Youth and Education News
Aug 1, 2006 Issue 169 Volume 2
" People need to understand who we are today, and the struggles we’ve had to go through just to remain who we are, just to live our culture. We’re part of mainstream America but we still have to live in two lives" Chief Steve Adkins, Chickahominy
Standing by their words
British Columbia: Ditidaht village, a native community of 210 people, can only be reached from Port Alberni by a 50-kilometer trek along dangerous logging trails. In spite of the Ditidaht's isolation, outside forces have pushed their language toward extinction. With only 8 speakers left, the Ditidaht language is on the verge of vanishing, along with half of the languages now spoken around the world. "I was about 7 when my mother died, and my father died two years later," said Christine Edgar, a Ditidaht elder who speaks Ditidaht in her head, but struggles to get the sounds out of her mouth. "All of a sudden I no longer heard the language. There was just nobody to talk to." Now the Ditidaht are fighting back. In 2003, the band council approved construction of the $4,200,000 Ditidaht Community School so K-12 students could learn their language and culture. The village is amazed by the program's success. "We're doing whatever we can to document what's left," said Elsie Jeffrey, the language co-coordinator for the 70 students. "We've put out CDs, DVDs; we're working on digitizing the language on www.FirstVoices.ca." Last year, Selina Atleo became the school's first high-school graduate. The 19-year-old now speaks more Ditidaht than her mother and assists in the daycare language-immersion program. Mike Folrtescue, a linguistics professor, is compiling a 500-page Ditidaht and Wakashan dictionary.
Ditidaht phrases and words:
"Qaatqaat, hiihitakiitl, hi7tap7iq, kakaatqac'ib," (The Ditidaht lyrics to the song, "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes".)
"Baaqiidax7aa7pik" means "What are you doing?"
"La7uu" means "Again."
Hear and learn more about the Ditidaht language: http://www.firstvoices.ca/scripts/WebObjects.exe/FirstVoices.woa/3/wa/enterLanguageArchive?archive=f1b84b0c367f9f6e&wosid=AC3tnD2jo13q8Z50Dlb8dM
Recapturing Their Culture
According to the Indian Nations At-Risk Task Force, most Native American children need their native languages and the wisdom of older generations to be successful. Among the comments:
"My Yurok language class is the most important class I have, because our language is becoming extinct," says Joe Marshall, a student on the Hoopa Indian Reservation. "In other classes, we learn about white history and language. I feel lucky to have an elder come in and answer questions."
"I think it's going to make all of our students and their families more aware of local history," said Michelle Mitton about new curriculum designed for Kumeyaay students. "It's going to be a good self-esteem booster for students from the reservation, many of whom don't realize how rich and wonderful their culture is. Also, it will validate their culture and bring them into a position of more respect. In Native American society, the only way to resolve a conflict is to have the whole group win, or it's not considered a solution. Everyone must perceive him or herself to be a winner."
"When teaching history, you need to give all points of view. You need to be balanced," says Sarah Supahan, Indian education and native languages coordinator, Klamath Trinity Unified School District.
Conference aims to unite, empower Native youth
Nebraska: Patricia Daniels is an A-students who wants to go to college. Recently she attended the fifth annual Circle of Nations Youth Conference at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Joined by 140 other students from the Omaha, Santee, Ponca and Winnebago tribes, Patricia s advantage of the conference opportunities while getting to know Native students like herself. "Ever since my mom got her degree, I wanted to go to college," said the 12-year-old from Winnebago. Participants attended workshops and listened to speakers who encouraged leadership and higher education. "I think it's helping them realize what's beyond the reservation," said Elizabeth Bayer, youth council sponsor for the Winnebago. "And it's good for them to create friendships with kids from neighboring tribes." The three-day conference was co-sponsored by the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and UNL.
Tennis, tutors offered to Cheyenne youths
Montana: Beginning this fall, the Boys and Girls Club on the Northern Cheyenne Nation will offer a new program with tennis instruction and academic assistance. Called Standing Tall Tennis, the program is funded with a $7,000 grant from the U.S. Tennis Association. The program includes three days of tutoring to improve study skills, improve computer literacy, and help students complete homework. The two days of fitness sessions are dedicated to tennis instruction, games and team tennis. To participate in the tennis program, kids will have to maintain good grades and attendance in the tutoring program. SST is open to American Indian youth, ages 5-18, in Lame Deer and Ashland.
American Indian Science Students Win International Awards
Indiana: American Indian students recently participated in the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair held in Indianapolis. Sponsored by the AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society), the students competed with 1,497 other high school students from 48 countries. The winners:
INTEL ISEF GRAND AWARDS:
3rd Place Award/Team Projects - Chemistry $1,000 Cash Award
Aaron Weaver (Choctaw) and Skylar Williams (Cherokee), Grades: 11 &12, Miami High School, Miami, OK.
Project Title: Return of The Rings: The Investigation Of Multiple Systems Of Liesegang Rings & Bifurcations, Two Year Study
ISEF SPECIAL AWARDS:
Florida Institute of Technology - $50,000 scholarship /$12,500 per year for 4 years
Tyler Parisien (Turtle Mountain Chippewa), Grade 11, Turtle Mountain Community High School, Belcourt, ND.
Project Title: Factors Effecting Hydrogen Production
Oregon State University - $5,000 scholarship for 4 years/Additional $2,000 if student enrolls in OSU Engineering Program
Natasha Gail (Navajo), Grade 11, Rough Rock Community School, Chinle, AZ.
Project Title: Identification of Conditions That Affect the Resolution of the Global Positioning System (GPS)
ISEF GOVERNMENT AWARDS:
United States Air Force - $1,500 cash award/ $300 grant awarded to teacher Katie Nix (Cherokee), Grade 9, Grove High School, Grove, OK.
Project Title: Investigation Of Eye Infections: Bacterial Adherence vs Contact Polymer Type & The Antibiotic Properties of Contact Solution
AISES website: http://www.aises.org
UKB student wins Gates Scholarship
Oklahoma: Marissa Hawley, a Jay High School senior and member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, was chosen as a 2006-07 Gates Millennium Scholar. "I feel I have been blessed," Hawley said. "I think I have been awarded the best scholarship I could ever ask for." Established by Bill and Melinda Gates, the Gates Millennium Scholarship is a 20-year, $1,000,000,000 initiative to promote healthy academics and reward deserving students. A percentage of the scholarships are earmarked solely for American Indian and Alaska Native students,
Report highlights disparities in Native test scores
The U.S. Education Department reports that, from 2000-2005. American Indian and Alaska Native students trail their counterparts in national reading and math tests:
6 At grades 4 and 8, AI/AN students had the lowest average reading and math scores in the nation;
6 At Grade 4, 52% of AI/AN students failed to score at the basic level, compared to 36% of all other students;
6At grade 8, 47% of AI/AN students were below basic math scores, compared to 31% of other students.
6 The report presents additional data on seven states -- Alaska, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota -- where Native Americans make up a significant portion of the population;
6 7.9% of Oklahoma's population is Native. Oklahoma's AI/AN students scored better on the reading and math tests than Native students in other states;
6 6.2% of Montana's population is Native. Montana's AI/AN students performed well on both reading and math tests compared to Native students in other states;
6 The lowest reading scores were found in Alaska, Arizona and New Mexico;
6 The lowest math scores were found in Arizona, New Mexico and South Dakota.
6 Reading levels for AI/AN students have fallen since 2002.
Despite these statistics, math scores for American Indian and Alaska Native students have improved in recent years.
e In math, Native 4th graders gained 15 points;
e Native 8th graders gained 10 points.
Read the report: http://nces.ed.gov/NAEP/pdf/studies/2006463.pdf
Math Plus Science Equals Summer Fun
Texas: According to a congressional study, the U.S. faces a shortage of more than 500,000 engineers, scientists and other technically trained workers by the year 2010. The study suggests the U.S. must start educating youngsters in the math and science fields, then engage their interest through college and future careers. To address this need, ExxonMobil/NASA hosted the Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. Sixty Houston students were joined by 25 Native American students from Oklahoma for daily classes in natural science, engineering, mathematics and technology. After the camp ends, the students participate in activities and experiments and take part in the "Follow-Up Program" until graduation from high school. Participants are chosen by school officials and a selection committee. Those selected for the program have a high commitment and interest in math and science; are members of a traditionally underrepresented population; have at least a "B" average in math and science; passed the state's standardized tests; and were recommended by math and science teachers. "We had applicants from all across the country apply to this year's Summer Science Camp," said Bernard Harris. "There were many qualified candidates, and it was very difficult to select only 85 students." This year's Summer Science Camp is the largest in its 10-year history.
Historic Agreement to Improve First Nations Education
British Columbia: Federal and First Nations leaders have signed a historic agreement that recognizes First Nations' jurisdiction over First Nations' education in British Columbia. This agreement begins legislation to implement this plan. Interested First Nations will work with BC educational leaders to develop education laws so Community Education Authorities can deliver education programs and services. "The agreements signed today mark a new relationship with the governments -- one based on respect that recognizes the jurisdiction of First Nations peoples over the education of their youth," said Matthew Coon Come, Chief Negotiator. "The agreement also strengthens the framework for the provision of high quality, relevant education for First Nations students in BC." The agreement fulfils a July 2003 commitment among First Nations educators and Canadian governments in educating First Nations children who attend band schools.
Districts, tribes seek to boost Indian grad rates
Arizona: Thanks to initiatives between districts and tribes, the state's American Indian graduation rate rose to 63% between 2000-2004. That's a 13% improvement. However, it still lags behind the overall state average of 77%. The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation's graduation rate nearly doubled after the tribe began charging families when students miss school.
The Arizona Republic
Intercultural education model on the rise in Latin America
Peru - Across Latin America, Indian movements are changing the educational system from a ''Eurocentric'' model to an intercultural model of indigenous knowledge, language and identity. ''Today the central theme is decolonization,'' said Felix Patzi, Bolivia's education director. Indigenous organizations are rewriting PreK-college textbooks in indigenous languages. Curriculums now focus upon Latin America's Indigenous leaders, Native science and cosmovision, and cultural histories and movements. Teachers who speak at least one Native language and understand both ''universal'' and ''indigenous'' knowledge are being hired. One hopeful university program is the Itinerant Indigenous University, the first international Latin American university to be run by Native people for Native people. Still in its planning stages, IIU participants will include at least 12 universities throughout Latin American. The plan is to hire international and local authorities to travel throughout indigenous communities and use the Internet to share their knowledge. Luis Enrique Lopez, a project consultant, expects IIU to become an internationally recognized ''Native university'' and to ''Indianize'' existing Latin American universities. He says today's universities in Native territories ''follow the European model and are disconnected from indigenous reality and knowledge.'' While 18% of Latin America's population is enrolled in higher education, only 1% is Native.
Indian Country Today
NMSU completes $1.2 million program to increase Native American educational leaders
New Mexico: In June, 12 Native American teachers completed master’s degrees in educational administration at New Mexico State University. Teachers who participated in the Model of American Indian School Administration project represented the Cheyenne River Sioux, the Navajo Nation, the San Ildefonso Pueblo and the Tesuque Pueblo. “We hope that American Indian teachers and administrators will validate the culture and use native customs to build successful schooling opportunities for native students,” said Maria Luisa Gonzalez, a Regents Professor. Currently, the state has only 19 American Indian principals among more than 1,000 principals “If we want to see any changes in American Indian education, we need to fill the schools with American Indian role models,” Gonzalez said. MAISA was funded with the grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
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