Native Village
Youth and Education news
September 2010 Volume 2

KONAWAY NIKA TILLICUM
http://www.dailytidings.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100726/NEWS02/7260301/-1/NEWSMAP&template=printart
Condensed by Native Village

Oregon:  Konaway Nika Tillicum is a summer college prep camp for American Indian middle - and high school students. This year's week long classes in drama, speech, art, and other subjects were held at Southern Oregon University. It helps prepare students for the college experience.

Art teacher James Florendo told students to forget about prejudice and poverty and drop the "I can't" habit.  Instead, he told them to open their thinking to creativity that will enrich their people and help them succeed.

"I keep hearing 'I can't draw,' but it's not about skill," said Florendo. "It's a way of life. It's your own creativity, merged with your native culture and art is the one course in college where you're allowed to do whatever you want, with an open mind, thinking new things."

 "I'm a better artist than I thought -- and his (Florendo's) words are very strong; a big inspiration." said Tashina George of the Warm Springs Reservation after she painted a vivid still life of flowers.

"It meant a lot to me, his talk. It's true," added art student Vincent Lowell.

James's brother, Brent Florendo, is co-director of  Konaway Nika Tillicum. He taught students the art of acting by exploring the motivations and personalities of self and in the actors around them. He says these skills will help them express themselves in public, do teamwork and express inner creativity.

"Native American students are at the bottom of the statistics for success in all categories," he said. "Konaway is about working from the inside out, finding an identity that's balanced and wholesome, not from the stereotype of what happened to us in history. It makes them feel good about themselves."

Konaway, which means "all my relations" in Chinook trade jargon, started 15 years ago at SOU.  The program has helped raised high school student's grade-point averages. Through the years, many Konaway students have graduated from college, including two from law school.

Brent says Konoway has gone from a regional event to a "prestige academy" that creates "family." Many students stay in touch and encourage each other on Facebook and e-mail.

"I came with a friend who said it was a great experience," says Amanda Squiemrhen-Yazze of Warm Springs. "We learn the traditional ways and become used to being at a university."


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