Youth and Education News
October 1, 2006 Issue 172 Volume 2
"The use of American Indian mascots as symbols in school and university athletic programs is particularly troubling. Schools and universities are places of learning. These mascots are teaching stereotypical, misleading and, too often, insulting images of American Indians. And these negative lessons are not just affecting American Indian students; they are sending the wrong message to all students.” Ronald F. Levant, President, American Psychological Association
Teaching Aboriginal Culture
Alberta: When it comes to learning about aboriginal culture, The Birch Bark Basket program is among the best programs for young children. Combining games, storytelling, dance and other activities, Birch Bark reflects both historic and modern times. The Birch Bark Basket program was developed by a committee of several Aboriginal individuals across Alberta. Heather Snider from the Alberta Resource Centre for Quality Enhancement said the program stems from parent programs which need methods of connecting with the family. This unique program has been introduced in many Canadian city and parent link centers.
Birch Bark Basket Early Ed. Program: http://www.arcqe.ca/birchbark/birch_bark.htm
Yaquis' grant provides computers for kids
Arizona: The Pascua Yaqui Tribe will donate more than $98,000 to buy 33 computers, install cabinets, and pay for Internet access in four Tucson neighborhood centers. The rest of the money is funded by a grant from the "Computer for Kids" program. "This grant will help children keep up with their studies and enable parents to use the Internet to stay informed about their families, community and the world," said Pascua Yaqui Chairwoman Hermina Frias. Many are also excited that the new computers open doors to a college education. Tucson City Council member, Steve Leal, pointed out that the general catalogue of classes at the University of Arizona is online. "It's important for kids to be computer-savvy," he said. "If the UA is paperless, that means our kids need to know how to access online information." Leal said the computer labs should be up this month.
Aboriginal History Brought to Life by Caring Teachers
Alberta: Three teachers from Hobbema's Ermineskin school have been nominated for the Governor General's Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. Iris Loewen, Pam Aleekuk and Wendy Erick created a 7th grade social studies program in which students learn Cree history. Six years ago, Loewen thought it would be nice to fill an empty display case with some Cree artifacts. She visited the Glenbow Museum in Calgary where the museum staff taught her the proper way to handle artifacts. The museum then lent the artifacts to the school on a long term basis. Loewen and Aleekuk integrated these artifacts in the curriculum to help connect young Cree students with what they're learning, as well as their own history. "Seeing the artifacts, handling them, touching them, feeling them, really brings history right smack into [students'] hands," Loewen said. "The idea is to have a curriculum that is relative to their lives as aboriginals, so it's not coming out of a textbook that someone else has written. You can't just add a drumming group or a dancing group to make something relevant. They need to know about their own history." Elders visit to teach students about the artifacts and to tell important historical stories. The class and elders also visit historically important sites to learn what happened there.
Schools recruit Indian educators to teach
Montana. Before he became a teacher, Keith Erickson was a sports hero in Poplar, Montana. He made the all-state and all-star basketball and football teams. His picture hangs on Poplar High School's wall of fame. But Erickson considers his most important roles as a youth mentor and 7th grade teacher on the Fort Peck Reservation. "The reason I went off to school, I had a mentor, a P.E. teacher, who went to school in Missoula," he said. "He gave me a little hope that I could succeed and break through. That's what I want to show these kids - that they could do it, too." Many children arrive in his classes behind in basic skills. Keith attributes this to family struggles. He also blames life on an isolated and poverty-stricken reservation where many battle alcohol and drugs. While Keith could teach almost anywhere in the U.S -- math teachers are in high demand- - he returned home. "Indian role models are really needed," Erickson said. "Kids here have a lot of obstacles. I want to give them hope. My thought from the very beginning was to give something back." Keith has taught at PHS for seven years and will stay until the school meets federal progress requirements under the Child Left Behind Act. Then he may move into school administration.
Learning to Tell Stories
Alaska: MEDIAK - Media Education and Development Institute of Alaska - is a collaboration of Cook Inlet Tribal Council and Koahnic Broadcast Corp. MEDIAK is an after-school media program for Native teens. Using microphones, cameras, video cams, and notepads, students interview others about tough topics and ask tough questions. But students also promote positive stories, such as culture, traditions, and pride. MEDIAK is free to all Alaska Native and American Indian high-school age students. The members come from high schools, homeless shelters, youth programs, and treatment centers. "It's giving them this voice they've never had before," said instructor Chris Joy. ‘I mean, you ask them, 'When you're watching television and you're watching stuff about Alaska, what's missing? What do you see?' They always say it's all white people..." MEDIAK kids earn high school credit for 120 hours of work and three projects. They can also apply for paid media internships, from reporting to graphic design. Recently, MEDIAK students even made public service radio announcements about Alaska Native Heritage Month. MEDIAK is funded through next summer through a U.S. Department of Education grant. Beyond that, its future is uncertain.
Media Educational Development Institute of Alaska: http://www.citci.com/index.aspx?pageID=34
Culture Keeps Kids in Class
Manitoba: All of the 170 boarding schools students attending Southeast Collegiate High School are from Manitoba's First Nations reserves. Southeast Collegiate offers a uniquely aboriginal experience because it is owned and operated by the Southeast Tribal Council. High school principal Don Revel says the school's attention to native culture, history, language, counselling and academics keeps students in school and prepares many for college. He says Southeast Collegiate symbolizes a new, positive era in aboriginal residential-school education. "Here, it's very much more of an honouring of culture and understanding how our students can develop the skill sets to either function within First Nations culture at home, or in [a multicultural] society," he said. Last year, 1,249 Manitoba students left their reserves for high school.
Salish, Kootenai keyboards coming to a school near you
Montana: Students across the reservation will soon be typing in the traditional Salish and Kootenai languages using modified computer keyboards. "When modern technology first arrived here, it started taking our language and culture away from us," said Tony Incashola, director of the Salish Pend d'Oreille Culture Committee. "But now we're learning how to take that same technology and turn it around, using it to teach our children our language and culture." The English letters have been replaced by Salish or Kootenai characters. (Since Salish has more characters than English, the keyboards replace the numerical buttons on top with Salish characters.) Also, with the simple tap of the caps lock button, people can switch between writing in a native language or English. Plus, the keys are removable, allowing you to place more commonly used characters within comfortable reach of your fingers, allowing for more efficient typing.
Navajo Students Growing Garden in Unlikely Place
Utah: It's the next generation getting in touch with their roots in the garden. In a desert landscape of red dirt and red-rock monuments, Navajo youth are farming a lush garden that produces veggies by the armloads. Kids at Monument Valley High School sell the traditional food crops at bargain prices to their elders. Then the elders teach the kids how to use those good things from their garden.The idea is the brainchild of teacher Jack Seltzer. His goal is to help students bring back vanishing native plants. "Everything that's grown in the garden is of cultural value," he said. "Many plants they're bringing back were important to the Navajos for making rope, blankets, baskets, colorful dyes, medicines." Even the food crops have a cultural resonance. "This isn't just corn. It's an old variety called Navajo corn," Seltzer said. "We plant Navajo squash, we plant Navajo melons. Sustainable agriculture is still a viable option for people if they want to do it." Tribal elders say Monument Valley used to be much greener. "[The area] would have been belly deep in grass for the horse. And that's not the case anymore," Seltzer said. Monument Valley's drier condition in recent decades is thought to be caused by a combination of climate change and over-grazing by livestock.
Photo: KSLTV Channel 5
Aboriginal Youth Experience Police Work
British Columbia: Recently, a 17-week Aboriginal Youth Training Program was held to help strengthen the bridge between police and local Native communities. 32 student interns attended the nationwide program and worked as peace officers with members of the RCMP and the First Nations Chiefs of Police Association. One student --Roberta Chouinard, 18 -- spent two weeks in basic training, then was paired with Vancouver Constable Angela Kermer. Both women are of aboriginal ancestry and spent a significant amount of time with members of the local Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Chouinard worked side by side with Kermer and was always in uniform during public events. She says the AYTP is a method of recruiting more aboriginal law officers. "The numbers are pretty low for officers that are of aboriginal ancestry," said Chouinard. "Even here in North Vancouver, they only have two aboriginal police officers."
Native Students Assist Bristol Bay Walrus Study
Alaska: The Bristol Bay Summer Youth Stewardship Program gives local Native students an opportunity to work in ecological research project. This year the students are researching the Pacific walrus who congregate in Bristol Bay. "These are critical habitat areas in Bristol Bay where walruses have come to rest between feeding bouts," said Joel Garlich-Miller of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "These isolated locations are filled up with up to tens of thousands of animals out there nesting." Students are tracking the numbers of walruses and monitoring human disturbances near the resting walruses. Walrus numbers in Bristol Bay are declining, and this long-term project will help develop management plans for the species.
The Bristol Bay Times
Jamieson Feels "Blessed" Helping Aboriginal Youth
Ontario: Roberta Jamieson is spending more time close to home. Jamieson became the Six Nations' first female chief but left politics to run the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation in Toronto. The NAAF is a non-profit organization to help First Nations, Inuit, and Métis youth achieve educational and career success. It disburses almost $2,800,000 for Aboriginal education across Canada each year. Jamieson rearranged the NAAF administration and brought the head office to the Six Nations Polytechnic campus. It is, she says, a perfect way to remind foundation employees of the young people they serve. "We really feel blessed at the foundation to be doing this work," Jamieson said. "This work is so positive and future-oriented." The NAAF also produces the annual National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, a celebration of Aboriginal accomplishment that is broadcast nationally.
National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation: http://www.naaf.ca/
Comanche Nation College
Oklahoma: The Comanche Nation College is the state's first tribally controlled community college. The school was created by Comanche tribal members who wanted a college that incorporates Comanche language and values with a curriculum strong in science, math, and writing skills. In 2002, CNC opened. They offer general education courses that will transfer to Cameron University, a four-year university. In addition, CNC offers vocational nursing training programs through the Great Plains Technology Center, a nearby public two-year institution. Other programs and courses are available. Future plans include expanding existing programs. “The success of Comanche Nation College lies in meeting the needs of its population,” said academic advisor Robin Williams. “It represents success for another generation of learners who will serve as valuable role models for the next generation.” The college is located in Lawton, a town of 88,500.
At FSU, students learn the history of university's namesake tribe
Florida: Nearly 60 years ago, students from Florida State University adopted the name "Seminoles" for the school's athletic teams. Now, FSU students can learn more the Seminole tribe in a new college course, "History of the Seminoles and Southeastern Tribes, Pre-Contact to Present." FSU President T.K. Wetherell says the new course is a tribute to the strong bond between the university and Seminole tribe. He hopes the course helps students understand what the Seminole have endured and accomplished despite their hardships and challenges. "If we know their history, we'll have a greater appreciation for the Seminole name that we so proudly identify ourselves with," he said. Neil Jumonville, from FSU's history department, said the course contents are a collaboration between the Seminole tribe and FSU. "The tribe and the department seem to be very much on the same page about the course, how to offer their history, and about our continuing connection," he said. Jumonville looks forward to Seminole tribal members actively engaging with students. "We are trying to arrange for representatives of the Seminoles to talk to the class once or twice this semester... although that is flexible," he said. Currently, the elective course is limited to one session per semester because of space limitations. However, Jumonville expects additional sections will be added in the future -- this semester's 45 seats were immediately filled!
The Washington Monthly's Annual College Guide
Every year the U.S. News and World Report magazine rates America's' best universities and colleges. Higher education is a huge investment, and parents and students should know whether their tuition dollars are well spent. However, editors at The Washington Monthly were unhappy with U.S. News's academic focus. WM's editors believe "when colleges are doing what they should, they benefit all of us. They undertake vital research that drives our economy. They help Americans who are poor to become Americans who will prosper. And they shape the thoughts and ethics of the young Americans who will soon be leading the country. It's worth knowing, then, which individual colleges and universities fit the bill."
Washington Monthly then created their own list of schools based on three principals:
*How well it performs as an engine of social mobility (ideally helping the poor to get rich rather than the very rich to get very, very rich);
*How well it does in fostering scientific and humanistic research;
* How well it promotes an ethic of service to country.
2. The University of California, Berkeley;
3. Pennsylvania State, University Park
4. University of California, Los Angeles
5. Texas A&M University:
University of California, San Diego
7. Stanford University
8. Cornell University
9. South Carolina State University
10. University of California, Davis
Washington Monthly's top 100 colleges national
Volume 1 Volume 3
Native Village Home Page
Village is published with the generous help and support of friends, listserves, and online publications.
Without you, Native Village would not exist. Megwich to you all.
To join our mailing list and receive news update
reminders, send email address to: NativeVillage500@aol.com
To contact Native Village staff, email: NativeVillage500@aol.com
Native Village Linking Policy
For more information about keeping kids safe online, please read about the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment for non-profit research, archival, news, and educational purposes only.
Native Village © Gina Boltz
All rights reserved