Miccosukee Indian School Receives Historic Flexibility to Meet Academic and Cultural Needs of Students

By DOI Media Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced today that the Miccosukee Indian School (MIS) has received flexibility from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), to use a different definition of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) that meets their students’ unique academic and cultural needs. The Miccosukee Indian School in Florida is funded by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education (BIE).

As part of the Obama Administration’s Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) initiative to remove barriers to Native youth success, granting flexibility for the Miccosukee Indian School to define AYP specifically for their students is an important step in making the BIE work better to support individual tribal nations and Native youth. This is the first tribal school to be approved to use a definition of AYP that is different from the state in which it is located, and the flexibility is the first of its kind from the Department of Education.

“The plan that Miccosukee put forward will support culturally-relevant strategies designed to improve college and career readiness for Native children and youth,” said Secretary Duncan. “We believe that tribes must play a meaningful role in the education of native students. Tribal communities are in the best position to identify barriers and opportunities, and design effective, culturally-relevant strategies to improve outcomes for Native students.”

This flexibility builds on the work that MIS has already accomplished through its transition to higher standards and more rigorous assessments, and will allow MIS leaders to further their work to ensure students graduate high school college- and career-ready. MIS serves approximately 150 students in grades kindergarten through 12 and is the only school of the Miccosukee Indian Tribe.

“I applaud Chairman Billie and the Miccosukee Indian School for developing this innovative and culturally-relevant plan for guiding and measuring their students’ academic progress,” said Secretary Jewell. “This flexibility will help the Miccosukee Nation achieve their goal of maintaining a unique way of life, cultural customs and language by transmitting the essence of their heritage to their children. This not only advances Tribal self-determination but can also serve as a model for other tribes within the Bureau of Indian Education school system seeking to achieve the same goal for their students.”

The announcement was made during a ceremony at the Department of the Interior with Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn, BIE Director Dr. Charles ‘Monty’ Roessel, Director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education William Mendoza, Chairman Colley Billie of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, and MIS Principal Manuel Varela.

According to recent U.S. Department of Education statistics, the graduation rate for American Indian students has increased by more than four percentage points over two years, outpacing the growth for all students. The graduation rate for American Indian students increased from 65 percent in 2010-11 to 69.7 percent in 2012-13. Despite these gains, the graduation rate for American Indian students is lower than the national rate of 81 percent.

A 2014 White House Native Youth Report cites Bureau of Indian Education schools fare even worse, with a graduation rate of 53 percent in 2011-12. To address the critical educational needs of these students, the Obama Administration’s Blueprint for Reform, an initiative of the White House Council on Native American Affairs chaired by Secretary Jewell, is restructuring Interior’s BIE from a provider of education to a capacity-builder and education service-provider to tribes.

In addition to reforming the Bureau of Indian Education into a service-provider to tribal schools, the Obama Administration is supporting other efforts to improve educational opportunities for Native communities, through initiatives such as:

Generation Indigenous (Gen-I): focuses on improving the lives of Native youth by removing the barriers that stand between Native youth and opportunities to succeed.

Native Youth Community Projects: provides an estimated $4 million in grants from the Department of Education to help prepare Native American youth for success in college, careers and life as part of Gen-I.

National Tribal Youth Network: supports leadership development and provides peer support through an interactive online portal.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Completion Initiative Guidance: permits states to share FAFSA completion rates with tribes to help Native American students apply for college financial aid as part of President Obama’s FAFSA Completion Initiative.

Later today, Secretary Jewell will convene the sixth meeting of the White House Council on Native American Affairs (Council), formed by Executive Order of the President, to work more collaboratively and effectively with American Indian and Alaska Native leaders to help build and strengthen their communities. Obama Administration Cabinet Secretaries and other senior officials will continue discussions focused on several core objectives for the Council, such as reforming the Bureau of Indian Education, promoting sustainable tribal economic development, and supporting sustainable management of Native lands, environments and natural resources. The discussion will also include follow-up from additional areas of focus based on consultation with tribal leaders.

Haskell Indian Nations University: A field of dreams

By Jay Daniels, Round House Talk

Haskell Indian Nations University (“Haskell”) is the premiere tribal university in the United States offering quality education to Native American students. Haskell’s student population averages about 1000 per semester, and all students are members of federally recognized tribes. Haskell’s faculty and staff is predominantly native. Haskell offers Associate and Bachelors degrees. Haskell’s historic campus is centrally located in Lawrence, KS in what is known as Kaw Valley.

Today, after more than 130 years of existence, Haskell is experiencing extreme funding shortfalls and reducing the necessary funding to provide educational as well as student extracurricular activities, such as athletics, educational field trips and generally preparing students for life after degrees are obtained.

Summary of Haskell’s Sports History:

In 1884 Haskell initially opened its doors to American Indian students as Haskell Industrial Training Institute.  Today Haskell has emerged from those early years as a vocational/commercial training institute that initially offered a 5th grade curriculum, followed by an 8th grade curriculum, and by 1921 a full-scale 12th grade high school curriculum and maintained until 1965. In 1970 Haskell became an accredited junior college and by 1994 Haskell attained university status when it began offering both associate and baccalaureate degrees. During the existence of Haskell, there have been consistent academic/training alterations and changes to the methods and emphasis of training and teaching at Haskell (manual training courses, agricultural training, commercial courses, normal educational development, grade school/primary school education, high school development, domestic arts, domestic sciences, junior college, and finally university status). But the one constant has been athletics and its role as a viable part of Haskell’s development.

Haskell’s first organized sport against competitive opponents was football which began in 1896 and from 1919 to 1930 Haskell developed one of the most successful athletic programs in the school’s history recording a won/loss record of 94-31-6[JD1] . Haskell competed collegiately during this time and played some of the most formidable teams during that period of time including Kansas University, Oklahoma University, Notre Dame, Oklahoma A & M University, Tulsa, Nebraska, Boston College, Minnesota, and Bucknell.

Most nationally notable football game

The Hominy Indians were an all American Indian professional football team, meaning The Real Americans, located in Hominy, Oklahoma. The financiers were from Hominy, the Osage Tribe, and other tribes – the players were from all over. On December 26, 1927, they defeated the National Football League New York Giants who were titled world champions three weeks prior to the game with the Hominy Indians. Hominy was short handed of players and asked Haskell if they had any players willing to play with Hominy. Several eagerly accepted and were an integral part in helping Hominy in beating the NFL Giants 13-6.

Notable Haskell Native American Athletes

John Levi, an Arapaho tribal member is noted as the greatest runner back during the era, from 1921 to 1924 (He was named first team All-American in 1923),

Tommy Anderson, a Muscogee Creek stood as the premier running back in 1919, but the greatest team is believed to be the 1926 undefeated team that went 12-0-1 and was the first team to play in the newly built 10,500 seat stadium built with the exclusive donations of American Indian people. The largest contributors, were Osage and Quapaw tribal members who at that time were beneficiaries of oil and other mining resources.

The 1926 team had the benefit of what may have been the greatest all-around backfield in Haskell’s history including Elijah Smith who was the fastest of the running backs; George Levi performed as both an inside and outside runner; Mayes McClain served as the fullback and the team’s leading scorer (scoring a record 253 points, a scoring record that stood for 80 years); and Egbert Ward, ran the quarterback position.

In addition to the potent running and passing utilized by the 1926 team the team also had two of the best linemen in the nation. Tiny Roebuck and Tom Stidham (Mayes McClain would lead the nation in scoring in 1926 and his record of 253 points scored in a season was a record that stood for nearly 80 years. Tom Stidham would eventually coach collegiately at various universities including football at the University of Oklahoma.  The 1926 team ended the season considered among the top collegiate programs in America.

In the 1929 and 1930 seasons, Haskell maintained a record of 8-2-0 and 10-1-0.  The only loss in 1930 was to the University of Kansas, the following year, 1931, Haskell defeated Kansas in their re-match.

Rabbit Weller, a Caddo from Oklahoma who would go on from Haskell to play football professionally.

Buster Charles, an Oneida from Wisconsin led Haskell during this period of time and would eventually compete in the 1932 Olympics in the decathlon, a series of 10 events that commonly is said to determine the best all-around athlete in the world.  Buster Charles finished 4th, just short of a medal.

Inadequate funding has always been an unresolved issue

In 1933 Haskell moved away from its collegiate schedule and returned exclusively to high school competition by 1938. Through the Great Depression of the 1930s Haskell’s budget was cut by one-third (1/3), and it struggled financially for a period of nearly fifteen (15) years, but was able to maintain both its educational standards and athletic programs for the hundreds of students who continued to enroll during the same period of time.

Tony Coffin (“Coffin”) began his coaching career at Haskell in 1938 when as an enrolled student at Kansas University he played baseball collegiately and was allowed room and board at Haskell.  In order to pay for his Haskell room and board, Coffin was given the responsibility to coach Haskell baseball, boxing, and was utilized as an assistant in football.  When the United States entered World War II on December 07, 1941, Coffin volunteered for military service in early 1942. At the conclusion of the War in 1945 he returned to Haskell to re-start his coaching career. In 1948 he took the reins as head coach in football, basketball, and track and field and by 1951 had Haskell athletics (at the high school level) back on the map, the football program between the years 1951 to 1961 compiled a record of 58-38-5.  The basketball teams went to state championships twice (1953 and 1956), a remarkable feat considering the male high school enrollment never exceeded 200.

The track and cross-country teams never lost a conference championship for twelve consecutive years.  Some of the outstanding athletes at the time included:

Ed Postoak (1951 to 1954) was All- State in football and a 4 year starter on the basketball team;

John Edwards (1952 to 1955) was an All-State halfback and the school’s 440 record holder;

Other team members were:

James and Elliott Ryal (1952 to 1956);

Willie Sevier 1954-56, state finalist in basketball;

Ken Bailey 1956-1959;

Dave Hearne 1957-60;

Ken Taylor 1958-1961;

Billy Mills 1954-1957, (future 1964 Olympics 10,000 meters gold medal winner;

Gary Sarty (100 yard record-holder) 1957-1960;

Danny Little-Axe 1958-1961;

Gerald Tuckwin (1957-1960);

Darrell Farris, High School All-American (1959-1962); and

Phil Homeratha (1958-1961).

Other team members included the following:

James and Elliott Ryal (1952 to 1956);

Willie Sevier 1954-56, state finalist in basketball;

Ken Bailey 1956-1959;

Dave Hearne 1957-60;

Ken Taylor 1958-1961;

Billy Mills 1954-1957, (future 1964 Olympics 10,000 meters gold medal winner;

Gary Sarty (100 yard record-holder) 1957-1960;

Danny Little-Axe 1958-1961;

Gerald Tuckwin (1957-1960);

Darrell Farris, High School All-American (1959-1962); and

Phil Homeratha (1958-1961).

In 1970 Haskell became an accredited junior college and through 1977 the school was able to maintain winning records with Cecil Harry being named the schools only juco All-American in 1971.

Since 1920 Haskell has had three individuals who have attended Haskell and where each received their initial training, and competed in the Olympics:

Emil Patasani (Zuni) a 1920 5,000 meter runner;

Buster Charles (Oneida), a 1932 decathlete; and

Billy Mills (Sioux), 1964, an Olympic Champion in the 10,000 meter run.

Over the years Haskell has had five coaches who were named to the American Indian Hall of Fame for either, coaching and/or athletic achievement:

Lone Star Dietz, served as the head coach 1929 to 1932;

Gus Welch, 1933 to 1934;

John Levi, 1935;

Tony Coffin, 1947 to 1966; and

Jerry Tuckwin, 1970 to 1994.

It is believed Phil Homeratha, long-time coach at Haskell, 1970 to 2012, the only Haskell coach to ever take three different Haskell teams to national basketball tournaments in three different decades, 1987, 1999, and 2008 will one day be in the National Indian Hall of Fame for his coaching achievements at Haskell.

This represents a summary highlighting some of the most significant moments in Haskell athletic history and provides only a brief lesson as to the tradition of Haskell athletics that has emerged over the years.

Unless those of us who appreciate the opportunity and life lessons Haskell has given us, their athletic program could possibly be either scaled down or termination of their athletic programs. So many Native American lives have been jumpstarted to successful careers and contributions to Indian Country because of the education received at Haskell. So many memories, experiences, and life lessons were provided ay Haskell. It’s hard to imagine a world without Haskell, a place where Native Americans who normally wouldn’t obtain an education beyond the limits of their reservations or urban difficulties. These students, past and present, felt more comfortable being around other Native Americans from all over the country.  Different tribes, cultures and languages. But we all came from a world that didn’t and somewhat still hasn’t accepted us entirely or respected our culture and spirituality. Would you like to ensure that this traditional learning experience is there for your children, grandchildren and others in the future generations? Do what you can to keep the school open. So many struggling and goal oriented Native Americans who may not have somewhere else to go are depending on Haskell be there for their pursuit of excellence.

If any individual or tribe is concerned and would like to assist the Haskell Athletic Program, you can contact the Haskell Indian Nations University Athletic Department at 155 Indian Ave., Lawrence, KS 66046, Tel. (785) 749-8459.

Senate Hearing Today Will Examine Higher Education for Indians

ed.govJamienne Studley, U.S. deputy under secretary of education, will testify today before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
Jamienne Studley, U.S. deputy under secretary of education, will testify today before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Source: Department of Education, June 11, 2014

Jamienne Studley, U.S. deputy under secretary of education, will testify today before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs as part of an oversight hearing entitled, “Indian Education Series: Examining Higher Education for American Indian Students.”

Studley will discuss the U.S. Education Department’s efforts to expand educational opportunities and improve educational outcomes for Native American students through college access, affordability and completion. The administration remains committed to working with tribes and supporting tribal colleges and universities to ensure that all American Indian and Alaskan Native students have high-quality educational experiences that prepare them for careers and productive lives.

The administration views college completion as an economic necessity and a moral imperative. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, while the average public high school graduation rate for all students has increased six points, from approximately 75 percent in 2007-08 to 81 percent in 2011-12, the high school graduation rate for American Indian/Alaskan Native students over the same period rose by only four points, from 64 to 68 percent.

To find out more about the Department’s efforts to make college more accessible, affordable and high-quality, click here.

In addition, President Barack Obama’s Opportunity for All: My Brother’s Keeper Blueprint for Action report was released recently, outlining a set of initial recommendations and a blueprint for action by government, business, non-profit, philanthropic, faith and community partners to expand opportunities for boys and young men of color—including American Indians and Alaskan Natives—to help them stay on track and reach their potential.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/06/11/senate-hearing-today-will-examine-higher-education-indians-155247