Youth and Education News
January 1, 2008 Issue 183 Volume 2
During the first Gulf war a group of native Americans in Oregon wrote an open letter to President George Bush, Sr., ridiculing his pretext for attacking Iraq:
"Dear President Bush," it read. "Please send your assistance in freeing our small nation from occupation. This foreign force occupied our lands to steal our rich resources ... As in your own words, 'The occupation and overthrow of one small nation is one too many.' Yours sincerely, An American Indian."
Navajo Head Start Program has New Permanent Director
Navajo Reservation, New Mexico: The Navajo Nation Head Start program is under new leadership. The new director is Spencer Willie, the government liaison for the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority. Soon, federal officials will determine whether the deficiencies that closed the program last year have been corrected. The Navajo Head Start program is among the nation's largest Indian Head Start programs.
photo: Navajo Nation Head Start
Cherokee Nation Takes Part in Early Childhood Pilot Program
Cherokee Reservation, OK: The Cherokee Nation is taking part in the State Pilot Early Childhood Program. The program was created by the Oklahoma Legislature in 2006. It encourages philanthropists to match state funds to provide quality early education for low-income children from birth to age 5. The Cherokee Nation has provided more than $80,000 to help fund the project. The program provides learning opportunities and family support services that expose babies and young children to education before ever entering kindergarten.
Douglas Middle School gets grant to tutor Native students
South Dakota: Native American students at Douglas Middle School will have tutoring services designed specifically for them. The school district received a $20,607 Title VII grant to fund a reading tutor. "I'm thrilled," said interim principal Harry Brenden. Douglas School hopes to fill the position with a Native American. "We need more Native American role models for our Native American students," said Loren Scheer, school superintendent. "That would definitely be an advantage."
Indian educators see signs of progress
Montana: Positive achievements in American Indian education were discussed during the first Urban Indian Education Forum held in Billings. Educators from many of Montana's largest school districts attended the two-day conference. "There's a lot of good stuff going on out there, and I don't think we focus on that enough," said Mike Jetty. American Indian students face different challenges in urban schools, said conference organizers. Jetty said that improvements are being made one child at a time. Teachers are recognizing that because of their culture, American Indian students have a different learning style. By teaching to a variety of learning styles, teachers serve all their students better. "What works for native kids might be a pretty good method for most kids," said one educator.
Tribal dancers share heritage with students
North Carolina: Students from the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School Dance team recently performed for students from the Rocky Mount Academy. The Haliwa-Saponi students, dressed in their traditional regalia, told the tales behind each dance to give insight to their heritage. "We just want them to understand our culture," said Kayla Lynch, Haliwa-Saponi senior. "We have certain things that are dear to us." For Haliwa-Saponis, tribal dances are learned at an early age. Children attend weekly culture classes to learn the tribe's language, dances and other cultural traditions. "We want people to realize Native Americans were first here, and we're still here, " said tribal member Gwen Richardson.
Victor Rocha's Daily News Digest
Native community angry after police question teen about shirt
Ontario: The Nishnawbe Aski Nation is angry with the Thunder Bay Police after a tribal youth was embarrassed and interrogated during a field trip. Abraham Miles, 17, was touring the Thunder Bay Police Service wearing a shirt that displayed the image of a Native war chief. When a police officer remarked that his T-shirt was associated with gangs. Mr. Miles was ordered to remove his shirt in front of peers. Then he was taken to a separate room for questioning without an adult present. "What crime did he commit other than being a native person? Wearing a shirt the policeman didn't like?" asked Stan Beardy, Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. He pointed to the larger issue of the racial profiling of native people by police. "The truth is, he was out here by himself, 500 miles from home. English is his second language. If that young man, 17 years old, tried to make reason with a six-foot policeman that weighs 300 pounds, what are [his] chances of being heard?" Mr. Miles, who attends Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School, is from the Fort Severn First Nation. His t-shirt is from Warchief Native Apparel, a clothing line that "promotes pride and unity among all First Nations through fashion," according to its website.
History is alive at Cankdeska
Spirit Lake Reservation, North Dakota: Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten, N.D. was recently celebrated as “the little college that could. ” The 36-year-old college has suddenly jumped to almost 230 students this year. There is growth in building improvements and a new textbook and DVD of the history of the Dakota tribe. “With the new buildings, renovations and plans for more space, we are looking at a future enrollment of about 500 students,” said Cynthia Lindquist Mala, CCCC president and member of the Dakota people at Fort Totten.
Bay Mills sets pace for two-year colleges
Bay Mills Indian Reservation, Michigan: Six Michigan community colleges are among the fastest-growing campuses in the nation. Among them is Bay Mills Community College which leads the way with a 35.5% increase in student enrollment from 2005-2006. It's also ranked 6th nationally for a two-year public institution with less than 2,000 students. BMCC is a tribal land grant college. “To keep its status as a tribal land grant, 51 percent of students must be Native American,” said Steve Yanni, vice president of operations and registrar. Yanni credits three things for the increasing enrollment: an improvement in recruiting, an improved academic reputation and a new scholarship program.
Education consortium welcomes new tribal college members
Virginia: Nisagvik College and the College of the Muscogee Nation are the newest members of The American Indian Higher Education Consortium. Gerald Gipp, AIHEC executive director, welcomed the new colleges. ''These two new colleges represent the continuing growth of the tribal college movement. We understand that not all tribal communities can build their own college; however, we expect to see an increase in the number of new tribal colleges over the next decade.'' He added: ''With the addition of our first member institution from Alaska, the advocacy base for the tribal college movement and for AIHEC is increased to 14 states."
Ilisagvik College was established in 1995 and is located in Barrow, Alaska. The 2-year community college serves a largely Inupiat Eskimo student population.
The College of the Muskogee nation is located in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Founded in 2004, CMN emphasizes Native culture, values, language and self-determination.
Aboriginal College Under Threat
British Columbia: Hundreds of indigenous students could be forced into the mainstream education system if B.C. closes Victoria's only public Aboriginal college. The Education Department say the Victorian College of Koorie Education is failing to meet state benchmarks in literacy and numeracy. Victoria College teaches about 200 students across four campuses in Mildura, Morwell, Glenroy and Swan Hill. Any move to close the college is likely to spark political tension,
Cuts coming at cash-strapped First Nations University
Saskatchewan: First Nations University of Canada has a $1, 200,000 deficit. Ten positions -- from full-time teaching positions to student service help and janitorial jobs -- will remain unfilled to save $400,000 in wages. Other cuts include a freeze on traveling and program mergers. Al Ducharme, a vice-president, said if the federal Indian and Northern Affairs Department would come through with "top-up funding," this plan could be reversed. FNU is planning to negotiate with them. "We think we have a tremendous case to present to them," Ducharme said. "How can they deny the First Nations University that funding? We have a role to play in Canada's economy, we have a role to play in Saskatchewan's economy. We will contribute."
Native American Student Journalists Organize
Arizona: Journalism students at the University of Arizona have formed a national chapter of the Native American Journalists Association. Thirteen undergraduate and graduate students from several majors and five different tribes have joined the UA group. A private donor is covering the cost of membership dues and the academic institutional membership. UA's chapter is the second NAJA student chapter in the country.
The only Native American astronomer?
Indiana: Dennis Lament, Dine'/Ashiwi/Mvskoke, may be the only Native American astronomer in the U.S. with -- or working on -- a graduate degree. He intends to change that. "Our stories tell us how to live, and we don't have to lose them when we move into university settings," said Lamenti. "It's all in the stars." Lamenti's activities include:
This spring, the IU graduate student plans to bring Native youth to Bloomington for a retreat in astronomy;
Chairing the United States' Cultural Astronomy and Storytelling National Committee and planning a big event for June 2009. He hopes that Native elders will speak about astronomy in their respective cultures;
Planning a live Web cast of the summer solstice from an ancient observatory -- possibly from Chaco Canyon or Chitzen Itza. It will be broadcast to museums and observatories across the country and mainly targets youth;
Planning to take Native students to Kitt Peak National Observatory on the Tohono O'odham Nation for a week-long study of astronomy.
"Many observatories like Kitt Peak are located on the sacred ground of local tribes," said Lamenti. "And I believe that if the employees and astronomers working at these sites can be Native Americans, then they should be. Hopefully these programs will help bring more Native Americans into the field." http://www.physics.sfsu.edu/~dlamenti/http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/7009.html
MSU chemical engineering student chooses different path
Montana: In December, Katie Hoyt graduated from Montana State University with a degree in chemical engineering. Katie could immediately find a job and earn nearly $60,000 per year. Instead, the Tlingit tribal member is headed to El Salvador to teach English. "El Salvador has begun a lot of social change. This is a chance to contribute a bit," said Hoyt, 22. Hoyt was one of only 11 students to win a Morris K. Udall Native American Congressional Internship to Washington D.C. As a Udall intern, Hoyt met leaders in the National Congress of American Indians, the Indian Health Service, and other organizations. "I have a sort of damn-the-man attitude," Hoyt said. "I'd like to work for more humanitarian causes than for corporations." Hoyt grew up with a strong bond to her Native American roots and plans to eventually settle near her family or tribe. "My family has worked very hard to keep my brother and me aware of our heritage," she said. "If I were a non-native, I would not be as interested in staying close to home or near Alaska, but because of my heritage, I'm invested in those things. They're very meaningful to me."
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