Youth and Education news
Volume 2 February 2012
Catching a Dream
Native students urged to take control of their futures
By Emery Cowan
South Dakota: More than 250 Native American students attended the Catching the Dream Conference at Fort Lewis College. The students in grades 8 - 12 were challenged to take responsibility for their own success.
"You all get to choose what your future will be like, how successful will you be, what options will you have," said Janelle Doughty from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. "You are the ones that will make the decisions about what happens in Indian Country as I grow older and you grow older."
Catching the Dream brought together Native American teens from Cortez, Mancos, Durango, Ignacio and Bayfield. They heard from educators, tribal leaders and FLC students about creating a plan for their futures.
FLC's ballroom reverberated when students pounded their own drumbeats on the tables. Then they brainstormed about obstacles that prevent them from walking to their own beat or achieving their goals at school.
In other sessions, students heard about different tribes' creation stories and made their own dreamcatchers.
FLC President Dene Kay Thomas and an admissions adviser also spoke to students about opportunities for Native American students at Fort Lewis. This included tuition waivers.
Most speakers focused on encouraging students to graduate and continue on to higher education.
The gathering was also a valuable opportunity for educators to ask students about the barriers that prevent them from school success.
"We need to know what they need from us to improve their education," said Cindy Higgins, director of higher education for the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe. "We're asking them for solutions.
Catching the Dream was organized by Sara Broersma, a teacher at Montezuma-Cortez High School, and funded by the Colorado Department of Education. It was the first conference of its kind for the region's Native American high-schoolers.
"Hopefully, this is only the beginning of a dialogue with our own students," Higgins said.
Village © Gina Boltz
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