Native Village 

Youth and Education News

April 6, 2005 Issue 150 Volume 3

"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.

Minnesota: The recent murders at Red Lake Indian Reservation highlight the high rates of suicide, violence, depression, and pregnancy among American Indian teenagers. The numbers for the Red Lake Indian Reservation are staggering.

A 2004 state survey of 56 Red Lake ninth-graders showed that:
*81% of girls and 43% of boys had considered suicide--300% of the national rate;
*Almost 50% of the girls tried to kill themselves, while 20% of boys said the same--300% of the national rate.

Nationwide figures show that American Indian teenagers:
*Commit suicide at 300% of the national rate;
*Are involved in alcohol-related arrests at 300% of the national rate;
*Die in alcohol-related incidents at 1,700% of the national rate.
*Native Americans are also third-highest in teen pregnancies, behind Hispanics and blacks.

UNITY Youth Declare Red Lake Tragedy As a Call to Action
Oklahoma: The tragic shooting deaths on the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indian reservation has prompted the nation’s largest, oldest and most well-known Native youth organization to respond. The United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY), has issued a call to action for communities concerned about their young people. “Although we are shocked at the evolving tragedy at Red Lake, we are well aware that this situation could occur in any community, at any time,” said Dan Terrio and Misty Airington, co-presidents of the National UNITY Council.
Read UNITY's Declaration:

Trauma, Turmoil can Last for Years, Experts Advise
Minnesota:  Students, teachers and psychologists say it may take years to calm the turbulent emotions that left 10 dead at Red Lake High School on the Red Lake Reservation. Within 48 hours after the shootings, students and teachers received counseling. The focus was on talking to one another and taking steps toward returning them to normalcy. For the children, the greatest help will come from native rituals and teachings focused on respect and love, said Wanda Baxter, Ojibwe culture and language teacher,  "When we talk to the children about our traditional ways, about our life as natives and how to talk to one another, they listen," she said. While grief pours forth at tribal and religious ceremonies, the physical healing continues for three students hospitalized with gunshot wounds.
Star Tribune

Red Lake prepares to return to school
Minnesota: Personnel from  Red Lake High School gathered on the Bemidji State campus to help surviving staff members get on with life. But getting the kids to return to the school will take time.  Red Lake Principal Chris Dunshee says it's understandable that some kids don't want to return. "There's been times when I don't feel like I can walk back into the building right now and I'm still struggling with that myself, and a lot of the kids and a lot of the staff were much more immediately involved with things than even I was, so I can certainly identify with those feelings that they're having," he said. Dunshee says he has no idea how long it will take before kids in Red Lake will be comfortable in their school.  Right now he's working to address some of the simpler questions students are asking. "We will have a plan in place for you.  You will graduate.  We will have a  prom for you this year.  So needs will be addressed for them." Dunshee says school officials will continue to meet and develop strategies to help the community recover.  In the meantime, the State will not require students to take state tests this spring, and all are exempt from fulfilling testing mandates required by the No Child Left Behind act.

Security concerns keep Red Lake schools closed

Minnesota: Concerns for student safety have prompted Red Lake elementary schools to remain closed until April 11, and to delay deciding when to resume high school and middle school classes. "Indications are that there are more kids involved than were down there at the school ... We need to identify positively that there is nobody else," Red Lake Police Capt. Dewayne Dow told the Red Lake School Board. Tribal Chairman Floyd Jourdain, whose son, Louis, is in custody, said the tribe would help the board in any way possible. But he said he didn't expect "a soul to set foot in that school this year." Alternate sites include the adjoining middle school or a vacant Bemidji School District school about 16 miles south of the reservation. Neither Jourdain nor high school Principal Chris Dunshee expressed a preference.

Others Aware of Red Lake Plans, Officials Say
Tribal and federal officials believe up to 20 teenagers may have know about plans for the shooting spree resulting in 10 deaths on the Red Lake Indian reservation. The FBI believes that as many as four students -- including gunman Jeff Weise and Louis Jourdain,  a classmate arrested last week -- were directly involved in planning the attack, and well over a dozen others may have heard about the plot. FBI agents plan to perform forensic analysis on 30 to 40 computers taken from the high school computer laboratory.  Investigators and school officials believe much of the  discussion and planning among Weise and his friends occurred through e-mails and instant messages. .

Tribal chair wins praise for leadership
The youngest tribal chairman elected in Red Lake Nation's history, Floyd "Buck" Jourdain, 40, was a virtual unknown throughout Minnesota and the world. But that changed after the shootings inside Red Lake Senior High School, the deadliest since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. What the world has since seen is an articulate man with admirable poise and a reverential presence during what he called the tribe's "darkest day." There was no grandstanding, no sign of scripted sound bites. He never said "I." It was either "we" or the "community." It was evident he was speaking from the heart.
"My sense of him is that he did not get into tribal politics just to kind of feed on his own thing.  He is young, honest, committed, energetic, dynamic and has the community's  best interests at heart and is working hard to make a difference," said Steven Hirsh, executive director of the Center for Reducing Rural Violence.
"He is very innovative and open-minded, and he has dealt with this tragedy with pride and sensitivity. He has done it with a recognition that he has to balance the right of the world to hear about the need of his people with the need for privacy for his people at this time," said Minnesota U.S. attorney Tom Heffelfinger,
"It's not about him at all. It's about his people. He is  probably one of the great, young leaders that we have in this state. He lives by  example, and I respect the man immensely," said Karri Plowman, executive director of the  Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce.

Native Americans Criticize Bush's Silence
Minnesota: Native Americans across the country were angry and frustrated by President Bush's delayed response to the school shootings on the Red Lake Reservation.  Three days after ten people died, grief-stricken American Indians complained that the White House has offered little sympathy for the tribe.  "I hoped [President Bush] would say something," said Victoria Graves, a cultural educator at Red Lake Elementary School. "It's important that there's acknowledgment of the tragedy.  It's important he sees the tribes are out here.  We need help."  Jacqueline Johnson, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, finally called the White House to inquire about Bush's silence. Spokeswoman Dana Perino said that the President was following the case through the FBI and the Justice Department and would dedicate part of his Saturday radio address to the Red Lake tragedy.
The Washington Post

      Birch & You
Minnesota: Birch bark has been used to make baskets and canoes, but a company in Duluth is marketing a new product made from it.   NaturNorth Technologies has patented a process to extract large quantities of a chemical, betulin, that gives birch bark its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities. Native American healers have been using birch bark for years, and some of them are worried about the future supply.  "You see the logging trucks go by, and they're just whacking down everything," says Skip Sandman, a traditional healer for the Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe.  Sandman says in the Ojibwe creation story, each plant and animal promised to help people in some way, and birch trees offered their healing qualities.   He says it's important to use them respectfully, and not for profit, but only to help people."They think it's only a tree.  But when the trees are gone, then what do we do?"

Hopes of girl drowned by cousin in 2001 create cultural bridge from S.D. town to Ohio
South Dakota: Weeks before she was murdered, Lakota Rose Madison, 17, had a vision of a bridge connecting her hometown of Little Eagle to Dayton, Ohio. The bridge, she told family and friends, delivered troubled and curious reservation youths to a Dayton safe house.  She hoped the vision would lead to a real cultural exchange that would bring young people she had met in Ohio to the reservation. Lakota' s vision was realized when a group of about 30 people from the University of Dayton and other parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania arrived in Little Eagle. A few were Madison's friends; others were followers of the youth sobriety movement started in her name.  All came to help. "We're just here trying to achieve what she hasn't because of her death," said Anita Lukey, a Cincinnati native and freshman at the University of Dayton. The visitors came to lay a figurative foundation for a safe house on Standing Rock and spread the news that a Lakota Rose peace house will be dedicated at the end of April in Dubois, Pa.

Tribe Suing University Researcher Over Misused Blood Samples
Arizona: The Havasupai Tribe is suing Therese Markow and other university researchers, claiming that blood samples taken from tribal members for diabetes testing were misused. Tribal members say those samples were later used to learn about schizophrenia and genetics among tribal members.  Markow, who now directs the University of Arizona's Center for Insect Science, said she was only trying to understand "the biological underpinnings of the health issues of the Havasupai."  The tribe and 72 tribal members are including the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the Arizona Board of Regents and Stanford University in the suit.  Combined, the suits are asking for $60,000,000 in damages
Associated Press & Local Wire

Nine States Sue Gov't Over Mercury Rules
New Jersey: Nine states have filed a lawsuit against the federal government for failing to protect children and expectant mothers from dangerous mercury emissions from power plants.  The lawsuit says new regulations announced by  the Environmental Protection do not satisfy the Clear Air Act requirements.  "EPA's emissions trading plan will allow some power plants to actually increase mercury emissions, creating hot spots of mercury deposition and threatening communities," said New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey.  "It's an anti-human health position. The EPA is putting private profit ahead of public health, and it's a mistake."  The nine states involved in the suit are California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Vermont.

Volume 2  Volume 4

 Native Village Home Page

Native Village is published with the generous help and support of friends, listserves, and online publications.
Without you, Native Village would not exist.  Megwich to you all.

To join our mailing list and receive news update reminders, send email address to:
To contact Native Village staff, email:

Native Village Linking Policy
Our research, study and resource collections cover a lot of Internet territory! We do our best to screen all links and select only those we designate "kidsafe" and appropriate. However, Native Village does not control the content found on third-party sites, so we are not always aware when content changes. If you discover a link that contains inappropriate information, please contact us immediately.  In addition, please be aware that each linked site maintains its own independent data collection, policies and procedures. If you visit a Web site linked to from Native Village, you should consult that site's privacy policy before providing it with any of your personal information.
For more information about keeping kids safe online, please read about the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Native Village © Gina Boltz

All rights reserved