Native Village 

Youth and Education News

June 15, 2005 Issue 154 Volume 2

“I have my community. Not to say that it is a developed community, but it is true that we all live like the five fingers in a hand, which know how to join with each other.”
— Panchito Ramírez

The new Chief Leschi canoe


Washington:  Students at Chief Leschi schools now have their own canoe, "Spirit of the Wolf Protects." The 34-foot, cedar-planked canoe will become an important part of the schools' teachings. Culture Coordinator Peggy McCloud said the canoe will connect students to ther culture and help keep their minds, bodies and spirits strong. ''We can continue our ancestral teaching with this beautiful canoe. So many of our songs are about the water and mountains. The students can deepen their understanding of their heritage and who they really are ... [Canoes] offer a chance to celebrate with others their true spirit and identity ... They learn to work together to accomplish the journey. ''

For Yavapai students, skipping class is fines
Arizona: The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation is fining families whose kids skip or are late to school. "The pressure is on," said Don Evans, the tribe's education director. The fines escalate in $50 increments for each new offense, meaning that families with frequently absent or tardy students can be charged thousands of dollars. The Fort McDowell Tribal Council passed the fines in 2002, along with protrams that includes homework help, a diversion program and tribal-wide recognition for students who excel or improve their grades. The plan is paying off: nearly 90% of Yavapai students are passing their classes, compared with 44% before the programs started, and graduation rates soared from 40% to 70%.
The Arizona Republic

Student's Diploma Withheld Over Bolo Tie
Maryland: Thomas Benya, 17, prefers string bolo ties over traditional knotted ties to reflect his Cherokee heritage. He never suspected wearing one to his graduation from Maurice J. McDonough High School would cost him his diploma.   Benya had been told the bolo "was not considered by staff to be a tie," said Katie O'Malley-Simpson, a school spokesperson.  "We have many opportunities throughout the year to express cultural heritage. But we don't do that at graduation." Benya said he never thought his diploma was at stake, and wore a bolo anyway. "I did not feel that I should change my heritage for an hour and a half to wear an actual tie to show respect when they aren't showing respect to me," he said.  Thomas's parents are now considering legal action. His mother, Marsha Benya, cited the long history of Indians being "pushed around," and added, "If he had not stood up for himself, he would have been part of the problem of Native Americans being treated in this way."  The school will give Benya his diploma in a special meeting.

Teen Gets Scholarship From Death Row Group
North Carolina: Zach Osborne was only 6 years old when his 4 year old sister was murdered.  His mother's boyfriend was found guilty and sentenced to death for the crime.  Today, Osborne is hoping to become a police officer with help from an unlikely source -- death row inmates from around the country. The East Carolina University sophomore received a $5,000 college scholarship from the inmates who solicited money through their bimonthly publication, ''Compassion.''   ''We would like to support him in realizing his dream of becoming an officer of the law and finding a way to prevent future violence,'' wrote Dennis Skillicorn, a death row inmate in Missouri who is the newsletter's editor. ''Our intent is genuine.''  Including Osborne's grant, the inmates have given out seven scholarships worth about $27,000.

Ira Hayes High School graduation marks a grim anniversary

Arizona: Deep in the heart of central Arizona, eight students recently graduated from Ira Hayes Memorial High School on the Gila River Indian Reservation. The charter high school offers American Indian students an opportunity to stay on the reservation rather than be bused to bordertown pubic schools where American Indians are a small minority.  125 students, most of whom are Pima, attend classes in the modern multimillion dollar facility in the arid Sonoran Desert. The traditional Pima graduation ceremony marked a key anniversary date of the death Ira Hayes, one of the Iwo Jima flag raisers who died 50 years ago in a drunken coma just outside his home about a mile away.
artwork: show_cat.php?catid=3

Tribes Complain of Inadequate Schools
South Dakota: The Crow Creek Sioux high school dormitory has been gutted by a fire. The gymnasium was locked in 2004 after being declared unsafe.  And a state inspector says the high school building can no longer be used.  "Our children need to be educated, and if we have deteriorating, burned and condemned buildings to educate them in, I guess it just makes us feel helpless,'' said Crystal Kirki from the Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Council. Around the country, Indian tribes are frustrated by lack of federal funding and delays in replacing aging buildings.  In 2001, 65% of BIA schools were in poor condition.  Funding was approved for 24 replacement schools between 2001 and 2004, but only 9 projects have been completed and opened. For 30 years, the Crow Creek have sought federal funds to rebuild the middle school and high school.  But the campus is ninth on the BIA's priority list of 14 schools due to be replaced. That means it may be three or four years before it is rebuilt. The tribe is now struggling to find $2,000,000 to build a temporary dormitory and kitchen before fall classes start at the school.  'I'm running out of time,'' said Superintendent Scott Raue. ''We're just about to the end of what we can do unless we get some miracle. I just have to keep praying."  184 schools are supported by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. About 48,000 students attend BIA day schools and boarding schools on or near 63 Indian reservations in 23 states.

Education funding's double standard
Oregon: Cuts by the Bush administration have toppled funding for projects like the Native Americans in Marine and Space Sciences program at Oregon State University.  Beginning in 1990, NAMSS had a 15-year track record that supported 2,500 students. ''Funds to support ... education, welfare and the environment are plummeting to new lows..." said Judith Vergun, Ph.D. who received a 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering.  ''The current U.S. president and his administration are undermining the future by profoundly mismanaging our resources. The Department of Defense budget is $500k,000,000,000 this year alone, at a time when we have the biggest national debt ever,'' she said.

For Harvard's Joel Iacoomes, 340 years and still waiting

Massachusetts: In 1655, Harvard Indian College was established to educate local Native Americans. In the spring of 1665, Joel Iacoomes and fellow Wampanoag Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck were preparing to become the first Indian students to graduate. Out of the nine English and Native students in the class of 1665, Iacoomes was to have taken top honors.  He spoke Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and English in addition to his native Algonquian. Sadly, just a month before commencement, the 20-year-old Iacoomes was killed by robbers.  Only Cheeshahteaumuck received his diploma, becoming the first and last graduate of Harvard's failed Indian College. Recently, with Harvard commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Indian College, alumnist Patrik Johansson asked the university to award a posthumous degree to Iacoomes. After months of research, however, Harvard officials failed to prove Iacoomes completed the necessary course work to graduate.  Last week, they informed Johansson that Iacoomes would not be receiving his degree this year, either.  ''Apparently in 1665, commencement was not just ceremonial.  There was also an oral exam, or a recitation or some other [test.] And we know he did not complete those," said Robert Mitchell, a Harvard spokesman.  ''We're talking about very sketchy documentation.  The dean could not recommend to the governing board that he be awarded a posthumous degree."

Community College to offer Native American language program
Oregon: Thanks to a $1,000,000 gift from an anonymous donor, Lane Community College will become Oregon's first community college to offer an American Indian language course. Although only six of the Oregon's original 25 tribal languages are still spoken, researchers and linguists say learning one still has value. "If you learn Nez Perce or Klamath or any of a number of languages, this gives you access to a large body of traditional lore and literature and mythology," said linguistics professor Scott Delancey. "And the truth is, you really don't get a lot of the story if you just read the English translation."  Interest income from the donation will pay for an Indian scholar to spend a year at LCC to plan the new language program.  The college has not yet decided which language to pursue.

Chiefs debate future of First Nations University
Saskatchewan: First Nation chiefs are wondering what's next for the First Nations University of Canada. Chiefs are concerned about the suspensions of three top officials and the  firing of a university vice-president. Gary Merasty, Grand chief of the Prince Albert Grand Councils, worried about the damage the controversy has caused to students and to  the university's reputation.  "We want to ensure that the integrity, the credibility and the pride that we have in our institutions is first and foremost," Merasty said. "Those institutions represent our future."  Merasty has called for a task force of industry experts to look at how First Nations University should continue.

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