Native Village 

Youth and Education News

January 1, 2007 Issue 174  Volume 1

"In school, I learned that my people were savages. But now I see I come from people who were beautiful and intelligent. I see the sacredness of being Indian." Carol Welsh, Sisseton-Wahpeton

Rare white buffalo calf born in Farmington zoo
Pennsylvania: A white male buffalo calf was born November 12 at the Woodland Zoo in Farmington. Sonny Herring, who owns the zoo with his wife, Jill,  found the calf when he went out to feed two female buffaloes. At first, he thought a goat from the petting zoo had gotten into the pen. As he got closer, he realized that the calf was a buffalo. "Buffalo usually breed in the fall and give birth in the spring," said Mr. Herring, who has no explanation as to why this calf was born in November. The calf lives in a large, fenced enclosure with his mother and another buffalo cow.  The calf's father was shipped to a large buffalo farm  "because he was getting too hard to handle and was tearing up his enclosure," Mr. Herring said. The two cows stay close to the calf, keeping a wary eye on people, including the Herrings, who feed them.
Woodland Zoo:
photo courtesy of Jill Herring.


American Indians Name Rare White Buffalo Born in Pa. Zoo
Pennsylvania: American Indians from several tribes gathered at the naming ceremony for a rare white baby buffalo born in Farmington. The calf was named Kenahkihine'n, a Lenape word meaning "watch over us."  About 2,500 people, many of them American Indians, attended the 2 1/2-hour ceremony that included singing, prayers, a healing service and dance.
Associated Press

This year's Global Youth Service Day honored 2,500,000 youth in 118 countries for participating in service-learning and civic programs that help strengthen their communities.   Among those projects honored:
Afghanistan: Exchange students Eshaaq Mohtasebzadah and Selahaddin Ibrahimy and ten friends organized “A Happy Day for Orphans." This all day event offered orphan children in Herat Province a day full of art activities, a scavenger hunt, a general knowledge contest, sports and dance, and prizes and refreshments.  Four hundred children benefited from this service project.
EGYPT: In a similar project, Mahinour El-Badrawi enlisted the help of friends to raise funds to cover their "Orphan Day" expenses. They also located and negotiated fees with a site to host the event and organizing games and activities.   The children enjoyed a day filled with craft-making, puppet and magic shows, music, and even a soccer game.  Mahinour was especially proud that the children’s supervisors were impressed that the whole event had been planned by teen volunteers. It changed the adults’ perception of what young people can accomplish.
GERMANY: Candy Glas and the organization, Rockt den Schuppen, organized a benefit concert for more than 400 young people.  Also in Germany, Johanna Schmidt and the organization, Youth Group, gathered 23 youth volunteers to build an outdoor picnic oven for a local church.
MALAYSIA : Foo Che Zhu and the Recycle Guys recycled more than 2,000 pounds of newspapers, and collected more than 200 aluminum cans and bottles.  The volunteers honed their persuasion skills as they convinced people in their community to recycle.
PAKISTAN: Seven teen girls, led by exchange student Farida Karim Chagan, organized fun activities for children and adults with mental and physical disabilities.  Participants enjoyed art activities, blowing up balloons, playing with balls, and making crafts.  “The audience enjoyed coloring and face painting the most”, says Farida.  “We all learned that small acts of kindness might not cost us anything, but might be a whole world to someone else.”
RUSSIAN FEDERATION: Maria Semina and five student volunteers organized an HIV/ AIDS presentation at her school.  They contacted health experts, doctors, and local authorities to learn accurate information, then shared their findings about HIV/AIDS issues and prevention with fellow students.  “The whole team had an unforgettable experience being together”, said Maria.  “For some people it was the first experience to be a volunteer, so I believe it was a good start for them.”
TAJIKISTAN: Led by Bahrom Ismoilov of the Future Leaders Exchange, volunteers served food, donated toys, taught English, and played sports with children living in rural orphanages.  The day’s activities forged new friendships and demonstrated the potential impacts of volunteerism to the community.  “The volunteers learned how important it is to help the community, and how pleasant it is to see orphanage children smiling”, says Bahrom.
A project coordinated by  the U.S. State Department was “IT Partners” -- online dialogues between American and overseas youth leaders about GYSD and sustainable service.  Twelve youth from the US (ages 16-22), and 38 youth from different countries (ages 14 to 23), were paired up and held email conversations about GYSD. 
Begin planning for GYSD 2007:

DNA Ties Together Scattered Peoples
California: DNA from the tooth of a 10,300-year-old man discovered in Alaska links tribal people from California to Chile.  The man descendants were found among present-day Chumash in California, the Cayapa of Ecuador and Natives in Chile.  "It's mind-boggling," said Ernestine De Sotos, whose DNA matches those from the ancient remains. "I've always known I was Chumash, but this is something else." John Johnson, anthropoligist at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, led the research. He believes the Pacific Coast was a primary corridor for migration from Alaska to South America.
The Associated Press

Libraries in the Sand Reveal Africa's Academic Past

Mali:  Researchers in Timbuktu are fighting to preserve ancient texts that prove Africa had a written history at least as old the European Renaissance.  Libraries in Timbuktu have already collected 150,000 brittle manuscripts. Some date to the 1200s, and many more could be buried under the sand.  The texts were hidden by proud Malian families whose ancestors feared the texts would be stolen by enemies, explorers and colonialists. Timbuktu's leading families have only recently started to give up their ancestral heirlooms to share with the community. "These manuscripts are about all the fields of human knowledge: law, the sciences, medicine," said Galla Dicko, director of the Ahmed Baba Institute, a library housing 25,000 of the texts.  Written in ornate calligraphy, some manusripts were used to teach astrology or mathematics. Other told tales of everyday life in Timbuktu during its "Golden Age," when it was a seat of learning in the 1500s.   "It is through these writings that we can really know our place in history," said Abdramane Ben Essayouti, Imam of Timbuktu's oldest mosque, Djingarei-ber, built from mud bricks and wood in 1325.
View the Manuscripts:

Looters Ravage Ruins To Sell Pottery, Heirlooms On Black Market
Looters are destroying and desecrating sacred Indian ruins. An estimated 80% of America's ancient archaeological sites have been plundered or robbed. The motive is money -- Indian artifacts are coveted worldwide by wealthy collectors.   Looters, however, are only the first link in a black-market chain that includes collectors, galleries, trade shows and Internet sites such as eBay.  Stopping the black- market business is impossible; legal loopholes and lack of policing manpower makes it hard to convict the guilty.  The result is a scientific and spiritual loss.  "They're changing history," said Vernelda Grant, a San Carlos Apache as she stood amid 800-year-old ruins transformed into a crater field.  "They're killing us.  They're killing the existence of who we are."  Warren Youngman, a BIA special agent, shrugs when asked how many looters are working tribal lands.  "There's a lot of wide-open spaces, and we don't have the manpower to cover it." he said.  "We'll never know." The BIA polices oversees sites for 561 recognized tribes nationwide.

An Unbreakable Spirit in WWII
Their exact numbers are unknown, and dwindling fast...  Sixty years after serving their homeland, the Navajo Code Talkers are superstars who earned no riches for their deeds. More than 400 young Navajo men - whose federal government had tried to wipe out their language - used their native tongue to pass messages among troops during World War II.  The original 29 Navajo Marine Code Talkers developed a code with various tones, glottal stops and complexities within the Navajo language. And, unlik all other codes, theirs could be transmitted quickly and accurately.  No one but the Navajo could translate the message, and their code was never broken.  But the Code Talkers' contributions remained a government secret until 1968.  Then, in 2001, President Bush presented Congressional Gold Medals to the original 29 Code Talkers, five of whom were still alive. Today, up to 30 surviving Code Talkers attend monthly meetings in Gallup, N.M,  but no one knows where all the codetalkers are today.  Code Talker Jimmy Begay estimates that 75-80 of the 420 Code Talkers still live. Others believe the figure remains more than 100.   "They don't want to be famous. They just are," said Virginia June for her husband, who is in good health except for a failing memory.
Denver Post

Iditarod legend, Herbie Nayokpuk, remembered
Alaska: Hundreds of people across Alaska turned out to honor Herbie Nayokpuk, the Iditarod legend, who passed away in December. Known as the "Shishmaref Cannonball, Herbie was loved by people through Alaska.  That love is one reason his family decided to broadcast his memorial statewide. "What a life...He's always said that. What a is good. And his million-dollar smile. He's always had that persona about him," said Shirley Newberg, Nayokpuk's oldest daughter.  Though his last race was almost 20 years ago, Nayokpuk's time on the trail remained close to his heart. He was involved in every Iditarod since the Last Great Race started over 30 years ago. Even when he wasn't racing, Nayokpuk was at every start and every finish.  "Even there in those early years, people flocked to Herbie. Let's face it, some people have it and some people don't. And Herbie had it," said Dan Seavey who mushed with Nayokpuk. This year, Nayokpuk's family will take his place at the race he loved so much.

Keeping the Legends Alive:
British Columbia:  Ellen White, 84,  has written down her nation's ancient stories for future generations.  A respected elder of the Snuneymuxw First Nation in Nanaimo, White is also known as Kwulasulwut, meaning "Many Stars."  While Ellen began writing children's books in 1981, her new book, Ellen White Legends and Teachings of Xeel's, The Creator, is her first book aimed at teens and adults. She began the meticulous process of telling the stories in her native tongue to her daughter, Vicki White, who helped translate into English.  At the end of each story, White encourages readers to draw their own conclusions: "What did the story tell you?  Did it give you something new to think about?  How did the story make you feel?"  Ellen says the stories are as relevant now as they were hundreds of years ago.  People have the same issues; it's only the forms that have changed. 
H-Amindian Listserve

Bush Signs `Esther Martinez' Bill
Washington DC: The Esther Martinez Native Languages Preservation Act has been signed into law by President Bush. The bill creates more language immersion and restoration programs for Native American youth.  The bill was named for Esther Martinez, an Ohkay Owingeh storyteller and linguist killed in a car crash as she returned from being honored in Washington D.C.

Language revitalization efforts bloomed in 2006  
In 2006, language retention became a top priority for many American Indian nations.  For many decades, Native communities have faced an increasing loss of languages. But 2006 became a turn-around year, with more community members involved in preserving their languages for the future.  

The traditional Native ways have been threatened since European invasion in the 1400s. The crucial turning point for language loss occurred from the 1800s -1950s when Native children were sent to non-Native residential schools and forbidden to speak their Native tongue. 
As those children became adults, their new language was English. Instead of their own language, the passed English onto on their children, believing it was best.

Threat of extinction
In some places, it took only one generation of residential-school children for the entire community to almost lose their Native language. In 2000, Native communities throughout the Americas faced complete language extinction. In some cases, only a handful of elders knew the language; with their deaths, the language died, too. 

Immersion programs
''National studies on language learning and educational experience indicate the more language learning, the higher the academic achievement,'' said Ryan Wilson, president of the National Indian Education Association. ''Solid data from the immersion school experience indicates that language immersion students experience greater success in school..." 
Oneidas in New York have contracted with an education company to teach the Oneida language to community adults.   Fluent speakers were located in Canada and flown to central New York to teach the Oneida language.
An immersion program for PreK-4 students in New York's Akwesasne community teaches children the traditional Mohawk language by schooling them in a homelike environment.
Other communities have modeled ''language nest' immersion programs after the Maori of New Zealand.   In these programs,  adults and children study the language for up to 8 hours a day. This commitment to learning time is preserving their Native tongues.
Early studies show that students in such programs excel in school.

Cutting-edge technology called "Phraselators" will help the The Eastern Band of Cherokee (NC) expand their language revival.  The handheld computers enable students to have English translated into Cherokee (and vice versa) with the touch of a button. Other tribes have also purchased the device.
Apple Computer Inc. has been asked to put language learning software on its popular iPod.
Smaller-scale technology such as CDs and Internet databases is flourishing in language classrooms,

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake has enacted a law requiring the Mohawk language to be used in all education and business settings. Other tribes have taken similar approaches.
On Dec. 14, 2006, President Bush signed into law the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act, H.R. 4766.

   Volume 2

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