Youth and Education News
June 29, 2005 Issue 155 Volume 2
"We can learn from each other, but researchers need to recognize they are students of our culture; we are the teachers, not the other way around. I think we need to speak for ourselves.'' Karenne Wood, Monacan
Keeping Cree alive: A lesson in healing
Saskatchewan: Last fall, Albert Elementary School in Regina replaced French class with the Cree language as part of a pilot program. The aim is to give the aboriginal students a better connection to their past. "Without the language and without the children learning it, it is going to evaporate," says Cree language teacher Sonia Kinequon. "And if we don't have a setting where children can learn their language, they are eventually going to lose it." The classes focus on traditional songs, puppets, and crafts, and students do actions as they chant Cree words. "It's cool," says Gordon Kequahtooway, a Grade 6 student. "It's our culture." The school has also set up a Cree program for adults as well. For two hours, one night a week, parents learn Cree with their children.
Janitors being pressed into service to teach Inuktitut
||Nunavut: The Iqaluit District Education Authority has such need for Inuktitut-speaking substitutes that school janitors are now teaching Inukitut classes. "We are using anybody right now," said Aseena Alurru. "We are even using cleaners, custodians...it doesn't matter. Just anyone who wants to do it, if they can speak in Inuktitut and write in Inuktitut, that is the biggest factor." Alurrut says it is unfortunate that this is even an issue in Nunavut, where the majority of the population is Inuit. She says student teachers finishing their semester will help solve some of the problem, because they usually come in to the schools to teach Inuktitut during their summer holidays.|
|I Love You in Inuktitut|
Parents confident their children can succeed in science
Pennsylvania: A new national survey by Bayer Corp. finds 96% of American Indian parents surveyed believe their sons can succeed in science and math in school, and 97% have confidence their daughters can succeed. While parents' confidence is high, the numbers of American Indians in science and engineering is low, and fewer students are pursuing careers in those fields. The findings come at a time of growing concern that the U.S. is losing its edge in science and engineering areas vital to the global economy. ''Recent reports have repeatedly warned of a troubling decline in the number of scientists produced in the U.S. and a rising demand for scientists to fill the wide variety of jobs out there. There are simply not enough students in the pipeline of those being trained as scientists and engineers,'' said Sarah Toulouse from Bayer. ''We believe by reaching out to women and minorities we can reach some level to fill that pipeline issue. We really have to invest in our students today. We have to really pay attention to the education our students are receiving so they're able to create the new technologies and invent the new medicine that we need to stay competitive,''
Proud to be Native: Youth summit has positive results
April McGill, who lives in San Francisco, recently drove to a youth summit on the Pine Ridge Reservation. McGill shared her impressions:
The Pine Ridge reservation is 2,800,000 acres in southwestern South Dakota that is home to the 17,775 member Oglala Sioux Tribe. I never thought driving out there would be so bad. It took us 24 hours as we went through Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. We drove through snow, high winds, rain and hail, just missing a tornado.
When we arrived at the Pine Ridge Reservation, we made our way to the Pine Ridge School. The school educates about 1,000 students in grades K-12; about 15% of its students live in dorms. They welcomed us inside the dorms where we would stay and into the living quarters where there were big comfy couches with big pillows and big screen TV’s. It was so cozy that we felt right at home.
Pine Ridge is the poorest county in the nation. Unemployment is 45%, compared to 5.5% for the national average. Most of those living on the rez live in poverty--63% below the federal poverty level.
Stephanie Poor Bear, 14, sees the pressures of drugs and alcohol with the kids her age. Her father encourages her to play basketball so one day she can go pro.
I shared a room with Lakota Jessica Helper, 17, who lives too faraway for a bus commute. Jessica informed me suicide is a problem on the reservation.
According to the school's counselors and teachers, alcoholism among parents and illegal drug use are the most prominent causes of behavioral disorders among students.
Regardless of such problems, the kids were constantly hugging us and wanting to know more about us, life in a big city, how to break dance, and finding positive ways to deal with the problems they face as on the rez.
Gus Camp, a Ponca and a senior at Pine Ridge High School, has been rapping as a way to stay positive. He plans to attend Oklahoma State University to study writing.
I was impressed by how traditional and culture is very present in their lives. Along with hip-hop posters and music there was also powwow music blaring from the speakers and traditional regalia and eagle feathers in plain view. Student Roki Lone Hill said that despite the influences of the hip-hop culture, they never forget about the traditions of their people. “My Grandma always tells me things about our people,” she said. “She doesn’t let me forget.” When I told Lone Hill about the crazy weather conditions I traveled in, she said it's what the Lakota call the “Seasonal Celebration -- the ‘welcoming of the thunder beams’ means that spring is coming. My grandma says it's the awakening of the flowers and the animals. Lightening strikes and that is when it starts and we get all sorts of different weather. Lone Hill said Lakota people were going up to Carney Peak in the Black Hills to pray, sing and celebrate the seasonal change and give thanks to the Creator.
Pentagon Creating Database of High School Students
The private marketing firm, BeNow, Inc., and the Pentagon have created a huge database about millions of youth aged 16-18. According to the Defense Department, the database is "to assist" in "direct marketing recruiting efforts." But others say it violates a federal law restricting the government's ability to gather personal information. "It's very secretive," said Marc Rotenberg from the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "It feels a lot like a big brother proposal, and it really should be stopped." The database includes students' names, dates of birth, genders, addresses, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, ethnicity, telephone numbers, and even grade point averages. Millions of parents are already upset by the military's recruiting techniques. The "No Child Left Behind" education law requires every public school to provide the military with the names, addresses and phone numbers of students. One parent, Louise Wannier, thought she had protected her daughter through an opt-out letter, which prohibits the school from releasing information. But she worries the new database has much more information on her daughter than she'd ever imagined. "I thought I had protected my kid," she said. "This is a direct violation of family privacy and parental rights."
Information about opting youth out of Pentagon and School databases: http://leavemychildalone.org/
In any language, message of hope reaches SOU graduates
Oregon: When twins Elaina and Nisha Supahan graduated from Southern Oregon University, they delivered their speech in both English and Karuk, their tribal language. The Supahan sisters are helping rekindle the native tongue of the Karuk Tribe who lives on California's Hupa Indian Reservation. The girls delivered the address jointly and told the story of how an acorn grows into a strong tree. "We start small like an acorn, with a limited education," they said. "Then we grow roots and our knowledge develops over time. As graduates, we are ready to spread our knowledge." Besides sharing the Karuk language in their graduation speeches, the girls had earned graduation credits by creating Karuk language materials and teaching their traditional language.
Inuit Program Produces First Law Graduates
Photo: ©University of Victoria Faculty of Law
Nunavut: 11 Inuit students have graduated from Canada's first Inuit law program. The Akitsiraq Law School is a Canadian first. Instead of Inuit leaving their remote Arctic communities and heading south for an education, the law program came to them. "These students are incredibly impressive intellectually," said Andrew Petter, dean of law at the University of Victoria, Akitsiraq's academic partner. "The quality of the educational experience, and the quality of the students as a result of that, has produced graduates who can stand side by side of any law school graduate across the country." Mr. Petter has good reason to feel confident. Graduates Madeleine Redfern and Aaju Peter beat out more than 100 UVic law students to win the McCarthy Tetrault Prize for excellence in contract law. And Ms. Redfern, who also received the Osler Hoskin Harcourt Award in property and contract law, begins her legal career as a clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada -- a position sought by more than 200 Canadian law graduates.
Seventy receive NWIC degrees
Washington: Northwest Indian College is the only regional tribal college in the country and has 29 extension campuses in the Puget Sound region. Recently, 70 students received two-year degrees in nine fields of study--a tribute to NWIC's success. A look at the statistics is inspiring for students of all ages: the average NWIC student is 27 years old; 64% of students are older than 30; 44% are married: and 50% have two or more dependent children. ''They cater to you to get you through,'' said one student who could take her 4-year-old daughter to classes. ''They gave me the opportunity to be with my children and bring them to classes in order to keep me going.'' Fred Dorr, the college's community relations director, said students' successes are having a ripple effect in their communities. ''Each student reaches about 25 people -- family and friends -- in a significant way,'' he said. ''They are positive role models. Others see what they've accomplished and say, 'Hey, maybe I can do that too.'"
Among the ways NWIC helps its students:
ASquaxin Island Tribe students 170 miles to the North access classes and seminars from a learning center in the Squaxin Island Tribe Museum, Library and Research Center;
AA media wall in the learning center allows students to participate in live college classes by videoconference;
ACollege sports programs are growing--along with basketball and softball, the school hopes to add a volleyball team, archery, bowling, cross country, golf, and lacrosse;
AA daycare center is being planned.
AThe college is planning a new campus, with the intent of going to four years. ''We have had students from 80 different tribes. It's only going to get broader,'' Dorr said.
Dine College opens first building on new campus
New Mexico: Diné College has opened the first building on its new campus in Shiprock. The building, which cost $4,600,000, has classrooms, two computer labs, two student lounges and administrative offices. The rest of the campus is being built in phases and is expected to cost $20,000,000.
AMERICAN INDIANS LEFT OUT OF $1 MILLION CNN MINORITY SCHOLARSHIP DONATION
South Dakota: To help diversify newsrooms, CNN has awarded $1,000,000 in scholarships to minority journalism organizations. What CNN did NOT do, however, is include a donation for American Indian journalists, who are the least represented minority. "We appreciate CNN's support for our upcoming convention and their pledge of continued support, and we know our UNITY partners will do great things with the money they've received. But it's hard not to be disappointed when the rest of our UNITY partners are recognized in this way and we are not," said NAJA president Dan Lewerenz, Iowa Tribe. According to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Native journalists make up just 0.5% of newspaper employees, a number that declined from 2004 to 2005.
Tribe announces $1 million donation to Otis Library
Massachusetts: The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council has donated $1,000,000 to the Otis Library expansion campaign in Norwich. Tribal Chairman Michael Thomas said the tribe wants to take part in developing a library that can "compete with Playstation and the Internet" and be a resource to local citizens. The proposed library will be complete with a highly technological media area, children's section, community rooms, coffee shop, leisure reading area, fiction and non-fiction as well as reference area and children's playrooms. "In all of my years of doing this, there has never been a gift so special in so many ways" said Colleen Freeman, director of library development. "I hope the Tribe gets as much in return as they so generously give. We are more thrilled than you could know."
Metis Ignored, Gathering Told
Ontario: Tony Belcourt, president of the Metis Nation of Ontario, said the largely ignored history of the Metis community should be included in Canadian textbooks. He believes Canadians should learn about the contributions the French-and First Nations people made to the country. "We want to create a better understanding of the true role of Metis people in the building of Canada," he said. "We were nation-builders. We opened up territory and made it possible for settlement to take place. We were the first free-traders, too." The 2001 Canadian census reports 50,000 Metis people live in Ontario. The Metis are ancestors of French settlers and First Nations people, dating back in North America to the time of the fur trade in the 1700s.
Residential school to become museum
Manitoba: The Rufus Prince building, a former residential school building in Portage la Prairie, is being transformed into a museum dedicated to the history of Indian residential schools. The museum, whose motto will be "From a place of hurting to a place of healing" will honour and acknowledge students' experiences, despite the pain it caused many aboriginal youth. "There is no better place to house the museum than a former residential school," said Dennis Meeches, Long Plains First Nation Chief. "It does bring back memories for [many former students], but we also have to capture the residential school experience to have a better understanding as part of our healing journey. We want to be able to tell the story through First Nation people, through our eyes, through our experiences. Nobody else can tell that story better than we would be able to." Meeches, whose own parents and grandparents attended residential schools, hopes the Canadian government will help fund the museum. The Rufus building museum is expected to open by 2008.
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