Native Village 

Youth and Education News

February 23, 2005 Issue 147 Volume 3

"I could not turn back the time for the political change, but there is still time to save our heritage. You must remember never to cease to act because you fear you may fail." Queen Lili'uokalani, Native Hawaiian

Congressman launches bid for holiday honoring Native Americans
California: California Representative Joe Baca (D-Rialto) has introduced legislation to create a paid legal federal holiday for Native Americans. California currently has a statewide holiday recognizing Native Americans, and Baca said the feds should follow suit.  "This resolution would provide the recognition that Native Americans deserve for their contributions to the United States, as individuals and as a people," he said. "Native Americans are the original inhabitants of the land that now constitutes the United States. They have helped develop the fundamental principles of freedom of speech and separation of powers that form the foundation of the United States Government. They have served with valor in all of America's wars, beginning with the Revolutionary war and through Operation Iraqi Freedom." The resolution also requests Native American Day be proclaimed a paid legal public holiday.  "This holiday bill is more than just a day off work and school. It will require our schools to teach students about Native American culture and history," said Baca. "It will bring nationwide recognition of the contributions of Native Americans to the United States, which are too often overlooked."
Native American Times

Group targets Indians for public office
Kaylyn Free, a former U.S. Justice Department attorney, will soon launch the first national group dedicated to putting more American Indian people in local, state and national political offices. "This has been a dream of mine for more than a dozen years," said Free, who is Choctaw. "I'm walking proof that there's a new day in politics." The Indigenous Democratic Network - also known as INDN's List - will debut officially Feb. 28 in Washington. The grassroots political group's goal is to finance, recruit and train a new generation of American Indian leaders for elected positions.

Galanda named Rising Star for 2005
Washington: Gabe Galanda, Nomlaki/Concow, has been named a Rising Star for 2005 by Washington Law & Politics magazine. Galanda helped lead the successful drive to add American Indian law to the Washington State Bar exam.  Galanda is former president and current treasurer of the Northwest Indian Bar Association and chairman of the Washington State Bar Association's Indian Law Section.

No tepees, no wampum
Mississippi: The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has announced a new advertising campaign to raise public awareness about the tribe and its culture. Wes Williams says that much of what people think about the tribe is misguided.  "The problem with stereotypes is that no matter how wrong they are, they are believed to be true,"  Williams said.  "So we decided the most effective route was to demonstrate with this education campaign the truth about what the Choctaws have been able to accomplish in recent years."  Among the facts promoted in the campaign:
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has 8,300 enrolled members living on the Neshoba County reservation or in six other tribal communities across Mississippi;
More than 80% of Choctaws living on the reservation near Philadelphia speak Choctaw as a first language;
Children are taught the language in school and also speak it at home;
The Choctaws have the largest unified and locally operated reservation school system in the country, with 1,700-- 1,800 students;
The tribe offers extensive financial help for college-bound students;
The tribe owns and operates diverse manufacturing, service, retail and tourism enterprises;
The reservation oversees several business ventures, including two casinos, hotels and high-tech electronic and manufacturing endeavors;
The Choctaws'  schools, health care or law enforcement expenses are funded by profits from the reservation's businesses.
The Associated Press

Elders' benefit strains Yukon land claims funds
Yukon: Yukon First Nations with a land claim settlement are finding it difficult to make elders' payments.  Most First Nations use compensation money given to them by the federal government to pay elders a benefit. But the number of seniors in many First Nations is growing, and the claim funds dwindling. Old Crow chief Joe Linklater says it is difficult to consider cutting the fund, because many elders live near the poverty line and the benefit is an important supplement to their budget.
CBC News

Native Americans Back From Iraq Decry Cutback
Arizona: From 2002 - 2004, the U.S. budget for Native American and Hawaiian housing hovered at about $650,000,000.  But in fiscal 2005, the budget dropped to $622,000,000.  For fiscal 2006, President Bush has asked for $582,000,000.  Chester Carl, chairman of the National American Indian Housing Council, is very concerned. "The president's preaching fiscal responsibility, and in the same breath he's asking for $82,000,000,000 for Iraq," he said. Indians "are over there sacrificing their lives to improve the lives of our enemy, yet they come back to conditions that are worse.  There are no jobs, there's no housing."  Saying that conditions in Indian country are worse than conditions in Iraq, two Native American war veterans are speaking out.
Former Army specialist Gerald Dupris, 22, described his mother's neighborhood inside the Cheyenne River Reservation in Eagle Butte, S.D., as "a lot worse than what I left in the military in Iraq." Dupris said lawmakers "should realize that a lot of Native veterans return home to worse than what they left.  They should realize what we've done for this country, and give back to the Native reservation."
Staff Sgt. Julius Tulley made it clear that he didn't blame the military or commander-in-chief for most problems. He was annoyed, however, when soldiers griped about living in tents, hauling drinking water, eating tasteless food, not being able to shower, watch television or access the Internet.  "It didn't take long  for Navajos to adapt to that life," said Tulley, 41.  "We were used to it.  I thought, 'What are you complaining about?' .  .  .  What they missed, it was nothing to us."

Catawbas Buy Land To Hunt, Preserve Wildlife
South Carolina: The Catawba Indian Nation has purchased 233 acres of land near McConnells to protect wildlife and provide for the education of natural resources. The tract will also give  tribal members an opportunity to hunt on their own land.  "It means we have a place that cannot be developed," said Teresa Harris-Auten. "We have a place where our plants can't be disturbed."
The Herald

Nursery has entrenched root
British Columbia: St. Mary's Indian Band operates the Aqam Native Plant Nursery in Cranbrook. Starting with one building in 2000, Aqam has mushroomed to five greenhouses that uses four seasonal workers and counts annual sales of $100,000 Cdn. ($85,000 U.S.).  Aqam is capitalizing on a landscaping trend where native vegetation is both desired and required, especially for businesses. In the spring, indigenous cuttings and seeds are collected from the surrounding area and, after cleaning and treating, are permitted to germinate in the greenhouses.  During the winter, the plants, which require a cold period, remain in the greenhouse. It takes about 12 - 24 months from when the stock is gathered until the plants are sold. There are about 30 species on stock.

Council unites native women
Arkansas Two professors at the University of Arkansas have collaborated with the Intertribal Agriculture Council to found a program for Native American women.  Jennie Popp and Janie Hipp initiated the Native Women in Agriculture organization with help from a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. The NWIA will he focus on the managerial needs of Native American women running their own farm-type operations.

Insidious substance making permanent mark on Indian children
Oregon: Early childhood cavities are four times more prevalent in Native American populations, and it's becoming an epidemic problem across the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The preventable disease is caused by diets heavy in soda pop, candy, and other sugary foods.   Dentist Lauren Timmons says the solution is simple.  "The best way to prevent tooth decay is to simply limit the amount of sugar in your diet.  Remove it from the cupboard totally if you have to. Buy diet drinks, sugar-free gum and dilute juices by a quarter or even half. Quite simply, without sugar, there can be no decay."
On the Umatilla Reservation:

Last fall, 70% of children screened by Head Start had at least one cavity, with one in three children suffering decay in seven or more teeth.
From October 2003 to May of 2004, the Confederated Tribes spent $81,132 on 48 children referred to outside dentists for "full-mouth rehabilitation." Another 28 children who were referred for the same treatment didn't go.
354 children ages 6 -12 were eligible for dental care last year, but only 194 had exams. Of those examined, only 90 returned for dental work.

Box Elder kids are working out
Box Elder has received a $500,000 health and physical fitness grant from the U.S. Department of Education.   Nearly $200,000 has been invested in a new facility with top-of-the-line weight-lifting and cardio machines. Students visit a cardio room twice weekly and can use the school's other new workout equipment, including medicine balls, resistance bands, step blocks and workout videos. "We just stayed in the same gym all the time," said eighth-grader Arielle Wolfchief.  "It's cool and it's fun." Health instructor Melanie Jenkins is particularly excited about the new health books and curriculum.  Once a week, each class in grades 6-10 sits down for health class which covers community and personal health, nutrition, fitness, anatomy, and sex education. "It just wasn't structured," Jenkins said about the previous health class.  "Now we have a plan of attack of what to teach when."  Another planned class is yoga. "One of our goals in the grant is to expose the kids to a variety of physical education exercises and rec activities, just to get them exposed to things they've never seen before," she said.  "We're just trying to open their eyes to a lot of that."

Study Says Pollution May Affect Babies' Genes

A new study suggests that prenatal exposure to air pollution may be linked to genetic changes that cause increased risk of cancer. A Columbia University study followed 60 New York City newborns and their non-smoking mothers in low-income neighborhoods. During the last three months of their pregnancies, the mothers wore air monitors measuring their exposure to combustion pollutants, mostly from vehicles. When the infants were born, they had a 50% increase of genetic abnormalities than infants not exposed to high levels of pollution.  ''We already knew that air pollutants significantly reduced fetal growth, but this is the first time we've seen evidence that they can change chromosomes in utero,'' said Dr. Frederica Perera.
photo: caps2/00118.html

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