Youth and Education News
October 1, 2007 Issue 180 Volume 2
"My Creator, Let me live today with an open heart. Let me realize to be vulnerable is a strength, not a weakness. Let me realize the power of an open heart. Let me be available to truth. If I get into trouble, let me hear the whisper of your guidance. Let me make heart decisions and let my head catch up to that decision." Audrey Shenandoah, Onondaga
Northern Lights: These Schools Literally Leave No Child Behind
Alaska: What does it really mean to leave no child behind? The educators of Alaska's Chugach School District believe they have the answer. The rural district is based in Anchorage and serves tiny villages scattered across 22,000 square miles of remote areas. Instead, of books, each K-12 student totes around a thick report card book listing his or her progress through the district's 1,000+ learning standards. If you compare all the students' report cards, each one will look different. That's because Chugach's model follows this rule: to move to the next level, you must master the one that precedes it. A passing grade is at least 80%, and every child must learn every subject at every level. When a student is done, they can graduate, whether they are sixteen or twenty-one. "Time was the constant and learning was the variable -- that's the old model," says Roger Sampson, who led Chugach's transformation in the 1990s. "We switched. What's constant is learning. Time is the variable." At times, the demands can be "pretty upsetting," says Teresa Totemoff, a graduate of Tatitlek Community School, who recalls slacking off for a while and then realizing she had much work to do to graduate. "I remember crying, 'I don't want to do it no more!' But it was my own progress. I was proud of all I got done."
Chugach School: http://www.chugachschools.com/
photo and article: http://www.edutopia.org/chugach-school-district-reform
After-school Tigua program yields results
Texas: Last year, a new Youth Prevention Intervention Program put Tigua children, ages 5-17, in after-school classes with Tigua elders. About 68 Tigua students participate in the program. The kids spend time with lessons, then join lab sessions with Tigua elders who pass on their knowledge of crafting, pottery, beadwork, weaving and the use of language. At the same time, Tigua children develop a self-identity and self-esteem by learning the importance of where they come from. "Appropriate communication skills, manners, social skills -- out in the real world you need this to survive," said coordinator Angel Montoya. "I've seen a lot of good things happen."
Tigua Dancer Artwork: fredchilton.com/
At Siren school, Tribal kids have friends to help them
Wisconsin: Frances Decorah and Beverly Oustigoff have spent more than two decades helping Native American kids in the Siren School District. Working under the Title IV program for Native Americans, the Ho-Chunk sisters are home school coordinators for the tribe. "While their efforts aren't always easy, they "get all the thanks we need when kids come back to the school and tell us of their success," said Frances. The women tutor Native American children and help the teachers understand and learn about Native Americans. "A big part is to educate the non-native community who deals with the children," Frances said. One unique aspect of their work involves the foreign exchange students. "We bring them here (to the Tribe) and they see how we live. Some are surprised. But some know more than the kids who live here - we found that out," said Beverly.
Tribal children meet their history
Washington: During the Stillaguamish Tribe's new Summer Youth Program, John Yeager, 9, recited the names of forest animals in Lushootseed, his ancestors' ancient language. "It helps to learn about our culture, and how we lived," Yeager said. "I want to learn as much Lushootseed as I can so I can pass it along to other people." That's why Yeager signed up for a nature walk in a 5,000 acre forest now owned by the Navy, The youth were greeted by Navy forester Walter Brigg. "We're trying to incorporate the language into every day," said Lora Pennington, a cultural resources worker for the Stillaguamish Tribe. "Even if they're just learning terminology, they need to be exposed to it. Walter helps us make this fun." Last winter, Briggs welcomed Stillaguamish tribal members into the woods to strip cedar bark, a practice that dates back thousands of years. This was the tribe's first trip through the woods that had been their homelands until the late 1800s, when the U.S. forced them on reservations.
Aboriginal Languages Help More Stay On Anna Patty
Australia: Learning an Aboriginal language will be required in Australian schools with large indigenous populations. The program has already been introduced in 8th grade at Bourke High School. In one year, student attendance rates rose and retention dropped. It also helped Aboriginal students identify with their culture, which improved their confidence and sense of identity. NSW Director-General of Education, Michael Coutts-Trotter, says the program will be introduced on a school-by-school basis in consultation with parents and students. About 35,000 aboriginal students are enrolled in Australia's public schools.
Native American school opens door to new lives
Oregon: In North Portland, a high school run by Native people, taught by Native teachers, and for Native students has opened. The NAYA Early College Academy is a tuition free high school and part of the Early Colleges for Native Youth initiative. "Federal education policy has been all about assimilation and removing our identity," said Nichole Maher of NAYA. "This is an opportunity to really take on the education of our own students." Early colleges are small, rigorous high schools where students can earn up to two years of college credit while earning high school diplomas. Any student can attend, but the center prefers a student body of mostly Native Americans. The NAYA Academy is overseen by the Center for Native Education at Antioch University in Seattle. Since 2004, the center has created 8 other schools and will soon have 12 schools in 5 states. It is funded mainly through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Writing Our Hope
Alabama: Writing Our Hope is an online project by students at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School. The students will publish true stories about hope, tolerance, and equality written by high school students from the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. They are also accepting lessons and activities from teachers. Writing Our Hope is led by BTW creative writing teacher, Foster Dickson. The project follows-up a Civil Rights history book his students wrote in 2005, the anniversaries of the Selma-to-Montgomery March and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Foster asked this year's students what they would like to do if another book was written. The response was "something more modern, more relevant to today," Dickson said. "So I came up with this idea to help them attach the lessons of the Civil Rights movement to today."
Writing Our hope: http://www.writingourhope.org/
Rock'n the Rez lets young people show their skills
Idaho: Dressed in formal attire, Coeur d'Alene youth rode in white stretch limos to the Coeur d'Alene Casino to celebrate five weeks of hard work and fun. This was Rock'n the Rez, a night when tribal youth perform on stage in front of an audience of parents, grandparents and friends. Before this night, these youth from ages 5-12 attended a tribal learning camp and concentrated on different activities:
Performing arts camp;
Youth leaders, ages 12-18, are also hired to work with each camp and are given
extensive training before the camps begin.
At the Rock' the Rez performance, group after group appeared on-stage to do their thing. Those from the culture camp gave a PowerPoint presentation and shared their activities. Some had necklaces to present to a parent or grandparent. But mostly there was a lot of dancing and singing. LoVina Louie, Coeur d'Alene/Colville, has headed up the Rock'n the Rez program since it began 9 years ago. "I've worked with kids pretty much since I was a kid..." she said. "... The reason we started Rock'n the Rez was to help kids make positive decisions."
View performances from Rock'n the Rez: www.rezkast.com
Photo and Story: http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096415720
California: The Little Red School House has been moved from Palm Springs to Cathedral City. Today it is colorfully painted with playful images of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Dumbo. But 75 years ago, it was called the "Americanization Room," where Mexican, Indian and black children were segregated from white students in Frances Stevens Elementary School. "We were Americanized, but what does that really mean?" one former student asked. "I've often wondered why one race treats another a certain way. Our cultures are different. You have to overcome it, but you never forget it." Among the memories shared by past students:
Every morning, the 36 students in grades 1-3 were checked for lice, food in
their teeth, or dirt smudges.
If the teacher found lice, she would cut the child's hair short.
If one child had food or dirt, they would all have to brush their teeth or wash their hands.
Students had to enter from a rear gate so they wouldn't intermingle with white students at Frances Stevens.
They ate sack lunches because they weren't allowed inside the Frances Stevens building, cafeteria or playground.
The daily process became a way of life. It was accepted. What other recourse did we have?
Struggling to reopen California's only tribal college
California: Chris Yazzie left his Navajo family at 19 to attend California's only tribal college, D-Q University. D-Q University was formed in 1971 and became the only indigenous-controlled institution of higher learning located outside a reservation. In 2005, it closed due to accreditation problems. Yazzie, 25, is now the unofficial caretaker of its 643 acres. He lives in a dorm room, tends to his corn crop, and counts on others for food and help. ''This is very important for all Native people; a lot of people sacrificed everything for this school,'' Yazzie said. ''Just because a few people messed it up, it shouldn't reflect on the whole community.'' A new 7-member school board has formed to investigate and solve the problems. ''We are pretty much a new board and we're trying to do everything by the book because that's why we lost accreditation,'' said Calvin Hedrick, 40, a Mountain Maidu. Margaret Hoaglin is an alumna of D-Q's first graduating class. ''I'd like to go after the people who ripped off D-Q, the land, the money, whatever,'' she said. Site manager Susan Reece agrees. ''We have so much corruption that went on,'' she said. Interest in D-Q is grown since it became a scheduled stop for marchers on the Longest Walk from Alcatraz Island to Washington, D.C. ''It's a struggle,'' Yazzie said. ''But hopefully those people who lost faith will see that we are persevering - that young people are stepping up.'' In the meantime, some are hoping that another accredited university, like the University of California at Berkeley or Los Angeles, will temporarily take D-Q on under its accreditation umbrella.
Breaking down doors
California: Niki Sandoval graduated in the bottom third of her high school class. Today, at age 36, Niki has become Dr. Nicolasa I. Sandoval, the first Chumash in tribal history to earn a doctorate degree. Her life shatters the stereotype that Native Americans have no interest in education. "I knew I had a place in the world," Niki says about her earlier days. "I just didn't know what it would be.” Financial aid drew Sandoval to Pepperdine University and the work study program through the Getty museum. After graduation, she worked at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. But September 11 put her life in a new direction.. "When I got to the office I found out that the Pentagon had been hit. I asked myself, ‘Why am I 5,000 miles away from my family?'" So Niki moved back to the west coast and the University of California to research her dissertation about Indian education. “In the educational research literature I reviewed on family involvement, I noticed a virtual absence of American Indian perspectives. I wanted to add to the knowledge base by eliciting the voices of our first teachers - our parents." She interviewed native parents and grandparents and developed strategies for school/parent partnerships. Her faculty committee was impressed. “Through the personal narratives of her informants, Niki reveals the heritage of racism that has adversely influenced educational experiences across multiple generations,” said UCSB professor Mary Brenner. Nikki now teaches at UCSB, works for the Nonprofit Support Center, and does occasional consulting. Sandoval wants her work to enrich relationships between educators and parents. “I'm hoping educators and administrators will look at parents as resources instead of obstacles,” she said.
Chiefs start scholarship
Illinois: A scholarship named after Frank Fools Crow will be created by the University of Illinois. Fools Crow was the Oglala Sioux elder from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. In 1982 he created the Chief Illiniwek headdress and buckskin outfit worn by the Chief Illiniwek mascot until the mascot was retired last year. The $10,000 scholarship will benefit the students of Oglala Lakota College at the Pine Ridge Reservation , said Thomas Short Bull, president of the college.
Native American life on show in Northern ireland
Northern Ireland: Photographs of Navajo and Pueblo people had its first international exhibition in Northern Ireland. The photographs were taken by Franciscan friar Brother Simeon Schwemberger from 1902- 1909. After he died, Brother Simeon left behind 1,750 glass slides at St. Michael's Mission where he lived. They were discovered by Robert Peters and shared with Rob Taylor from Arizona State University. "The images inspired me to consider the way in which cultures become transformed through external influences or forced necessity," Taylor said. The photographs were on display at the Ards Arts Centre.
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