Youth and Education News
January 7, 2004, 2003 Issue 125, Volume 3
"What you learn, take it with you and share it with others." Tony Incashola, Flathead
Uncle Sam Wants You, Eh?
Canadian military officials were startled to discover Pentagon recruiters roaming through their nation's native population and reserves. The recruiters were trying to persuade Inuit and others to enlist in the U.S. military.† Canada says the U.S. claims that under the 1794 Jay Treaty, it may recruit Canadian native inhabitants for its military because aboriginal Canadians held dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship. Alarmed Canadian officials told the Americans that Canada didn't like what was going on. After receiving the letter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington reminded the military tthat recruiters are to refrain from entering Canadian territory. The prohibition on recruiting applies to U.S. activities in Canadian high schools and university job fairs as well. The U.S. embassy has confirmed it would stop active recruiting in such places in Canada.
New Activist Network Slams Growing Abuses Under Bush
More than 50 groups are joining forces to address what they said is the alarming rate of human rights violations in the U.S.† "The demonstrations that we are currently seeing against the U.S. around the world are a reaction to the perception that the U.S. -- particularly the Bush administration -- thinks that it is above international law -- laws the rest of the world are required to abide by," said Ajamu Baraka, Amnesty International. Cathy Albisia from the Center of Economic and Social Rights agrees.† "These include the right to economic security and a decent standard of living, the right of children convicted of crimes not to be executed, the right to a fair trial, the right to seek asylum, and the right to be free from torture and cruel and inhuman treatment, among any others, Cathy said. " She also noted† that the U.S. has the world's highest child poverty rate, and that 20% of adults are functionally illiterate. Among the groups joining forces† against violations are† the American Civil Liberties Union,† the American Friends Service Committee, AIUSA, Centre for Economic and Social Rights, the Centre for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights Watch, the Indian Law Resource Centre, the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and the National Association for the Advanced of Coloured People Defence Education Fund.
Man as 'black' for 50 years finds out he's probably not
High school principal Wayne Joseph had a secure sense of his black heritage, having written extensively about race in America. But after taking a DNA test, the results threw him for a loop.† "I just glanced at the results, just a cursory glance initially..." Joseph said. "Then, I went back to it, because all of a sudden it hit me exactly what I had read. And it read: 57% Indo-European, 39% Native American, 4% East Asian and 0% African."† After a lifetime as a black man, Wayne Joseph discovered he probably isn't black at all. On both sides, the Joseph family is of Louisiana Creole stock, which does not necessarily mean African ancestry. But the Creoles always defined themselves as black, or "colored" in the old-fashioned parlance, despite their light complexions. "I think this opens up a lot of doors," said his daughter, "and forces people to look at things differently about how we classify people with regard to race."† Wayne agrees. "The future is my grandchildren," Joseph said. "I want them to be able to say that my grandfather made a choice, one way or the other. If I'm given that census form, I'm going to mark 'Native American.' Because no one will doubt that I'm a native of this country or that my story is uniquely an American one."
Traditional medicine in Indian country
In the news source Indian Country Today, Roberto Dansie hoped to honor traditional healers by identifying common healing elements found among different tribes.† These common elements share the wisdom of Indianhood and the power which has given† indigenous people extraordinary resiliency.
10 common healing elements in Indian country:
Z Life comes from the Great Spirit, and all healing begins with Him.
Z Healing is due to the harmony between body, heart, mind, and soul;
Z Our relationships are an essential component of our health;
Z Death is not our enemy, but a natural phenomenon of life;
Z Disease is not only felt by the individual, but also by the family;
Z Spirituality and emotions are just as important as the body and the mind;
Z Mother Earth contains numerous remedies for our illnesses;
Z Healing practices have been preserved throughout the generations;
Z Traditional healers can be either men or women, young or old;
Z Illness is an opportunity to purify one's soul.
Walking the talk against diabetes
PGA winner Notah Begay III is promoting Boys and Girls clubs in Indian country. At the recent National Congress of American Indians, Begay said his focus is not only on golf, but creating traditional and cultural learning opportunities for Indian youth. He said there are too many young people in Indian country feeling that they have been shut out, and need to be included.† Begay also said diabetes is becoming the greatest killer of Indian people. "Iím going to go out and be an advocate for exercise and an advocate for prevention,"† he said.† "This is my opportunity to give something back. This effort is to create a healthier Indian country across the board."† Currently, there are 145 Boys and Girls clubs reaching 70,000 youths.
A new place to play
The Paiute Indian Tribe has received $130,000 in health grants to help build playgrounds for each of their 5 tribes. Playground construction is a community effort as reservation parents, children and other volunteers, paint, build wooden structures and spread play-school bark around brightly colored equipment. "[The playground] is for young kids and youth who live at the reservation so they can be active every day," said Glenn Rogers, the Shivwitts Band of Paiutes chairman. "... We had a playground there before but it was outdated and dangerous."† The playgrounds are part of an effort to help reduce the onset of type II diabetes, which is starting at an earlier age among the Paiute children. Physical activity may help decrease the chance of this type of diabetes, which is a product of a sedentary lifestyle.
Fewer reservation teens taking risks
High school students on Montana's Indian reservations are reducing risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking, using drugs and having unsafe sex.† Their success has been driven by many programs aimed at youth, including after school activities, an open gym, tutoring, community service, sports and clubs. Among the youths' comments:
"I've been getting into trouble too often. I was embarrassing myself, and I didn't want people to think of me that way. I've hurt myself and others, and I need to change my ways." Tyler Monroe
"I've been (powwow) dancing since I could walk.† It helps me show my respect for my culture and my elders." Heather Schildt
"I go to powwows because I like the atmosphere. Everyone is there to be into their culture, to be sober and to have fun." Wasewi Shawl
"I hang out with my friends, but I avoid drugs and alcohol. I have a good personality, and I don't feel I need it."† Katie McDonald
" [The Eagle Claw Society] promotes academics, teaches us about our culture, promotes respect for our elders and teaches leadership."† Jesse DesRosier.
"I think there are more people who don't drink at all.† You have to consider the kids in sports and the Traditional who do sweats (sweat lodges)." Derek Crawford
Virginia King, a 40-year-old Navajo woman, is not a typical grandmother, nor is she a person others might think has HIV.† Recently, Virginia spoke to Tuba City to junior high and high school students with her family at her side. She told them that looks can be deceiving and that no one is immune from the disease.† Virginia encouraged the youth to be safe, and to have† self-respect for themselves. HIV is a virus that affects the immune system. Once the immune system is nearly depleted, most patients develop AIDS and can't fight off infection. For a person who doesn't know they have HIV, it takes 6-10 years to develop AIDS. People who are diagnosed early and seek treatment can increase their life span by 5-10 more years.
43 people on the Navajo Reservation have died from AIDS related illnesses since 1987;
There are currently 175 HIV cases on the Navajo Reservation;
In 2003, there were 24 new cases, a 60% increase from prior years.
"And there are the populations who don't know their status," said Darrell Joe, coordinator of the Navajo Nation HIV Prevention Program.† Statistics don't include Navajos living off the reservation, those who haven't been tested,† or those who receive health care outside of the IHS.
Language, culture barriers to understanding diabetes
At Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility, Navajo beliefs and traditions are just as important as their health care provides. One special area is called "Native Medicine," a hogan-shaped room with a large fireplace. Here, doctors and patients work together to better help tribal members understand diabetes.† "...the biggest problem probably is the language barrier," said Johnson Dennison, coordinator for Office of Native Medicine. "For a long, long time ... in the Navajo language diabetes was called 'sugar.' So when an ordinary, traditional Navajo person is diagnosed with diabetes, they interpret it as 'sugar disease. I will not eat table sugar.'† Native Medicine's teachings are also conducted in the Navajo Way.† "In the Navajo, we call this The Blessing Way teaching. ... The Blessing Way teaching promotes a positive attitude toward living a good life. In Navajo, we say, 'Walk in Beauty,'"† he said.
Alaska Struggles with High Suicide Rate
When Robert Tokeinna was a teenager and got depressed, his mind turned to thoughts of suicide. It is not an unfamiliar notion in Brevig Mission, an isolated Inupiat Eskimo village of 300 people on the Bering Strait.† Alaska has one of the highest suicide rates in America, in large part because of the large number of Alaska Natives who take their lives. Several factors put Natives at risk, including the availability of guns, geographic isolation, poverty,† boredom, and the erosion of traditional values and culture. But now, at 21, Tokeinna tries traditional Eskimo dance when he gets down. And he is teaching other young people in his village to use dance to get them through the tough times, too. "I didn't think dancing was preventing suicide. I thought it was just an activity. Now, I look at it differently," Tokeinna said. "It lifts up the spirit and makes the person happier."† Tokeinna learned traditional dance mostly from video tapes because dance had died out in the village. He also attended a conference on preventing suicide and is using what he learned to form a dance group for young people in his village. "They lost their identity and their culture. They don't know who they are anymore," he said. "I went through rough times and I relied on dancing to keep me happy and healthy."
Judge balances future of children, tribes
Lola Sohappy plays an important role in the lives of at-risk youth on the Warm Springs Reservation.† Sohappy, the chief tribal judge, removes children from dangerous homes, assesses the quality of foster parents, and decides whether parents who once abused or neglected their children can retain custody. Her decisions are often guided by a federal law that emphasizes keeping Indian children with Indians. If that means granting custody to elderly grandparents or giving some parents a second chance, she's willing to do it. "I saw how people were affected when children are taken from them," Sohappy said, recalling decades of Native American children removed by non-Indian workers and placed in nontribal homes. "The children were lost," she said. "To their families, to the tribes."† The high number of deaths among Warm Springs children saddens but does not surprise the judge.† Sohappy said alcohol and drugs have created a vicious circle of violence that sometimes makes her wonder, "How are we even going to survive?" In her courtroom, she tells parents, "Look into your children's eyes, and see what they see: the hurt, the mistrust, the lacking. You as adults can make choices, they cannot. They are at your mercy."
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