Native Village 

Youth and Education News

February 9, 2005 Issue 146 Volume 2

"I think what we need to start doing is start teaching Ho-Chunk 101 or Native Americans 101 and vice versa. We have to understand the 101 culture of other people. Once we understand each other, we might be able to be at the same level." George Lewis, Ho-Chunk

Native students on the rise in Oklahoma
American Indian/Alaska Native students make up 1.2% nations 47,700,000 students of the  public school population;
In Oklahoma, 19% of the state's 629,134 public school students are Native American;
California has the largest number of American Indian students with 50,000 enrolled in grades K-12;
Alaska has the largest percentage of Native students enrolled in public schools: 25.5%;
Hawaii reports 72.3% of its student body as Asian/Pacific Islander.

Unspoken link to Senecas' past
New York:  Students at the 8-year-old Faithkeepers School are learning to speak their Seneca language while participating in the Longhouse ceremonies which define them as a people.  "It's like an alternative-type school. It's not for everybody. It's for ones who are interested in Longhouse," said founder Sandra Dowdy. The Dowdys hope to produce a new generation of faithkeepers who can lead the sacred ceremonies of the Longhouse. "We make sure our children will be able to take part," Dowdy said.  The children, ages 7-15, have learned to make fire the traditional ways — with flint or a bow drill — so they can ignite the ceremonial fires in the Longhouse. They have learned passages of the Thanksgiving Address, the prayer that opens and closes every Iroquois gathering, so they can follow along. Lori V. Quigley, a professor of linguistics, grew up and still lives on the Allegheny Reservation. She estimates only  60 fluent speakers remain among 7,200 members of the Seneca Nation of Indians. Most speakers are elderly and lack the energy or ability to take on a classroom of rambunctious kids. "For 30 or 40 years we've been teaching language, but we haven't been able to produce a new fluent generation," Quigley said.

Seneca words:

nyaweh = thanks nya:weh sge:no' = I'm thankful that you are well
esgoge' 'ae = I'll see you again wenitsi:yo:h = it's a nice day
osdeojyo:h = it's raining do:niyoista'e:h? = what time is it?
gajih = come here sadekho:nih = you eat
agadoswe'dani:h = I'm hungry dasha:h = hand it to me

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Learning Their Language
Saskatchewan: Students at Albert School are learning something largely new to them -- their own native language. Last fall, a Cree language program began at the school whose student population is 95% First Nations. "It's awesome," said Lewis Poncappo, 11. "It's fun to learn a different language," added Tredal Racette, 13. The PreK-8 school replaced its core French with the Cree language program, making it the only school in Regina to offer Cree exclusively of other languages. "It's been real positive and the students are quite receptive to wanting to learn their language," said Kindergarten teacher Sonia Kinequon. She says that students are enjoying something that is also very important to them as people.  'It helps a student with their identity, knowing who they are, knowing their grassroots, knowing where they come from," she says. "Language and culture cannot be separated."   Albert School, the Urban First Nations, and the Metis Education Partnership are hoping to start a family Cree language program so adults can also learn. The program, which does not yet have a start date, would be offered late afternoons or evenings.
The Leader-Post

Red Shirt raises the roof
South Dakota: When completed, the new $4,200,000 Red Shirt School building will consist of two 124-foot concrete domes connected by a rectangular structure. The Northern dome was created last month in the northwest corner of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It will house classrooms and a library. The south dome will house the gym, a health center and a kitchen. The two-story connector building will include a commons area, a dining hall, restrooms and the buildings' mechanical equipment.  Boyd Willson, from Dome Technology, said the domes are energy efficient, tornado proof and durable.

Bill aims to help kids get to school
Washington D.C.:  According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Navajo Nation has 9,800 miles of public roads, but only 20% of them are paved.  Many of the remaining dirt roads, including "bus route 5113," a 12-mile dirt road in a remote community, prevent drivers from picking up students in bad weather. Recently, U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, reintroduced the “Indian School Bus Route Safety Reauthorization Act of 2005,” to continue funds for improving Navajo Nation roads used as school bus routes.   The bill would also boost funding from $9,000,000 up to $10,800,000 over six years.

Bill calls for lessons in tribal history
Washington: State Rep. John McCoy has introduced legislation requiring Washington schools to incorporate the history of their area's Indian tribes into classroom instruction. House Bill 1495 would require tribal history to be taught by an instructor certified or approved by the tribe. School districts would also be encouraged to develop cultural exchanges with tribes.

Budget cuts put squeeze on education program
Northwest Territories: The Western Arctic Leadership Program, a successful aboriginal education program, may be dying a slow death from budget cuts.  Up to 60 Native teenagers apply for the 18 positions in the program every year. The rules are strict, including zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol, and two hours mandatory supervised study every night The 15-year old program has a 100% graduation rate, and most graduates continue onto secondary education. Despite the program's success, board members have been told the school may not survive beyond this school year. "Students have frequently commented they would not have made it through without the program," says Marina Devine, one of the tutors.   Giselle Marion, a Dogrib student in her last year of law and WALP graduate, is stunned the territorial government would even consider cutting it. "We need strong leadership, especially in young native adults because they're the future," she says. "We have to give them the opportunity and look beyond the budget and look at how a young aboriginal person can come to WALP, develop their leadership and return to their community to push their society forward."

Student comes from reservation to Haskell
Kansas: Caleena Hernasy, 22, calls Haskell Indian Nations University her only choice of college.  "(University of) Arizona was too big," said Hernasy.  "I didn't think I was ready.  I'm from the Navajo Nation. I grew up on the  reservation all my life, and my high school consisted of 99 percent Navajos. [At Haskell], I met a lot of people from different tribes, some tribes I didn't even know existed," said Hernasy.  Hernasy, who is president of the student senate, will graduate in 2006  with a double major in American Indian Studies and Media. She wants to continue her education, make documentaries, then return to the Navajo reservation after graduate school. "I want to work with my tribe a lot," she said. "I think mainly with the younger kids."

American Indians at UNC want sorority
Colorado:  When Aubrey Nitzberg first arrived on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado, she felt isolated until she joined an American Indian sorority.  "I felt secluded and out of place because I didn't know anyone who understood my culture," said Nitzberg, a junior studying telecommunications. Now Nitzberg is president of the Native Sorority, a group of nine women who are now in the process of joining Alpha Pi Omega, the national American Indian sorority. The women hope to begin the sorority's version of rush next fall.  Should the group gain membership, it will be the first nationally chartered American Indian sorority in Colorado and the fourth Alpha Pi Omega chapter, which originated at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1994.

University of New Mexico gains Native American Studies degree
New Mexico:  About 3,000 Native American students attend the University of New Mexico.  After years of effort by Indian educators, UNM will soon offer a new bachelor's degree in Native American Studies. Greg Cajete, director of the Native American Studies program, predicts that at least 100 students will enroll as majors or minors in the program within two years. ''This is a historic moment for Native American education,'' Cajete said.  Cajete said building the academic program devoted to the history and society of Indian country was a long struggle.
Indian Country Today

Students told to leave D-Q
California: Suffering from financial problems and a loss of accreditation, D-Q University, the state's only tribal college, has closed, and students were ordered to vacate dorms immediately. "D-Q has virtually no financial resources left," an administration's notice states. "Staff cannot be paid any longer and the costs of insurance, electricity and utilities cannot be (met.) Bills cannot be paid without a long period of fund-raising and rebuilding. The rebuilding of D-Q cannot be carried out while the dormitories are occupied. D-Q does not have the staff to protect university property, to protect the safety of persons, and to make sure that only reliable persons are on-site."  Meanwhile, D-Q student leaders are working tirelessly to gather donations and support from the Native American community to help save their school which has been troubled by lack of leadership, financial instability and decreasing enrollment of native students. Students said they need donations of food and money to keep D-Q's utilities operating. They have put out a call for community members to serve as volunteer instructors and to apply for 10 vacant seats on the 16-seat board of trustees.

Plans proceed for Native American center
Indiana: Plans are underway to construct a Native American Culture Center in Jay County.  With the site survey completed, funds must now be raised. "Our goal now is to be able to break ground in 2008," said Kay Neumayr from the National Center for Great Lakes Native American Culture. "So we are giving ourselves a few years to raise the money."  The site is located on original Miami homeland, close to the Salamonie River.  Scott Shoemaker, who is a Miami of Indiana, led the survey and land analysis. He said the project would be "good for educating people about Indian people from around the Great Lakes area because people don't think there are any Indian people left east of the Mississippi."  The NACC's mission is to preserve traditional Great Lakes Native American art, history and culture and  educate the general public about the importance of the Great Lakes Native peoples.

Financial footing now in sight
Five years ago, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe hoped to create a Sioux Nation university to draw Native American students from all over the country. But today, financial problems and competition for students with other colleges and universities are keeping Si Tanka University out of the spotlight.  Si Tanka administrators point to three signs the school is turning the corner in resolving its financial problems: a tentative agreement with creditors to restructure millions of dollars in debt; a plan to free up  $1,400,000 in federal money; and the possibility that Si Tanka's enrollment is on the rise.  Si Tanka could be going into the spring semester with more students than it had last fall, according to STU President Francine Hall.  "Those numbers are up," Hall said.

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