Native Village 

Youth and Education News

April 1, 2007 Issue 177  Volume 2

"A vision without execution is nothing but a hallucination."
Kim Krokodilo, Elk Valley Rancheria

Many people view music only as an alternative to sports or other extra-curricular interests.  However, music is also educational and can positively affect a child's development.  Currently, a growing number of youngsters -- some as young as 4 -- are enrolling in formal music lessons.  "Music isn't a magic pill, but there are a variety of studies that show how music supports a child's development," says Michael Blakeslee of the National Association for Music Education.  "Parents know that music carries our culture forward. If you want your child to be culturally literate, then you want him to study or listen to music."  Studies suggest early music lessons help children focus on the structure of sounds, an important aspect in language development.  Other benefits include socialization, cooperation and mental agility.

Indian Head Start
Washington, DC: On March 14, 2007, the House Education and Labor Committee marked up H.R. 1429, the "Improving Head Start Act of 2007)"  H.R. 1429 would establish a Tribal Colleges and Universities Head Start Partnership.  Also, a service requirement for those receiving funds towards a degree was approved. Other additions to the House bill include:
If an Indian Head Start program is found deficient, federal education officials will consult with the tribal government to develop a  correction plan;
If the Indian Head Start fails, non-Indian Head Start programs cannot take over the program unless another Indian Head Start program  is unavailable;
If a non-Indian Head Start program does take over, it is only until an Indian Head Start program becomes available;
Head Start programs can use up to 10% of their quality improvement program funds for student transportation needs. For many tribes, this flexibility will help improve the quality and safety of their busing operations.

While no date has been set for the bill to appear before Congress, the Senate is shooting for sometime in April.  It is possible that this legislation could be in conference by May or June.

A Culture Put to the Test
Arizona: The Navajo Language Immersion School—Tséhootsooí Diné Bi’ólta’, is a K-8 school with 235 students on the Navajo Reservation.  It draws on both Navajo tradition and modern accountability tools to improve student achievement.  Tséhootsooí Diné Bi’ólta’ (Tseh-HO-Tso Di-NEH Bi-OL-tuh), which means “the Navajo school in the meadow between two canyons,” is viewed as a model in Indian Country and elsewhere. The school has attracted visitor from the Apache, Cherokee, and Pueblo Indian tribes, and its teachers and administrators have spoken at national conferences sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Association for Bilingual Education.  “This staff is saying, ‘We can compete with anyone in America, and we can do it in two languages,’” said Thomas A. Jackson, the superintendent for the 2,900-student Window Rock school system.
Tséhootsooí Diné facts:
71% of it's students are from low-inome families;
70% of students have made AYP (adequate yearly progress);
Kindergartners and 1st graders receive all instruction in Navajo. Lessons in English begin in 2nd grade. By 6th grade, children receive half their instruction in each language;
Only 30% of the nation's 184 Bureau of Indian Education reservation schools run by the federal government are making AYP;
In Arizona, 55% of the 141 regular public schools on American Indian reservations made adequate progress last year.

Charter Schools Win Approval
California: The American Indian Public Charter School and the Oakland Charter School will each open another school in the fall.  Noting both schools' strong academic track records and statewide acclaim, officials approved requests for expansion. The two new schools, which will be publicly funded and independently run, will be called the American Indian Public Charter School II and Oakland Charter High School. Some money will come from the Quality Education Investment Act of 2006.  QEIA will invest $3,000,000,000 into the state's lowest-performing elementary, middle and high schools, including charters.  The money will pay for counselors, smaller class sizes and teacher recruitment and training.
H-Amindian Listserve

  Basketball player reigns supreme on, off court
Arizona:  Wynona Peters is arguably the best girl's basketball player in southern Arizona. The senior at Salpointe Catholic High School averaged 16 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. She has also become an expert in the Tohono O'odham tradition and sees herself as a tribal ambassador. Peters, 17, is the tribe's reigning Wa:k Pow Wow Princess and a member of the Wa:k Tab Basket Dancers who performed last summer at the Smithsonian's Museum of the American Indian.  She also represented her tribe at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque.  Wynona's classmates learned of her tribal honors only a few months ago when she was profiled in the school's student magazine. She kept quiet about her achievements for more than three years.  ''As O'odham people, we don't like to show emotion,'' she said. ''We like to keep it inside. That's how we are."  Peters will soon be attending the University of San Diego where she will give up basketball to concentrate solely on school.  Her benefactor is Dan Frost, 89, a Tucson philanthropist who has agreed to pay for all her educational expenses and has accounted for Peters in his will.  ''Some people just know who they are,'' Frost said. ''She has this inherent wisdom, self-confidence and leadership. Because of what she is and how she is, she can be a great leader.'' Peters plans on returning to the reservation as a pediatrician after medical school.

STEM Programs at Tribal Colleges
A new study shows that investing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs boosts the number of native students pursuing STEM degrees.  The new report, “Tribal Colleges and Universities Program STEM Education Indicators and Highlights 2005,” also tracks enrollment and graduation rates in colleges serving American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students. The study looks at the impact of National Science Foundation awards to institutions for STEM programs. NSF provided a total of $2.5 million in grants to various tribal institutions for up to five years.

STEM Major Enrollment at NSF-funded tribal college STEM programs, 2000-2005







Percent Change from Baseline

Cohort 1 (8 institutions)







Cohort 2 (5 institutions)







Cohort 3 (3 institutions)







Cohort 4 (5 institutions)







Source: Systemic Research, Inc., 2006

Wai'anae aims to train its own
Hawaii: The teacher turnover rate on the Wai'anae Coast is among the highest in the state: between 10%-25% each year. Myron Brumaghim, Hawaii's Distinguished Principal of the Year in 2006, believes the way to change that is to recruit teachers whose homes are just down the road.  "Sometimes when you are searching for answers to difficult problems, you find the solution right under your nose," he said. Brumaghim believes bringing a local teacher-training center to the community will help turn things around.  Despite the fact that legislators voted against a bill of $750,000 to support the training program, Margie Maak supports Brumaghim's idea.  "We're confident this will happen," said Maak, an associate professor of education at the University of Hawai'i.  She believes the answer is tied to a curriculum initiative known as Ho'okulaiwi: Aha Ho'ona'auao 'Oiwi. The project translates to "Center for Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Education."  The curriculum prepares teachers for schools with large numbers of Native Hawaiian students. This includes Wai'anae Coast, where over 50% of the population has Native Hawaiian blood.  While 102 certified teachers have graduated from the program, only a few are from the Wai'anae Coast.  Brumaghim say each year he recruits between 25 and 40 teachers for three schools in his area.  That's never enough, he said.  "We know that eventually most of the teachers ... go back to where their families live."

Tribal Leaders To HSU: Reach Out To Native Communities
California:  Tribal representatives and Humboldt State University are working together to attract more native students to the school.  During the 2007 Northern California Tribal Leaders Education Summit, tribal leaders suggested that Humboldt:
Visit and interact with native communities;
Maintain campus programs for native students;
Develop an action plan;
Offer student internships to work in various tribal departments;
Establish a major to prepare HSU graduates for the intricacies of tribal administration.

"If HSU can help us provide jobs for our kids, bring them home, that's what we want,"  said Karma Miller, Smith River Rancheria.
H-Amindian Listserve

Native Interest, New Opportunity
Virginia: The 48 Native Americans students at the University of Virginia are less than 1% of the school's population.  The school administration is now focusing on efforts to draw more native students onto its campus. The seventh annual Virginia Indian Nations Summit on Higher Education recently met with UV officials. They discussed ways to encourage tribal members to seek college opportunities.  In addition, a new UV Native American Student Union plans to open this fall.  Modeled after organizations at Harvard, Brown, Cornell and Dartmouth, UV's Union would aim at providing a welcoming environment for current and prospective Native American students.
Other Virginia Colleges:
Virginia Tech
Since 2000, Virginia Tech has offered an American Indian Studies program.  It combines traditional Native American history with modern practices.  "We want students to come up with a practical understanding of the diversity and validity of American Indian cultures and the validity of the knowledge that comes from American Indian societies in the contemporary world," said Samuel Cook, an associate professor in the program.  In addition, Virginia Tech plans to add an online course on Native American history in 2008.

Trent University
Paula Sherman, an associate professor of indigenous studies, said that Native American students need a strong sense of community in its programs and services. In addition, Sherman said Native American students want their culture represented through the curriculum and teaching staff. "They want to be mirrored in the curriculum," she said.
William &Mary
In 1998, William and Mary developed the American Indian Resource Center to aid Native American students and raise awareness, The center focuses on "partnership and outreach" with native individuals or tribes.

Claremont University gets $3 million from San Manuel
California: The San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians has gifted $3,000,000 to Claremont Graduate University. The money will fund a program that studies historic and current events, governmental policies and laws affecting tribal governments.  Named "The San Manuel Tribal Administration Certificate Program," the new program is a unique to higher education in the nation. “There is no entity in the world like an Indian tribe,” said Deron Marquez, former San Manuel Band chairman and Claremont Doctoral candidate. “Tribal governments will make progress by providing as much information and education as possible about the unique nature of Indian tribes and their governments. This will be a program with a central focus to provide that understanding."

Program Opens Trade to Aboriginal Women
British Columbia: In Vancouver, 16 aboriginal women have entered a unique program to prepare them for apprenticeships in the trades industry.  ACCESS  [The Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society] has joined CITI [the Construction Industry Training Institute] which represents 15 trade unions to form this program.  The project's goals are to:
Increase the success rate of aboriginal women entering the trades by helping them gain the skills needed to acquire certification;
Provide a safe, supportive environment that will help the women develop the self-confidence and technical skills;
Provide the necessary life skills and assertiveness training;
Provide career planning and job-search assistance;
Provide basic academic upgrading in math, science and communication skills;
Provide hands-on work experience in the trades industry.

H-Amindian Listserve

Economic session called 'super conference'
Nevada:  Res2007, the longest-running business and trade fair in the United States, was recently held in Las Vegas. Organized by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development,  the economic summit has been a popular event since it began 21 years ago.  "The main purpose and mission of the national center ... is the development of the American Indian private sector," said Scott Gregory, vice president of NCAIED. " 'Res" is one of the ways we fill our mission. Annually, we help our Indian businesses procure a half-billion dollars." At the end of the 1900s, American Indians had a purchasing power of $19,000,000,000.  In 2005, the economic purchasing power of Indian people had leaped to $34,800,000,000. Part of this success is due to NCAIED.  "This [conference] started out in 1987 as a brown bag lunch," said Gregory. "If they got 30 or 40 people there, they thought they were doing good. Today, we have 2,500 people here."  Res2007 promoted future growth by concentrating on sustainable economies. Participants learned about the virtues and dangers of doing business in a global society. They also visited an accompanying trade show of 300 exhibitors, ranging from information technology companies to youth magazines.

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