Grandmother Rita Pitka Blumenstein

[Below are several articles selected from Native Village News publications housed in our archives. The Grandmothers say that in the Spirit World, all time exists at once. To remind us of this, each article's publication date is omitted.] 
For more information about these and other news articles, please visit:
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Native Village News Articles

Native Language Programs Running Afoul Of No Child Left Behind
Alaska: Some Alaska schools which teach and preserve Native languages and cultures are having trouble meeting testing requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act.   Native language programs are used in over 30 rural public schools, and the city of Anchorage has more than 93 languages spoken by students. These students are expected to pass tests centered upon non-native cultures and written exclusively in English. For instance, mathematics to American children is based on units of 10, where increments of 20 are used in Yupik
math.  In addition, numerous English words have no Yupik counterparts. Adapting tests to meet uniform federal law is very expensive and conflicts with Native cultures and the local control of rural villages.  "I feel strongly that our kids should speak Yupik fluently," said state Rep. Mary Kapsner, of Bethel. "I really feel this isn't just an academic issue about benchmark tests, but about cultural and social well being."

Youth Embrace Subsistence Education and Renew Survival for a Yupik Eskimo Community
Alaska: In remote Russian Mission, population 307, students at the Russian Mission School learn how to link traditions with classroom learning. From Grades 3-8, kids are immersed in learning about where, and how, they live. Science and math lessons might investigate the effects of recent weather on native species, how to repair an outboard motor, or the temperature at which lard mixed with sugar and berries congeals into the local ice-cream, aqutak.  A single moose harvested by students provides school lunches of moose stew, moose soup, and moose fried rice, Older teens catch fish to feed the school.  And during all activities, students read, write, calculate and hypothesize along the way. The Russian Mission community is also involved.  When high schoolers bring in the silver salmon, the whole town turns out to cut and prepare the fish. “We set up tables in the gym, and the floor is covered in blood," said school principal Mike Hull. "When the school menu calls for fish sticks, it’s salmon from the river.”  Russian Mission Students are very attached to their school, and to one another, as stated by Rachel Evan, 15: "Tell all the other kids in America that they should come up to Russian Mission and try it out!  It's pretty cool."

Israel's first Eskimo soldier
Eighteen-year-old Eva Ben Sira is training to become a squad commander in the Negev desert - a far cry from the frozen vastness of her homeland. Eva was born to a Yupik Eskimo mother and a Cherokee American father before being adopted by an Israeli couple. Her twin brother, Jimmy, will become the army's second serving Eskimowhen he joins the force next year. 

Snow Angels
In Alaska, the all-girl Dragon Slayers race to the rescue. Also called the Angels of Ariak, the team of seven high school girl--each with 200 hours of medical and fire-safety training --- respond to 450 calls a year. They are the only 24-hour emergency medical care available to 3,000 people in 14 villages across an area the size of Maryland.  The girls have pulled children from fires, saved fellow teens who tried suicide, and revived grandmothers in cardiac arrest. They've also rescued injured snowmobilers, survivors of small-plane crashes, and people who fell through ice.  "It really changes how you are as a person," says Erica Kameroff, 16.  Most victims, like the Dragon Slayers themselves, are Yupik Eskimos and Athabascan Indians. Getting to them is a challenge; Aniak is surrounded by rivers, and no roads lead to the rest of Alaska.  During the coldest months, the team uses snowmobiles and four-wheel-drive vehicles across the ice. In warmer months they often rely on boats.

Yup'ik diva dances once more
Alaska: The Egan Center was packed for the drumming and dance showcase during the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention. Many -- perhaps hundreds -- were turned away at the door.  Performers representing Alutiiq, Inupiat, Yup'ik and Southeast Indian traditions took their turns, and then a surprise:  87-year-old Mary Ann Sundown planned to dance.  As the beloved "Dance Diva" from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta hobbled onto the stage, bent and slow, cheers and whistles from a thousand or more fans shook the roof.  She donned her fur headpiece and gripped her dance fans, sitting in a chair to perform.   Mary Ann's coordination, grace, charm, and humor showed through, and at the end of each song, she struggled to her feet for the final choruses.  Her performance included two comic numbers associated with Sundown:  the "Mosquito Song," which includes hilarious swatting and itching pantomimes; and the "Cigarette Song," in which the performers try to imitate the elegant puffing of movie stars and wind up coughing.  Sundown's  set closed with a tribute piece to her grandchildren,  her trademark laugh and an expression of wondering love as she looked  back at her family -- some in diapers -- in front of the stage. Before leaving, Mary Ann told the crowd in Yup'ik, through a translator, how happy she was to be here. How she had lost her ability to walk for a while but it had returned. How she had fallen off a four-wheeler while berry-picking but been unharmed.   "She says someone's looking out for her," the interpreter said, "and that's God."

Kodiak Natives cut an album in an effort to preserve their dying language
Alaska: The Sugpiaq people from Kodiak are working hard to preserve Alutiiq, their native language.  Recently Sugpiaq singers from across Kodiak Island came together at Kodiak’s Alutiiq Museum to record songs which are sung in Alutiiq and Slavonic.  Susan Malutin, a second-year student in an Alutiiq language preservation program, considers the recording an important event.  “The best thing was to have so many of our Elders here together in one place at the same time,” Malutin said.  “From 10 am -- 5pm every day, and that’s a really big commitment for some of them.”  The musical CD is produced by Stephen Blanchett, a member of Pamyua, one of Alaska’s most popular singing groups.  Blanchett, who is Yupik, has been picking up jobs with his field recording equipment.  He’s traveled to Barrow, Tatitlek, and Chenega Bay, among other places.  “I’m all about making recordings and CDs because we don’t have anything to listen to,” he said.   Alutiiq is spoken by fewer than 100 people in Alaska, and only 35 - 50 original speakers live on Kodiak Island today.  A CD from the sessions will be available for sale later this year.  Museum workers say demand from visitors already exists.

For Native Alaskans, Tradition Is Yielding to Modern Customs
Alaska - When Eskimo elders on isolated St. Lawrence Island approved of the marriage, Clifford Apatiki's relatives did what was required: they bought him his bride.  That meant, according to Siberian Yupik custom,  that Mr. Apatiki's family must come up with the payment of sealskins, rifles, bread, a toaster--a house full of gifts. Then Mr. Apatiki had to work for her family for a year, hunting seal, whale and polar bear, and doing chores. The marriage between Mr. Apatiki and the former Jennifer Campbell was formalized five years ago, when traditional marriages were still the norm in traditional villages like Gambell. But now the couple worry whether their children will follow suit as centuries-old traditions slip away in the modern world. "I'm sure people will continue to do it for a while," Mrs. Apatiki said  "If the tradition isn't in effect with some families, they are whispered about. They will say about a girl, 'She was not bought.'"  Still, keeping the traditions are of great concern to the elders. Satellite television, rising rates of alcoholism and a growing rejection by the younger generation of the Yupik language and customs have begun to chip away at traditions and the hunting-and-gathering subsistence lifestyle.

20th Arctic Winter Games close in Yellowknife
Northwest Territory: More than 2,000 athletes and supporters from the circumpolar North have returned home after the 20th Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife. Alaska won the most medals -- 202, but Team Nunavut won the Games' top prize: The Hodgson Sportsmanship Trophy. The Hodgson Trophy is awarded to the team that showed the most fair play and team spirit. "I think our athletes exude that excitement, that they're here playing, and it's just great," said Frank Tootoo from Nunavut. 

 The arctic Winter Games

Basketball Badminton Arctic Sports Biathlon Cross Country Skiing
Dene Games Dog
Figure Skating Gymnastics Hockey
Snowboarding Snowshoeing Speed Skating Table Tennis Volleyball
  Curling Indoor Soccer Wrestling  
Medal Standings

Top Honor : Hodgson Sportsmanship Trophy Won by  Team Nunavut



Alaska 74 55 73 202
Yamal-Nenets 44 32 16 92
Northwest Territory 34 41 36 111
Alberta North 29 37 24 90
Yukon 26 25 30 81
Nunavut 15 27 25 67
Greenland 12 14 18 44
Nunavik, Quebec 9 7 8 24
Sami 5 5 6 16

The 2010 Arctic Winter Games will be held in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
Watch videos from the games:

Researchers find new toxic threat to polar bears
Arctic: Researchers discovered traces of PBDEs in 139 bears captured and tested at 10 locations around the Arctic. The chemicals were widely used as a flame retardant during the 1990s in furniture, computers and other plastic products.   "We don't know exactly what [PBDE] does, but it may contribute overall to their reproductive rate going down or their ability to fight disease,"  said scientist Derek Muir.  Muir says while PBDEs are no longer used in many countries, there's no way to reverse the damage already done to polar bears and other Arctic animals.  He says governments and manufacturers need to continue to look for alternatives that won't have an impact on the environment for years to come.

Senator finds defense funds for Arctic Games
Alaska: The 2006 Arctic Winter Games will be held this March in Kenai. Game organizers have received a much needed $500,000 from Congress.  Alaskan senator Ted Stevens convinced Congress to allocate the money for security at the Games.  The money will come  from defense funds set aside for international sporting events held in the United States.  Game organizers are also holding fundraisers and searching for donations and state grants to cover the remaining $300,000 shortfall.
2006 Arctic Games:  

Inuit alarmed by signs of global warming
Canada - Horrified Inuit with homelands in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia are watching the Arctic lose its frozen grip and their world being reshaped.  The Inuit are described a "sentries for the rest of the world, and they are warning that this winter was worst of a series of warm winters.  "These are things that all of our old oral history has never mentioned," said Enosik Nashalik, 87, Inuit elder. "We cannot pass on our traditional knowledge, because it is no longer reliable. Before, I could look at cloud patterns, or the wind or even what stars are twinkling, and predict the weather. Now, everything is changed."  The Inuits' warnings and alarms were once considered odd stories.  Now scientists know the stories are true, and they are equally concerned.    "... long-range forecasts  indicate the effects of global warming will be most felt in the north," said Douglas Bancroft, a director of Oceanography and Climate Science for Canada. Bancroft said there would also be significant changes in the region's ecosystems. "You have species that adapted over 40,000 years to a certain regime," he said. "Some will make it, and some won't."
Fish and wildlife are following the retreating ice caps northward.
Polar bears are losing the floes they need for hunting.
Seals, unable to find stable ice, are hauling up on islands to give birth.
Robins and barn owls and hornets, previously unknown so far north, are arriving in Arctic villages.
Gray whales in the Bering Sea are heading north to colder waters
Walruses are starving, adrift on ice floes in water too deep for feeding.
Warmer-water fish such as pollock and salmon are coming in.
In Nova Scotia, ice on Northumberland Strait was so thin and unstable that thousands of gray seals crawled on unaccustomed islands to give birth. Storms and high tides washed 1,500 newborn seal pups out to sea. They died.
In Chukotka, Russia, the Inuit are drilling wells for water because there is so little snow to melt.
In Pangnirtung, residents were startled by a thunderstorm when February temperatures hit 48 degrees. The temperature is usually minus-20 degrees.
In Nain, Labrador, one hunter drove his snowmobile onto ocean ice where he had hunted safely for 20 years. The ice flexed, and the machine sunk. The hunter managed to save his  life.  "Someday we won't have any snow," he said. "We won't be Eskimos."
Shrinking ice flows mean polar bears travel to town for food.  One mother attacked a bear stalking her 7-year old boy.
In Alaska, water normally sealed by ice is now open, brewing winter storms that lash coastal and river villages. Two dozen native villages are threatened.
In Resolute Bay, Inuit people insisted that the dark arctic night was lighter. A weather station operator discovered that a warmer layer of air was reflecting light from the sun over the horizon. "It's getting very strange up here," he said. "There's more warm air, more massive and more uniform."
The troubles for the Inuit are ominous for everyone, says Sheila Watt-Cloutier, head of the International Circumpolar Conference, an organization for the 155,000 Inuit worldwide. "People have become disconnected from their environment. But the Inuit have remained through this whole dilemma, remained extremely connected to its environment and wildlife," she said. "They are the early warning. They see what's happening to the planet, and give the message to the rest of the world.

Artcirq to stage first show outside Arctic
Ireland:  Two members of the Inuit circus troupe Artcirq are attending a week-long residency at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin.  Musician, juggler and acrobat, Derek Aqqiaruq, is also leader of the Igloolik rock band, The Eskies.  Leah Angutimariq is a throat singer, juggler and acrobat and actress.  Artcirq was founded in 1998 to help combat suicides among young people. This is the first time artists have performed outside Igloolik.  "Artcirq is the first time a group of Inuit have worked together, understanding the concept of learning new skills,  which in this case is circus, and adapting it with their own culture  in an artistic way," said Guillaume Saladan.  "It's very powerful. We're making a show built on their traditions."

New Delta rhythm for Bush teens
Alaska: Rappers Jaye Ulak and Jimmy Walker, known as Blood Family, don't have a record deal. But they do have lyrics and a growing posse. "We're Native celebrities," Walker half-joked, surrounded by admirers following last month's Cama-i Dance Festival . Blood Family isn't just for the kids.  Even the elders jump on the bandwagon, eager to hear real talk about the underbelly of village life from a teen's perspective.  Since debuting in 2004 at their senior prom in the Yu'pik Eskimo village of Scammon Bay -- population 486 -- the duo has performed at schools and conferences in Seattle, Anchorage, Savoonga, Emmonak and Togiak.  Now Ulak, 19, and  Walker, 20,  have become a word-of-mouth phenomenon.   Blood Family's material is about blunt reality and taboo topics from village life -- suicide, depression, drugs and violence.  Sometimes there's an undercurrent of optimism; other times, the words are overwhelmed by despair. In Blood Family, Native youths now have rappers who not only live and look like them but provide voices for them. Ulak even raps -- in his song "Me Against Alaska" -- "I hope I can reach the youth with the words I speak."

Census report offers insight into Native American life today
Included in the Census Reports findings:
4,300,000 people, (1.5% of the total U.S. population) reported they were American Indian and Alaska Native;
Of those.
2,447,989 (1%) reported ONLY American Indian or Alaska Native status;
--- 33% of AI/AN  population are under age 18, (26% of the total population);
12.4% of the total population was 65 and older;
The median age
is 29 years for AI/AN  compares to the national median of 35 years;
---AI/AN had a higher percentage of single parent households than the total population;
42% of Eskimo households were married-couple families;
---72% of AI/AN individuals 5 years and older spoke only English at home;
53% of Eskimo spoke only English at home.
---71% of American Indians and Alaska Natives 25 and older had at least a high school education, compared with 80% of the total population.
11% of the AI/AN  population had at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 24% of all people.
---The labor force participation rate for AI/AN men is
66% compared to 71% for all men;
The labor force participation rate for AI/AN  women is
57%, compared to 58%
for all women.

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.

For Native Alaskans, Tradition Is Yielding to Modern Customs
Alaska - When Eskimo elders on isolated St. Lawrence Island approved of the marriage, Clifford Apatiki's relatives did what was required: they bought him his bride.  That meant, according to Siberian Yupik custom,  that Mr. Apatiki's family must come up with the payment of sealskins, rifles, bread, a toaster--a house full of gifts. Then Mr. Apatiki had to work for her family for a year, hunting seal, whale and polar bear, and doing chores. The marriage between Mr. Apatiki and the former Jennifer Campbell was formalized five years ago, when traditional marriages were still the norm in traditional villages like Gambell. But now the couple worry whether their children will follow suit as centuries-old traditions slip away in the modern world. "I'm sure people will continue to do it for a while," Mrs. Apatiki said  "If the tradition isn't in effect with some families, they are whispered about. They will say about a girl, 'She was not bought.'"  Still, keeping the traditions are of great concern to the elders. Satellite television, rising rates of alcoholism and a growing rejection by the younger generation of the Yupik language and customs have begun to chip away at traditions and the hunting-and-gathering subsistence lifestyle.

Eskimo town gets sun for first time in months
Alaska: Most residents in Barrow, Alaska, are Inupiat Eskimos who cope with some of the most bizarre weather in the world. After a 1:50 a.m. sunset on May 9, the sun rose again at 2:56 a.m. Barrow now faces constant daylight until the next sunset on August 2.  To get an idea of what that means, resident can play outdoor sports in the middle of the night with absolutely no visibility problems. “Some people are just used to it because it happens every year," said Earl Finkler. "But there was one fellow ... who said that you could put foil over your windows to sleep, but if you get up in the middle of the night the sun hits you and it keeps you up. Other people say it energizes them, especially for subsistence hunting and whaling.” Barrow, a town of 4,500 people, is about 330 miles above the Arctic Circle. From November 18-January 24, it does not see the sun at all.
Indian Country Today

Banner World of whiz kids
Arizona:  Phoenix recently hosted the 29th annual American Indian Science and Engineering Society national conference.  More than 2,000 Native students and those with careers in engineering and science attended the 3-day AISES gathering.  Also attending were recruiters from major companies such as Intel and Google. Events included a career fair, student workshops, panel discussions, and speeches from renown speakers. The tribes ranged from Inupiat Eskimo and Athabaskan from the University of Alaska in Fairbanks to Oneida, Hopi, Anishinabe and Choctaw.

Trademarked Inuit word irks language czar

Nunavut: Nunavut's language commissioner is unhappy with Qimmik Manufacturing. The company plans to trademark the Inuktitut word qimmik [dog] for its line of dog food.  Company spokesperson Ann Yourt said the the company has nothing but respect for Inuit culture. "And this is one of the reason that we chose the qimmik word because it pays tribute to the plight of the beautiful and majestic Canadian Eskimo dogs," she says. But Johnny Kusugak, Nunavut's Languages Commissioner, doesn't see it as an honour, nor is he surprised. He says other companies have used Inuit cultural symbols to sell everything from banking services to rubber boots.  However, Kusugak says this company's move is more disturbing. By trademarking the word, no one--not even Inuit -- can use it to name their business or organization. "There are words out there that identify who we are.  Just like the inuksuk identifies the Inuit, qimmik fits in with that," he says.
CBC News

Alaska Struggles with High Suicide Rate 
turned to thoughts of suicide. It is not an unfamiliar notion in Brevig Mission, an isolated Inupiat Eskimo village of 300 people on the Bering Strait.  Alaska has one of the highest suicide rates in America, in large part because of the large number of Alaska Natives who take their lives. Several factors put Natives at risk, including the availability of guns, geographic isolation, poverty,  boredom, and the erosion of traditional values and culture. But now, at 21, Tokeinna tries traditional Eskimo dance when he gets down. And he is teaching other young people in his village to use dance to get them through the tough times, too. "I didn't think dancing was preventing suicide. I thought it was just an activity. Now, I look at it differently," Tokeinna said. "It lifts up the spirit and makes the person happier."  Tokeinna learned traditional dance mostly from video tapes because dance had died out in the village. He also attended a conference on preventing suicide and is using what he learned to form a dance group for young people in his village. "They lost their identity and their culture. They don't know who they are anymore," he said. "I went through rough times and I relied on dancing to keep me happy and healthy."

Fairbanks professor rewarded for language work
Alaska: Michael Krauss has received the Ken Hale Prize for lifetime achievement by the Society for the Study of Indigenous Languages of the Americas. The prize is awarded for a lifetime of dedication to the understanding and preservation of native languages. Mr. Krauss, a professor emeritus at UA Fairbanks, is a founder of the Alaska Native Language Center which opened in 1972.  Krauss' personal work has centered on Athabascan and Eskimo languages. He is especially focused on the Eyak language, for which only one fluent speaker remains.  "When you lose a language and a language goes extinct, it's like dropping a bomb on the Louvre," Krauss said. "Ken Hale said that, 'Of the earth's remaining 6,000 languages, nearly half will completely disappear during this century.'  We work to save endangered species, but we don't work to save endangered languages.  It's a lot easier to keep them alive than to bring them back."

Court advocate program seeks to recruit Alaska  Natives
Alaska:  Sue Marsh. a volunteer with the Fairbanks Court-Appointed Special Advocates program, relies on her personal experience as a mother as she advocates for abused and neglected children.  But Sue has one other valuable characteristic: she is an Alaska Native. More than half of the roughly 1,700 children in state custody are of American Indian or Alaska Native descent. Marsh, 47, is the only Alaska Native CASA volunteer in Fairbanks.  Now a new recruitment campaign is attracting Alaska Native people.  "It's important to have someone who is objective and who is able to bridge cultural gaps," Atkinson said.  September 30th statistics show:
1,753 Alaskan children are in state custory;
1,038 are Alaska Native Heritage;
630 were listed as white;
156 were black;
30 were Asian,  Hawaiian or Pacific Islander;
37 were of an undetermined race;
Some children are listed under more than one race.,1413,113~7244~3119140,00.html

Southeast Natives Protest Federal Restrictions on Eagle Parts
Alaska:  Almost 3,000 names wait on a federal list to legally obtain eagle feathers for religious observations. But in Juneau, the feathers are easily found on beaches, in yards and in parking lots where thousands of eagle feathers land after the birds' annual molt. The law, which makes it a crime to pick up eagle feathers, is overlooked by many simply because people don't know a permit is needed first.  Only the National Eagle Repository near Denver can legally grant eagle parts for use by Native Americans.  Brad Fluetsch, a Juneau resident and member of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, thinks the federal permit program is a disgrace.  Until he realized it was illegal, Fluetsch gave bald eagle feathers to other Natives.  Now the Sealaska Heritage Institute has protested federal laws regarding bald eagles in Alaska.  They ask that Alaska Natives be exempt from the permit requirement because Alaska's eagles are genetically distinct from birds found in the lower 48 states. They are asking for Alaska's eagles to be taken off the endangered species list.
Associated Press

Learning to Tell Stories
Alaska:  MEDIAK - Media Education and Development Institute of Alaska - is a collaboration of Cook Inlet Tribal Council and Koahnic Broadcast Corp. MEDIAK is an after-school media program for Native teens.  Using microphones, cameras, video cams, and notepads, students interview others about tough topics and ask tough questions.  But students also promote positive stories, such as culture, traditions, and pride.  MEDIAK is free to all Alaska Native and American Indian high-school age students. The members come from high schools, homeless shelters, youth programs, and treatment centers. "It's giving them this voice they've never had before," said instructor Chris Joy.  ‘I mean, you ask them, 'When you're watching television and you're watching stuff about Alaska, what's missing?  What do you see?' They always say it's all white people..."   MEDIAK kids earn high school credit for 120 hours of work and three projects.  They can also apply for paid media internships, from reporting to graphic design.  Recently, MEDIAK students even made public service radio announcements about  Alaska Native Heritage Month.  MEDIAK is funded through next summer through a U.S.  Department of Education grant.  Beyond that, its future is uncertain.
Media Educational Development Institute of Alaska:
Amindian Listserve

Native Students Assist Bristol Bay Walrus Study
Alaska: The Bristol Bay Summer Youth Stewardship Program gives local Native students an opportunity to work in ecological research project.  This year the students are researching the Pacific walrus who congregate in Bristol Bay.  "These are critical habitat areas in Bristol Bay where walruses have come to rest between feeding bouts," said   Joel Garlich-Miller of the U.S.  Fish and Wildlife Service.  "These isolated locations are filled up with up to tens of thousands of animals out there nesting."  Students are tracking the numbers of walruses and monitoring human disturbances near the resting walruses. Walrus numbers in Bristol Bay are declining, and this long-term project will help develop management plans for the species.  
Breakup of the North Pole

The Northeast passage across the Siberian polar ice is open;
The channel between Greenland and Ellesmere Island is open;
Only 250 miles of ice remains on the North shore of Greenland connecting it to the polar ice. And that is breaking up;
The entire north shore of Alaska and Siberia is ice free.
In short, the North Pole is falling apart--and some claim global warming isn't real?

Fairbanks professor rewarded for language work
Alaska: Michael Krauss has received the Ken Hale Prize for lifetime achievement by the Society for the Study of Indigenous Languages of the Americas. The prize is awarded for a lifetime of dedication to the understanding and preservation of native languages. Mr. Krauss, a professor emeritus at UA Fairbanks, is a founder of the Alaska Native Language Center which opened in 1972.  Krauss' personal work has centered on Athabascan and Eskimo languages. He is especially focused on the Eyak language, for which only one fluent speaker remains.  "When you lose a language and a language goes extinct, it's like dropping a bomb on the Louvre," Krauss said. "Ken Hale said that, 'Of the earth's remaining 6,000 languages, nearly half will completely disappear during this century.'  We work to save endangered species, but we don't work to save endangered languages.  It's a lot easier to keep them alive than to bring them back."

Family lines keep an ancient skill alive
Alaska: In Yup'ik, they're called a mingquetuli -- "skin sewer," one who makes clothing from animal pelts. It's a skill passed in Native Alaskan families from mother to daughter, usually during childhood.  One skilled mingquetuli is Carrie Anvil-Kiana, who listened when her mother said:  "You must learn to make mukluks and parkas for your family. "  Carrie, now 76, made parkas, hats, mittens, and mulkuks for her six children using furs harvested in Alaska as well as calfskin and the pelts of nutria, rabbit and squirrel.  Seam quality is the true measure of a mingquetuli, Anvil-Kiana said, showing off a parka's neat, fur-free seams. "If there's hair caught in these seams, we say she's a kelugpak," meaning an inexpert skin sewer.  Carrie also said that people were known by their parkas.  Each region had a specific style or decoration no other family could copy.  Customs aren't as strong now; people generally incorporate what they like in their parkas, although the green and red tassels Anvil uses are Yup'ik colors.  "Red for blood and green for life," Anvil said.  "But for kids, you can use whatever colors. "  Anvil and other Yup'ik women are passing on their skin sewing, crafts and beading in weekly classes for young women.

Publisher offers Alaska Native Yellow Pages
Alaska: By March 2006, CBG USA hopes to publish a telephone directory of Alaska Native Yellow Pages. Publisher Jim Cocallas plans a comprehensive listing of Alaska Native corporations and businesses.  The Native directory will look more like a magazine than a traditional phonebook, with as many as 100 glossy pages. The directory will also include information about  Alaska's 13 regional corporations, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act,  doing business with Alaska Natives, emergency and social services, education, health care, and other topic.  Once published, over 25,000 free copies will be given to Alaska Native corporations, businesses, organizations, and city, state and federal offices. Advance subscriptions will be sold for $35, with half of the proceeds donated to Native scholarships and nonprofit organizations.  "It's going to be a long-term project," Cocallas said. "It's going to be around for years to come."

Alaska Villages Caught in Slow-Motion Disaster
Alaska: The cost to move villages which face extinction in the ten years is staggering: 
Moving the small town of Newtok (315 people), a Bering Sea town being swamped by two rivers:  $130,000,000 or  $412,000 per person.
Moving Shishmaref, a strip of sand in the Chukchi Sea, home to about 600 people: $200,000,000, or $333,000 per person.
  Moving Kivalina, a shrinking barrier island in the Chukchi with 380 residents:  $125,000,000, or $329,000 per person. 
Meanwhile, millions more dollars are needed to protect the people and areas from erosion until they move.  Where will all the money come from?  That question is receiving much attention at the federal, state and local levels.   In years past, Natives would simply pick up and move to safer places.  Today, school buildings, airstrips, roads and conveniences keep once-nomadic people anchored in place. Senator Ted Stevens warned village leaders during an Anchorage hearing that funds to help are extremely limited.
Newtok photo:
Anchorage Daily News


Cultural connections
Alaska: Nicole Lewis, 15, was surprised by how little she knew about Native culture when she took an Alaska history class at her high school.  The Inupiaq teen grew up in the urbanized Mat-Su Valley, far from the subsistence-reliant Alaska village of Noorvik where her mother was raised.  Lewis's mother married a non-native and rarely talks about her Inupiat Eskimo culture.  And, although Lewis has visited Noorvik, she doesn't know her family's language or traditions.  "I want to know a lot about my culture like everyone else does," she said.  Sarah Scanlan, vice president of First Alaskans Institute, said Nicole shouldn't be embarrassed.  "A lot of our kids have been in her shoes," she said. "They don't learn about  their culture in school, and they don't hear about it enough at home."  Recently, as a youth representative, Lewis joined 1,000 Alaska Natives at the annual Native Elders and Youth Convention to learn more about her Inupiat heritage.  The two-day conference brings together past and future generations of Alaska  Native leaders to discuss issues of concern, including substance abuse and  preservation of traditional knowledge.  In 2004, there were only 7,000 Alaska Natives age 65 and over compared to 54,000 under the age of 19.  "You can hear the urgency in the elders' voices when they talk about the importance of preserving Native languages."  Scanlan said.  She sees a growing movement among Native youth to revive their Native language  and dance.   "Forty years ago you wouldn't have had dancing in school, but now the youth  are really demanding cultural learning take place so they can maintain a  connection with their homes," she said.  As the first day of the convention, Lewis was enthralled by the movements of the Inupiat and Yupik Eskimo performers.  "It's something I don't usually see," she said. "I did it once when I was in  fifth grade, but I don't know any of the movements."  She said that her attendance at the conference left her invigorated and emboldened

Yupik teen tears up the slopes]
Alaska: Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, 15, has won the Junior Olympic Snowboard Championships in Jackson  Hole, Wyoming. The Yupik teen is now competing in the 2005 Junior World Championships in Switzerland.  Former Olympic skiier Suzie Chafee, who supports native ski teams, supports a remark made by Tex Hall, president of the National Congress of American Indians: "Indian youth sports opportunities are the answer."  As an example of this success, officials point to Arizona's White Mountain Apaches. They opened two ski resorts three decades ago, and the slopes has done wonders their tribes and their people. "It had everything to do with skiing,” said  Chairman Dallas Massey.  "Skiing is the No 1 motivate of our youth [then  rodeo], and prevents alcohol abuse if we can reach our children early  enough."

2005 Finalists for American Indian Tribal Governance Awards  
Massachusetts: Fourteen finalists have been selected by “Honoring Nations,” Harvard's awards program that recognizes innovation and excellence in American Indian tribal governance. On Tuesday, Nov. 1, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the finalists will make public presentations to the Honoring Nations Advisory Board.  The Advisory Board then selects up to seven programs to receive “high honors” and $10,000 to share their success stories with others.  They also designate up to seven “honors” programs that will receive $2,000. Currently in its fifth year of awards, Honoring Nations is a member of a worldwide family of “governmental best practices” awards.   Since "Honoring Nations" began in 1998, 64 tribal government programs and initiatives have been recognized.  This year’s 14 finalists were chosen from applicants representing 41 Indian nations and seven inter-tribal collaborations.
2005 Honoring Nations Finalists included:

Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council

Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, Koyukon and Gwich’in Athabaskan, Yupik, and Tlingit, Fairbanks, Alaska


2004 World Eskimo Olympics winners
This summer, the World Eskimo Olympics was held in Fairbanks Alaska. The results:

Race of the Torch
MEN Andrew Marks, 18:02
WOMEN: Elizabeth Rexford, 22:16
One-Hand Reach:
MEN Jesse Frankson, 5 ft. 9 in
WOMEN Elizabeth Rexford, 5 ft. 1 in
AK High Kick:
MEN Jessie Frankson, 7 ft. 10 in
WOMEN Alissa Joseph, 6 ft.
Indian Stick Pull:
MEN Dennis Gould, Jr.
WOMEN Lena Danner
Eskimo Stick Pull:
MEN Jessie Frankson
WOMEN Annette Donaldson
Toe Kick
MEN Karl Frankson, 4 ft. 8 in
WOMEN Carol Pickett, 4 ft.

Ear Pull:
MEN Dennis Frankson
WOMEN Noel Strick
Kneel Jump:
MEN Jesse Frankson, 63 3/8 in
WOMEN Nicole Johnston, 46 1/2 in
Scissor Broad Jump:
MEN Jesse Frankson, 36 ft. 5 1/4 in
WOMEN Nicole Johnston, 25 ft. 4 1/4 in
2 Foot High Kick:
MEN Karl Frankson, 7 ft. 10 in
WOMEN Nicole Johnston, 6 ft.
Grease Pole Walk:
MEN Mathew Evans, 2 ft. 4 in
WOMEN Elizabeth Rexford, 2 ft. 6 in
Arm Pull:
MEN Brian Walker
WOMEN Annette Donaldson
Ear Weight:
MEN Dennis Frankson 1500 ft.
WOMEN Noel Strick 21 ft. 10 in
Blanket Toss:
MEN Oliver Peetok
WOMEN Elizabeth Rexford
Drop the Bomb:
MEN Tony Oyakak 77 ft. 3 in
WOMEN Sandra Madison 3 ft. 10 in
4-Man Carry:
MEN  Dean Katairoak, 150 ft.
Knuckle Hop:
MEN David Thomas, 95 ft. 7 in
WOMEN Elizabeth Rexford, 21 ft. 5 1/2 in
Muktuk Eating Contest:
1st - Dean Katairok 20.5 seconds
Fish Cutting Contest:
1st - Charlie Brower, 47 seconds
Baby Contest:
Eskimo: Jan Nashookpuk
Indian: Heaven Cadzow
Native Dress Pagent:
Eskimo Cloth Parka:
1st Ashlyn Santiago Brower

Eskimo Fur Parka:
1st Joshua Stone
Indian Skin Dress:
1st La'Ona Dewilde
Dance Team-Final results
Indian: Nenana City Public Schools
Eskimo: Barrow Dance Group

Sunlight is Destroying Alaska Native Art Collection
Alaska:  Sun is damaging one of Alaska's most important collections of contemporary Alaska Native art.  The light-saturated gallery in Stevens International Airport holds 150 masterpieces including Inupiat etched ivory tusks, Cup'ig beach grass baskets, a Tlingit carved canoe paddle and a floor-length Tlingit ceremonial blanket featuring a 2-foot-high raven shaped from tiny glass beads.  Alaska's state conservator warns that SIA's treasured collection could be ruined within five years unless it is relocated or protected.  Committed to protecting the pieces, Stephens Airport officials are relying on experts from the Alaska Arts Council and arts community to help them understand the airport's options.

Whistling language remains a mystery
Alaska: OF the 6,800 languages the world, some have a rather unique form of delivery: whistling.  In the village of Savoonga, some claim an ancient form of communication still exists.  Yaari Kingeekuk and Marisa Jackson call it Kookameegeenuk.   According to Kingeekuk, the language was used most frequently when the men were out hunting, to keep track of each other and communicate messages.  “We use it to communicate when my friends or relatives were a distance away and I wanted to communicate with them,” said Kingeekuk.  Marisa considers Kookameegeenuk a big part of her daily life.  “I enjoy using it as a source of communication and I would think it would be really interesting to pass it on to a younger generations.”   Jackson said.  Yaari hopes to do just that; she knows that the only way to keep Kookameegeenuis alive is to pass it on.  Now her children are learning it.  However, linguist professors at the University of Alaska Anchorage and University of Alaska Fairbanks have never heard of the Kookameegeenuk language.  But that doesn't mean the language does not exist.  One professor believes it simply has never been researched.

Landmark book preserves Dena'ina culture 
"Shem Pete's Alaska" is a treasure trove of information about all things Dena'ina. Shem Pete, whose family included the last official chiefs of his clan, was born in the late 1890s. During his long life he traveled on traditional hunting, fishing and trading routes and lived in several areas of Alaska. Shem became famous as a storyteller and tradition bearer before his death in 1989. "I don't want this story to die," he said, speaking about the book. "That's why I am telling this story. If I die, who is going to tell this story? Nobody. You people are going to hear it. My name is Shem Pete. That's enough." The book resulted from decades of work by many people. It's an example of how Native elders and non-Native scholars can work together to rescue indigenous knowledge from the brink of oblivion 

Bird flu scientists in northernmost U.S.
Alaska: Scientists are stationed in Barrow, the nation's northernmost city, to look for early warning signs that migratory birds are carrying the bird flu virus to North America. The virus has led to the death or slaughter of millions of birds in Asia, Europe and Africa. It's also killed more than 128 people who had close contract with sick birds. The testing is part of an effort to sample 75,000 -100,000 birds across the nation, many of which migrate through Alaska. However, for Inupiat Eskimos, subsistence hunting is a vital source of food in a community where grocery store prices include $35  for a steak and  $7.50 for a gallon of milk.   A public information campaign has eased their fears by instructing hunters to thoroughly cook game birds and use rubber gloves when handling and cleaning their catch. Frances Leavitt, a 41-year-old Barrow housewife, says that after the initial concerns about bird flu wore off, the subject became a joke among the hunters in her family. "They would say to each other, 'Are you going to go bird flu hunting now?'" she said.

Running Back Home
California: After six months of running, the Peace and Dignity Journey 2004 has come to an end. Every four years since 1992, American Indians run the length of North and South America to encourage unity among tribes and to inspire a better future for succeeding generations.  Two groups of runners begin at opposite ends of the continents; one group begins in Alaska and the other in Argentina. This year's journey, which honored "the spirit of the woman," ended in Panama City.  Hector Cerda, whose mother is Apache and father is Purepecha, joined a group of 30 runners who averaged 70 miles a day.  Cerda contributed 10 miles a day. One stop in El Salvador made a lasting impression.  Four grandmothers met their entourage in El Salvador, and one expressed her disappointment of not welcoming the runners with cultural songs and flowers. Then, a runner told her she would get the chance. "The look on her face, it was like she was refreshed in her spirit," Cerda said. "It also really made me feel good. I had felt sad for her.  We came back the next day and it was beautiful the way they greeted us."

This Elvis is Tlingit
Alaska: The Tlingit King is about to perform.  He bops nervously from foot to foot, all glam and glitter from his colorful cape to his shiny tennis shoes. Then the crowd trickles in and it's showtime. The King hits "play" on the boombox behind him, and as Elvis Presley croons, Leonard R. Johnson dances up and down the small stage. "It doesn't get any better than this. Tlingit Elvis!  It's perfect," fan Cristine Crooks said.  The Alaska Native answer to Elvis, Johnson began as a reluctant Elvis impersonator. "I really never did get up in front of people like that...," Johnson said. "I really kind of felt embarrassed until everybody started getting louder and whistling and they liked it -- I know they liked it -- so I just got into it." Johnson's wife, Pua Maunu, designs Johnson's wardrobe with intricate painting, beadwork and feathers done in traditional Tlingit fashion, but unmistakably Elvis in their presentation. Bold reds, aquamarine blues, blacks and yellows form the cape's eagle, which is Johnson's tribal clan. Eagles also appear on his necklace and giant belt buckle.  Johnson gets autograph requests that he obliges by signing "Tlingit Elvis," and Maunu's costume was recently on display in the Juneau Douglas City Museum,  "Who would have thought that Elvis and the Northwest coast go together so beautifully?" said Jane Lindsay, museum director.
The Associated Press
First Americans May Have Sailed, Not Walked, to New World
Many theories about the New World suggest that its first humans walked across the frozen Bering Straights from [today's] Russia into Alaska about 13,000 years ago.  According to "Prehistoric Americans,'' however, the New World may have been a melting pot long before Christopher Columbus invaded.  "Prehistoric Americans", a program aired on National Geographic TV,  agrees that people traveled over the Bering Straights. It also suggests humans from both the Pacific Rim and Europe arrived earlier.  And rather than walk, some may have sailed to the Americas on an ancient version of the yacht.
According to the program:
  Early sailors navigated along a "kelp highway'' that hugged the coastline from the southern Pacific Rim to today's California. The thick, anchored vegetation attracted fish and animals for the yachtsmen's food and lessened the impact of waves. Human remains found along the route bolster the theory; 
  Immigrants could have walked to America over a sheet of ice connecting today's Western Europe to Canada, or navigated along the icy rim in boats;        
  250 fossilized indentations found south of Mexico City are human footprints that date back at least 40,000 years;
  Some Virginia artifacts go back 17,000 years
  A stone tool found near Pittsburgh has been dated at 16,000 years.

 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:

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.

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:

Siberian, native American genes linked
California: Scientists have learned that native Siberians are genetically linked to people of the Americas. Stanford University studied the genes of Siberian Yakuts and found similarities with the native peoples of Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Brazil. This includes the Mayans, Suruis and Karitianas. The finding support theories that humans migrated from Siberia to the Americas about 30,000 years ago. They traveled over an ancient landbridge from today's Russia into today's Alaska.

Report notes 'crisis' facing urban Indian youth 
For American Indian and Alaska Native children living in Los Angeles County, one in four live below the poverty line, few live in two-parent households, many face educational barriers and few have access to childcare. "As home to the largest urbanized American Indian population, this region should be on the forefront of developing and implementing policies and programs that address the challenges of American Indians,"said the  Los Angeles County American Indian Children's Council (AICC). Research shows  that:
  25% of Indian youth live below the poverty line;
 More than 5,000 Indian families live below the poverty line;
  45% of homes were headed by a single parent;
  40% of Indian males did not complete high school;
  Only about 50% of Native students graduated with their class;
  The unemployment rate among Indians was nearly twice that of non-Hispanic whites;
  Indian men earned 45% less than non-Hispanic white men; 
  Indian women earned 31%  less than  non-Hispanic women;   
  The poverty rate among American Indians  is 250%  larger than the rate among non-Hispanic whites.
Get the Report:
The Status of American Indian Children in Los Angeles (November 2003)

Bringing Native history home
When Harold Jacobs, Tlingit, saw a Native headband made of braided hair in a Philadelphia museum, he knew whose hair it was and sang its song. It was made by Jacobs' great-great-great-great-great grandmother who cut her hair, made it into a headband and gave it to her husband to be remembered by.  The woman's father then wrote a song about the headband to mark her marriage.  "We still do that song today.  She made that hairpiece for her husband using her own hair," Jacobs said. In February, John organized a visit of clan leaders to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. The Natives consulted with museum officials about the possible return of tribal objects. "The significance of bringing these artifacts back home is very powerful," John said. "There's healing that flows. It's very exciting." Steve Henrikson from the Alaska State Museum in Juneau agrees.  "Those artifacts are like chapters out of the Tlingit history book," he said.  "If you have some of the chapters missing, it's very difficult to teach the history from one generation to the next."

Harvard honors  tribal governments' work  
Massachusetts: Fourteen tribal government initiatives were recently singled out by Honoring Nations, a program administered by the Harvard Project on American  Indian Economic Development. The Honoring Nations program recognizes tribes that adhere to self-governance principles, a belief that tribes "hold the key to  positive social, political, cultural and economic prosperity."  "We have  to become self-sufficient," said Oren Lyons, chairman of the Honoring Nations  advisory board.  "We can't depend on anyone anymore."  Of the 14 programs awarded honors, seven were given high honor recognition and $10,000 cash prizes during an awards presentation at the National Congress of  American Indians in Tulsa. High honors,  $10,000
1.  Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, Fairbanks,  Alaska
2.  Oneida Nation Farms, Seymour, Wis.
3.  Flandreau Police  Department, Flandreau, S.D.
4.  Professional Empowerment Program,  Sisseton, S.D.
5.  Tribal Monitors Program, Fort Yates, N.D.
6.   Siyeh Corp., Browning, MT.
7.  Akwesasne Freedom School, Rooseveltown,  N.Y.
Honors, $2,000
1.  The Cherokee Nation Language  Revitalization Project, Tahlequah, Okla.
2.  Choctaw Tribal Court System,  Choctaw, Miss.
3.  The Hopi Land Team, Kykotsmovi, Ariz.
4.  Miccosukee Tribe Section 404 Permitting Program, Miami.
5.  Migizi  Business Camp, Manistee, Mich.
6.  Navajo Nation Sales Tax, Window Rock,  Ariz.
7.  ONABEN's Innovative Models for Enterprise Development, Tigard,  Ore.

 National Statistics:
American Indian and Alaska Native children are:
300% more likely to live in poverty than white children;
More than 200% likely to commit suicide;
200% more likely to die in a car accident, because reservation roads are the most dangerous in the country. Wilson's commendations:
Tribal colleges have produced more Native graduates in the last 30 years than all mainstream universities combined;
Thousands of Native children have graduated from Indian Head Start programs and are doing remarkably better than youth who didn't attend.
Wilson requested from Congress:
Convene an Indian education summit;
Help tribal language movements;
Create greater teacher support;
More flexibility and acknowledgment of the unique contexts of Native schools;
Data collection and research with culturally appropriate design models and methodologies;
Re-authorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act;
Increase and include input from Native leaders when Congress debates the No Child Left Behind Act.

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.

Study: Native babies "babble" just fine
33% of American Indian and Alaska Native children who are 9 months old live in poverty, 25% live in households with absent fathers, and more than 10% were born to teenaged mothers. Yet a new report called American Indian and Alaska Native Children: Findings From the Base Year of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study finds that Native babies keep up with other children in their developmental skills. They even show signs of walking at a slightly higher rate.  “These infant children have kept up with others developmentally despite hardships,” said Russ Whitehurst, director of the Institute of Education Sciences. “The challenge for the preschools and schools that will serve these children when they are older is to maintain their level of progress. Poverty should not be an excuse for letting these children fall behind.”  The study found that 9-month old Native children are similar to the general population in early mental and physical skills, exploring objects in play, eye-hand coordination, pre-walking skills and “babbling” (the first stages of talking).  The study was co-sponsored by The Office of Indian Education.
Read the report:

Report finds low graduation rate for Natives
According to a new study, Native American students at public high schools only have a 50-50 chance of graduating. The study, compiled by the non-partisan Urban Institute, offers wildly different results from number reported by some states.  According to the study: in 2001, only 51.1% of Native students graduated compared to 74.9%  for Whites and 76.8% for  Asians. The national average was 68.0% . "...a graduation gap of this magnitude is certainly large by  any standard of comparison and should be cause for concern among  educational systems committed to achieving equity across student  subgroups," wrote Christopher B. Swanson, the author of "Who Graduates?  Who Doesn't?"
More Facts
Midwest: 40.1% of Native students graduate;    South: 58.1% graduate
Alaska: 46.5% graduate;
California: 42.9% graduate;
Oklahoma: 63.9% graduate;
New Mexico - 60.0% graduate;
Montana - 45.8% graduate;
Nebraska - 32.3% graduate;
North Dakota - 52.6% graduate;
Oregon - 42.4% graduate;
South Dakota - 32.1% graduate;
Wyoming - 34.4% graduate;

In the Mix: "Native American Teens: Who We Are"
[Editors Note: Native Village was honored to assist in this project]
What's it like to be a young Native American today? Teens from throughout the United States share their stories in this "IN THE MIX" special co-hosted by rap star and film actor, Litefoot. Shot around the country, the program features a champion lacrosse player from western New York, a Grammy-nominated flute player from rural Idaho, and short films made by teens in Alaska and Washington State. A group of young leaders from cities and reservations also weigh in on the issues that affect them everyday—common misconceptions and stereotypes about Native Americans; how they balance traditional culture with contemporary concerns; and their hopes for the future.  This IN THE MIX  segment, "Native American Teens: Who We Are"  will air on many PBS stations the week of November 18.
In the Mix:
Pam Benson, PBS Producer

Native youth seek roots, self through leadership camp
Alaska: About 40 Native youth attended this year’s Latseen Leadership Training Camp in Juneau.  “Our youth are no longer raised in the traditional way,” said Barbara Cadiente- Nelson, from the  Sealaska Heritage Institute. “This camp focuses on rooting them in place, reconnecting them to who they are in history. It is important to know your past in order to go forward.”  “Latseen” means “strength” in the Tlingit language.  Camp events focused on strengthening three Rs: rigor, relevance and relationship.   Campers began each day with a martial-arts-like “freedom dance” at 7 a.m. They also tended to graves at the Native Graveyard on Douglas Island, prepared meat, rendered seal oil, and learned the traditional way to cook salmon—wrapped in leaves and baked in the ground.  “Our scholars envisioned this camp to build up Native youth and train them to be tradition bearers,” said Cadiente-Nelson.
Students' comments:
“I’ve felt disconnected since I left. This camp helped me remember who I am, where I come from. It’s something I wish I could have participated in when I was in high school.”  Jennifer Hanlon,  21
“We’ve learned a lot from the elders ... how to carve a dagger and how to build a smokehouse. We dissected and smoked fish, and learned how to prepare other traditional foods.”  Tiffany LaRue,  15
Each student earned four college credits for attending the camp: one credit in Tlingit language, one in physical education, and two in Alaska Native history.

Harvard, Indian Health Service forge partnership
Massachusetts:  Harvard University and the Indian Health Service are working together to improve the health and wellness of American Indian and Alaska Native people.  "This is a great opportunity for synergy between Harvard's educational mission and IHS's mission to assist and collaborate in raising the physical, mental, social and spiritual health of American Indian and Alaska Native people," said Dennis Norman, faculty chair of Harvard's University Native American Program.  Comparisons between Indian and the rest of the U.S. health status reveals that a 40% increase is needed for IHS funding.  Complicating the situation are modern health problems confronting American Indian and Alaska Native communities.  Death rates for tuberculosis, alcoholism, diabetes, accidents, suicide, and homicide are significantly higher for Indians compared with the U.S.  general population.  Additionally, American Indian and Alaska Native death rates from injuries and auto accidents are 200%-300% higher than the national rates. Suicide and homicide rates are nearly 200% higher.  Through its Native Health Program, HUNAP will address these issues by supporting research, outreach, education, teaching and curriculum development in AI/AN health care and health policy.
H-Amindian Listserv

One-third of villages lacking in-home water tap
laska.  A recent study says that 34% of Alaska Native villages do not have modern water and sewer services in their homes.  The study, conducted by the Alaska Environmental Health Association, links this lack of water service to infectious diseases.  "Practically all villages have a purified water point -- a small treatment facility where villagers can go with a bucket to get water," said Troy Ritter from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.  However, these water points are often just a hose coming out of a small building or room, he added.  This means that while access to drinking water is a lesser issue, it doesn't always apply for water used for hand-washing and disposing of wastewater.  The research further shows that children in villages without running water tend to have many more infectious diseases. "Quantity is the most important characteristic of a water supply," said Ritter. "Water use less than eight gallons per capita per day was shown to be coincident with serious health consequences."  Most villages without modern water services are either built on permafrost ground or on swampy tundra areas. That creates difficulty and higher costs for building the necessary pipe systems.

Native Charter School Gets Go-Ahead
Alaska: After concerns by Alaska Native parents, teachers, and elders, the Anchorage school board has given unanimous approval for an Alaska Native charter school.  Native children today "have become an MTV, bling-bling generation, and that's not the way of our people," said Liana Engebretson, an Athabascan and Tlingit mother.  "A school like this would be so great to turn that around, and start to teach our children who they are, where they came from, and who their ancestors are." The Alaska Native Cultural Charter School could open by fall 2007.   The K-6 school, open to Native and non - Native youth, would emphasize hands-on learning and involve role models from the Native community.

Massive Cultural Changes in Native Life Tied to Increase in Cancer, Social Problems
Alaska: The way of life for today's Alaska Natives is greatly different from the lives of their grandparents and great-grandparents. Native leaders and health experts say that changes in diet, abuse of tobacco and alcohol, and diseases are symptoms of that great cultural change. "It's a synergistic combination," said Larry Merculieff, deputy director of the Alaska Native Science Commission. Merculieff, an Aleut born and raised on the Pribilof Islands, notes that Alaskan Natives are the poorest population in the state. This results in poor nutrition, high stress, and the psychological burden of losing one's cultural roots and identity. This combination leads to more cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression, addictions and other chronic illnesses. Merculieff wants health researchers to consider those factors while studying Alaska Native health.

Time to say farewell at caribou maternity ward
WHITEHORSE, Yukon: Wildlife biologists plan to release almost 60 Chisana caribou and their newborn calves from a man-made maternity ward near the Yukon-Alaska border.  They expect the 29 mothers and each of their radio-collared newborns will slowly leave the shelter and head west to rejoin the rest of the Chisana herd. Wildlife managers expect that giving them this kind of head start will ensure their survival, and possibly the survival of the entire herd. The Chisana herd numbers had fallen so dramatically over the past 10 years that biologists feared they would be wiped out. This is the second consecutive year for the internationally funded project.

Kotzebue School Wins Design Award
Alaska:  Kotzebue School has won a Lighthouse Award from the Council of Educational Facility Planners International. CEFPI is a professional organization whose sole mission is to improve places where children learn.  CEFPI selected Kotzebue because of "an extensive and inclusive community planning process that addressed age-appropriate learning; school-within-a-school concepts, severe and complex environmental issues and the celebration and preservation of Native American culture."
Kotzebue School:
H-Amindian Listserve

IBM Provides Technology Access and  Training to Native People
New York: Native American Family Technology Journey helps native people enrich their lives through computer technology.  Known as "The Journey," NAFTJ explores how computers can help preserve ancient cultures.  It also provides students and their families with technology training so they can access educational, health and other information.  Among this year's projects are workshops, seminars, and interactive demonstrations for Alaska Natives and American Indians in urban, rural, and tribal land settings. Other initiatives have also been launched to help Native Americans preserve their languages and customs and develop marketable skills. The Journey is co-sponsored by IBM and Career Communications Group.

Charter School Keeps Native Language Alive
Yup'ik is spoken by Native people in Western Alaska and is the strongest indigenous language group in the state. More than 30 years ago, Loddie Ayaprun began a Yup'ik kindergarten program in Bethel. Today, the only Yup'ik immersion school in existence bears her name. "The parent who suggested it told me you don't have to be dead to have a building named after you," Loddie said.  At the immersion school, 10 certified Native instructors use Yup'ik exclusively in grades K-2, 75% of the time in third grade, and 50% of time in grades 4-6. The school's 189 students have reading and language arts classes in English beginning in third grade and add English-language health and math a year later. All other subject matter is taught in Yup'ik.  Looking around, Jones remarks, "Ever day our students are reminded that they're Yup'ik. They say 'we have life.'"