Youth and Education News
February 4, 2004, Issue 127, Volume 1
"We did not cross any land bridge like the scientists tell us. Our religion tells us we were created here. Period." Armand Minthorn. Umatilla
Seminole Indians celebrating their resistance to the U.S. government
Florida's Seminole Wars are an important story in American history. Not only were they the bloodiest of all the Indian wars, they were also the costliest--in fact, taxes to raise Seminole war funds angered Southerners and helped lead to the Civil War. Three times during the 1830s and 1840s, U.S. soldiers tried to overpower the tribe. Though many Seminoles were killed or moved to the Great Plains, many remained hidden in the swamps and were never totally conquered. Recently, on the Big Cypress Reservation, members of Florida's Seminole tribe joined in reenacting a battle from the Second Seminole War. American soldiers, armed with rifles, swords and a cannon started on the offensive. But the Seminoles, using surprise, well-timed attacks, were able to push their opponents back. In the end, though, the soldiers were all left dead on the ground-- until they rose to answer questions from the crowd.
An Unexpected Artifact
The Peabody Museum at Harvard University has recently uncovered a grizzly bear tooth necklace from the Lewis and Clark exploration. The Peabody discovered the long-missing necklace when it turned up under the wrong name and among the wrong artifacts. The 38 claws had been earned by Indians. Each claw is bound with rawhide to a fur foundation and was once covered in red pigment. Until last month, only six of the Indian objects Lewis and Clark brought back with them existed, all of them at the Peabody. Now there is a seventh.
Nez Perce Indians Fight to Preserve Lost Land From Development
In 1877, Chief Joseph and his band of Nez Perce Indians were forced to abandon their beloved Wallowa Valley. Chased by the U.S. Cavalry, the tribe surrendered 1,500 miles away near the Canadian border, and Joseph's band was exiled to reservations in Oklahoma, Washington and Idaho. Today the Nez Perce are engaged in another fight -- this time a legal dispute over houses near a Nez Perce cemetery that includes the grave of Chief Joseph's father, Old Chief Joseph. The grave site is the trailhead for a National Historic Trail that follows the 1877 route of Joseph's band of Nez Perce. Fighting the development is a top priority for the Nez Perce, said tribal secretary Jake Whiteplume. The added homes would sit on the same ridge as the cemetery, which is a site of cultural significance and a national historic treasure.
Capitalism threatens ancient Taino burial ground
An ancient burial site containing the remains of Taino people in Caguas, Puerto Rico, is threatened by development. The Taino community considers this "capitalist development" an insult to their cultural heritage. They are urging Puerto Ricans and international supporters to voice their outrage at the destruction of the site and the disturbance of the souls of their ancestors.
Sign the petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/taino/petition.html
Youths seek role models in media
Children who grow up without knowing family and cultural traditions are at risk of falling into the traps of alcohol and drug abuse, according to Native American leader Clyde Bellecourt. The fault doesn't lie with the children, however, but with their parents and elders, he said. Speaking in Albion, Michigan, Bellecourt told the audience that today's Native youth, lack the guidance of their elders and turn instead to media heroes for role models. "They know more about Tupac Shakur and Eminem than they do their own traditions," he said. "They have no respect for their own sisters and mothers anymore. But it's not their fault. It's the system's and education's fault. It's the grown-ups' fault. No one's teaching them any different. "Bellecourt said adults are responsible for teaching their children the right way to live, and that today's young people will change the way people think about stereotypes .
Kentucky's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in National Awards Program
Danielle Miller, 16, of Louisville, has been named one of Kentucky's two top youth volunteers for 2004 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Danielle, a junior at Sacred Heart Academy, founded a service organization called the "National Awareness Committee." The NAC provides clothing, books and other needed items to members of the Lakhota Sioux Nation living on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Danielle became aware of the Lakhotas' needs during a school presentation by the Native American Support Effort group when she was in eighth grade. "The details and photographs moved me to tears," said Danielle. "I never realized the abundance of crisis in my own country." Danielle immediately offered to volunteer with NASE but was too young, so she worked in her own community to help the Lakhotas by planning collection drives and fund raisers. A 52-foot truck was filled with donated clothing blankets, kitchenware, bicycles and books by volunteers who accompanied the shipment to Rosebud. Danielle also raised more than $2,000 to pay for the transportation, and to make a documentary film to raise awareness of the Lakhota situation. Kentucky's second Youth Volunteer award is Whitten Montgomery, 13, an eighth-grader at Louisville Collegiate School. Whitten founded "Kids Acting Against Cancer," a performing arts group that has raised more than $40,000 for research and children with cancer.
Junior, senior youth of 2003 chosen by Navajo Nation Boys & Girls Clubs
The Boys & Girls Club of the Navajo Nation have named Malcolm Duncan, 10, and Craig L. Hoskie, 17, as youths of the year. Duncan is a fourth grader at Tse Biyazh Community School in Shiprock, and Hoskie is a senior at Window Rock High School. The kids were judged on speeches and nomination packets which included narratives of their home, family, moral character, life goals, and other information. Duncan and Hoskie will represent the Navajo Nation at the New Mexico State Boys & Girls Club of America competition on March 12.
Noted American Indian Artist Dies at 82
American Indian artist Rose Cree, among the most talented modern weavers of traditional red willow baskets, died at her home in North Dakota. She was 82. Cree and her husband, Francis, live on the Turtle Mountain Reservation. They taught Ojibwe culture to students, collaborated on weaving projects and offered spiritual guidance to others. Relatives and friends say Rose was a woman who gave selflessly. "If we ever wanted to epitomize humanity, Rose Cree would be on the top of the list," said State Representative Merle Boucher. Rose Cree's work is displayed in the Smithsonian Institution and in museums across the United States, Canada and other countries.
Keeping a Culture Afloat
Often called the loneliest place on Earth, Easter Island is now caught up in the swirling changes of globalization. It is also on the front line of a broader effort to preserve the world's endangered languages. Rapa Nui is controlled by Chile, and Spanish-speaking "Continentals" are emigrating to the island. Indigenous leaders want political autonomy or independence so they can control immigration and save the Rapa Nui culture. For now, there are still Easter Islanders who can tell you, in the Rapa Nui language, stories passed down for generations about Hotu Matu'a, who, around AD 400, arrived with seven explorers from the land called Hiva to settle this place. You can still talk to people whose grandfathers were part of the Birdman cult that raised one of the last of the island's 800 famed, imposing moai statues. Saving Rapa Nui has become an obsession for a handful of people here, including a California linguist who's spent nearly 30 years helping create a Rapa Nui literature. Another linguist became a schoolteacher and launched the island's first Rapa Nui "immersion" program. "You realize something of your people is being lost, the spirit of our people," says Virginia Haoa. She began the Rapa Nui school four years ago in defiance of Chile's education laws, which mandate instruction primarily in Spanish. The educators and linguists behind the program say Rapa Nui was in such desperate straits, they couldn't afford to wait any longer. Currently, 2,000 people speak the Rapa Nui language.
Fragmentation hurting Inuktitut, say delegates
Leaders across the Arctic are calling for urgent action to protect the Inuit language. Delegates to the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in Iqaluit say their language is under huge pressure, and steps must be taken for its survival. While all ICC delegates speak Inuktitut, local dialects and variations mean many don't understand each other. The language is also written in both syllabics and roman characters, adding to the fragmentation of the language. ICC president Aqqaluk Lynge is calling for an international language and writing system to help bridge those gaps. "We have some struggles in trying to establish a common writing system which should be the most important thing," he says. "Because otherwise, if we cannot write together and read our language, then you know that a language that is not written will disappear."
According to Canada's Aboriginal Peoples Survey 2001:
Inuktitut is be country's only aboriginal language not in serious decline;
90% of Inuit aged 15 and older living in the Canadian Arctic understand or speak Inuktitut;
80% said they could speak it very well;
Among Inuit children in Canada's Arctic, 90% could speak or understand the language;
63% of those children could speak it very well;
54% of Inuit children received help with language learning from their teachers.
Native Language Programs Running Afoul of No Child Left Behind
In Alaska, where Natives speak 20 aboriginal languages and dialects. Educators say meeting the requirements of the No Child Left Behind act is too expensive, conflicts with Native cultural traditions, and takes control away from the village. And Native languages are just part of the challenge. Anchorage has more than 93 languages spoken by students. Already cash strapped, the state can't afford to translate tests into more than 100 languages. "Not many states face the issues that we do," said state Education Commissioner Roger Sampson. Sampson wants permission from federal education officials to delay testing these students until sixth grade. At that time, the students would have had three years of English-speaking instruction.
Harvard professor speaks on 'No child left behind' policy
Dr. Gary Orfield, a Graduate Education professor from Harvard, is responding to The No Child Left Behind Act. President Bush's educational Act was signed into legislation on Jan. 8, 2002. Dr. Orfield claims that neither he nor his colleagues were invited to testify before the House or Senate on the legislation, despite delivering a report to them entitled, Hard Work for Good Schools: Facts not Fads in Title I Reform. “We commissioned 14 studies that would be worthwhile in the act, but they [Congress] ignored them,” said Orfield. “The act is ideological.” His biggest concerns center on high-stakes testing, the effects of legislation on underprivileged children and federal control over state and local affairs. Although Orfield says the bill reflects inadequate educational research, he agrees with some objectives in the bill including increased funds for poor schools and certain reading programs.
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