Youth and Education News
November 16, 2005 Issue 161 Volume 2
"Native American history is important to each and every one of us ... It’s important that we get to know and respect and honor. There is much wisdom for you to gain." Michael Rao, President, Central Michigan University
Native American Day
Maryland: Two cultures -- one ancient; the other relatively new -- look at stars in different ways but with a similar conclusion. Phillip Whiteman, Jr., thought about his grandfather's star stories as he listened to speaker Theodore Gull at the Goddard Space Flight Center on American Indian Day. Exploding stars help spread around minerals not originally found on Earth, Gull explained. The human body is made up of those minerals. "'The Cheyenne people are known as Spirit Seekers and came from other planets and from Mother Earth," said Whiteman, who is Northern Cheyenne. "The Creator shared stories with us to give us direction, to keep Mother Earth alive. Mother Earth goes through a cleansing. And I think the hurricanes are a way for Mother Earth to cleanse.'' Nearly 1000 people attended the American Indian events including students from more than 13 tribes They shared educational activities, a buffalo stew lunch, and entertainment. ''The same colors I see in the rainbow and the same colors I have in my Grass Dance outfit are the same colors I see in the audience,'' Whiteman said.
Indian Country Today
Week builds ties between blacks, Native Americans
Michigan: Native American month at the University of Michigan included an entire week devoted to exploring the link between black and Native American communities. Put on by the Native American Student Association, several black student groups, and the Center for Afro-American and African Studies, the events helped increase understanding about Native cultures. The histories of black and native peoples are deeply connected, said CAAS Prof. Tiya Miles. About 30% of black Americans identify with indigenous cultures, either through ancestry or through cultural practices that draw elements from native and black traditions. The two groups face many of the same problems, and by recognizing their shared heritage, this bond may help them form coalitions and gain greater political power, Miles said. Currently, federal lawsuits have been filed by descendants of black Native Americans against tribes such as the Seminole and Cherokee over their status as members of the tribe.
Young writers' stories take the spotlight
Idaho: Eight one-act plays by Coeur d'Alene Tribal School students sprang to life when Hollywood actors read their works at several local showings. The young playwrights and actors were brought together by Native Voices at the Autry, a project that introduces new theatrical works by American Indians. The Coeur d'Alene program, called ''Me-y-m-ym: She/he is going to tell stories,'' was produced with the Southern California Indian Center. The middle-school student writers were paired with professional Native actors who helped them develop their plays for the stage. ''It was a tremendous experience,'' artistic director Tom Kellogg said. ''I believe it changed all of us.''
A Haven For Young Natives
British Columbia: By 2008, aging buildings and abandoned lots in a Vancouver neighborhood will be transformed into a $30,000,000 centre to benefit the area's young urban native population. The center will provide a place to learn traditional skills -- such as carving, dancing and visual arts -- play basketball, access child care, or look for a job or somewhere to live. "It will be the first of its kind in North America," said Melanie Mark, president of the Urban Native Youth Association. The centre will be 65,000 square feet and three stories high. It will focus upon current programs while building a host of new cultural, spiritual, educational and recreational options. Currently, Vancouver is home to 15,000 aboriginal people who represent a variety of bands. The population of young natives under 29 years of age continues to increase.
Veterans Give History Voice
Oregon: In honor of Veterans Day, Milwaukie High School students were joined by more than 500 U.S. veterans for the school's 10th Annual Living History Day. The students met history face to face: a 107-year-old World War I veteran; a Navajo code talker; six members of the Tuskegee Airmen; a Holocaust survivor; and Adolf Hitler's last personal courier. The veterans talked to excited and very respectful students. "Ten years ago, the concept that American high school students would dress up in their best to pay their respects to the veterans was unbelievable," said teacher Ken Buckles. Students were honored by:
A Native American soldier who survived the Bataan death march and told of his experiences and survival;
Tuskegee Airman Alex Jefferson, 84, who brought a replica P-51C Mustang flown by those highly decorated African American pilots and support personnel;
Richard and Jefferson Macon, 84, and their fellow airmen shared tales of firefights, crash landings, prisoner of war camps, segregation and racism. "I was treated better in a German prison camp than I was in Mississippi," Jefferson said, drawing gasps;
Armin Lehmann, who at age 16 was Hitler's courier, recounted the final days of the Third Reich.
Indians fear cultural loss in federal school plan
Oklahoma: Education Secretary Margaret Spellings defended the No Child Left Behind Act after American Indian leaders said it's too rigid and forces schools to cut tribal culture and language classes. Spelling said Indian children are making gains in reading and math under President Bush's school reform law. "For the first time ever in the history of our country, we are holding ourselves accountable as a nation for closing the achievement gap between white and minority students within a decade," she said. But tribal leaders said the law does not address the needs of Native communities. Tex Hall, former president of the National Congress of American Indians, said many tribes want programs that teach their language and culture. But schools struggling to meet No Child Left Behind are sometimes forced to cut those programs. Indian leaders are also concerned about mandates which make it difficult for rural school districts serving Indian children to recruit and retain qualified teachers. "You might have a major in music and a minor in special education" and teach both, said Hall. "But now, they're saying your minor isn't good enough. It's devastating for a rural school district to say you just lost your special ed teacher." More than 90% of Indian children attend public schools. Only 12% of American Indians have a college diploma, compared to 33% of all Americans.
Conference Seeks Solutions for Indian Education
South Dakota: Robert Watters, a freshman at Pine Ridge High School, says too many of his classmates don’t understand or participate in their Lakota culture. That could be one reason they don’t stay in school. “A lot of kids don’t care that they’re Lakota,” he said. “They’re trying to be black and white. They don’t want to be Lakota because they know it’s a hard life, and they want to take the easy way out.” That easier way often includes joining gangs, drinking and dropping out of school, he said. Robert, 15, made his statement at the "Strengthening Partnerships for American Indian, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian Students Education Project" conference in Rapid City. About 100 school officials from 16 states attended the conference. One featured speaker, Luann Werdel, directs the Freshman Academy program at Pine Ridge High School. Freshman Academy was created to help keep new ninth-graders in school. Students are divided into small learning communities and attend all classes with that same group of students. By the end of their freshman year, the students will have visited a college and a vocational school and will have completed a life and learning skills course. Now in its second year, the program is proving it works: reading levels improved among last year’s freshman, and the dropout rate decreased dramatically. “We still have a long way to go with academic achievement, but all of the students moved at least one reading level,” Werdel said. “We made AYP (adequate yearly progress) with our freshman for the first time in 31 years.”
Rapid City Journal
RESEARCHERS TALLY COST OF EDUCATIONAL FAILINGS
New York: Researchers say the U.S. could recoup nearly $200,000,000,000 a year in losses and become the world’s economic and educational leader by raising the quality of schooling and investing more money and resources in educational opportunities. At a Columbia University symposium, Princeton professor Cecilia E. Rouse and economist Enrico Moretti shared data that showed:
Lower earnings among dropouts could cost the U.S. about $158,000,000,000 in lost earnings and $36,000,000,000 in lost state and federal income taxes for each class of 18-year-olds;
A 1% increase in national graduation rates would correlate with about 100,000 fewer annual crimes, saving $1,400,000,000 a year in law-enforcement and prison costs;
Research suggests that increasing graduation rates by 10% would correlate with a 20% reduction in murder and assault arrest rates.
"It’s hard to think of a better reason for investing in public schooling," Mr. Moretti said.
Haskell Officials Concerned About Looming Budget Cuts
Kansas: Haskell American Indian University has 67 faculty and 918 students. Already facing financial problems, the school's money problems could become much worse. Haskell's Board of Regents was told that the federal government could cut up to $600,000 in funding next year. The warning comes after the university's meals program almost ran out of money last year and, for the first time in its 121-year history, Haskell students were charged fees. Haskell's $9,100,000 budget has not increased in four years. They now plan to host a national summit to find alternate funding sources for Indian colleges and universities. The summit is tentatively planned for May 11, 2006.
School-Abuse Cash: Indians Get Tiny Fraction
Canada: So far, 14,796 lawsuits have been filed by former residential school students who claim abuse or neglect in Canada's past residential school system. Only 2,793 claims have been settled. Last year Canada spent $70,000,000 to pay lawyers, researchers and bureaucrats handling the cases, but only $18,000,000 in compensation costs to plaintiffs. With plaintiff's legal liabilities estimated from $3-$5 billion, the related operating and legal costs could reach $20,000,000,000 by the time all claims have been settled.
The Gazette (Montreal)
Harvard honors tribal governments' work
Massachusetts: Fourteen tribal government initiatives were recently singled out by Honoring Nations, a program administered by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. The Honoring Nations program recognizes tribes that adhere to self-governance principles, a belief that tribes "hold the key to positive social, political, cultural and economic prosperity." "We have to become self-sufficient," said Oren Lyons, chairman of the Honoring Nations advisory board. "We can't depend on anyone anymore." Of the 14 programs awarded honors, seven were given high honor recognition and $10,000 cash prizes during an awards presentation at the National Congress of American Indians in Tulsa.
1. Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, Fairbanks, Alaska
2. Oneida Nation Farms, Seymour, Wis.
3. Flandreau Police Department, Flandreau, S.D.
4. Professional Empowerment Program, Sisseton, S.D.
5. Tribal Monitors Program, Fort Yates, N.D.
6. Siyeh Corp., Browning, MT.
7. Akwesasne Freedom School, Rooseveltown, N.Y.
1. The Cherokee Nation Language Revitalization Project, Tahlequah, Okla.
2. Choctaw Tribal Court System, Choctaw, Miss.
3. The Hopi Land Team, Kykotsmovi, Ariz.
4. Miccosukee Tribe Section 404 Permitting Program, Miami.
5. Migizi Business Camp, Manistee, Mich.
6. Navajo Nation Sales Tax, Window Rock, Ariz.
7. ONABEN's Innovative Models for Enterprise Development, Tigard, Ore.
Publisher offers Alaska Native Yellow Pages
Alaska: By March 2006, CBG USA hopes to publish a telephone directory of Alaska Native Yellow Pages. Publisher Jim Cocallas plans a comprehensive listing of Alaska Native corporations and businesses. The Native directory will look more like a magazine than a traditional phonebook, with as many as 100 glossy pages. The directory will also include information about Alaska's 13 regional corporations, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, doing business with Alaska Natives, emergency and social services, education, health care, and other topic. Once published, over 25,000 free copies will be given to Alaska Native corporations, businesses, organizations, and city, state and federal offices. Advance subscriptions will be sold for $35, with half of the proceeds donated to Native scholarships and nonprofit organizations. "It's going to be a long-term project," Cocallas said. "It's going to be around for years to come."
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