Youth and Education News
October 19, 2005 Issue 159 Volume 2
"To [Europeans] we were only human when it came to territory, land cessions and whose side you were on." Susan Harjo, Cheyenne-Muscogee
Program Aims at Keeping American Indian Language Alive
Minnesota: As child, Emma Fairbanks was sent to an Indian boarding school, where she was hit with a ruler if she spoke Ojibwe. She says that in ten years, most reservation elders will be gone, taking the languages with them. But Emma's daughter, Cleone Thompson, is helping to save their language. She runs Nokomis Child Care Center in Minneapolis where young children are enrolled in an Ojibwe language immersion program. Nokomis is one of the nation's first Indian language immersion program for urban preschoolers. Similar immersion programs will be launched in other preschool programs. The first batch of Ojibwe speakers are expected to graduate from these programs in three years. Research shows that immersion programs -- from preschool to high school -- have the best results. Professionals hope for a ripple effect--the students' parents must take a class to learn the same materials as their children.
School textbooks to be published in indigenous languages
Venezuela: In late October, Venezuela will distribute 28 different indigenous language textbooks to indigenous schools throughout the country. The books will be published in the Currico, Guarikena, Yekuana, Piaroa, Vare, Pari, Yupka, Wayuú, Guarao and Kariña languages. Currently, 540,000 indigenous people living in Venezuela speak 34 languages. "We hope to bring these [books] to all the natives who live dispersed throughout national territory," said Jorge Picaterra from the Ministry of Indigenous Education. "For this reason, the books will be sent to all the regions where we have detected indigenous groups." The books for indigenous youth include dictionaries, grammar textbooks, beginning reading textbooks and other basic education books.
High School Students to Demonstrate Support for Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Canada: Students from Cardinal Newman and Cardinal Carter Catholic High Schools in Toronto traveled to Ottawa to present a "pipeline of hope" on Parliament Hill. The "pipeline" carried messages of support for Alberta's Lubicon Lake Indian Nation, asking the federal government to negotiate a land rights settlement with the Lubicon people. The event coincided with a United Nations Human Rights Committee hearing in Geneva where the UNHRC considered Canada's failure to resolve the Lubicon land rights dispute. Fifteen years ago the UNHRC ruled that "historical inequities and ... more recent developments threaten the way of life and culture of the Lubicon Lake Band." The UNHRC ruled that "so long as they continue," these threats are a violation of their fundamental human rights under Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Solar Project Takes Navajo Youth to Discovery Channel Young Science Challenge
Arizona: Last spring, Garrett Yazzie participated in the Arizona American Indian Science and Engineering Fair, sponsored by Intel and hosted by Arizona State University's American Indian Programs. Competing against 81 other 7-8 graders, his project, “Using Solar Energy to Heat Water," took first place in the engineering category. Students who placed first at the AISEF science fair were eligible to apply to the Discovery Channel Young Science Challenge. From the 7,500 students nominated from across the country, Garrett is one of the 40 finalists selected to take part in Octobers Science Challenge event. “My project is about using the sun’s light rays (shani diin Navajo for sun) energy to heat air and water,” says Garrett. “My project can help save people money because other forms of energy are getting expensive these days.” Garrett created his invention using a rubber inner tube from his bike wheel, a 1967 Pontiac radiator, 69 aluminum cans, a plastic funnel, and a piece of plexiglass. His window-size invention can heat water to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and the air temperature can rise by 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Youth awarded for environmental work
Seven activists, aged 15 to 21, have received Brower Awards for 2005. This annual national award recognizes young people for their outstanding activism and achievements in the fields of environmental and social justice advocacy. Each winner is awarded $3000 in cash and flown out for the award night and a Yosemite camping trip. Among this year's award winners are two Native youth: Erika Chase and Kayla Carpenter. Kayla is a Yurok tribal member, and Erika is a Hoopa Valley tribal member. To them, tribal culture is an important component in their lives and drives them to help others. After the 2002 catastrophic fish kill in the lower Klamath basin that killed over 64,000 salmon, the girls knew something had to be done or a major part of their cultural lifestyles would disappear. In 2003, the girls started an annual 39-mile Salmon Relay Run to help promote awareness about their communities' water and fish issues. "On a personal level, our environment has always been a priority in the minds of my people; therefore, I have established the philosophy that it is the youth of my generation who must take on this responsibility of ensuring the future," said Erika.
High-school course ferrets out animal lovers
Florida: Kim Acton's classroom at University High School in Orlando doubles as a veterinary clinic of sorts. Five years ago, Acton's predecessor, who thought the school's agricultural program needed a more urban twist, started a veterinarian-assistant program. Three years ago, Acton, a former veterinary technician, took over what has been dubbed the Paws and Claws clinic. The room has a chick and duckling biddy farm, an X-ray viewer, a centrifuge, a microscope, four guinea pigs, two turtles,a ferret and a varying number of dogs, depending on who's in day care. All students in the Future Farmers of America program are required to take the class, but it draws plenty of others, too. "I just love animals," says Casey Hankes, 16, who wants to be a veterinarian. Despite a tough-looking exterior -- black jeans, black shirt, black fingernails -- she is the first to grow teary-eyed during a documentary showing a cocker spaniel being euthanized. "This class is why I come to school," she says later, "other than painting class and seeing my friends." In the classroom students study everything from animal behavior to anatomy, ethical issues of overpopulation and animal rights, disease prevention, vaccination protocols, first aid for pets and laboratory procedures. There's extra credit for helping with cleanup and laundry. For many, the class offers a haven from the stress of being a teenager. "My mom wouldn't let me have a ferret," said one student as she holds Snickers, the classroom ferret. "So this way I can just come in here and visit one."
Training available for students, teachers
The National Education Association, which believes multiracial teaching staffs are essential, is supporting efforts to increase minority educators in public schools. Many groups are now focusing on recruiting and retaining minority teachers. Among successful efforts cited by the NEA:
The Minority Teacher Recruitment Project: sponsored by the University of Louisville, Kentucky and Jefferson County Public Schools;
The Multicultural Initiative in Teaching Program: a partnership between the University of Northern Iowa and five highly diverse Iowa school districts;
Future Teachers of Chicago/Illinois.
The Minority Teacher Preparation Scholarship Program: New Haven, Conn. public schools and Southern Connecticut State University;
Native Apprentice Teacher Program: Arizona State University;
The Gheens Scholars Program at Western Kentucky University and Jefferson County Schools;
The Alma Exley Scholarship in Connecticut.
The Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers: Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass;
The Mellon Fellowship for Minority Teachers: Cornell University and Stanford University.
Teaching native culture
Maine: About a year ago, Julia Sockbeson's classmates played a game called "kill the Indians." Julia, who is a member of the Penobscot tribe, knew enough not to play along. When she arrived home, she told her mother: "Momma, they just don't know enough about us. That's why they want to kill us." Julia's mother, Rebecca, is director of multicultural affairs at the University of Southern Maine. Recently, she told her daughter's story to Maine social-studies teachers attending a workshop about new state requirements for teaching Native American culture. Students will now learn about the Wabanaki Confederacy (which includes the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Maliseet and Micmac tribes), and the history of Native Americans. This history includes a time when the governing white people issued bounties on scalps of Penobscot men, women and children. "One time, this was a real game," Sockbeson told the gathering where many reacted with surprise when told of government bounties on Indians. Donna Loring, a former tribal representative in the Maine Legislature, said the Indian education bill passed in Maine's legislature (LD 291) is the nation's most innovative and complete plan for teaching Native American history.
Read more about LD 291: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/LD.asp?LD=291
Blethen Maine Newspapers, Inc.
American Indians can “come home” to Indiana for graduate study
Indiana: A new scholarship program called the Coming Home Initiative has been created by IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis). Coming Home provides financial help for American Indian graduate students whose tribes are native to Indiana. Included in that list are the Potawatomi, Miami, Wea, Ojibwe, Ottawa, Winnebago, Sac and Fox, Mesquaki, Mahican, Shawnee, Cherokee, and others. Financial help includes out of state tuition waivers, special financial aid packages, and scholarships earmarked for students from those tribes. Students will also be eligible for other financial aid assistance. IUPUI has a working group of Native American faculty, staff and students and are now creating a Native American Studies minor as the first step in establishing a permanent program.
Bear-Coon awarded Native Studies citation at U of A
Alberta: Tracy Bear-Coon has become the first-ever recipient of the Eric Newell Dean's Undergraduate Citation in Native Studies. The $10,000 award from the University of Alberta is spread over four years of study and requires a minimum GPA of 3.5 on a normal course load. "To get this citation is almost surreal," said Bear-Coon, a member of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. "I could never imagine this is where I could be." While at U of A, Bear-Coon will focus on the Cree Language Education in Alberta Project. The study is examining ways to preserve and retain the Cree language for future generations of Aboriginals living in Alberta. Bear-Coon says that one conclusion she and her peers have drawn from the study is that the federal and provincial governments should be forming a Language Commission.
College Course Desegregated
Arizona: Although segregated classes are against federal law, until recently Arizona State University offered an English class for Native Americans only. Instructor G. Lynn Nelson created the class for Native American students who needed help in their English 101 and 102 courses. Nelson figured that if Native American students write about subjects familiar to them, they would have a better educational experience. The class was then set up with "writing assignments geared toward their own background, history and culture," he said, adding that the class has helped with Native American retention rates. However, FIRE, a national first amendment watchdog group, has contacted ASU after learning that non-Native American students could not to enroll in the classes. "There is no problem making a class different," FIRE program manager Robert Schibley said. "The problem is restricting a class to Native American students alone." The University has removed the racial qualifier and now any student can enroll in the class. ASU has had previous experience with FIRE. In 2002, the University dropped a racial restriction on a segregated Navajo history class.
ASU Web Devil.com
Native reference guide tells the full story
A Jicarilla Apache woman, Veronica Velarde Tiller, has led a 20-member research team to create a second edition to "Tiller's Guide to Indian Country." The new, 1,120-page volume has doubled in size since the first edition was released ten years ago. It offers more complete profiles of the country's 563 federally recognized tribes. Senator Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, describes the book as "a valuable tool that will continue, as it has in the past, to dispel myths and to inform those who desire to work with Native people and their governments to achieve the economic renaissance that is the birth right of this nation's First Americans." The guide, which many consider a "must-have" by governments, reporters, lawyers and others, includes:
*Information about the economic renaissance in Indian country such as employment rates, retail services, tourism, business corporations and more;
*Each tribe's governmental structures;
*Full-length profiles of the best tribal governance practices to receive awards from Harvard University's Honoring Nations program;
*Tribal profiles on culture and history.
"Tiller's Guide to Indian Country" has a hefty price tag: $199.00. It requires both hands to lift it.
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