Native Village 

Youth and Education News

March 9, 2005 Issue 148 Volume 2

"When I thought about who we are as Indian women, I had to take a good look at myself...I was reminded about how life, to me, is a never ending learning process, a journey of discovering ourselves, what we are capable of and what we are not, what we hold in the endless sea of our soul...who are you?" Roxanne Swentzell, Santa Clara Pueblo

Child Care workers Gather for Conference
Alberta: Child-care workers from Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut gathered during the Family Day weekend for a  conference geared to First Nation and Inuit day-care staff. The conference attracted 225 delegates and their families. They listened to speakers,  talked and networked, and discussed  how important child care is to the well-being of families on reserves. "There are a lot of misconceptions. People don't know the enormity of what we do,"  said Violet Meguinis, child-care coordinator based at the Tsuu T'ina Nation outside Calgary.  "At Tsuu T'ina, we have 50 speakers (of Athapaskan Sarcee). We are in danger of losing our language. This is prime time to teach language and belief systems. More importantly, if you have a strong identity base, you'll reach your potential. Efforts  put into the child in the early years will be realized when they become adults."
Edmonton Journal

   Learning languages enhances the brain, scientists believe
England: Researchers from England have found that learning other languages builds the information-processing area of the brain in the same way exercise builds muscles. A team from University College London took brain scans of 25 Britons who did not speak a second language, 25 people who had learned another European language before age 5, and 33  who had learned a second language between 10 - 15 years old.  The scans revealed that gray matter in the left inferior parietal cortex was more dense in bilinguals than in those without a second language. The effect was particularly noticeable in the "early" bilinguals. Another test with Italian speakers/bilingual speakers, shared the same results. The findings are reported in the journal "Nature." By the year 2010, all primary schools in England will have to provide language lessons for children.

Tribal Summit spotlights native children's issues
Arizona: The latest summit with Arizona tribal leaders hosted by Gov. Janet Neapolitan focused on children’s issues in tribal communities:
Diabetes: Diabetes afflicts Indians at nearly 300% the rate of non-Indians, including children as young as 6 or 7.  Prevention programs could combat the epidemic, but current health care policies seem to stand in the way of progress.  “We don’t have the funds to buy healthy foods and physical education for kids,” said Dr. Donald Warne from Arizona State University.  “But we seem to find the dollars to pay for dialysis for kids. ”
Hearing-impaired: Hearing loss is the third highest disability in tribal communities, but services for the hearing-impaired on reservations are lacking.   Deaf kids have to leave the reservation to go to school, according to Diana Yazzie, the mother of a hearing-impaired child.
Arizona Instrument to Measure Skills Test: “We have quite a few reservation schools that are going through the school improvement process,” said former State Representative Debora Norris; “But if they don’t raise their scores within the next three years, the state can go in and intervene.” San Carlos Apache Chairwoman and teacher Kathy Kitcheyan agreed.  “If our kids are going to be successful, they need to have a good home and working parents,” she said.  “Our governor has initiated some steps [such as all-day kindergarten,] but we won’t see results for another 15 years.”
Other issues: *The Arizona Department of Housing has set aside $2,500,000 for housing developments,
Funds have been set aside to assist tribes in disasters.
*The Arizona Teacher Excellence Program expects to provide $2,700,000 in grants for training and professional development in tribal schools and former enterprise communities.
*The governor called upon Native Americans to serve as foster parents. 
*The governor is actively seeking to appoint more Indians to state boards and commissions.  In 2004, Napolitano appointed 74 tribal members to 41 boards. S=392&PubID=13785

President’s Budget Projects 300,000 Low-Income Children to Lose Child Care by 2010
President Bush recently introduced his budget for Fiscal Year 2006.   As expected, this budget is not good news for children and families. 
D300,000 children of working parents will lose child care;
D25,000 children will no longer be in their Head Start programs; and
D1,750,000 children will be without afterschool programs that Congress and the President agreed to in No Child Left Behind.
The only increase in funding is $45,000,000 for a demonstration project that would allow several states to control their own Head Start programs-- meaning that these programs would no longer be subject to the same quality and programmatic standards as required by current federal law. 
Read Budget:

Chemawa has played many roles
Oregon: After four years of unwavering federal education reforms, Chemawa Indian School will become a college preparatory academy.  "We'll still teach every kid that walks in our door," supervisor Larry Byers said, "but we'll hold them to a higher commitment of learning."  The 125-year school has a history of shifting mission statements. In 1880, it began as a forced assimilation school and by 2005, Chemewa offered its students an alternative education. Through the years, it has graduated thousands of American Indians from dozens of states.  Now Chemawa will attempt to create a "leadership academy," lengthen the academic day, require study hours in the evening, and seek partnerships with local community and 4-year colleges to prepare Indian students to enter and succeed in college.

2005 Youth Leaders for Literacy Grant Winners
South Dakota: The 2005 Youth Leaders for Literacy Grant Winners have been announced. Among those receiving the award is  Matthew Her Many Horses of the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Dressed as Cat in the Hat, Matthew plans to take a book cart to school bus stops and encourage reservation students to read while waiting for the bus.  He also plans to invite guest readers to the schools, host a book hunt, create book-themed crafts, and have a reading celebration for all who participate in the seven week project The National Education Association and Youth Service America sponsor the awards  to encourage, celebrate, and honor young people who do reading-related activities that benefit others.

Advocacy offered to tribal students
Rhode Island: Chariho High School administrators will be sending out letters offering advocacy services to native students registering for next year's courses.  This move comes after the furor raised earlier this year when a number of tribal youths -- some Chariho students, some not -- were refused admission to the school's Winter Ball.  The students charged racism; school officials say the Narragansett's showed up after the publicized admission time and some were improperly dressed. Loren Spears, director of the private non-profit Nuweetooun School in Exeter called the letters  "a first step in the right direction."

A study by Educational Testing Service warns that little is being done to address rising dropout rates, declining earnings for dropouts, and reduced funding for second-chance efforts. The report tracks dwindling high school completion rates from the 1990s until today.   The report found that more students are dropping out  between grades 9 -10.   Coupled with too few counselors and  federal budget cuts from $15,000,000,000 to $3,000,000,  the outlook is not good. "This is a story of losing ground," writes author Paul Barton.  "At the same time that the dropout rate is increasing and out-of-school education and training opportunities are dwindling, the economic status of young dropouts has been in a free fall since the late 1970s.  Employment and earnings prospects have declined and even for those who work full time, earnings have dropped steadily to averages around the poverty line for a family with children."

Farmington students trade debate skills for Native tradition
Arizona: The nationally renowned Farmington High School debate team had been invited to share their expertise with students at Red Mesa High School. When they arrived, the Farmington students filed into a hogan on the school's campus. The girls sat to the North; the boys to the South. All were careful not to touch their backs against the hogan’s fresh wood. A hole in the hogan’s roof allowed for smoke and fire to escape. The door faced east, as it should. Students listened attentively to Sam Key Benally, the school’s resident medicine man. Among Grandfather Benally's words:
“Sit on Mother Earth, like a child in a mother’s lap. We are made from her, Mother Earth. No matter what tribe or nation, we are from the earth and we will be coming part of her again.”
“We think of them as our home,” Benally said of the Four Sacred Mountains that encompass Navajo Land — Mount Blanca to the east; Mount Taylor to the south; the San Francisco Peaks to the west; and Mount Hesperus to the north.
Benally explained the importance of the cardinal directions. In the morning, the sun enters the one door to the east and casts its light on the opposite wall. The sun says, ‘Get up, my grandchild.  The sunbeam, the road of light, says, ‘Go, do something. Raise and do your work. Do all the things that you must do.’ ”
“Take care of our mind. Watch your words, they are really powerful. Same with your bodies. Take care of yourself. You are very powerful.”

American Indian student numbers rising in Aberdeen
South Dakota:  While enrollment is declining in Aberdeen's public schools,  the number of American Indian students continues to grow. The district has about 310 Indian students--about 8.5% of the student body.  At Aberdeen Central High School, where 100 students are Native, tutoring and cultural activities are available through the Native American Student Association. Group members say the NASA  office is someplace they can go for a sense of belonging.  And those students are showing success.  Nine of the 12 Indians who graduated from Aberdeen Central last year were on the honor roll at some point in their high school years.

Si Tanka Campuses Might Close:
South Dakota: At the end of this semester, Si Tanka University will close its Huron and Eagle Butte campuses if efforts at getting federal money fail.   The school and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe blame a "series of false promises and reneged agreements"  after the Bureau of Indian Affairs did not release an expected $850,000 from the Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities Assistance Act. The Cheyenne Tribal Council has agreed to loan or lend money to Si Tanka for continued operations. "The place is going to be open Monday," said attorney David Nadolski. "We have committed to complete this semester, and we will complete the credit hours that students need to finish their classwork and for those that are going to graduate to graduate."  Another attorney, Michael Moore, is considering a federal investigation after federal student-aid checks for Si Tanka students bounced last month. Si Tanka employs 191 people and provides educational opportunities for 775 students.
H-Amindian Listserv

Failure to gain BIA money 'would be death knell,' tribal lawyer says
South Dakota: Si Tanka University has missed a second payroll after an assumed financial agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs fell through. The money in question is commonly known as [legislative bill] 471 funds. It is a $4,390 appropriation per student at tribal higher education institutions with more than 50% Native American enrollment. Si Tanka fell below that standard when it acquired Huron University in 2001.  Last August the BIA said Si Tanka would no longer receive 471 funds, which are a major component of its annual operating revenue. In a memo from the BIA, three conditions were laid out for Si Tanka to obtain its 471 funds for fiscal 2005:
1. Federal money could be released only for Indian students who enrolled at the Eagle Butte campus and who take classes there;
2. The money could be spent only on expenses incurred on the Eagle Butte campus;
 3. Si Tanka must separate the governance and finances of the Eagle Butte and Huron campuses, including having the Eagle Butte campus secure separate accreditation.

Sens. Tim Johnson and John Thune are working on a joint letter to the BIA urging a resolution of the funding issue.

Board opts for new tribal college
California: American Indians who recently formed a board to revive D-Q University have instead dedicated themselves to establishing a brand-new tribal college.  "We realize [D-Q] has reached its lowest point and concede it cannot be salvaged by us. As individuals who care about our community, we can walk away  with the knowledge that we tried," the board said in a statement. The state's only tribal college closed last month following loss of accreditation and financial troubles. About 24 students continue to live at the D-Q dorms, subsisting on donated  food and car pooling to Solano Community College.

Advisory council supports full funding for tribal colleges
After meeting with federal officials who helped prepare President Bush's budget, the BIA/Tribal Budget Advisory Council is on record in support of restoring funding cuts made by the Bush Administration. The council, made up of representatives from each of the BIA's 12 colleges, stressed the return to full funding for Crownpoint Institute of Technology, New Mexico, and United Tribes Technical College, North Dakota. Over $5,000,000 was cut from their fiscal year 2006 budgets, which begins on October 1, 2005. Funding for the nation's other tribal colleges and universities was cut by almost $10,000,000. The Council cited the proven record of tribal colleges and universities which have improved the lives of tens of thousands of American Indian students and their families. Asking Federal officials why their priorities were not followed, the council was told only that "hard choices had to be made."

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