Native Village 

Youth and Education News

November 17, 2004,  Issue 142  Volume 2

"The role of food is important, but it's gotten to the point where we become gluttons.... We could spend a lot more time really thinking about what's going on in our world and giving more thanks." Flying Eagle, chief of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

Native kids sent back to dilapidated school
Ontario: Kids on the Pikangikum First Nation have been sent back to school held in a dilapidated building. In October, officials closed the school because of a leaking roof and electrical problems. Temporary fixes were made, but Education Director Charles Pascalsays says an entirely new school is needed. The school was built for 250 students, but enrollment is up to 750.  Due to a shortage of suitable classrooms, 64 kids in grade 6 are being taught in one trailer with two teachers. 

New program focuses on literacy at Rocky Boy
Stone Child College has received a four-year grant to implement the Even Start Family Literacy Program to improve adult and child literacy  on the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation.  Even Start's goal is to help children reach their full potential as learners and assist parents in improving their literacy and educational skills so they can help educate their own children.  "The program gets the parents involved in the child's education, as well as working toward a GED themselves," said Barbara Bacon, the program's director.  The program is open to low-income adults who are working toward a General Educational Development degree and have a child attending Early Head Start, Head Start or is in grades K-2 at Box Elder or Rocky Boy schools. The child must be living with the adult to be eligible. Teen parents are also welcome, Bacon added.

Indian youth reach deep
Arizona: ArtsReach is a nonprofit program striving to increase the positive self-image of American Indian students through creative writing. Local writers hold workshops at schools with a population of at least 45% American Indian students. Every year, students' work is published. This year, ArtsReach abandoned its tradition of writing in magazine form, and instead, opted for a book format, aided with grants by Desert Diamond Casino and the Tucson Pima Arts Council. The new book, "Dancing with the Wind," was released in September with contributions by more than 200 students. Laura Tohe, a Navajo poet and professor at Arizona State University, served as editor of the book this year, calling some of the pieces "simultaneously beautiful and brutal." Proceeds from the sale of the $7 book will be used to publish next year's book.

MSU's Indian Council of Elders meets for first time
Montana: A half-dozen leaders from the Salish, Assiniboine, Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Blackfeet tribes nave joined Montana State University's new Council of Elders. The Council was created to advise MSU and strengthen its relations with Montana Indians. MSU president Geoff Gamble talked about his goal of making MSU the "university of choice" for Montana's Indian students."You're helping me realize that dream," he said.  He added there's still a lot to do. In the past MSU has had tribal elder on advisory committees to help with particular issues, but never as advisors speaking to the university as a whole.  "The thing I'm really thrilled to see is Montana State University's leadership is demonstrating an openness to improve on what are already successful programs," said Russell Stands Over Bull, a member on the committee. "It's encouraging to see the university's vision -- making an impact on a socio-economically depressed people."  In 1978, MSU had just 53 native students. That number has grown to 260.

Building Native Communities
Montana: Chief Dull Knife College is located on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation and chartered by the tribal government. CDKC is part of a small but rapidly growing movement to put higher education back into the hands of American Indians. Today there are 34 tribally controlled colleges and universities located in 12 states across the West, northern Plains and Great Lakes region. One more is in Canada. (Three schools --The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute n Albuquerque, and Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas --are federally chartered but serve an Indian student body directed Native administrators and boards.) Collectively, these schools enroll more than 24,000 students and serve 18% of all American Indians enrolled in college.
Native Peoples Magazine

"Tracking the Future"
Uashat mak Mani Utenam: The first Gathering of Youths and Elders from the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador took place in August on the Uashat mak Mani Utenam territory. Over 150 Aboriginal Youths and Elders gathered at "Tracking the Future," an effort to restore bridges between generations.  In the opinion of the delegates, it was a unique occasion to fulfill a real need and endow the Aboriginal youths with the proper tools to maintain their cultures." The birth rate is particularly high among the Aboriginal people," said  Jean-Claude Therrien Pinette. "Therefore, today's youths must begin to pave the way to the future, and this cannot be achieved without the input of our Elders who are the cornerstone of our skills and of our cultural and traditional know-how."   55% of  Quebec's Aboriginal population are young people.
Canada NewsWire

 NIEA conference discusses state of Indian education
Arizona: Thousands of American Indian educators gathered in Phoenix for the 35th Annual National Indian Education Association convention to discuss American Indian education in the United States.  Among the speakers were Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs Dave Anderson, former Congressman Joseph Kennedy III and former Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller.
Among their points:
Anderson's address focused mainly on personal responsibility and the need for Indians to take control of their own destiny. Anderson claimed that the Bush administration had opened 26 new Indian schools compared to only four during the eight years of the Clinton administration and that Bush has allocated $1,100,000,000 billion toward Indian education. Anderson advocates turning BIA schools into ''leadership academies''  which requires collaboration with parents, teachers and students. ''Culture is not about folk art, it's about survival,'' said Anderson.
Joe Kennedy III, blasted the Bush administration for under-funding Indian education by pointing out that the Bush administration actually cut funding in his proposed budget.  ''President Bush has cut American Indian education and hasn't put a dime into Indian housing but he just gave another $80,000,000,000 to the Iraqis,'' said Kennedy.
Chief Wilma Mankiller openly criticized the Bush administration's record on Indian education. ''In almost every case, there has been an absence of compassion,'' said Mankiller. She criticized education's failure to accurately portray American Indian contributions to history. Among the neglected contributions are those to the field of pharmacology where plants long used by American Indians are the source for many of today's modern medicines. 
Cindy La Marr, outgoing NIEA president, also spoke of her accomplishments which included getting President Bush to sign an Executive Order on American Indian and Alaska Native Education guaranteeing that the No Child Left Behind Act was used on reservations. She also denounced congress for failing to enact Head Start set-asides for American Indians but hailed the House of Representatives for pushing to restore Indian educational funding.

Native American Family Technology Journey to Help Weave Technology With Traditions
New York: Weaving computer technology with Native American traditions is the centerpiece of the Native American Family Technology Journey.  NAFTJ encourages native people to consider the advantages and opportunities computes can bring to their daily lives.  NAFTJ will also highlight the role technology is playing in the preservation of native languages.  More than 500 native languages exist, most of which are spoken rather than written.
Native American Family Technology Journey:  http:www.nativeamericanfamilynet
She's a voice of tradition
Oklahoma: 73-year-old Ardina Moore is on a crusade to save the Quapaw language.  Ardina is on of the very few people in the country who still speaks Quapaw fluently. And if the endangered language is to be saved, she's got to help do it.  "I'm getting up there in years," she said. "It's imperative that I do what I can as soon as I can, and try to pass that on." Moore was raised by her Quapaw-speaking grandparents from whom learned to speak and understand the language. Now Moore works with adult students in the hopes that they'll pass the language along to their children. "They want to be who they are, they're Quapaw people. It's in the blood," she said of her students. "When we lose our language, we lose our culture. Our culture is very important to us."

Last words:  American Indian languages are losing speakers fast
Oklahoma: The Native American Languages Act of 1990 reversed the U.S. government's historical policy of discouraging the use of native languages. The act states that it is the policy of the United States to:
Preserve, protect and promote the rights and freedom of Indians to use, practice and develop Indian languages.
Encourage and support the use of Indian languages as a medium of instruction.
Encourage state and local education programs to work with Indians in implementing programs to put the policy into effect.

Although Oklahoma has 21,359 native speakers, 10 tribes have 10 or fewer fluent speakers left, and 15 have fewer than 100, according to Alice Anderton, a linguist who directs the Intertribal Wordpath Society.  Eight Oklahoma tribes have no fluent language speakers left, and 10 more are one generation away from language extinction.  "We are at the greatest period of American Indian language extinction in history," said Dennis W. Zotigh, American Indian research historian at the Oklahoma Historical Society. The problem is that high school and college classes will not produce fluent speakers, Zotigh said. The only hope for languages to survive is to get young children speaking them.

No fluent speakers:
 Delaware Tribe of Indians
 Fort Sill Apache Tribe
 Kaw Nation of Oklahoma
 Miami Nation
 Modoc Tribe
 Ottawa Tribe
 Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma
 Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma
One generation from language extinction
 Apache Tribe
 Citizen Potawatomi Nation
 Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma
 Osage Nation
 Otoe-Missouria Tribe
 Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
 Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma
 Sac & Fox Nation
 Wichita & Affiliated Tribes
 Wyandotte Nation

In their own words: Click on the links below to listen to Native Americans say the following sentence in their language:
"Children and language are our future."
Durbin Feeling speaking in Cherokee
LeRoy Sealy speaking in Choctaw
Geneva Navarro speaking in Comanche
Mongrin Lookout speaking in Osage
Richard Grounds speaking Euchee
Pauline Wahpepah speaking Shawnee
Choctaw classes at OU singing "Happy Birthday" in Choctaw
Intertribal Wordpath Society
The Oklahoman

Inuktitut speakers will soon be able to have their say online as the Canadian aboriginal language goes on the web enables computers to write, manage documents and offer online payments in the Inuktitut language. It is also helping the language to survive in one of the most remote communities on earth. Inuktitut is spoken by the Inuit people living in Nunavut, northern Canada,  an area two to three times the size of France. "There are 25 settlements, 30,000 people and no roads. It is a huge area of land and the Internet is tailor-made for these groups," said Oliver Zielke of Web Networks. The government of Nunavut is committed to making Inuktitut its working language. "This type of development puts that goal within reach," said Eva Aariak, Languages Commissioner for Nunavut.
The technology behind can be used for other syllabic languages such as Cree, Oji-cree and Korean.

Spaniards Fight Over Language
Spain: Many of the world's 400,000,000 speakers of Castilian, or "official" Spanish, do not acknowledge it as their main language. In an upcoming world congress on the Spanish language, some are expecting a battle between the Castilian branch and greater linguistic diversity in both Spain and Latin America.  The split reflects a double challenge from Spain's other regional languages such as Catalan and Basque, and from renewed interest in indigenous cultures in Latin America. Recently, a group of academics in Barcelona criticized the official language, saying that "to designate Castilian as the Spanish language is a provocation for the peoples that have suffered and still suffer from its imposition."
United Press International

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