Youth and Education News
November 1, 2007 Issue 181 Volume 2
"Now I know the government is going to break the treaty because when it was signed, it was understood that it would last as long as the grass grew, the winds blew, and the rivers ran, and men walked on two legs--and now they have sent us an Agent who has only one leg." Piapot (Flash In The Sky), Cree, 1895
Seminoles dedicate first charter school
Florida: The Seminole Tribe of Florida recently opened Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School, the first American Indian-run charter east of the Mississippi River. The school, whose name translates to "our way" in the Creek language, serves K-12 students. Pemayetv Emahakv "allows us to teach our children their language and culture," said Louise Gopher, educational director. "That's the biggest problem that all Native Americans are facing -- they're losing their language and culture." The school, which exceeded it's 150-student capacity, has added portable classrooms and will open another building next year.
Focus on Culture Aims to Keep Native Students in Class
Alberta: St. Benedict Elementary School in Calgary is creating an environment of alternative learning that is beneficial to students. It is also breaking down cultural barriers. Located near the Tsuu T'ina Reserve, the 230-student Catholic elementary school boasts the largest percentage of aboriginal children of any school in the city. The United Way also plays a large part in the school's programs. It has a similar goal: to create a hospitable learning environment in which aboriginal youth and families can succeed.
Onley to Focus on Computer Literacy for Natives
Ontario: David Onley, a Toronto broadcaster, has been sworn in as Ontario's new Lieutenant-Governor. Onley has vowed to launch a computer literacy program for native children and continue the work of James Bartleman, his predecessor. Bartleman is devoted to instilling a love of books in native children. Onley said the two will work together as a team.
Rosebud teen speaks at United Nations
South Dakota: LaBradford Eagle Deer, 16, spoke at the United Nations last month during the UN's International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The Rosebud Sioux youth was among six young people selected to read commemorative stones. The message on Eagle Deer's stone reads: "Wherever human beings are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty." On the Rosebud Sioux reservation, more than 46% of children younger than 17 live in poverty. "Poverty creates a sense of hopelessness in a person," LaBradford said. "And that is why suicide, addiction, dropout and crime rates are so high in poverty-stricken areas on our reservation, as well as other areas in the world."
Mobility of Native American Students Can Pose Challenges to Achievement
South Dakota: A a veteran school principal, Jeanne Burckhard is frustrated by an obstacle to Native American student success: high mobility. 61% of North Middle School's student population are native youth. Last year, at least half the school's 468 students came or went after the start of the school year. This instability is one reason the school fails to make adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Other experts agree that children who frequently change schools tend to fall behind academically:
Particularly in mathematics, students may miss important content when content between schools is not aligned or taught in different ways;
Elementary/ middle school students who often changed schools are more likely to drop out of high school;
Students who don't move may be shortchanged when schools slow down the curriculum to accommodate mobile students;
Schools must also pay better attention to the social needs of mobile students. Expert Russell W. Rumberger said public schools can learn from U.S. Department of Defense schools. "There's a lot of mobility in the military, but there's a strong social-support system for families moving from base to base," he said.
Successful methods to address student mobility:
Develop a personal connection with parents so they have a direct point of contact at your school;
Create a way to quickly assess mobile students' progress, particularly in math, reading, and writing;
Devise a portfolio of student work that can travel with the student from one school to the next;
Forge links between schools so staff members can share information about mobile students' needs;
Support teachers in helping to integrate students into classes;
Offer cultural opportunities such as tribal language classes for Native Students.
Early (Encouraging) Data on Early Colleges
The “early college” concept allows disadvantaged high school students to take college courses, giving them a start on a bachelor’s degree. Some programs have been around for decades. Most others are relatively new. Research suggests that the early college approach may be achieving substantial gains for students who participate. “This movement is young, but expansive” and the data is “promising,” said Marge Mott from KnowledgeWorks Foundation which sponsors early college high schools in Ohio. The methods are flexible; various programs offer:
College professors come to the high school and teach the students separately from those at the college;
High school students go to the college and take courses with other high school students their own age;
Students are completely integrated into the college for their college-level courses;
Some programs combine these approaches.
Other data shows the high school students achieve:
Significantly greater confidence in math and writing skills;
Earn passing grades, with many A’s and B’s, in their college courses;
Significant yearly increases in student discussions and knowledge about applying and going to college;
A slight decrease in time over concerns about paying for college.
“What we want is success,” not to dictate a model, said Fred Frelow from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Linda Campbell is from the Center for Native Education in Seattle, a program that runs early college high schools for Native students. She says attendance is around 75% for native students in typical high schools, but 91% for those attending he early college high schools. The high-school drop-out rate is 46% compared to 10% in the early program. Tribal leaders are now backing the program. “This is all an absolutely radical idea in Indian country,” she said
Okla. Univ. Law School Draws Record Number of American Indian
Oklahoma: The University of Oklahoma's College of Law drew the most Native American law students during the 2006-2007 school year. OU had 52 Native American law students, followed by the Oklahoma City University School of Law with 41. Officials cite a wide array of curriculum offerings and supportive student groups for student success. "Our recruiting efforts over the past several years have been focused on seeking and selecting the best from all applicants," said Dean Andrew Coats from OU's law school. "Once they are admitted, the focus shifts to providing them with a quality legal education." 20 Native American law students received their degrees in May.
INDIAN STUDENTS TAKE TO THE STREETS OF LAWRENCE, KANSAS IN PROTEST OF COLUMBUS DAY
Kansas: "Keep the day. Dump the Columbus" is the rallying cry at Haskell Indian Nations University each year as Columbus Day approaches. This year Haskell students marched down Lawrence's main street to protest the holiday. “It (the holiday) is in essence celebrating our genocide instead of celebrating our survival,” said Willow Bonga. “It was a time when it decimated our populations and brought the natives to the ground. It only was by our pure strength that we were able to rise up and still be in existence today.” Haskell students called upon the Lawrence city council to rename the holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day. One city councilman, Boog Highberger, agreed. “I think the history of what happened to native people is a story that doesn’t get told well enough,” he said. “I know how those of us in Lawrence would feel if someone were celebrating William Quantrill Day.”
A Place For Native Students
Idaho: North Idaho College and the Coeur d'Alene Tribe are considering creating a campus longhouse for Native American students. In the meantime, Evanlene Melting Tallow has turned her office into the place where native students meet, get help with schoolwork, or just hang out. "The whole goal here is to keep kids in school,' said Melting Tallow, NIC's advisor to Native American students. 'I know personally that having that support when I went to school was huge. " In 2003, more than 100 Native American students attended the school. This year, only 72 are enrolled. This decline shows that NIC could do more to help students once they arrive, said Eric Murray, NIC's vice president for student services.
Sorority Fosters Indian Culture
Nebraska: When a group of women wanted to start a Native American sorority at Creighton University, they were asked: why not join an existing Greek group? Senior Donnel Ecoffey had a ready answer. "It's really hard for Natives to come to college," she said. "We wanted to make an impact on our community. We wanted to have a support system for other ladies like us." The new sorority, Gamma Delta Pi, was chartered last year with nine members. It's the first American Indian sorority in Nebraska and one of two national Indian sororities. The other is Alpha Pi Omega founded at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Gamma Delta Pi: http://www.ou.edu/gammadeltapi/
Digging Through Ancestry
Minnesota: The Red Wing area has some of the greatest concentrations of Native American villages and burial mounds in North America. Today, Mankato State University is helping the Prairie Island Indian Community find their history. The school will work with MSU students, community members and tribal children to participate in digging, researching, and preserving the area. "It's very important for us to go back and maintain the historically heritage we do have through the different artifacts that are found," said Audrey Bennett, tribal council president. "It keeps us related to the people who were once here, our ancestors and continue that on with future generations that say we did exist. We were here and here's the proof." Ronald Schirmer from MSU feels privileged to investigate and meet with tribal elders to collect and record the oral traditions. "Native peoples from across the entire region -- from the Dakotas through Wisconsin and into Illinois area people -- were coming here to Red Wing during the warm season to gather in these large villages to trade, feast with each other and bury their dead together," he said.
Map of Prairie Island Burial Mounds: http://cgee.hamline.edu/rivers/gfx/msa98_gfx/pra_imap.jpg
Indigenous Peoples Literature Digest Number 2991
Program Blends Native Culture With Science
Arizona: A new program from the National Science Foundation teams Northern Arizona University, the University of Kansas and the University of Alaska to develop an online science curriculum especially for Native Americans. The program blend traditional beliefs with science, and traditional Native Americans and Western instructors teach it. Classes focus upon ecology, ethnobotany, indigenous environmental justice, native ecology and more. "This partnership will help put NAU on the right track for providing distance learning for much-needed populations," said Octaviana Trujillo. "The goal is to increase the number of Native students who feel comfortable with science as a way of understanding how the world functions—and also knowing that their own traditions have a solid empirical basis."
Program Seeks Rare American Indian and Indigenous Books
Arizona: A new effort at The University of Arizona’s focuses upon saving tribal languages through children's literature. With a $15,000 donation from the Tohono O’odham Nation, UA's College of Education will add rare American Indian and indigenous peoples books to it's International Collection of Children’s and Adolescent Literature. “We want to have books that reflect on indigenous populations around the world,” said professor Kathy G. Short. The International Collection of Children’s and Adolescent Literature is a teaching and research library with 30,000 books -- among the largest collections of international children's literature in the world. Short said finding books that accurately portray indigenous people is difficult because many were printed by small publishing companies and tribal presses. “So, now, we have to search them out and figure out how to get the books here,” she said. The Children's literature collection is among many UA campus-wide efforts to preserve and document native and indigenous languages and culture:
ArizonaNativeNet.com is a web site from the College of Law that offers distance learning and telecommunications for tribal nations;
The Knowledge River Program from the School of Information Resources and Library Science teaches librarianship from Native and Hispanic perspectives;
The American Indian Language Development Institute is a summer program that shares ways to incorporate culture and languages into schools and helps tribal nations reserve their respective languages;
UA offers degree programs in Native American linguistics and American Indian studies;
UA keeps a permanent collection of material written in the central Mexico language of Nahuatl.
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