Youth and Education News
September 1, 2006 Issue 171 Volume 3
""Popular culture seems to represent Native Americans as these mythical beings of the past, and the Heritage month activities are trying to break down those stereotypes. People should know that we aren't a monolithic group of people. We are comedians, authors, singers, and our cultures are very much alive today." Nickole Fox
Group suspects misuse of Indian ed funds
Montana: Advocates of the Indian Education for All program are concerned that state money is being misused. Montana requires that schools teach all students about Native American tribes and reservations. The state has provided funds to help schools meet the requirement. But the Montana Indian Education Association is questioning how at least two districts -- Missoula County and Billings Public Schools -- are spending the money. Missoula Schools is using some money to increase teacher salaries, according to a state legislator who is also the association chairwoman. Similar concerns were raised in Billings. "It's real disappointing for me individually -- and for the MIEA board," said Rep. Carol Juneau, D-Browning. The MIEA also believes the misuse could be more widespread. "The problem is that the money went into the general fund," said Denise Juneau, director of the Office of Public Instruction's Indian Education Division. This means district officials can disregard the spirit of the law and spend those fund just like other general funds. There is no penalty for spending Indian Education for All money on unrelated matters. "Perhaps we need to take a look at legislation in the 2007 session and see if we can strengthen the accountability process," said Carol Juneau.
YOUNGER GENERATION OVERWHELMINGLY GIVES PRESIDENT BUSH LOW GRADES
President Bush hoped to attract a new generation of voters to the Republican Party. Instead, younger Americans disapprove of his job performance. Bush had hoped to draw youth in though policy initiatives to create an "ownership society:" health-care savings accounts, eliminating the marriage penalty in the U.S. tax code, and creating private investment accounts from part of the Social Security payroll taxes. He also focused on public relations tactics like the Youth Convention at the party's 2004 national convention. Instead, the Social Security initiative failed in Congress, and only 1% of the U.S. population is participating in his health-care savings accounts. Bush also lost youth approval by stressing issues aimed at religious voters, such as gay-marriage opposition. In addition the war in Iraq is a major factor driving down public opinion among young voters. "Young people take it very personally," said Hans Riemer, political director at Rock the Vote. "They feel like it's their generation that's been asked to sacrifice."
In October 2003, 40% of college students supported either sending and keeping troops in Iraq;
By March 2006, only 26% supported these measures;
In 2003, 31% of youth ages 18-24 identified themselves as Republicans and 27 % as Democrats;
By 2006, 32% said they were Democrats and 24% Republicans;
A recent Los Angeles Times poll of Americans ages 18 to 24 found Bush's approval rating was 20% with 53% disapproving.
Native Americans still poorest in United States
According to the U.S. Census Bureau report, "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005," Native Americans remain the poorest people in the nation.
From 2004 to 2005, the average American household earned $46,326, an increase of 1.1%;
From 2003 - 2005, the Native American/Alaska Native median income was only $33,627.
37,000,000 Americans(12.6%) (7,700,000 families) live in poverty;
537,000 NA/AI live in poverty, (25.3%) ($19,971: family of 4) ($15,577: family of 3) ($12,755: family of 2) (unrelated individuals: $9,973).
These figures are open to interpretation by politicians. Democratic leaders call it "proof" that President Bush's administration has not improved the lives of Native Americans. Some republicans blame immigrants for the lack of significant overall improvement. However, those immigrants still have higher income levels and higher rates of insurance coverage than Native Americans.
"Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States, 2005: http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p60-229.pdf
Fighting to stay open
California: California's only tribal college, D-Q University, faces permanent closure. The Davis college was closed last year, then stripped of accreditation because of mismanaged funds, unstable leadership and a declining enrollment of American Indian students. The demise of D-Q University would deal a heavy blow to the tribal college movement. The school was among the six original tribal colleges in the United States, all founded between 1968 - 1972. That group created the American Indian Higher Education Consortium in 1972 to address common challenges such as fund raising and attracting qualified faculty. Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Education recognizes 34 tribal colleges, most of which are two-year schools.
Pension Measure Surprises Tribes
WASHINGTON -- President Bush recently signed the Pension Protection Act. Three lines in the 900+- page document work against tribal self-determination and force tribes to reconsider their pension plans. The lines revise the U.S. Internal Revenue Code to state that all participants in an Indian tribal government pension plan must be employed "in the performance of essential government functions, but not in the performance of commercial activities (whether or not an essential government function)." This means that tribal government pension funds could be taxed if the IRS is not satisfied with their origins. Unless swift and complicated changes can be made, this means that on Jan. 1, 2007, tribal commercial interest pension plans may have to become private-employer compliant. Otherwise, tribal employee earnings invested in tax-exempt retirement accounts could be ineligible for tax-exempt treatment.
[Editor's note: The Pension Protection Act also negatively affects many 501 (c) 3 non-profit institutions, including Native Village and critical non-profit organizations in Indian Country such as the Link Center Foundation, which has a yearly Christmas toy drive and provides heating fuel assistance to elders.
To learn more, visit: http://www.linkcenterfoundation.com
Federal Help Sought To Save Native Languages
Tribal and Indian education officials say federal grants can help save rarely spoken American Indian languages before they disappear. Legislation now in Congress would provide grants for "immersion schools" that would teach Indian languages and use those languages when teaching other courses as well. "…If we don't do this now, it will be gone," said one Indian official. "These speakers are passing on. When they pass, they take a wealth of knowledge with them." Ryan Wilson, president of the National Indian Education Association, said the proposed grant program would help undo the damage of cultural assimilation forced upon Indian people for hundreds of years. "We're not playing the role of victims. We don't believe in that," Wilson said. "But the U.S. government made the biggest investment in the destruction of the languages, and it should make a commensurate investment in helping to bring them back."
Arizona Border Wall Is A Source Of Conflict For Tohono O'odham Nation
Arizona: The National Guard plans to construct a border wall on Tohono O'odham tribal land at the Mexican/American border. Referred to as a "vehicle barrier" by the U.S., the wall has been sanctioned by Tohono O'odham Nation tribal leaders. Vivian Juan-Saunders, the Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman, said the wall and National guard members will help stem the increase in violence against tribal members and decrease illegal transportation of narcotics and human cargo on tribal lands. However, some disagree with the wall being imposed on tribal lands. Ofelia Rivas, founder of O'odham Voice against the Wall, said traditional O'odham oppose this barrier wall which will be a four-foot-high steel fence , but not a solid fence.
Pechanga expert at getting rid of Indians
(Edited from an Opinion piece)
California: In early 2004, the Pechanga tribal enrollment committee disenrolled 133 of their tribal members. Since then, the case has been tied up in state and federal courts. Recently, the 1,000-member tribe disenrolled nearly 100 members of a family whose lineage, tribal leaders said, wasn't pure enough. One who was let go was Lawrence Madariaga, 89, formerly the oldest male member living on the reservation. "Just three months (after I was honored by the tribe at a Christmas party) for my lifelong service to the tribe and the reservation, I was disenrolled," he said. " ... I have been told the same reservation clinic that I have worked so hard to build will no longer care for me or provide me with medical service." That goes for Sophia, his 86-year-old wife of 69 years, too. Many believe the reason members are being disenrolled is money. The tribe's casino earns enough to pay each adult member of the tribe between $10,000 -$15,000 every month. The less tribal members, the more money for each person. When asked about disenrolling tribal descendants, tribal leaders issued this statement: "This is a very complex intertribal matter involving Pechanga history and genealogy. Questions about citizenship, therefore, are resolved by the Pechanga enrollment committee, the government body with the proper authority and ability to determine if a person meets criteria for Pechanga citizenship. The insinuation that these actions are motivated by politics or profits is reprehensible. The fact is that disenrollments occurred long before Pechanga ever opened its gaming facility."
Big Salmon Habitat Project Begins Tribes Arrange Construction of River Log jams
Washington: Construction has begun on a large salmon habitat restoration project where Hutchinson Creek flows into the south fork of the Nooksack River. Engineers and excavators are creating log jams to provide deep pools of cool water to help restore dwindling stocks of spring chinook salmon and bull trout. The pools will provide the fish cover from predators as they rest on their way to their spawning grounds. Both species are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. In 2005, only 120 wild salmon returned to the south fork to spawn, and a bull trout count was unavailable. The project, coordinated by the Lummi and Nooksack tribes' natural resources departments, will cost more than $1,000,000.
Fate of the bumblebee: "More important than the president "
New York: Some 20 years ago, Ray Fadden (Tehanetorens), grand old man of the Mohawks, was walking in the Adirondack Mountains and pointed to a bumblebee flying by. ''That one,'' he said, ''is more important than the president of the United States.'' Fadden was a respected teacher of generations of Mohawk children and taught how insect life has diminished in the forests he roamed since his youth. This reduction in life force had affected everything else, from amphibians to beaver to berries and fish and how it is leading to the starvation of bears. As catastrophic climate changes destroy our world, plant variety is poisoned and groomed out of nature.
Recent reports from Europe detail a severe loss of supremely important insect
life. "Pollinating insects ... indispensable to the reproduction of the 80% of
terrestrial vegetation represented by flowering plants that produce seeds ...
This indispensable service nature has provided for 140,000,000 years is
seriously threatened by the recent loss particularly of wild bees, which have
declined in England by 52% since 1980 and in the Netherlands by 67%.'' Le Monde
The United States and Canada are rapidly losing their insects. Where large open
fields are naturally pollinated now, agriculture is becoming saturated with
toxic plant and insect-killing chemicals that kill bees and other pollinating
insects. Native species and the useful European honeybee, here since around
1600, are severely diminished as a result. All of North America's 4,500 species
of native bees are at risk of extinction, including our lemon-yellow bumblebees.
Plan to move elk herd from Sequim met with opposition, skepticism
Washington: A four hour public meeting between the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe and Washington State officials was held to discuss the fate of the Dungeness elk herd. The elk herd in Sequim, some 76 animals, has damaged local farm crops and alarmed some residents by approaching Sequim's burgeoning subdivisions. The State Department of Fish and Wildlife want to relocate the animals to meadows near Wynoochee Valley. They would drive the elk into corrals, put them in livestock trailers, and take them to a pen before release. The method is called a "soft release. " But tribal member Tina Vogel argued that animals have died in past transplant operations. She also disagrees that the elk pose a danger to people. John Chandler added that relocating the Sequim elk near a herd in Wynoochee would overcrowd other elk. Those elk might move on to Snow Creek, where farm crops have been damaged in recent years. "I sometimes think the animals are smarter than we are,'' he said.
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