Native Village 

Youth and Education News

January 21, 2004,  Issue 126, Volume 3

"When I thought about who we are as Indian women, I had to take a good look at myself...I was reminded about how life, to me, is a never ending learning process, a journey of discovering ourselves, what we are capable of and what we are not, what we hold in the endless sea of our soul...who are you?" Roxanne  Swentzell, Santa Clara Pueblo

Nebraska Supreme Court Rules For Guatemalan Woman Who Lost Children in Immigration Fight
The Nebraska Supreme Court has ordered a new custody hearing for a Mayan Indian woman from Guatemala. The woman, Mercedes Santiago-Felipe, lost her two young children after her deportation on immigration charges.  She has not seen or talked with her children since her arrest on immigration charges in March 2001. Santiago-Felipe, 33, sought asylum in the United States 10 years ago during Guatemala's civil war. She settled in central Nebraska with her son, now 8, and daughter, now 6.  The children were born in the United States to Santiago-Felipe.  Their father, also from Guatemala, later abandoned the family.
Associated Press

Guatemalan Maya Indians Work Unnoticed in Southeastern Florida
In the early 1980s, Antonio Silvestre fled Guatemala's poverty and civil strife to become one of the first Maya Indians to settle in Indiantown, Florida. Nearly two decades later, thousands of Mayans and their families have quietly built communities in Indiantown and other parts of southeastern Florida. Many work in landscaping, construction or maintenance; most are illegal aliens who move around frequently. "The Americans didn't know where we came from. We are short, with dark skin, dark hair and we speak a language they never heard before," said Silvestre, who now teaches at a school for migrant children.  Tim Steigenga, professor at Florida Atlantic University, has worked with the growing Guatemalan Mayan community for the past three years. "At first they were leaving Guatemala because of the civil war. Now they are leaving because of poverty and lack of opportunities," he said. "They are seeking some way of making a living out of desperation."

Tribal Leaders Seek Moratorium on Termination of Parental Rights
In Iowa, a high number of American Indians lose their parental rights, and tribal leaders want the state to determine why. Many Indian children are adopted or placed in foster care despite having relatives who can care for them. Frank LaMere, Winnebago, and other tribal leaders met with Gov. Tom Vilsack and the Department of Human Services about mistreatment of tribal families under child welfare laws.
The Associated Press State & Local Wire

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.,11859,358555,00.html

Foundation supports Nunavut respite program
(NUNAVUT) -- Parents and caregivers of disabled people in Nunavut have been awarded $250,000 from The Pauktuutit Inuit Women's Association to develop a respite program in the territory. Respite is short-term, temporary care for people with disabilities so their families can take a break from the daily routine of caregiving.

Arctic Inuits have highest toxin level in the world
Inuits living in the Arctic have the highest concentrations of toxic contaminants ever recorded in humans.  The high levels are from chemicals used in the U.S. and other industrial nations. The toxins travel north where they enter the environment and accumulate in the fat of animals. By the time the food reaches the Inuits, who live a subsistence lifestyle, the contaminants have magnified in danger.  Inuits, who are dependent upon hunting and fishing, don't want to give up their traditional lifestyle. They say processed foods are too expensive and don't provide them with sustenance.
According to studies:
*The breast milk of Inuit mothers is seven times higher than their counterparts in southern Canada.
*Almost all Inuits in Greenland and half in Canada have levels  PCB and mercury levels exceeding international guidelines.,1,570626.story

How does diabetes affect AI/AN women during pregnancy?
Gestational diabetes, which can occur during pregnancy, affects American Indian and Alaska Natives at rates much higher than the general populations.

The newborns of AI/AN women with diabetes have an increased chance of birth defects;
The mothers also risk developing toxemia, a condition that endangers the lives of both the mother and the infant;
Gestational diabetes increases the babyís risk for problems such as large body size and low blood sugar;

Many women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes later in life.  27.5% of Pima Indian women developed diabetes within 4 - 8 years after pregnancy: 30% of Zuni Indian women developed diabetes 6 - 9 years after pregnancy;
A child whose mother who had diabetes during pregnancy has a very high risk of obesity and developing diabetes at a young age;
Adults born from mothers with diabetes during pregnancy have much higher rates of diabetes than those born from women without diabetes.
45% of the adult

Offspring of Pima Indian women with type 2 diabetes developed diabetes by age
20 - 24. Only 1.4% of adults born from mothers without diabetes went on to develop diabetes by age 24;
The strongest single risk factor for diabetes in Pima children was exposure to diabetes in the womb.

U.S. bison meat helps feed tribes
Members of Nebraska's Winnebago tribe are enjoying bison meat supplied through a U.S. agricultural program.  Many, however, needed some nudging before they tried the ground and stew bison meat. "We had to work with (tribe members) quite a bit because they weren't used to eating buffalo," said Louis LaRose, a Winnebago from the Intertribal Bison Cooperative. "We hired one of our young tribal people who is an excellent cook. Now we have a lot of creative recipes."  Congress may set aside an additional $4,000,000 in bison meat contracts for tribes next year as part of the 2004 budget.  The tribes then will have the opportunity to request the meat free
Associated Press

Calendar features tribal role models
Dr. Angela Erdrich, a Belcourt pediatrician, has produced the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Good Healthy Life calendar. The calendar features Turtle Mountain reservation families who promote healthy living. "A doctor can only do so much patient education in the office, one-on-one," she said. "My goal is to share positive health messages with a wider audience in a format that is catchy. As a bonus, I think the calendar helps promote community pride.  "Nearly 10,000 calendars have been given away to patients, students and school staff. "It is like a 12-month advertisement," said Logan Davis, the tribal tobacco control coordinator, who also contributed to the calendar. "All the way down the line, everybody is pleased. The feedback is so positive from the community."

Demand for Herbal Remedies Threatens Plants
The World Wildlife Fund says today's demand for herbal remedies is threatening natural habitats and endangering up to 20% of wild medicinal plant species across the world    .WWF warns that between 4,000 and 10,000 plants are being harvested to extinction.  "It's an extremely serious problem,'' study author Alan Hamilton told New Scientist magazine. Hamilton's study peers say the problem has been looming for years. They blame the herbal medicinal industry for not guaranteeing the plant's sustainability. ''It is time for the industry to join forces with environmental organizations to ensure that herbal harvests have a sustainable future,'' one scientist added..

Ancient Farmers Practiced Genetic Manipulation in Creating Modern Corn Plant
Ancient Americans were changing corn genes through selective breeding more than 4,000 years ago.  Their modifications produced the large cobs and fat kernels that make corn one of humanity's most important foods. The ancestral plant of corn, teosinte, was first domesticated 6,000 --9,000 years ago in southern Mesico's Balsas River Valley. At first, teosinte was a grassy plant with many stems bearing small cobs with hard-shelled kernels. Farmers soon began growing only those plants with desirable characteristics, and teosinte grew to become a useful crop.  By 5,500 years ago the size of the kernels was larger.  By 4,400 years ago, all gene variations found in today's corn were present. Because the plant grew to depend on human cultivation, it can no longer grow in the wild. The report appears in Science magazine.

Three genes that dramatically improved corn:
One gene changed appearance: corn changed from a plant with many branches to plant with a single stalk. The male tassel grows  at the top, and the female cobs growing along the side.
Another gene softened the kernel's outer hull.  Before the change, the plant depended upon animals who ate the hard shelled plant and passed the seed through the gut.
Another gene changed reproduction. The softer hulled kernels would not survive passage through the gut. The plant now depends upon humans to plant its seeds.
Heard Museum

Oil spill darkens NK beach
Point Jefferson., a stretch of North Kitsap beach, is considered a critical shellfishing area by Suquamish Tribe members. But a recent 4,800 gallon oil spill near Seattle threatens the most important subsistence harvesting area for shellfish within tribal lands. "Right now, the clam beds are definitely impacted," said Dick Walker, state Department of Ecology. The spill came from a tank barge loading oil from a Chevron Texaco terminal between Seattle and Everett. Before the spill, Point Jefferson was considered "the largest relatively  undisturbed coastal wetland of this kind in Washington State," tribal  fisheries members said.

Exposure to toxins studied under new EPA grants
A $1,500,000 grant has been awarded to investigate subsistence lifestyles and the impact of environment on tribal lands. The three-year study, Lifestyle and Cultural Practices of Tribal Populations and Risks from Toxic Substances in the Environment, was awarded to Oregon State University. Environmental exposures will be studied on:
  c The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) in northeast Oregon;
  c The Spokane Tribe of Indians in Washington;
  c The Aroostook Band of MicMac Indians in Maine;
  c The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (Ojibwe);
c The Elem Indian Colony in California;
  Swinomish Indian Community on Puget Sound.
A healthy food system affects the health, language, social structure, economy and spirituality of an entire people. "When itís lost, itís replaced with poorer nutrition and a whole set of skills is lost," said Barbara Harper, professor at Oregon State University.

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