Native Village Youth and Education News

"Today we are fighting a great battle against the popular culture that surrounds [our children]. It's a battle for their hearts and minds. We need to work to inspire them to embrace their own history and culture. Without them, we Indians have no future."  
Floyd Crow Westerman, Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota

March 1, 2008   Issue 185   Volume 2

 Extinct Languages Saved by Work of Eccentric Linguist
California: More and more indigenous people are finding their extinct or endangered tongues thanks to the late J.P. Harrington and UC Davis scholars. Born in 1884, John Peabody Harrington spent 40 years gathering phonetic notations on the native languages of tribes from Alaska to South America. Driven to record the disappearing him, he also began using also used wax cylinders, then aluminum discs, for audio recordings. Today researchers and American Indian volunteers are transcribing Harrington's phonetic notations and recordings. The information will be entered to a database for tribes to access. The researchers hope the words will bridge the decades-long silence separating the people Harrington interviewed from their descendants.
J. P. Harrington Database Project:

A Song for the Horse Nation: Horses in Native American Cultures
When horses arrived in North America in the 1700s, the effect was immediate and dramatic. Horses expanded the geographic ranges of Great Plains tribes and made it easier to hunt buffalo. It freed up time for artists to explore their gifts. Horses soon became an integral part of many tribal cultures. This bond is beautifully illustrated in the new book, A Song for the Horse Nation. Available from the Smithsonian NMAI, Horse Nation is edited by George P. Horse Capture (A'aninin) and curator Emil Her Many Horses (Oglala Lakota). The book also includes descriptions of horse capturing; poems by Linda Hogan (Chickasaw), Luci Tapahonso (Navajo), and Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeurd’Alene); and Teton Sioux stories and songs recorded in the early 20th century.

Kingston School's Reading Program Going Along Swimmingly

Washington: Students at Wolfle Elementary School will soon begin a reading journey that mimics the travels and life cycle of salmon. Students will take a 3,000-mile trip by reading 1,500 minutes to learn geographic regions, tribes and rivers. Students in grades 1-3 will be moving fabric canoes and salmon on a large 3-dimensional mural made by Kingston Middle School students. The mural includes coastal communities, Native American tribes, and rivers from Washington to Alaska. "They say that the salmon are not just fish, they are people like us," said Chenoa Egawa from the First Nations Math and Engineering Science Achievement. She explained that salmon are more than a fish. - the salmon people provided food while humans kept streams clean to support the salmon. " It's really trying to get them to have a very holistic view of the Pacific Northwest," said education director Christine Daniel.

Diné language assessment piloted in New Mexico
Navajo Reservation, New Mexico: Navajo language educators will meet in Window Rock to determine the best ways to test students in a Navajo language pilot program. The Office of Diné Culture, Language and Community and the state education department have already tested 3rd graders involved in the program at 7 elementary schools.
Assessments tests included:
Teachers administer the test one-on-one with students;
The assessment is entirely oral and includes conversation/storytelling, handling verbs, and commands;
Students are asked to describe what the see in a picture in the Navajo language.
Students are asked to point to pictured items described by a teacher in Navajo;
Students are asked to use verbs to ask for and handle objects lying on a table.

After testing, the students are organized into three categories: those who don't answer or give partial answers; those who understand what is said and follow commands, but have trouble describing a picture; those with a good all-around grasp of their native language. "We know that many students do not speak or understand Navajo," said one instructor. "But there is a great desire from the students - they want to know, to learn Navajo."

She's got the beat
Ohio: For three years, Cheyenne Sims has danced with many Native American Nations and groups to educate the public about their culture. "It's hard work and tiring, but it's still fun to teach people what it means to be native," Cheyenne says. The Lumbee sixth grader from Perkins Township has danced traditional women's and fancy shawl, but believes her gift is hoop dancing, which she took up in July. Already, Cheyenne has earned 16th place in the National Hoop Dancing Competition. Cheyenne's mother, Rebecca Sims, was also a dancer, but says Cheyenne discovered dancing on her own. "I never pushed her into it. She asked if she could learn" Cheyenne also surprised her dance teacher by picking up many hoop dance moves in only five minutes. "They say the dance finds the person; it found Cheyenne," her mom said. Cheyenne dances with up to 11 plastic hoops, practices with 15, and dances with others using as many as 30. Each dance is unique, her mother said. "The dancers use some of the traditional dances -- the eagle, the hawk -- but they make up their own sequence," Rebecca said. "Cheyenne made up a few: the turtle and Mr. Quackers."
Watch video of Cheyenne

Nightwolf's Grandson Is Awarded the U.  S.  Senate Youth Program Scholarship
Washington, D.C.:  Each year the U.S. Senate Youth Program brings outstanding high school students to Washington DC to learn about the federal government and those who lead it.  This year Nolan Reed Harris, Cherokee, has been among those selected. Harris attends McKinley Technology High School in DC and is very active in his school and community.  Among his many projects, Nolan serves with his sister, Alexis, as intern on his grandfather's weekly radio broadcast, The Nightwolf Show.  His grandfather is Jay Nightwolf.
[Indigenous Peoples Literature] Digest Number 3087

Bands Pull Students Out of Fort High
Ontario: Students from Couchiching, Manitou Rapids, Nicickousemenecaning, and Stanjikoming First Nations were pulled from Fort Frances High School after a “racist” video ended up on the Internet. The video depicted six non-native female students dancing to pow-wow music while holding liquor bottles. First Nations students stayed home over concerns for their safety. The six students who made the video were suspended from school. Meetings are being held to address the issue and to create a more accepting school environment.

MSU program seeks to educate American Indian school administrators
Montana: A Montana State University program to triple the number of American Indians serving as principals and superintendents received a $1,300,000 grant to continue its work. The program, Indian Leadership and Development or ILEAD, seeks to reduce the administrative turnover at schools where more than half the student population is Indian.

Native youth protest 2010 Olympics
Vancouver: The 2010 Vancouver Olympics will be held on unceded Salish, St’at’imc, and Squamish territory. Now indigenous groups are protesting the event, saying it will wreak environmental and social destruction “By having the Olympics [outside Vancouver], it opens our land, our sacred sites, our medicine grounds,” said Kanahus Pelkey, a spokesperson for the Native Youth Movement. “All these big corporations are going to see the potential in our land, and we want them to know that our land is not for sale.” Pelkey and Dustin Johnson recently visited the East Coast and Great Lakes area to speak to others about “No Olympics on Stolen Land.” The speaking tour comes after a year of action and protests over indigenous concerns with the Olympics. In October, 1,500 indigenous people attended the Gathering of the Indigenous Peoples of America in Mexico to declare a public rejection of the Olympics.
Among the complaints:
The Olympics unveiled the 2010 Olympic logo and mascot based on the Inuit inukshuk. It was not created by indigenous people;
The infrastructure being created for 2010 will further destroy mountains and valleys that are traditionally Salish, St’at’imc, and Squamish territory;
The infrastructure is being created by businesses and large real estate operations and not indigenous people;
The anticipation of the 2010 games is causing rent increases and transforming low income housing into upscale condos. Hundreds of people have been evicted from their homes;
The upcoming games are creating opportunities for business to expand into traditional land.

Native groups also plan to protest the two-year countdown celebration next month. “They’ll never stop us. The spirit that our people have, and the knowledge that this is our land, is something that they cannot take away,” Pelkey said.
NativeNews Digest Number 3550

Eviction Ends D-Q protest
California: About a dozen former students have been living in the dorms at D-Q University and holding classes since the school college lost accreditation and funding in 2005. The students' occupation ended abruptly when sheriff's deputies arrested three of them for trespassing. Several members of DQ's Board had asked the sherrif to evict the "squatters" because they were concerned about liability, health conditions and electric bills. Board members failed, however to notify Board Chairman Calvin Hendrick. Hendrick was furious. "This action was taken without my knowledge or approval," he said. "I'm very frustrated that this is happening because I'd just spoken with the students Wednesday and tried to find some common ground so we could definitely be working together." Greg Iron, a Crowcreek/ Lower Brule Indian, enrolled at D-Q in August 2004. Iron said he and the other students have "been trying to keep the school open" by holding classes on indigenous farming and alternative energy. DQ's federal charter require that classes remain ongoing. [The Board Trustees] "haven't been holding their courses there, so students have to do it to be in compliance," he said. "The students have been out there tirelessly helping the school … to make sure D-Q could exist, and it's wrong for them to treat their youth like this."

National Indian Education Association Remembers Carole Anne Heart
Carole Anne Heart, the 2001 President of the National Indian Education Association, passed away in January. Heart, who was Sicangu Lakota, was a mentor, mother, teacher and NIEA sister who remained active in Native education issues her entire life. As NIEA President, Carole Anne spoke against the use of names and logos derogatory to Native people. She also supported alternative education systems and worked to increase graduation rates of American Indian students

  State Reports Improvement in AP Results
Indiana: The Advanced Placement program allows high school students to take college-level coursework for college credit. Most of the nation's colleges and universities have an AP policy granting incoming students class credit for passing AP classes. Indiana's 2007 Advanced Placement Program results show that more Indiana high school students are enrolling and passing their AP courses. The state also lead the nation in growing numbers of test takers. While gains are being made by all Indiana’s students, a growing number of ethnic students are taking AP tests:
*The largest 1-year percentage increase in test-takers was American Indians at 44.1% followed by Hispanic students at 25%, Asian students at 13.7%, white students at 13.3 %, and Black students at 11%;
*American Indian students had the highest percentage gain in the number of passing scores at 41.7%, followed by Asian students at 15.3%, White students at 12.8 %, Black students at 7.1% and Hispanic students at 1.8%,
For more information on the Advanced Placement program, visit
Indiana Department of Education

New Publication Helps Educate the Public and Preserve Education Resources in Native Communities
A new publication is now available to help educators, lawmakers and the public better understand Native education in the U.S. Native Education 101: Basic Facts about American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Education was created by the National Indian Education Association and the National Education Association. It shares problems faced by Natives in schools, highlights the needs of the Native community, and explains laws and executive orders. “This brochure provides the information and the inspiration for educators, lawmakers and the public to get active in addressing education concerns for Native communities," said Reg Weaver, NEA president. "This is a shared responsibility, because the bridge to a successful future relies on the foundation we build today.” Native Education 101 among several NEA projects designed to help American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students. Some are:
A 12-point plan to reduce high dropout rates. Only 51%of Native American 9th graders graduate on time with their classmates;
Teacher resiliency camps to help educators understand native students' cultural backgrounds and the effective ways to engage students;
A teacher’s guide, DVDs, posters and other materials to help Wisconsin teachers diversify their Native American curriculums.
Download Native Education 101:

Long-awaited Yukon education reform report released
Yukon: After years of waiting, the Yukon government has released its report on education reform. The 250-page report was the work of the Education Reform Project to find better ways of including First Nations in the public school system. The committee was made up of the government, Council of Yukon First Nations, and educators. "Having our officials working so closely together has really been a strong benefit to understanding a lot of the issues," said Education Minister Patrick Rouble. The report calls for, among other things, more First Nations input in curriculum development, more community involvement, and allowing First Nation communities a choice to opt out of the system. "What we're trying to do is improve education," said Chief Joe Linklater from the Council of Yukon First Nations. "If, after the improvements are made, they still want to opt out, that's totally their option." Committee members will hold a meeting in March to discuss ways of implementing the report's findings. Some of the recommendations are already in place.


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