Youth and Education News
May 1, 2007 Issue 177 Volume 2
"Great disaster, sickness and war are coming and that is why the white buffalo
has showed itself to the people ... to give them a warning. The white buffalo
showed itself to the people so that they could live on ... Regardless of your
color, we are all living on this Mother Earth, and there are children here who
still need to live ... The white buffalo has come to give the people a warning
and we must listen to the message of the white buffalo.
"I am not talking about the end of the world, but about a new beginning. Today we must change, we must give."
David Swallow, Jr., Lakota Spiritual Leader and Sundance chief
Audit Raises Concerns on Special Education In BIA-Funded Schools
Washington, DC: An audit released by officials within in the U.S. Department of Education raises serious concerns about educational spending by the Bureau of Indian Affairs from July 1, 2001, to Sept. 30, 2003. More than $100,000,000 in funding for special education students on Indian reservations is in question. The auditors, who are from the DOE's inspector general's office, also voiced concerns about the remaining $217,300,000 of educational funds handed over to the Interior Department, which runs the BIA. “Based on the issues related to the administration of special education, we concluded that other federal education programs could be affected by the weaknesses,” the inspector general's audit report states. The BIA disputed the report's contentions, but the inspector generals office disagreed, saying the information the BIA provided to bolster its case “did not include any detail support documentation, was outside the audit period, was incomplete, or did not address the findings or recommendations.”
Bellevue Students Restore Grave Sites
Nebraska: Chief Big Elk was the last full-blooded chief of the Omaha Tribe. Last summer his great-great-great grandson, Logan Fontenelle, visited Bellevue schools to discuss American Indian mascots. While there, he mentioned that Chief Big Elk is buried in Bellevue Cemetery along with granddaughter, Susan Fontenelle Neals. Logan also said he hoped to someday see a plaque installed at his ancestors' graves. Students in the Bellevue schools listened and decided to raise money to grant Fontenelle's wish. As the amount they raised grew, so did the scope of their project. Now new grave markers explaining Chief Big Elk and Neals' histories have also been placed on both gravesites In addition, JROTC high school cadets worked with city employees to clean and re-set the gravestones of more than 1,000 military veterans buried in the cemetery.
Lax Kw'alaams School Honoured
British Columbia: The Coast Tsimshian Academy in Lax Kw'alaamsis is among 8 B.C. schools recognized for leading the way in education. The band-operated school was honored for its community support and innovative methods in raising the academic and self-esteem levels of students. Just a few years ago, before the Band Council took "life into its own hands," less than 50% of Lax Kw'alaamsis children attended school at times.
American Indian Day School Wins First National Verizon Tech Savvy Award
South Dakota: The Enemy Swim Day School has been named the national winner of the first Verizon Tech Savvy Awards. The NVTSA is among the first national awards for nonprofits and schools who create programs to help parents understand new technologies. The parents can then assist their children in using the new media. The school was honored with a $25,000 award to continue and expand the school's program.
Hawaii P-20 Initiative receives $10 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Hawaii: The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded $10,000,000 to the Hawai‘i P-20 Initiative. Called “Capturing the Momentum," the Initiative's goal is to have every third grader in Hawai‘i reading at grade level by 2015. The project supports high quality, culturally sensitive learning environments in early childhood through grade 3 settings and classrooms. A key program component will be to replicate successful community and state strategies in other communities. “We thank the Kellogg Foundation for their investment in early childhood education in Hawai‘i," said Donna Vuchinich, president of the UH Foundation. "The public-private partnerships in education are accelerating, which is great news for parents and keiki. The resources from the private sector are key in augmenting state funding for essential programs.”
Kellogg Foundation: www.wkkf.org
Cherokee Nation Helping Youth Save for College
Oklahoma: The Cherokee Nation is offering a special program to help Native youth save money for their college education. The Youth Individual Development Account Program is a matched savings plan program designed for Native American youth from low-income families. For every dollar the youth participant saves, the Cherokee Nation YIDA will match with two dollars. “Education is very important to the Cherokee people,” said Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. "For a promising future, we need to develop leaders with vision, and education is the gateway to visionary thinking. In order to qualify, applicants must be a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe, be 14 - 17 years of age, live in the 14 county jurisdictional area of the Cherokee Nation, and meet income guidelines.
Cherokee Youth Individual Development Account Program: http://www.cherokee.org/
Acoma kids return from New Zealand
ACOMA PUEBLO - Five members of the Acoma Boys and Girls Club have returned from New Zealand where they visited with the Maori tribe, the indigenous people of that island. The trip was part of the Boy's and Girls Club's international cultural exchange program. “We're excited about the program as it gives the members an excellent opportunity to see and experience other indigenous cultures ..." said Fred Vallo, Sr, director of the Acoma Boys and Girls Club. During these exchanges, Acoma youth welcome the opportunity to educate others about the Acoma Pueblo. “We want our young people to learn, know and understand their own language and their accurate history. Another goal is the understanding of the traditions, customs and mores of their tribe,” Vallo added. The New Zealand trip was the latest journey for the kids. Club members have visited several Native American nations including the Upper Sioux tribes (MN), the Seminole Nation, (FL) and other New Mexico pueblos including Taos, Teseque and Pojoaque. Future plans include trips to Ysleta, Zuni and Hopi Pueblos, Pacific coast tribes and Alaska native communities. “Mexico and Canada are also possible visits in the near future,” he remarked. The club has also hosted visits by the Maori and the Seminoles.
High school students' voices help reconnect the circle
New York:- Reconnecting The Circle is aa new organization that promotes a positive view and better understanding of Indian country. It recently awarded prizes in a contast for high school students who answered the essay question, ''Why is reconnecting the circle with Native Americans important today?'' The 10 winners --5 native and 5 non-native-- came from various states, tribes and schools across the country. Each winner were awarded a check for $2,500. ''This essay contest encourages Indians and non-Indians to thoughtfully examine the contributions of American Indians over the last several centuries and positively looks for ways those contributions are to be valued by the American society. It is a way to see through triteness, stereotypes and ignorance that so often plague Indian country,'' said Chad Smith, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation/ High school students in grades 9-12 in all 50 states were invited to participate in the contest. Reconnecting The Circle teamed up with the National Congress of American Indians and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to promote the contest. Cherokee Nation Education Corporation was also a partner.
Contestants were judged by a team of 12 reviewers who scored their essays. The panel included:
David Anderson, Choctaw/Chippewa, an entrepreneur and founder of The LifeSkills Center for Leadership;
Jacqueline Gant, Oneida Nation of the Thames, the executive director for the Native American Business Alliance;
Robin Butterfield, Winnebago/Chippewa, a board member of the National Indian Education Association.
''I found the essays moving and inspirational,'' Gant said in a press release. ''It was an honor and a privilege to participate as a judge.''
The winners must spend $2,000 of their winnings on higher learning. The rest can be spent at their own discretion. the contest will continue this November www.reconnectingthecircle.com
2007 Peltier Scholarship is Awarded
South Dakota: Marlene Poor Bear, a single mother working on her nursing degree, has received this year's 2007 Leonard Peltier Scholarship. Awarded by the Oglala Lakota College Scholarship Committee, the money will help Marlene complete her degree. She then plans to stay on Pine Ridge to help her people prolong their health and physical lives during their journeys on earth. The Peltier Scholarship honors Leonard Peltier's vision of empowering Oglala people to define the tribe's future direction. It was awarded by the Oglala Lakota College Scholarship Committee.
Dartmouth sophomore Samuel Kohn among national winners of a 2007 Morris K. Udall
Massachusetts: Dartmouth sophomore Samuel Kohn is one of 80 national winners of a 2007 Morris K. Udall scholarship. A Crow tribal member, Kohn has a passion for tribal policy and tribal education. As part of a Dartmouth Summer Research Project, he examined Montana's "Indian Education for All" which aims to teach Montana's K-12 students about the history and culture of Native Americans. Kohn drove more than 7,000 miles around Montana to interview members of the state's eight tribes about the IEA curriculum and the changes that still have to occur. "Ignorance abounds in the U.S. today and I think education is the best way to combat that," he said. "I know too much to not care. I'm too aware of the issues to walk away and not be responsible for the negative things that happen." While at Dartmouth, Kohn plans to pursue a Presidential Scholars position and thesis work in tribal education.
Ph.D. program helps to preserve Hawaiian language
Hawaii: The Hawaiian language and culture is being taught to more than 1,000 children, ages 3 -18, enrolled in the state's 10 Hawaiian Immersion Schools. Now the University of Hawaii-Hilo is offering a Ph.D. program in Hawaiian language and culture. Five students are enrolled in the new program, the first doctorate of it's kind in the United States. ''We're not an ivory tower Ph.D. We're a community service Ph.D.,'' said UH-Hilo Hawaiian professor, Pila Wilson. Currently, 15,000 people speak Hawaiian reasonably well, but only about 100 remaining elders grew up speaking it. Hawaii-Hilo's goal is to make English the language of business and work, and Hawaiian the language of the home for Hawaiian families. The five Ph.D students enrolled in UH-Hilo's Hawaiian language and culture program are:
Hiapo Perreira, high school teacher, focusing on Hawaiian literature;
Kauanoe Kamana, principal of Nawahiokalaniopuu Hawaiian-language immersion school, Nawahi for short;
Katarina Edmonds, a Maori from New Zealand, who wants to learn the methods of revitalizing the Native languages in the home;
Jason Cabral, dedicated to studying Hawaiian grammar that promotes a high standard for the language;
Professor Larry Kimura, who is concentrating on Hawaiian poetry.
Native Share Education Digest
Native educators struggle to fund language programs
Montana: From her office at Dull Knife Community College, Verda King is using satellite technology to teach the Cheyenne language to elementary students. “This class has done a marvelous job,” said King. “We've translated nursery rhymes, like Humpty Dumpty. And it's been fun. We've learned Cheyenne songs and I'm learning my own language.” Like other native teachers, King is committed to preserving her tribe's language. But K-12 curricula and a lack of state support prevent many students from receiving language lessons. The most effective method of teaching a language is through immersion schools, which most tribes can't afford to start. Recently, the Montana legislature defeated a bill to help fund three existing language immersion schools for the Gros Ventre, Salish and Blackfeet. Lynn Hinch, the bilingual specialist for the state Office of Public Instruction, is frustrated. “We're doing very little because we don't have any money dedicated to language programs,” she said. “We need a K-12 program. Teachers here talked about teaching three times a week for 15 minutes. You can't teach a language in 15 minutes. Spanish teachers wouldn't put up with that. English teachers wouldn't put up with that. Math teachers wouldn't put up with that.” Language preservation is at a critical level because most fluent speakers are elders. An example is the Flathead reservation, where most living speakers are over age 70.
“Those that came to live with us were steeped in their own cultural world views and wanted everyone else to be like them, to the way we were educated to the way we're supposed to think. In order to accomplish that, they sought to destroy to Native languages. You still have this tendency to want to change us, to homogenize us. It hasn't changed.” Dr. Henrietta Mann, Cheyenne, University of Montana
“We could lose 30 or 40 speakers in a matter of two or three years.” Tachini Pete, executive director of Nkwusm, a Salish revitalization school.
“I think it's a threat to [others]. They feel they can't understand us and they want us all to be equal in their sense of equal, not in ours. They want us all to be in this melting pot of all races. They had a hard time getting us to learn English and now we want to turn around and learn our Native language.” Minerva Allen, 69, a tribal elder and cultural coordinator on the Fort Belknap Reservation
“We got to teach the young adults and teachers to teach the language before the elders are gone. That's why I'm always telling everybody, ‘Hurry, I only have a few years to live.' ” Minerva Allen, 69, Assinibone
Richard Little Bear, president of the Dull Knife Community College believes many don't realize that bilingual speakers have an easier time absorbing knowledge and abstract concepts because they can view and participate in life from multiple vantage points.
Recognizing Tribally Centered Cultures
Wisconsin: Like all of the nation's 34 tribal colleges, the College of Menominee Nation promotes higher education within the context of a tribal culture. Language, history and ceremony are the foundations upon which tribal colleges are built. While CMN only offers two-year degrees, most students can transfer class credits to a Wisconsin university so they can complete a 4-year degree. For tribal students studying sustainable development, however, environmental class credits were not accepted at University of Wisconsin schools. Today, thanks to the tribe and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, sustainable courses based on indigenous knowledge can be transferred to UW's natural resources department. "We had to have a meeting of the minds that was based on respect," said Dr. Kevin McSweeney, director of UWM's arboretum. The Menominees' agreement with UWM has been four years in the making. Before any agreements were discussed, McSweeney said:
*The Menomonee and UW-Madison took a fair amount of time to meet, identify common-grounds, and develop appreciation for different worldviews;
*They also agreed to help Menomonee students adjust to the non-reservation environment among 30,000 students.
In the case of one CMN student, Fawn Youngbear-Tibbits, McSweeney's wife stepped in. Dr. Jacqueline Hitchon McSweeney helped Fawn find an apartment. She also helped Fawn receive course credit for speaking her native language of Ojibwe, which UWM did not recognize as a foreign language. Youngbear-Tibbitts, who grew up around Ojibwe speakers and took formal classes, says she was surprised to discover that UW didn't accept Ojibwe as a valid non-English language. But with Hitchon McSweeney's help, the University allowed Fawn to skip a written exam and pass her language requirement over the telephone with UW faculty member who spoke Ojibwe. It made perfect sense to test over the phone, Fawn says. Ojibwe is an oral language.
Passamaquoddy educator nominated to university board
Maine: Gov. John Balducci has nominated Wayne Newell to the board of trustees for the University of Maine System. A Passamaquoddy educator and tribal council member, Newell is the first American Indian to serve on the board. ''I'm pretty happy about it. It's very meaningful because it's good for our children to see us participate in a larger role," Newell said. "When we were brought up, my grandparents, even though they didn't go to school themselves, said, 'You've got to go to school and learn different skills,' " Newell said. "That's very important. You want to keep strong the cultural traditions and languages, but you also want the children to be able to participate in the bigger world.'' Newell serves as the director of bilingual education at Indian Township School and administers the Native Language and Cultural Program for PreK-8 students. He has also served as tribal planner, developed a tribal health delivery system, and held many other appointments, despite being legally blind. "I like to inspire kids that you can set your mind to whatever you want to do, and physical handicaps are not really debilitating obstacles," he said. "You can work with whatever the Creator has given you and make a good life.''
Victor Rocha's Daily News Digest
Native American scholar sends lecture from MSU to Romania
Montana: Students at the University of Romania in Bucharest wanted to learn about Native American history and culture. In stepped noted Native American scholar Henrietta Mann. Because of her busy schedule, Henrietta couldn't fly overseas. Instead, she prepared a 30-minute lecture on Native American women and delivered it via live videoconference. Students then asked Mann questions such as Native Americans' views on the feminist movement and men's role in the family. "I really enjoy this," she said Mann. "I miss teaching, and this is a way to get back into it. This is much more economical (than traveling), and it's a way to share what we have here at MSU." The videoconference was organized through Montana State University's Extended University.
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