Native Village 

Youth and Education News

May 26, 2004,  Issue 134 Volume 2

"We have to make knowledge important, make indigenous ideas and culture useful to society. We have to present it with integrity." Simon Ortiz

Cherokee Nation Celebrates "Week of the Young Child"
TAHLEQUAH, Okla.  Oklahoma's Cherokee Nation recently celebrated the "Week of the Young Child" with a parade and children's and parents appreciation activities.  "Itís a time to focus on the needs of young children and families and to plan how to better meet those needs," said Curtiss Hogner, a Cherokee Nation Early Childhood Unit coordinator. The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration held each spring and is sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

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.'"

Nez Perce elders bless school's new painting of Chief Joseph 
Montana: Nez Perce tribal elder Horace Axtell sang a blessing song at Chief Joseph Middle School to thank students and teachers for creating a 12-foot painting of Chief Joseph. Axtell, 79, who traveled more than 400 miles for the event, wore a traditional feather headdress and fringed and beaded buckskin clothing. "It's a beautiful painting," said Axtell. "You see the buffalo, the water, the mountains, the clouds, the eagle -- all part of our way of life, because our way of life is connected to nature."  More than 500 students in grades 6-8 started the painting last October,

Utah school pulls itself up
The 300-student W. Russell Todd Elementary School, which serves the Ute Indian tribe, has been removed from a list of schools labeled "in need of improvement" under the No Child Left Behind Act. "We took a look at all of our data, all the factors that impact student learning, and decided to do business differently. We trained our art and music teachers to teach reading, writing and arithmetic," said principal Robert Stearmer. Music teachers are using rhythm to teach math concepts and spelling, making it fun for students. Other teachers are crossing subject boundaries to involve several academic areas in their lessons. Todd Elementary School's success shows that even a school serving minority and at-risk students can achieve tough academic standards

Grant to encourage reading on Rosebud Reservation
A $24,450 grant from the Reading Is Fundamental organization will be used to encourage reading on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, S.D. Parents and children will be given access to computers and digital cameras to create their own books written in Lakota and English. The project is an effort of the Todd County school district, Head Start, Sinte Gleska University and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

Blackfeet School Visits BFC
17 students from the De La Salle Blackfeet School visited the Buffalo Field Campaign camp in West Yellowstone. Students  shared their amazing Wintercount art project on Blackfeet culture and history.  Created in the spirit of traditional Blackfeet Wintercounts, the series of paintings on their buffalo hide recorded historical events in the lives and traditions of the Blackfeet.  The students joined BFC  to watch buffalo grazing in the fields and to experience the beauty of the Horse Butte Peninsula.  In the early evening, students returned to the BFC cabin for dinner.

Northern Utes explore separate schools
Utah: Members of the Northern Ute tribe have been exploring for some time the creation of a public school district to serve American Indian students. While any student could attend, the schools would be created with Indian students in mind. In a meeting with lawmakers at the Utah Capitol earlier this year, educators and tribal leaders voiced concerns about the public school system's record with Indian students.  "The public schools are failing our [Indian] students," said teacher Gloria Thompson.  "Our curriculum is not relevant to our students, our history books do not reflect a significant part of American society.  How are they supposed to have self-esteem?"

Report finds BIA misused school emergency funds
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has misused at least $5,000,000 by short changing Indian schools of money set aside for emergencies. Investigators discovered emergency funds were used by administration to buy televisions, bean bag chairs, puppets, furniture, computer software, retreats for staff members and other items and services. The misuse of funds then prevented the Office of Indian Education Programs  from addressing actual school emergencies. And in past years, even when is money was left, the Office of Indian Education Program failed to distribute it to needy schools. According to the report, BIA schools are being denied at least $1,300,000 yearly due to the office's inadequate accounting procedures.
Get the Report:
Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Indian Education Program Central Office Management of Administrative Funds:

Campers challenged to use only Lakota language for a week
Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation: This summer Si Tanka University will challenge 100 student campers to a week of accelerated learning and immersion in the endangered Lakota language.  Students will participate in a two-day vocabulary and camp orientation, then move to campsites along the Cheyenne River.  Rosalita Roach said the camp is part of Waonspekiya Oyasin, a language revitalization project for teachers.  "It's a full-immersion camp," Roach said.  "They're going to use local resources, like the elders, for activities and for conversation." Cultural aspects, such as set-up of the camp, storytelling and music will be a part of the experience, she said. The camp runs June 1-6.  For more information, contact Carol Rave or Barry Mann at 1-605-964-8011 by May 30.  "Based on people's interest, we may have to do it again," Mann said.

Pequot tribe collaborates with Rhode Island university
Connecticut: The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation lived on Connecticut's ocean shores before being forced to an inland reservation. Now, in partnership with Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, tribal members can "reconnect as a people to the sea." The Pequots have donated $250,000 in aquaculture equipment to RWU's marine biology laboratory and will be offering internships to students at the tribal museum. Roger Williams will offer academic and camp scholarships for tribal youth, help develop a science curriculum at the museum and help in early childhood development programs and college preparation programs.

United Tribes Technical College names Student of Year
BISMARCK, North Dakota:  Geri D. Fischer, a student in Office Technology, is Student of the Year at United Tribes Technical College.  Geri, a single mother of two, is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. She graduated from UTTC with a perfect record of attendance and a 4.0 grade point average. She also tutored other students 10 hours each week and volunteered to correct paper, type letter, and answer telephones for Office Technology instructors.  "I'm blessed to have supportive parents," said Fischer. "And my two daughters have kept me reaching for my goals."

Honor song drummed at law school ceremony
Four American Indians students were among the 55 graduates of the University of North Dakota's law school graduation. "When a member of the tribe accomplishes an important deed, a song should be sung in honor of it," said David Flute, the leader of the four-man Grey Fox drum group that sang the Dakota honor song for the graduates. The song translated meant: "People around the world have said this education is a difficult task. You have accomplished it, and you have made an achievement. Now, take this new knowledge and do good things for society."

LABRADOR:  Four years after coming to London to launch Survival International's report  "Canada's Tibet: the killing of the Innu" Jean-Pierre Ashini has returned with new initiative to reconnect young Innu with their land. The Tshikapisk Foundation is working to equip young Innu adults with knowledge of Innu history and the skills and learning intrinsic to Innu hunting culture. The Foundation is building an Innu Cultural Center at Kamestastin Lake, a spectacular water-filled meteorite crater in the heart of Innu territory. The Center's income will be earned from tourists and visitors, and the monies will be used for Innu cultural and educational programs.

 Learning in Their Native Tongue
The federal government is struggling to educate migrant children in Mexico. Since 1994, the Education Ministry has opened more than 2,000 bilingual schools for speakers of 62 indigenous languages. The soaring number of indigenous children in urban Mexico is compared to migrant children in United States where schools have introduced native languages in the classroom.  And in both countries, multicultural education is facing some resistance. Sylvia Schmelkes, Mexico's coordinator of bilingual and intercultural education, said some opposition is based on discrimination against indigenous people. "Racism is very profound in Mexico," she said.  "You can ask any Mexican whether he or she is a racist, and they'll say, 'Of course, not.' . . . Nevertheless, in direct interaction, it exists."
Washington Post Foreign Service

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