Youth and Education News
October 20, 2004, Issue 140 Volume 2
"It's really important to go and vote and let your voice be heard. If I didn't vote, my voice wouldn't be heard." Irene James, 60, Lummi Nation
Education department releases 11 new kids books
Nunavut: The government of Nunavut recently launched a list of books written and illustrated by elders and other residents around the territory. The new books, based on Inuit legends and culture, are written in English, Inuktitut, and Innuinaqtun. Ed Picco, Nunavut's minister of education, highlighted the diversity of the books, which came from all three regions of the territory. His officials also said the publications reflect their commitment to the Inuit values called pijarnirniqsat katujjiqatigiittiarnirlu, which means "simplicity and unity."
Storytellers go traditional, teach more than folklore
North Carolina: Pre-K through grade 5 students were recently treated to Indian dancing and storytelling as part of Indian Heritage Week at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. The program, designed to expose students to Indian culture, is a joint effort between the university's Native American Resource Center, Indian student organizations and UNC's Indian Education and Arts Education programs. The combination of storytelling and dancing work very well together,'' said Stan Knick, director of the Native American Resource Center. "The program shows the students that the Indian culture is not something of the past, but something in the present. It is something that is ongoing. Whether the students are Native American or not, they leave here with an appreciation of something that is living and breathing in North Carolina." Student comments:
"I learned that you can't be the same, but you can be special." Andrew McCoy, grade 3
"Today, I heard stories I never heard before and saw two new dances.'' Sighlest Flores, grade 4
"They had to do a lot of practicing to do that.'' John Hopkins
Artist, editor revamp booklet
Indiana: A 16-page booklet describing the War of 1812 to fourth-graders has gotten a facelift. Jeanette Steiner, retired editor with the Walt Disney Co., and Frank Pontari, a retired graphic artist from the Philadelphia Inquirer, have collaborated on the newest edition of The Battle of Mississinewa 1812. The booklet tells the story of the Battle of Mississinewa and included profiles of historical figures such as Native American leader Tecumseh. The book also contains other bits of trivia and information about America's second war for independence. In a nearby town, a 10-foot-tall, 4,700-pound statue reinforced the book's contents. The statue shows a dismounted American soldier walking beside a Native American woman on horseback and a Native American warrior on foot. The scene reflects Col. John B. Campbell's order to allow more than 30 captured women and children to ride Army horses through knee-deep snow while his own troops walked from the Mississinewa River near Greenville, Ohio to Piqua, Ohio.
Wa-Pai-Shone shows students native heritage
Nevada: At Minden Elementary School, the Wa- Pai-Shone Indian Cultural Program actors and actresses put on a popular Native American folktale play titled "The Bear, Crane and Deer." The play was one of several traditional Indian cultural events, including native games, basket making, cooking and dancing, that took place at the school to celebrate native American Day. Nora Esparza, 12, who is half Apache and half Washoe, narrated the play while the sixth grade cast had fun acting as deer, cranes and a bear on stage. "This play is an important way to pass on the knowledge of our elders to young people," said Esparza. The Wa-Pai-Shone group represents Nevada's three tribes: Washoe, Paiute and Shoshone.
Sixth-Graders Find Buried Treasure in Bucket Of Dirt
North Dakota: John Melland, an amateur archaeologist, has been digging at the same Minot, N.D. site for 20 years. When he brought a bucketful of dirt from the site for his sixth-graders to sift through, student Matthew Schimke found a white speck smaller than the tip of his thumbnail. At first glance, it looked like a pebble, but it was actually a tiny white trade bead probably used as trade currency by American Indians in the 1800s. Other students, working with sifters, paintbrushes, and other archaeological tools, also found beads and fragments of charcoal, pottery, animal bone and artifacts. "I want students to be aware that history is alive," said Melland. "They live in a very rich area."
South principal to retire in search of new classrooms
Kansas: South Junior High School principal Russell Blackbird will retire at the end of the school year after 31 years with the Lawrence school district. Blackbird, who is an Omaha tribal member, said his decision to retire had been an emotional one, but that he's proud of what he has accomplished. "I'm very proud of my staff because I really believe my staff has worked very hard in recognizing accomplishments and needs and encouraging ethnic minorities or low economic students and recognizing diversity," he said. Blackbird will not be leaving education. He hopes to teach American Indian education or multicultural education at a university.
Arizona: Progressive Horseman Waldon L. Nez says training is easier if
you get inside the horse’s head and heart first. He’s learned that you have to take the position that you’re
dealing with half-horse and half-human while you become half-human and half-horse. “I've taken a wild horse
before and after working with it for a couple of hours, I’m able to sit on it and ride it,” said Nez. “People are
amazed that you can actually do that with a wild horse, but horses are amazing animals that learn quickly how to be
obedient. You just gotta let ‘em know you love them and care about them and have a lot of patience.” This
fall, Nez is teaching horsemanship classes at Greyhills Academy High School. He also travels around the Navajo Nation
putting on clinics, demonstrations, and teaching horsemanship classes.
Native parents question testing of children by school
Saskatoon: Members of the Piapot First Nation have shut down Piapot school, saying their children are not getting the education they deserve. Under a new curriculum, K-12 students were tested, then placed in special education. Parents are doubting the accuracy of those tests. "You based our whole native children of this First Nation community as special need?" asks Alvina Crowe. The school is owned by the band, but it is run by a third-party company, New Horizons, that has a contract with the federal government. Parents say New Horizons is not addressing the community's needs, and they will continue to protest until the company agrees to meet with all of them.
Native American Indian Songs' Guidebook and CDs Published for Schools, Music Teachers
Louis W. Ballard has published a guidebook for music teachers with detailed instructions and CDs on teaching 28 Native American songs. Entitled "Native American Indian Songs," the package is geared toward teachers and students in grades K-college. "This guidebook means a lot to me, and to Americans everywhere, including Native Americans," said Ballard, who is Quapaw, Cherokee and French-Scottish ancestry. "This is America's cultural heritage. I want the tradition of our songs and our music to live on, and the best way to do that is to teach all teachers how to teach them. Simple as that." Ballard's works are performed regularly by major musical entities and have premiered at the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institution and Hollywood Bowl. But this recent work and guidebook -- to help carry on the tradition of Indigenous Native American songs -- is one of his most significant, he says.
Mexico, New Mexico teachers to switch
New Mexico: New Mexico's Department of Education signed an agreement with Mexico allowing Mexican teachers to teach for three years in New Mexico schools. The teachers, who must meet state and federal requirements, will help fill a need for bilingual instructors, especially in the rural areas of the state. “Teachers that we hire under the (memorandum of understanding) with Mexico, we are going to use the same qualifications,” said Gladys Guiule, state director for bilingual education. “That means that they must hold a bachelor’s degree in education. If they are teaching in a content area, they must have the content area expertise. And also, they must have experience."
Chickasaw astronaut hopes to inspire students
N.M.: In 2002 John Herrington became the first American Indian to walk in space. Recently, Herrington talked to high school and college students at Eastern New Mexico University about his voyage to space and the challenges of being an astronaut. "This (the visit) is for the kids' futures," Herrington said. "I wanted to show them what NASA can do. Our mission is to inspire." Herrington, who comes from the Sequoyah Fellow tribe, took items from his family on his space flight, including an eagle feather from an ancestor who survived the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He said his job on the space flight included fixing some parts of the International Space Station. After returning to Earth, Herrington said he felt nauseated and needed several weeks to get used to solid ground again. "When I laid down on my bed to sleep, I really believed the ceiling was the floor," Herrington said. "For a couple of days, I felt I had to hold onto something. I felt like I was walking on marbles."
Haskell raises student fees
Kansas: By a 10-1 vote, the Haskell Indian Nations University's Board of Regents has increase student fees 100%. Currently, on-campus students pay over $105 per semester; those living off-campus paying $70. Next fall, on-campus will pay $210, and off campus $140. Those who use the campus's Day Care center will pay an extra $40-a-semester fee. Haskell officials blame the fee hike on the federal government which has not kept up with inflation. School officials have already cut cafeteria budgets, canceled summer programs and left several positions vacant to make up for a projected $150,000. budget shortfall. The fee hike comes as the school sees more students than last year. A total of 928 students are enrolled for the fall 2004 semester representing a 1.1% increase over fall, 2003.
“I would be struggling. It would set me back in my education. I would have to sit out a semester or have to ask my parents for help. It sounds like trouble.” Tim Robinson, Omaha
“Most of us come from poor reservations and we don’t have much money. I don’t think its right that our own Native people-the Board of Regents-want to impose this increase,” said Kani Malson, Passamaquoddy who added that students from the wealthier tribes have more money and can afford the increase.
Most students come from the Eastern Plains Region in Muskogee and the Southern Plains Region in Anadarko, although there are enrollees that originate from as far away as Washington D.C. and Juneau, Alaska.
Small College, Big Opportunities
Wisconsin: Whoever said that bigger is better never asked the students of the College of Menominee Nation. "Whenever I feel the need, I can go sit by the river, fish, and consider what’s really important,” said student Brian White. “A lot of the people think the same. ... There’s native spirit here. Other schools wouldn’t be like this." About 500 students attend the College of Menominee Nation, an accredited two-year school located on the Menominee Reservation. Native Americans account for about 75% of the student body, and women outnumber the men by a 3-to-1 ratio.
Big Haulers Put Natives On Road To Trade Careers
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology has designed two classrooms on wheels for people in remote communities. Transport trucks and trailers are equipped with desks and power tools to provide trades training to aboriginal people living far from major centres. Student Dustin Brertton, 20, said the program will help ease high unemployment in native communities. "It's hard for a lot of people to leave home to learn a trade," said Brertton, who is taking welding. "Some communities are really isolated. These will make it a lot easier to get job skills." Damian Abraham, 23, from the Queen Charlotte Islands in B.C., said many young natives don't consider learning a trade because they would have to go too far from home. "This is a way to give them broader horizons," said Abraham, who is training to be a millwright. Called NAIT in Motion Units, the trucks and trailers are part of NAIT's $4-million aboriginal education initiative. More than 100 native students a year are served.
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