Native Village 

Youth and Education News

April 6, 2005 Issue 150 Volume 2

"Whoever designed [NCLB] wasn't thinking anything about the history of Indian education. We feel an effective education is one that's defined primarily by the goals of the community. But [education in the US] is still a strongly assimilative system ... and in my opinion, No Child Left Behind is just another one of those roadblocks." Denis Viri, Arizona State University's Center for Indian Education.

Head Start center to reopen
South Dakota: Head Start services have reopened to 75 children in Rapid City thanks to the Community Development Institute Head Start of Denver.  The Colorado Head Start has replaced the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe as interim grantee after the Crow ran into money problems. "It's a good day over here," said Anne Reddy, Head Start director.

Proud First-Graders Now Say: Cherokee Spoken Here
Oklahoma: In three classes at Lost City Elementary School, Cherokee is the only language spoken in the classroom.  Lost City is among the first U.S. public schools to immerse students in an American Indian language. The Cherokee Nation in nearby Tahlequah, Oklahoma creates the curriculum. "The goal is to get them fluent," says Harry Oosahwee, the tribe's language project supervisor. "If we don't do anything about it, [the language] is not going to be here for the next generation." The program began in 2003 with kindergarten and classes for 3- year-olds. This year the program expanded to include first grade. "I can talk to my grandpa," says student Matthew Keener, who is also teaching his mother to speak Cherokee. "We do what other classes do but it's all in Cherokee," says teacher Anna Christie who teaches a combined kindergarten and first-grade class.  Currently, fewer than 8,000 of 100,000 Cherokee people speak the language and most are over 45 years old. 

The Christian Science Monitor

Click Alphabet for full size view

Willamina to offer Chinook immersion
Oregon: The Willamina School District and the Grand Ronde Tribe plan to launch a Chinook language immersion program for first and second grade students. The curriculum will be offered to 15-20 tribal and nontribal students. Until recently the Chinook jargon, also known as Chinuk-wawa, was almost extinct. Interest has rebounded in recent years. The tribe is now trying to make it the language of the future. Tony Johnson is working with the district to create the program and has helped create a written Chinuk-wawa alphabet and computer program for Chinuk-wawa characters can be typed.

Hawaiian Language Enjoying Revival In Its Homeland
At Ke Kula Kaipuni o Anuenue, all instruction for the 350 students is presented in the Hawaiian language. The public immersion school represents a turnaround for the native language. In 1983, about 1,500 people could speak the Hawaiian language. Today there are 6,000-8,000 Hawaiian language speakers throughout the state, most under the age of 30.  "Before, people would hear me speaking Hawaiian to someone and ask what language I was speaking," said Leilani Basham, coordinator of the Hawaiian language program at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. "I don't get that anymore." About 200,000 of Hawaii's 1,200,000 people are of Native Hawaiian ancestry.  Hawaiian is the only indigenous language in the U.S. that showed growth in the 2000 census.  Along with English, Hawaiian is recognized in the state Constitution as an official state language.  
Hawaiian words and phrases:
"Aloha"-- greeting and expression of love.
"Mahalo" --Thank you.
"Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono"-- The life of the land is preserved in righteousness.
Humuhumunukunukuapua'a--the Hawaiian State fish.  
The Associated Press State & Local Wire

The cultural connection
Minnesota: The annual Indian Education Winter Event in Anoka-Hennepin school district celebrates the district's American Indian community with food, art, storytelling, crafts,  drumming , and dancing. "All year long we're preparing by getting together on Tuesday nights -- making jingle dresses, teaching the students how to dance.  This is the culmination of all that work," said Mary Beth Elhardt, a counselor of Cherokee ancestry. American Indians make up about 1.25% of the district's 40,000-plus students.  The actual population may be larger, staff members said.  "When kids sign into the district they have to check one ethnic group -- that's it.  It doesn't really address today's world, because we have a lot of even tri-racial kids," said Robin Nelson, an Ojibwe storyteller.  Anoka-Hennepin's graduation rate -- 88% in 2004-- is among the highest for American Indians in the state.
  Star Tribune

Tribe gets funding for new youth center
South Dakota: The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe will receive $500,000 in funding for a new teen center in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier said. the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Teen Center will provide a safe, alcohol, drug and tobacco free environment that is mentally and physically supportive for the children. "It shows our commitment to the Seventh Generation" said center creator Julie Garreau "We would especially like to thank Senator [Tim] Johnson for his efforts in assisting us to secure this grant.  It shows that he believes in the youth here at Cheyenne River. " There were fifteen teen suicides on the reservation in 2003. The alcohol-related death rate of American Indian youth is 17 times greater of all ethnic groups.

County's American Indian program aims to preserve past, improve future
California: Santa Barbara County's American Indian Education Program educates students against Native Americans stereotypes. It also helps Native American students to maintain culture, traditions and ancestry.  "There are lots of stereotypes, misconceptions out there.  What we see on TV is not how people truly are.  This is real visual," said one staff member.  "...  We try to offer our viewpoint of history, which is different from the textbooks, in a non-threatening way."  Because American Indians are more likely to drop out of high school, staff members are involved with with Pre-K and Kindergarten classes and provide after-school tutoring.  They also help students apply for services like financial aid for college.  Beyond the schools, the program also connects American Indian families with special services and holds a food-share program for about 65 to 100 families each month.

Soul Wound: The Legacy of Native American Schools

More than 100,000 Native Americans were forced by the U.S. government to attend Christian schools.  The system, which began in 1869,  continued well into the 20th century.  Some were forced to enroll in reservation Christian day schools. Others, some as young as 5,  were forcibly shipped off to Christian boarding schools.  There, the youth were separated from their families for most of the year, sometimes without a single family visit.  Parents caught trying to hide their children lost food rations. Virtually imprisoned in the schools, children experienced devastating abuses, from forced assimilation and grueling labor to widespread sexual and physical abuse. “Native America knows all too well the reality of the boarding schools,” writes Native American Bar Association President Richard Monette, who attended a North Dakota boarding school.  In sharing his experiences, Monette said boarding school was a place:

"Where the fine art of standing in line single-file for hours without moving a hair, as a lesson in discipline;
"Where where our best and brightest earned graduation certificates for homemaking and masonry;
"Where the sharp rules of immaculate living were instilled through blistered hands and knees on the floor with scouring toothbrushes;
"Where mouths were scrubbed with lye and chlorine solutions for uttering Native words.”

To help residential school students, Sammy Toineeta (Lakota) helped found the national Boarding School Healing Project to document such abuses.  “Human rights activists must talk about the issue of boarding schools,” says Toineeta.  “It is one of the grossest human rights violations because it targeted children and was the tool for perpetrating cultural genocide.  To ignore this issue would be to ignore the human rights of indigenous peoples, not only in the U.S., but around the world.”

Indian lecturer tells students about straddling two worlds
Harry James, Sr., 63, helped his single mother herd sheep on the Navajo reservation and attended a Catholic school, where students taunted him and beat him up.  He later went to a New Mexico boarding school where he was forced to speak only English.  In middle and high school, James moved to Utah as part of a program in which he lived with different Mormon families -- at one house, he was told to stay with his own kind.  Still, he clung to his love for his community, language and culture -- even when some Navajos rejected him for living off the reservation. "Regardless of where we fit in, we need to be proud of our people," said James.  James shared his life story at the University of Utah.  The event was one of several  in celebration of the 33rd annual American Indian Awareness Week.

NSU to help preserve language
Oklahoma: Thanks to the combined efforts of the Cherokee Nation and Northeastern State University, NSU will debut a new bachelor of arts in Cherokee education this fall.  The four-year program, which prepares college students to teach Cherokee language and culture to K-12 students, begins with several basic courses: Elementary Cherokee I, Conversational Cherokee I, Intermediate Cherokee I, Cherokee Conversational Practicum and Cherokee Cultural Heritage.  While pursuing their degrees, students will take a total of 40 hours in Cherokee language and culture and 40 hours in education along with required core classes and electives.  To keep the program going, NSU must enroll 18 students by 2010, and have several students graduate by the end of the 2009-2010 school year.  The new Cherokee education program, the only one of its kind at a state university, will become a national model. Western Carolina University is also watching the program with hopes of creating a similar program for the Eastern Band of Cherokees in North Carolina.

Tribal College Gets A Look
New Hampshire: An estimated 40,000 people with native roots live in New England, far from America's 32 tribal colleges which all lie west of the Mississippi River. Recently, the New England Board of Higher Education was awarded a $200,000 grant to study the creation of a tribal school in the New England area. The tribal college would focus on training in health careers, environmental science and information technology. But offering an institution that supports cultural traditions is also essential. New England is home to federally recognized tribes in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. There are numerous other Indian groups as well, fueling a regional tribal renaissance

Tribal Colleges Redefining Success
The American Indian Measurements of Success project delves into the essence of tribal colleges' reasons for being. Discussions by administrators, faculty, and students found that education, sovereignty and community are almost equally important. This differs from mainstream colleges emphasis on grades and degrees.  Among the views expressed by AIMS:
Tribal college administrators care about their students and how the community is transformed by their graduates;
Although much has been written about this generation's materialism and self-centeredness, surveys of tribal college students reveal students who want to contribute to their Indian communities;
Indian students expect their colleges to provide them with skills, knowledge, and talents they can share with others; 
Tribal colleges want their graduates to be culturally competent, well versed in the cultural values of their tribe;
College administrators mentioned the importance of creating good citizens, familiar with treaties, federal laws affecting Indians, and reservation economics;
It is not appropriate to measure student success by the number who graduate in the shortest period of time.
Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education

Two-Year American Indian College Needs More Money
New Mexico: A Bureau of Indian Affairs official said an enrollment cap may help solve budget woes at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute. SIPI, a two-year BIA college for American Indians, has about 800 students.   New Mexico's two U.S. senators say SIPI has needed more money for years. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., took a tour of SIPI last summer, and said he saw buildings and facilities in need of repair. "We've been complaining to the [Bureau of Indian Affairs) for years," he said.  "What we've been seeing is that clearly SIPI's enrollment is growing, but its funding is not." To deal with the current budget shortfall, almost 30 jobs will be cut.
Associated Press State & Local Wire

University Professor’s 9/11 Remarks Protected by Constitution
Colorado: University of Colorado officials say professor Ward Churchill's controversial essay comparing some Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi is protected by the Constitution. However, charges that Churchill plagiarized work and misrepresented himself as an American Indian will be further investigated. Churchill denies both allegations and says he will sue the university if he is fired. The review could take up to nine months.
Associated Press

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