Youth and Education News
June 1, 2006 Issue 168 Volume 2
''The only non-immigrants are Native Americans.'' Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, D-Ariz.
Tribes file lawsuit to stop BIA school reorganization
South Dakota: Eleven tribes and schools are suing the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Office of Indian Education Programs. Nedra Darling from the BIA said reorganizing is necessary because more than 66% of BIA students are failing yearly progress required under the NCLB. To improve these school systems, the BIA plans to reorganize management and increase accountability. This "...sets up a structure to provide the best educational opportunities for children in Indian schools," Darling said.
But tribal officials want to prevent costly restructuring until the agencies comply with all federal laws, regulations and policies for Indian education. They also want to keep six administrative offices at the reservation schools. These offices:
monitor grants, ensure schools comply with education programs and standards granted to them;
provide oversight of accreditation and certification of schools and teachers;
are responsible for security and safety issues, student rights and technical assistance;
oversee maintenance in schools, dormitories, employee quarters, grounds and buildings;
serve as contracting officers.
Under the reorganization plan, those employed by the six offices would lose their jobs. The government would then replace these six local offices with three administrative offices in Pierre, Rapid City and Minot, N.D. -- all several hours away from the 35 tribal and BIA schools served. Harold Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, says restructuring costs come at a time when tribal schools are suffering. Not only have budget cuts severely affected basic services for students, but restructuring will cost more and result in fewer services to students. "Last year, I requested emergency funding for three of our schools because they could not even meet the transportation costs for transporting students to school," Frazier said, " … yet we can spend millions on new administrative positions located farther away from these schools that need technical assistance?"
The tribes and tribal schools suing the government organizations are:
Flandreau Santee Sioux;
Cheyenne River Sioux;
Lower Brule Sioux;
Standing Rock Sioux;
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians,
Marty Indian School;
Loneman District School;
Wounded Knee School District.
CHILD CARE PRICIER THAN COLLEGE
Wyoming: In Wyoming, sending a preschool-age child to day care exceeds the cost of sending a student to college classes. Yearly pre-school care for a 4-year-old averages $5,438, while a University of Wyoming resident student pays $2,208 in tuition for 12 semester class hours. The information comes from a new study, "Breaking the Piggy Bank: Parents and the High Price of ChildCare," from the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. The study found that child care costs exceeds college costs in 42 states.
Read the study: http://naccrra.org/policy/index.php?program=8
Future uncertain for N.N. Headstart
New Mexico: The Navajo Nation is hoping its Headstart and Early Headstart programs will reopen after they were suspended due to several infractions, including a lack of employee background checks. The suspension isn't a punishment, but is merely looking out for the safety of the children in the Headstart system, said Channell Wilkins from the Headstart Bureau. Patrick Sandova of the Navajo Nation says his tribe is performing background checks, but with more than 800 fingerprints to collect and review, the process is time consuming.
From brat to leader
Arizona: When David Kisto entered Ha:sań Preparatory and Leadership Academy, his teacher considered him a bratty freshman. Now, four years later, David, 17 has matured and will graduate as a school leader who served as student body president, senior class co-president, and leader of the bowling club. Kisto said he didn't seek leadership roles at school. "I was nominated and then people voted and it was pretty much a landslide victory," Kisto said. "People believe in my leadership; they trust in it." David's school attendance record is also exemplary: despite a two hour ride each way to the Tohono O'odham Nation school, David only missed one day this year due to illness. Kisto now plans to attend the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe. He wants a career designing video games; he loves how the imaginary world comes to life. "It's like reading to me, only different. It helps me escape to another world."
LaFayette graduates can wear regalia
New York: Native American students at LaFayette High School will be wearing their regalia to graduation ceremonies on June 25. "I'm very excited and grateful," said senior Marcia Lyons, who led the effort among six Native American seniors to graduate in their regalia. "It's so important to me." District officials considered threemain points when making their decision: the legality of the practice; if it sets a precedent that would allow unwanted groups to make a similar request; and whether wearing the regalia favors one group's traditions over another. Those same three points were also considered before the school decided to fly the Haudenosaunee flag in 2003.
Darwin Doesn't Translate Well for Northern Quebec Communities
Quebec: After parents' complaints, science teacher Alexandre April has been reprimanded by his Ikusik High School principal for discussing evolution in class. The parents from Salluit, an Inuit village of 1,150, are angry that their children are being taught that humans come from apes. Their concerns have pitted the religious Inuit population against a Quebec education system that's becoming increasingly secular. In the meantime, Quebec's scientific community is rallying behind the 32-year-old science teacher. "I am a biologist ... this is what I'm passionate about,' said April, who vows to continue telling his Inuit students about Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
Virginia tribes seek to Preserve culture among youth
Virginia: Of the nearly 18,000 American Indians and Alaskan natives living in Virginia in 2004, almost 3,800 are 19 and under. But in a culture that relies on oral history and the teachings of elders, tribal elders say the youth are becoming distracted and indifferent to their heritage. "It's a concern of mine for sure and I think most of not just the leadership, but the elders in general," said Wayne Adkins, president of Virginia Indian Tribal Alliance for Life. "It's a chance that a lot of that (culture) won't be carried on." On the Mattaponi Indian Reservation, Virginia Indian leaders are trying to keep alive their vanishing history by offering Saturday cultural classes. Indian leaders like Gloria Custalow say local youth are excelling in their Indian lessons and that replacing leatherwork with long division could cut student interest in half. "[On Saturdays] there will be students sitting on the steps waiting for the class to begin," she said. "You think a child is going to sit there and show that much interest in reading?"
Wear feather and plumes for graduation
Ryan Wilson has a message for Native American graduates: Don't be afraid to display your cultural identity when you get that diploma. Wilson, who heads the National Indian Education Association, worries about "misguided administrators" opposed to students wearing plumes and eagle feathers on their caps and gowns. Among recent examples:
A Blackfeet girl from Oregon had eagle plumes physically ripped from her graduation cap;
A Navajo in Oklahoma was not permitted to wear an eagle plume to her commencement.
A Cherokee student in Maryland was prevented from receiving his diploma after wearing a bolo tie to graduation.
"This is a phenomenon that is occurring in graduation ceremonies throughout America," said Wilson, who is Oglala Lakota. He said officials limit what students wear to prevent them from "making a mockery out of the cap and gown. Unfortunately, Native American students who wish to honor the graduation event and their academic experience are punished by schools because of the acts of their non-Indian counterparts." Wilson says students should defy the rules and don them anyway. "The [NIEA] not only supports this, but we encourage it, even if it's in defiance of ill-conceived school district policies," he said. "When Native students wear these feathers and plumes, they are actually honoring and blessing the cap/mortar board and gown, the graduation ceremony itself, their classmates, and the schools in which they are graduating from. This is completely opposite of what mainstream students do when they are mocking the event by writing on the mortar board, wearing inappropriate clothes and shoes. The symbolism itself of honoring both cultures, and elevating the status of academic attire by being willing to attach our plumes and feathers to the cap and gown completes the commitment of Native peoples to advance cultural integrity in education."
Teachings of a 167-year-old wampum belt
Ontario: In 1838, Chief Shingwauk gave a wampum belt to Sir John Colbourne to help get a school for area Anishnabe. That belt recently came home to the Sault Ste. Marie and Garden River Band after being purchased from Sotheby's auction house in New York. "I tried to go through channels to get it released to us but they wouldn't let it go," said Chief Lyle Sayers. The Garden River Band Council gave their approval to buy it, and Sayers got on the phone and placed a bid. "In about a minute $34,000 had been spent ... but it wasn't about the money; it was about bringing the wampum back home." The belt has parallel rows of purple and white beads: the purple rows represents the teachings, values and beliefs of the Anishinabe people and their boats; the white beads represent the European settlers and their tall ships. The belts power is reflected in a new agreement between Shingwauk University and Algoma University College. While SU and AUC remain independent universities, both schools will share the same teachers, services, space and resources. Students can enroll in, and graduate from, either university. Among the comments:
" [Chief Shingwauk] spoke to the importance of education 175 years ago and it is still important in 2006. Education can be one of the big cures for our social ills." Phil Fontaine, Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief.
"True evidence of our success will be when one of the grandchildren of Chief Shingwauk graduates from Shingwauk University." Darrell Boissoneau, President of Shingwauk Education Trust.
View Photo Gallery: http://sootoday.com/content/news/gallery.aspPage=1&StoryNumber=17419&NTitle=Teachings+of+a+167%2Dyear%2Dold+wampum+belt
UNM students produce paper geared toward American Indian community
New Mexico: University of New Mexico students have produced a newspaper for the American Indian community at UNM. Named "Dawn of Nations Today," the first 12-page, full-color publication was distributed in late April. The stories highlight American Indian issues ignored by mainstream media: health care for urban Indians, methamphetamine use in tribes and pueblos, and the need for Native professionals to return to their homelands. The importance of these stories was "something we all felt going into this project, something we were all aware of," said Navajo student Patrick Willink. Kim Baca, interim director of the Native American Journalists Association, endorses the paper. ‘We're excited to know that more and more young Native people are interested in journalism," she said.
Protecting academic freedom
Saskatchewan: The Canadian Association of University Teachers has donated $100,000 to protect academic freedom at the First Nations University of Canada. "Academics across Canada want to help our colleagues at First Nations University who have been facing unprecedented interference in the operation of their fine institution,'' said CAUT treasurer John Baker. "We think it is vitally important for the future of the First Nations University that the academic freedom and other rights of faculty and the rights of students and staff be respected." For more than a year, First Nations University has faced staff firings and resignations caused, many say, by political interference from the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN). "I guess it is very interesting that they would focus on academic freedom being violated when actually only two out of 32 grievances filed are even closely related to academic freedom and both still have to go to arbitration," said FSIN vice-chief Morley Watson. "So their allegations of interference in academic freedom has never been proven.''
UT professor selected as library association head
Texas: Loriene Roy from the White Earth Band of Ojibwe the first Native American president of the American Library Association. Roy is a professor of library and information science at the University of Texas. She founded "If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything," a national reading club for Indian children. As head of the ALA, Roy hopes to draw more attention to Indian communities. She won with 65% of the vote.
Institute of American Indian Arts:
New President Brings Vision, Passion
New Mexico: Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet, 51, is the new president for the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her main focus for IAIA students is success, which she measures by graduation. Manuelito-Kerkvliet, Navajo, wants to see increased student enrollment, more qualified professors, and a close one-on-one atmosphere between students, faculty and herself. The IAIA has 215 students at its 140-acre campus near Santa Fe. In any given year, the student body can represent up to 112 tribes.
Institute of American Indian Art: http://www.iaia.edu/college/info.php
The Associated Press
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