid employment.   “...We must make a commitment to these youth, using the best tools possible to connect them with education and future employment,” said JFF CEO Hilary Pennington.  “A more positive future is important for them, but it’s also important for us all, because these young adults are a big part of our future workforce.  We cannot squander their energies and their talents.”   A JFF report profiles schools four schools that typify different “best practice” approaches:
Dayton, Ohio: The ISUS Trade and Technology Prep blends education and employment training for out-of-school youth ages 16 to 22.  ISUS students earn a high school diploma and college credits while making progress toward nationally recognized certification in either the construction or computer industries.  Sixty percent of students complete the rigorous ISUS graduation requirements in two years.
Portland, Oregon: Portland Community College’s PCC Prep represents an institutional blend between high school and college, providing a comprehensive program that rapidly and intensively prepares dropouts for entry into college-level work.  It immerses students in an adult environment while they complete a high school diploma and take college credit courses. 60% of students entering PCC Prep in 2001-02 completed college prep requirements and enrolled in college studies.
Washington, DC: Maya Angelou Public Charter School takes on highly vulnerable youth, sets rigorous academic standards, and commits to providing students with whatever supports they need to overcome obstacles.  The school's seniors maintain a 92% attendance rate, and 75% of its graduates go on to college.
Philadelphia, PA: Youth VOICES builds on cutting-edge, after-school programs for older youth, linking them through community research projects supervised by Temple University students.  VOICES has served more than 150 low-income youth of color, with 84% completing the program.

Student helps Peruvian tribe protect territory
Conrad Feather, a PhD student  from St. Andrews University in Scotland, is helping the Nahua Tribe of Peru protect its territory. Illegal logging has cut a swathe through their territory, while oil and gas multinationals eye the ground beneath their feet. But now the isolated Nahua tribe is using laptops and global positioning systems to coordinate a campaign against development. "It is a place where there are no maps. There is little information about who lives where, " said Feather, who spent several months teaching  technology to the tribe.  "So any map is powerful, but when it has been made by the Nahua, and they can use it for their own benefit, then it becomes an incredibly powerful tool." To this date, the Nahua tribe has:
G Monitored the land and kept loggers out;
G Forcedgas prospectors to back down from plans to dynamite lands in searching for gas;
G Forced Peru's government  to admit it had acted illegally in approving exploration plans in the Nahua's territory.
Mr. Feather's work in helping the Nahua tribe has placed him in contention for one of the world's leading green awards: St Andrews Prize for the Environment, worth almost £20,000.
The Glasgow Herald

Indian students chosen for honors 
The American Indian College Fund has selected seven students from Montana's tribal colleges as 2004 students of the year. Each will receive a $1,000 scholarship. The winners include:
Crystal Tailfeathers, business administration major, Blackfeet Community College in Browning;
Alicia Werk, allied health major, Fort Belknap College in Harlem;
Chris Martinez, hazardous materials and waste technology major, Fort Peck Community College in Poplar;
Richelle Morrow, office administration major, Stone Child College in Box Elder;
Lailani Upham-O'Donnell, business major, Salish Kootenai College in  Pablo;
Michelle Spang, Chief Dull Knife College in Lame Deer;
Tana Perez, Little Big Horn College at Crow Agency.

Agreement between Chancellor Nancy Cantor and a multicultural student coalition
Recently, a multicultural coalition of students, faculty, alumni, Native leaders and community members staged a sit-in against Chief Illiniwek at the University of Illinois, Urbana Campus. On April 16, Chancellor Nancy Cantor and the group reached an agreement ending the sit in. 
Read that agreement:

Struggling to make 2004 Haskell pow wow a reality
The commencement pow wows at Haskell University may be an Indian country tradition, but few know of the struggle to put them on. For years, Manny King, Patti Grant-Orosco, and a hard-working volunteer committee have set aside personal time to work together on the spring event. "Our prize money is between $16,000 and $18,000," King said. "This year we had about $13,000 left over from last year, but it's only part of the prize money for this year and doesn't include the money needed to pay student workers who provide security, hotel rooms for head staff and all kinds of other expenses that come up."  Haskell's declining budget requires pow wow funds to come from donations and fund-raising efforts. "We'll get there," King said. "But we need donations. We aren't like the casino pow wows that have large budgets. We have to earn it all to put this on."
Indian Country Today

TV Linked to Short Attention Spans in Kids
New research shows that every hour preschoolers watch television increases their chance by 10% of developing attention deficit problems later in life. The study focused on two groups of children -- aged 1 and 3 -- and suggested that TV might overstimulate and permanently "rewire" the developing brain. Overstimulation during this critical period "can create habits of the mind that are ultimately deleterious," said Dr. Dimitri Christakis. "The truth is there are lots of reasons for children not to watch television. Other studies have [also] shown it to be associated with obesity and aggressiveness." The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, saying children under the age of 2 should not watch television because it affects early brain growth and the development of social, emotional and cognitive skills.

4-year school proposed for Indian teachers
A four-year school providing training on how to teach American Indian pupils in grades K-3 is the brainchild of Sheridan's WY public school superintendent. "We want to make sure that this is a top-end program that gets out the country's top 5 percent as far as teachers go," said Craig Dougherty, who is spearheading the effort to develop the National Native American Professional Development Center. It would cost about $20,000,000 over five years to implement the program. Dougherty is looking to for government and private funding, adding that he has gained support from the state and universities worldwide.
Overseers at BIA school dorms need, receive training too
The men and women who supervise more than 9,000 American Indian boys and girls in BIA school dormitories are often surrogate parents to the youth living away from home. But many supervisors have only a basic high school education, or less, to prepare them for the task.  So the BIA and the University of New Mexico are giving them 40-plus hours of residential training to help them meet their students' diverse needs. The program combines classroom courses ranging from healthy living to recognizing abuse, and  school-site visits where consultants showed staff how to put their coursework to practice.

Indian education money untapped
School districts with Native American children can start a federally funded Indian education program if parents of those children form a committee to oversee it.  Most Indian education programs provide academic tutoring to Native American students. The national dropout rate for Native American high school students is around 50%, making early help for students an important part of keeping them in school. The programs also help urban children who lack the immersion in their culture that they might have on their reservations.
Among the challenges in starting a program are:
1. They take as much staff time as other programs that serve many more students. Administering grants is time-consuming;
2. Federal grants are given on a per-pupil basis, so program leaders must finding more students for the program as older students graduate;
3. Some coordinators must devote dozens of hours each week.

Indian Tribes Funding School Projects
California Indian tribes give an estimated $70,000,000 annually to various universities for the study of Native American issues. Some critics believe academic integrity is risked when special interests influence higher education. Some believe tribes are following examples set by companies which fund school projects Tribal representatives say university programs that address Native cultures have long been underfunded, and their money helps make them stronger.
San Mateo County Times

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