QCT Elementary participates in Red Ribbon Week

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

In an effort to inspire eager to learn students to live a drug-free life, Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary participated in Red Ribbon Week from October 23 to 27. This year’s theme was “Your Future Is Key, So Stay Drug Free.” Students, parents, and staff were invited to participate in daily activities to promote positive, healthy living.

Red Ribbon Week is a national campaign held during the final week of October and brings drug abuse awareness to schools. Think of it as a modern day equivalent to the D.A.R.E. program for the previous generations. It’s a program that started back in the 1980s in honor of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Kiki Camerena, whose goal was to educate youth on drug prevention.

“The message behind Red Ribbon Week was explained really well to our students during our daily assemblies and through in-class activities,” said Principal Douglas Shook. “The most powerful piece was the pledge that the students took with our Youth Service Advocates, Doug Salinas and Malory Simpson. The pledge of belief in one’s self and to be all that they can be to stay drug free resonates with our students when they have trusted adults reinforcing this belief. My hope is that this pledge lives, not only during Red Ribbon Week, but throughout the year.”

During the week, QCT students filled out a pledge to be drug-free that were then linked together in a unified chain put on full display at the front entrance of the Elementary. There were several in-class activities, most notably a poster making contest with the theme of staying drug-free that got the participation of all classes. Class winners were celebrated with an Italian soda party.

Students were most excited to participate in the themed dress up days. One day they looked to the future while wearing the colors of their favorite college, and on another they brought out their inner superhero to assemble in Avengers-like fashion.

“Red Ribbon Week brought drug awareness to our students. They pledged to live their life drug-free in pursuit of their goals and to make sure drugs wouldn’t be a road block to finding success in life,” explained school advocate, Doug Salinas. “As a community, we need to spread the word of drug prevention and do healthy activities in order to keep our youth safe.”

“In our community, we have kids who might see drugs and alcohol every day and think that kind of activity is normal,” adds fellow advocate, Malory Simpson. “For these students, it’s important for them to learn about drug-free living and to understand that they have the choice to make their own future. They made those drug-free pledges and it could have long-lasting meaning for them.”

At the end of the week, it’s safe to say every student at QCT received a quality lesson in what it means to live drug-free and is more aware of drugs and drug prevention than they were before. Just having the conversation itself is critical. Evidence shows that children of parents who talk to their youth regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t, yet only a quarter of youth report having these conversations. For QCT students, the seed has been planted.

5th graders make a splash at Seattle Aquarium

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News. Photos courtesy of Malory Simpson

Four 5th grade classes at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT) were provided with the exciting opportunity to experience all that the Seattle Aquarium has to offer on Friday, September 19.

Interesting fact, the Seattle Aquarium is the ninth largest aquarium in the United States by attendance and among the top five paid visitor attractions in the Puget Sound region. Bolstering those stats are an additional 96 QCT students, accompanied by teachers and chaperones, who made the field trip to the region’s premier resource for hands-on marine experiences.

“My favorite thing about the student’s field trip was seeing how eager they all were to learn,” said Breezy Distefano, Native Liaison.

“There were so many stations and exhibits throughout the Aquarium setup for the students to interact with,” added Malory Simpson, School Advocate. “They learned a variety of things from details of marine ecosystems to the life cycle of a salmon.”

Being salmon are often viewed as the staple food source of Coast Salish people and the Tulalip Tribes moniker is ‘People of the Salmon’, it is only fitting that the cohort of 5th graders got to learn much about salmon on their trip.

The QCT field trip coincided with the 25th Anniversary of the Salmon Homecoming Celebration held at Waterfront Park, Seattle. Along with the visit to the Aquarium, the students were able to participate in Think Salmon School Days activities.

“My favorite memory of the trip is when we first arrived and the students got to sit and listen to other Native youth drumming and singing as part of the Salmon Homecoming festivities,” marveled Malory. “It is always a beautiful thing to see our students witness other Native students practicing their traditional teachings. It helps to reinforce the ideas and values that our students are being taught at Quil Ceda Tulalip.”

Training for a Better Tomorrow


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 


On Monday, December 12, fourteen Native students were honored with a graduation banquet at the Hibulb Cultural Center for their commitment to training for a better tomorrow. The fourteen students, six of whom are Tulalip, were the latest cohort to complete an intensive three-month pre-apprenticeship construction trades program offered by our TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC).

As far we know, the program, which is managed by the Tulalip TERO department, is the first and only state and nationally recognized Native American pre-apprenticeship program in the country. The program is accredited through South Seattle Community College and Renton Technical College, while all the in-class, hands-on curriculum has been formally approved by the Washington State Apprentice and Training Council.

The three-month program provides curriculum that teaches a variety of construction trades and skills that can last a life time. Upon completion, the graduate’s dedication to a better future is rewarded with a wide-range of new employment opportunities now available to each graduate as they navigate the construction trades career path. In addition, students are trained and awarded certifications in flagging, first aid/CPR, and OSHA 10-hour safety training. Upon completion of the program students are ready to safely enter the construction work environment and demonstrate everything they’ve learned.




Tulalip tribal member and Rediscovery Coordinator for the Hibulb Cultural Center, Inez Bill, opened the graduation ceremony with words of encouragement and guidance.

“Accomplishing this graduation day is a great milestone for the students. They worked hard to get here. I’d like to thank them for the benches they made that will be a part of our longhouse. Also, the three tiny homes they made that will be donated to the Seattle homeless is such a good cause. The work that they’ve done is real world work and it will add to the Tulalip and Seattle communities. I raise my hands to that quality of work. The teachings and values of our work is to do things in a good way, to help and add to our community, and I think you all have met those traditional values. You have honored our ancestors by putting your best foot forward and doing the best you can. I’m truly happy to be a witness to what you all have achieved on this special day.”

Under the supervision of instructors Mark Newland and Billy Burchett, the students constructed three tiny houses for their final class project. These houses, which are approximately 120-square-feet, are being donated to homeless families located throughout the Seattle area. The insulated houses will be a major upgrade for their soon-to-be residents as they offer electricity, heat, a much safer environment and, most importantly, a measure of stability for their new residents.


Tulalip TERO was recently awarded the ‘Housing Hero” award by the Low Income Housing Institute for donating the most tiny homes to the Seattle Homeless. Including the three to be soon delivered, Tulalip TERO has constructed and given a total of eleven tiny homes to those in most need.

The TVTC construction trades pre-apprenticeship program is a unique, nationally known model that supports tribal members from sovereign nations across the United States. The program is not dependent on tribal hard dollars. In fact, zero hard dollars are used to fund it. Instead, due to the dedication and commitment of so many individuals the TVTC program continues to grow and gain more recognition while being funded by the graciousness of the Tulalip Charitable Fund, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Ladder of Opportunity, and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

Since the Fall of 2013, when TERO took over the program, 108 students have graduated the pre-apprenticeship program. Of those 108 graduates, 43 have been Tulalip Tribal members, and 11 have either been Tulalip spouses or parents. That’s 54 graduates from Tulalip and 54 fellow Native Americans from all over the region who have opted to train for a better tomorrow and complete the construction training program.


Francis Napoleon of Quinault (left) communted from Tacoma every day for the opportunity to graduate from the TERO program.


Among this graduating class are two members of the Northern Arapaho tribe. Nick Brown and Weston Shakespeare both journeyed from their reservation in Wyoming to attend the heralded TVTC class. Also among this cohort of graduates is 18-year-old Francis Napoleon of Quinault. After just graduating Aberdeen High School, Francis was informed of the Tulalip TVTC class and was determined to open up more possible career paths for his future. He packed up a few essential belongings and moved in with family just outside of Tacoma (the closest relative he had to Tulalip), and then proceeded to wake up every day at 4:45 a.m. so he could drive himself to class in Tulalip by 8:00 a.m. Following class he’d hop back in his car and drive back down to Tacoma, where he’d usually arrive at 6:00 p.m. Every day for three-months he endured a monster commute and marginal free time in order to obtain the one-of-a-kind pre-apprenticeship certification offered by Tulalip TERO.

“My immediate plans are to move back to Aberdeen and hopefully go to work for a construction company close to home,” says Francis, who had zero previous experience with construction tools prior to the class. “I’d recommend the program to any Native American. I loved it. The learning experience, the instructors, and my fellow students made it a great three-months.”




Contact Micheal Rios, mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

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.

In One Tribal District, Native Teachers May Be Key to Improvement

By Jackie Mader, Education Week

A tribal school district in Wisconsin has increased the percentage of Native American teachers in its schools and has found that the strategy may be linked to improving academic performance, according to a story by WUWM Public Radio.

The Menominee Indian school district in the eastern part of the state has worked with the College of Menominee Nation to “grow its own” teachers, which has resulted in an increase of Native teachers from about 20 percent to 35 percent over the past decade. Since 2008, the graduation rate in the district has jumped from 60 percent to more than 95 percent. Part of the reason, according to the story, may be that students have more examples of tribal members who have succeeded due to an education.

Superintendent Wendell Waukau told WUWM that it’s important to have teachers who understand where students come from, which also means it is important to educate non-Native teachers. “In the very beginning, we will say to the teachers: Our kids are not broke. They don’t need to be saved. Build relationships, learn about the culture, learn how out community operates,” Waukau said.

2011 report in the Journal of Indigenous Research found that with few postsecondary programs graduating consistent numbers of American Indian teachers, “many reservation schools continue to hire temporary and sometimes poorly-prepared teachers to fill in the gaps.” Native teachers have been historically underrepresented in teacher education schools, and account for less than one percent of the teachers enrolled in teacher preparation programs, even though about 1.3 percent of students in K-12 identify as Native students. During the 2011-12 school year, less than one percent of teachers nationwide identified as American Indian or Alaska Native, a percentage has remained consistent over the past decade.

Nationwide, many universities have ramped up efforts to recruit and train more Native teachers, some with the help of federal grants. Last year, Oregon’s Portland State University received $1.2 million in federal money to recruit American Indian students to its teacher-preparation program. The University of Wisconsin-Superior and Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College established a Native American teacher program in 2012, and Teach For America has also launched an initiative to recruit more Native teachers, especially in states like South Dakota with high populations of Native students.

One month after opening, UW Intellectual House forges community space

By Chetanya Robinson, The Daily of University of Washington

Ross Braine, tribal liaison and director of the Intellectual House, has been involved in trying to make the Intellectual House a reality since he was a student at the UW in 2007. Photo/ Chetanya Robinson
Ross Braine, tribal liaison and director of the Intellectual House, has been involved in trying to make the Intellectual House a reality since he was a student at the UW in 2007. Photo/ Chetanya Robinson

Almost a month to the day that the Intellectual House celebrated its grand opening, Ross Braine celebrated a quieter, but no less powerful victory.

On a day that coincided with the First Nations at UW’s annual powwow near Husky Stadium, Braine saw the Intellectual House being used as a gathering place. Students from Lummi Island and Crow powwow dancers met in the large meeting hall, while at the same time students cooked for Native elders in the Intellectual House’s kitchen.

The Intellectual House -— a modern, 8,400 square foot longhouse-style building — had become the gathering place the UW Native community had dreaming about for almost 40 years.

“That was an awesome day,” Braine said. “That’s what this building has already become, and what was needed for all these years.” But, he added, it was just one day out of many.

Braine has been involved in the Intellectual House project since he was an undergraduate in 2007. With two jobs now — director of the Intellectual House and UW tribal liaison — and working toward his masters in information management at the UW all simultaneously, Braine is busy. In the big picture, his job as director is to manage and grow the Intellectual House.

Even though it’s been open for a month, the Intellectual House still has a few finishing touches to go before it’s fully complete, Braine said.

“It seems like we could have used a little more time, because we’re still going through punch lists,” he said.

His punch list is full of needs like paint sanding, making sure the right locks are on the right doors, and ordering microphones. Despite the little challenges, the Intellectual House has been in demand for bookings. It gives priority to events with an indigenous focus, said administrative coordinator Casey Wynecoop.

The space has already been used for a variety of events. On April 16, UW Interim President Ana Mari Cauce spoke about racism and equality before an audience who packed the large hall. The space has been used by a campus alliance for minority students in STEM fields who showcased their research projects. Upcoming bookings include an event focused on indigenous food and ecological knowledge, and a camp for at-risk high school students from migrant families.

The Intellectual House will also host many graduations, said Wynecoop, including the first annual Raven’s Feast graduation appreciation for native students, held for the past 20 years at the Daybreak Star Cultural Center in Discovery Park. Now that the Intellectual House is open, Wynecoop said, it can be a focus for cultural events on campus.

The Intellectual House has provided a space that has brought the community closer together, said Andrea Fowler, of the First Nations at UW student group.

“We know it’s a privilege to have that space here at such a large university, and it’s really supported the students,” Fowler said. “So far I’ve noticed a change this spring that we’re a lot more community-oriented and together and really getting more grounded in the culture …. I think that’s going to be a great support for them, that’s something that they need to be grounded in to succeed.”

Braine said he would have benefited from a place like the Intellectual House when he was a student.

“I think if I had had a house like this when I was an undergraduate it would have been easier to find where I was,” he said.

Braine was involved in trying to make the Intellectual House a reality as an undergraduate at the UW. Mentors like Julian Argel, who died in 2012, and Marvin Oliver, had tried to do the same in the 1970s. Braine keeps a photo of Argel in his office and credits him with keeping the idea of the Intellectual House alive.

In Braine’s office is also a framed print by Marvin Oliver, a retired professor of American Indian Studies at the UW and Adjunct Curator of Contemporary Native American Art at the Burke Museum, showing longhouses by the water near what is now Husky Stadium, a common sight before European arrival in Seattle.

From the beginning, Braine said, the planners of the Intellectual House project intended for there to be a second longhouse building next to the current one, focused on teaching and learning, which might hold classrooms or conference rooms. Half of the estimated $8 million budget for that second building will need to be raised before planning can start. However, plumbing and electricity are already installed.

Even with phase two of the project in the distant future, the completed building constructed of sturdy cedar has been inspiring people.

On April 24, the Intellectual House was host to Deconstructing Earth Day, a roundtable discussion organized by Sean Schmidt of the UW Sustainability Office. About a dozen people sat in a circle in the large, cedar-scented room to talk about sustainability and how it relates to diversity and social justice.

Pennsylvania House of Representatives member Brian Sims, the first openly gay elected state legislator in Pennsylvania and the first openly gay college football captain in the NCAA, was one of the guests who told his story. He said he struggles sometimes to find authenticity in city life, and wondered how urban Native Americans find authentic spaces in the metropolis.

In answer, Abigail Echo-Hawk, a member of Seattle Women’s Commission and a tribal liaison for UW Partnerships for Native Health, said she thought such authentic places can be created, that the Intellectual House is one of them.

“I sit in a space that’s sacred,” she said. “We’re just at the beginnings of something that can grow bigger.”

Native youth kick off Generation Indigenous challenge

By Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Janay Jumping Eagle is on a mission to curb teen suicide in her hometown on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Dahkota Brown of the Wilton Band of Miwok Indians in California wants to keep American Indian and Alaska Native students on track toward graduation.

The teenagers are at the heart of Generation Indigenous, or Gen-I, a White House initiative that kicked off this week with a brainstorming session that happened to coincide with tens of thousands of indigenous people gathering in New Mexico for the Gathering of Nations, North America’s largest powwow.

The Generation Indigenous program stems from a visit last year by President Barack Obama to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Meetings followed, the president called for his cabinet members to conduct listening tours, tribal youth were chosen as ambassadors and a national network was formed.

The goal is to remove barriers that stand in the way of tribal youth reaching their potential, said Lillian Sparks Robinson, a member of the Rosebud Sioux and an organizer of Thursday’s Gen-I meeting.

“This is a community-based, community-driven initiative. It is not something that’s coming from the top down. It’s organic,” she said.

The teens are coming up with their own ideas to combat problems in their respective communities.

For example, a string of seven suicides by teenagers in recent months has shaken Pine Ridge, and close to 1,000 suicide attempts were recorded on the reservation over a nearly 10-year period. Jumping Eagle, a high school sophomore, said her older cousin was one of them.

“That was really devastating. I just wanted to at least try to stop it from happening and I’m still trying,” she said, noting that a recent basketball tournament she organized as part of her Gen-I challenge to bring awareness and share resources with schoolmates was a success.

Brown, 16, said he sees Gen-I as a tool to “shine a light on the positive things that are happening in Indian country rather than all the other bad statistics that go along with being a Native teen.”

From New Mexico’s pueblos to tribal communities in the Midwest and beyond, federal statistics show nearly one-third of Native youth live in poverty, they have the highest suicide rates of any ethnicity in the U.S., and they have the lowest high school graduation rate of students across all schools. And for American Indians and Alaska Natives overall, alcoholism mortality is more than 500 percent higher than the general population.

Federal agencies are working with the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute to pull off Generation Indigenous, and the White House is planning a tribal youth gathering in July in Washington, D.C.

In one of her last tasks before passing on the Miss Indian World crown, Taylor Thomas spoke to Gen-I participants Thursday. She shared with them her tribe’s creation story, which centers on the idea that every animal, plant and person has a purpose. She encouraged the teens to be leaders.

“No matter the difficulties we have in our communities, we have so many bright lights shining from all over Indian country. And when I say that I’m talking about all of you,” she told the crowd of about 300.

Native students could see more representation through paraprofessionals

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP – Marysville School District’s recent decision to adopt the Since Time Immemorial curriculum as part of their standard curriculum was a big step in addressing the need for Native representation in their schools. Cultural specialist Chelsea Craig, a Tulalip Tribal member who works at the district’s Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary school says, implementing STI alone will not be enough to address the disconnect schools have with Native students. She is hoping a new change in the district’s paraprofessional requirements will help close that gap.

Paraprofessionals according to the district’s website are “responsible for providing assistance to students under the direct supervision of certificated staff in classrooms or other learning environments as assigned. Although not certified as teachers they act as assistants to teachers and other school staff, making this position great for those who are seeking a career in education. To become a paraprofessional one needed a two-year degree as part of the requirement list that includes background check and ability to pass district training. Now the two-year degree requirement has been dropped and replaced with the requirement to have a high school diploma or equivalent. This change is what Craig is hoping her Native people take advantage of and become involved with their local schools.

“Historically our people have had a mistrust in education, starting from the boarding school era, and then each generation [following] there is still an underlining feeling of mistrust. By having more Native faces in the schools it helps to make schools feel less like an institution to our Native students and more like a family atmosphere,” said Craig.

Four Marysville School District schools are located on the Tulalip Reservation. The schools’ student population adds to the large number of Native students scattered throughout the district. This high concentration of Native students makes a unique partnership between the Tribes and the district. Together both have created initiatives to support students and close the achievement gap, especially in math and literacy.

“Passing STI was huge because we all bring our own wealth of knowledge about who we are and we can share that with our kids,” said Craig.

STI curriculum provides a basic framework of accurate Indian history and understanding of sovereignty that is integrated into standard learning units. Teachers are provided training on tribal history and culture. Quil Ceda has taught this style for some time, gaining national attention for their diverse school culture.

“We are finding that when we teach about culturally relevant topics the engagement is naturally much higher. The kids are motivated to do their work and they are excited about learning about their own culture, and non-Indian students are excited about learning as well. We just need as many Native faces on campus as possible, and if we can’t have them as teachers, having them as paraprofessionals is a great next step,” said Craig. “It makes such a big difference for our kids to see their own people in roles that are inspirational to them.”

If you are interested in becoming a paraprofessional with the Marysville School District visit their website at www.msd25.org or call the district at 360-653-7058.


Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulalipnews.com

WSU Brings Classroom to Students With Online Certification in American Indian Studies

wsu-online.blogspot.comWashington State University is now offering an online program in American Indian Studies that leads to certification.
Washington State University is now offering an online program in American Indian Studies that leads to certification.



Washington State University is now offering an online program in American Indian Studies that leads to certification. This will provide an opportunity for those living away from campus to expand their education and enhance their opportunities for future employment.

Michael Holloman
Michael Holloman

Michael Holloman, Colville/Coeur d’Alene, heads up the American Indian Studies program at WSU. He talked of the advantages in having an online certification program, not only for Native people but also for others who work with reservations and tribes in a variety of ways.

He acknowledges that attrition rates are often high for Native students. “Our familial ties are enormous, sometimes exceeding our own personal interests.” An online program would help alleviate that problem by offering a certificate program for those who choose to remain at home rather than attending a college. The certification program is identical to a minor in American Indian Studies in terms of courses required and class hours.

The requirement for certification is that students take nine hours (three classes) of core courses plus another nine hours of elective work.

Holloman said that in the four years he’s been at WSU he’s only had two people pursue a certificate, “Mainly because people involved in our program are taking it for a minor. Now that we have the certificate online, that’s for non-degree seeking students. Anyone who wants to apply to a global campus is able to apply and take course work.” He also noted that in the two weeks over the holidays he’d received “at least 20 calls from area codes all throughout the west.”

Josiah Pinkham works in the cultural resource program for the Nez Perce Tribe. “I think it will be helpful because we have tribal members here that lack the resources, either time or financial, to go to the WSU campus. It’s definitely a helpful thing.” He added that he is interested himself, even though he has a bachelor’s degree but hopes to one day receive advanced degrees. “I think the online certificate would be a great way to kind of get me back in the groove.”

Pinkham has had overlapping work experiences with Holloman, “and it’s always been positive. He has set up a pretty vast network in the Pacific Northwest and also in Washington, D.C. He’s a well connected man.”

Pinkham also commented on the value for non-Native people taking the class. “One of the things growing clear is a need for people who are educated (about tribal culture) in working with tribes. There is a growing need and people are responding with requests for cultural awareness training.”

Frequently this interaction concerns environmental subjects. Avista Utilitiesis one such company and has interactions with all the Upper Columbia tribes. Toni Pessemier serves as American Indian Relations Advisor for the company and she pointed out values in having some of their employees sign up for an online class. “Having the ability to understand and appreciate and work effectively with individuals or their organizations is important to their jobs and roles at Avista. If they had a certificate or background in American Indian Studies, such as the program at WSU, it really helps create that experience or background they could bring to their job in our company. It helps them to do their job better.”

Holloman pointed out that industry employees can frequently get their course work paid for them by the company. Employees from various companies have expressed to him in the past a wish to have access to such an online course.

He isn’t aware of other schools offering online certification, saying they haven’t found them in their research but acknowledges there might be others.

“The dream is that this is the first step of a larger online degree program. It doesn’t mean we won’t offer the certificate, which we will. Maybe down the road WSU will have an online major in American Indian Studies and will definitely have a larger offering.”

For more information about the American Indian Studies Program at WSU, contact Michael Holloman at 509-335-0449 or michaelholoman@wsu.eduor check out the Global Campus websiteto see all the university’s offerings. The specific American Indian Studies Program page can be found here.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/01/09/wsu-brings-classroom-students-online-certification-american-indian-studies-158617

Too Many Scholarships, Not Enough Native Students Applying

Dr. Dean Chavers, Indian Country Today

In talking to my friend Al Paulson recently, it turned out we have a common problem. We can’t give away scholarships. What a shame.

In the modern age of computers, scholarships are everywhere, it seems. FastWeb, the most popular scholarship site, has over 1.5 million entries in its database. Other websites such as Scholarships.comhave similar numbers. But it’s hard to give them away, let me tell you. I have been doing it for 42 years, and we never have enough applicants.

Al Paulsen who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota founded Marketplace Productions 20 years ago. After he had some success in business, he and other members of the Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce decided to launch an Indian scholarship program. But for almost a decade now, he has had trouble getting Native American studentsto apply for it.

Paulsen has worked with casinos and business development on Indian reservations for over 30 years now. His mother was a LaDuke from White Earth before she married his father Albin Paulsen. So Al is a first cousin of the famous Indian activist Winona LaDuke. He says his mother got hooked on his father because he was a member of a band that played in the local area.

They lived north of White Earth and farmed for a few years, and then moved to the Twin Cities. Albin got a job in the Ford plant and worked there until he retired. Al got a job at Ford after he finished high school, but the hard work convinced him he needed to go to college. He became one of the early White Earth citizens to finish college.

He picked St. Cloud State University(SCSU) because they had a great hockey team and he wanted to play. The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT) gave him a scholarship; without it, he says, he would not have been able to go to college. “Without that grant,” he told me, “I don’t know if I could have afforded to complete my college degree.” He finished in 1966, and is now in the SCSU Hall of Fame as a hockey player.

He was the first LaDuke to finish college, and Winona was the second. “By the end of my sophomore year,” he said, “I realized that educationwas a great equalizer, so I got serious about college and graduated in four and a half years.” He made the varsity hockey team as a freshman, and is still the only Indian ever to play hockeyfor St. Cloud State.

He paid for his first year himself, from work at Ford and from a rice business he had set up. But the scholarship from MCT paid his tuition for the rest of his college.

Al is also an enthusiastic volunteer, and has been for 20 years. “I am an instructor at Indian schools for Junior Achievement as my way of paying back for what the tribe did for me in paying for my tuition and books and assisting me in getting my college degree,” he told me. “I am also on the Diversity Council for MNSCU, the Minnesota State College and University board, overseeing 42 state colleges and tech colleges in Minnesota.”

“We talk a lot about retention rates and graduation rates, comparing all ethnic minorities with all the others and the caucasian student rates. There is a big difference in rates, with white students and Asian students having the best rates…and us Indians having the lowest rates. From our state, it appears the rates for Indian students are improving.”

The Indian Chamber, which he chaired for awhile, set up a scholarship fund several years ago to give two scholarships of copy,500 each to two students. They wanted to give them to students with business majors, but got so few applicants that they opened it to students with any major. And they still get only a handful of applicants.

I told him about some of my experiences trying to get Indian students to apply for scholarships. I was in Holbrook, Arizona 10 years ago to try to recruit Indian students for our scholarship.

We encourage students to apply not only for ours, but for every scholarship they can find. These days, that is 40 or more. We had a student from Laguna Pueblo four years ago, Isaiah Rodriguez, who found 102 scholarships—which is still our highest total. We have been going since 1986. The national record is still 200, which a black girl from Macon, Georgia accomplished in 1991. Her name is Marianne (Angel) Ragins, and she is now “Miss Scholarship.” She has written three books about how to win scholarships. Our reservation school libraries do not have these books.

As I talked to the students at Holbrook, I told them they should find all the local scholarships as well, such as Lions, Elks, Rotary, Moose, and so on. The counselor at Holbrook High School, Dean McNamee, whose daughter is one of our grads, piped up and said, “Yes, the Elks had four scholarships last year, and no one applied for them.”

That makes me sad. I hate to see any scholarship not be awarded. I know there is a student somewhere, maybe an Indian student, who could use that scholarship.

For four straight years, I visited one high school on the Navajoreservation to recruit students. But one day my assistant asked me why I was going there. “How many applicants have we gotten from there?” she asked.

I had to admit, “None.” She said, “Why are you going there every year?” I haven’t been back. But old hard headed here will probably go back this year. We have to talk to 100 students to get two to apply.

I know the high schools are not preparing Indian students for college. In a research project I did 15 years ago, fewer than 10 percent of Indian students had taken the courses in high school they needed to be ready for college.

Fewer than 10 percent had taken four years of English. Fewer than 10 percent had taken four years of science. Fewer than 10 percent had taken four years of math, including Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Trigonometry. Fewer than 5 percent had taken Calculus. If they go to college, they are going to have to take remedial classes, which is a real let down to the Indian valedictorian who was the BMOC (Big Man on Campus) in high school. Some of them never get over the humiliation. Is it any wonder that our dropout ratefor Indian college students is over 80 percent?

High school preparation for college is an excellent research project for a graduate student, by the way. I just finished reviewing dozens of articles and books for my next book, and there is very little research on the high school preparation of Indian students for college. The little that is there is surprising, sometimes. For instance, traditionalism has little to do with college success, according to one article. Another article reports that high GPA students drop out about as often as low GPA students, which is frustrating.

In the research I did, the average number of scholarships Indian students applied for was one. That is, most Indian students did not apply for any scholarships; they rely totally on federal financial aid. Then every twentieth student applied for 10 or 20 scholarships, bringing the average up to one.

Granted the scholarship application process is a little difficult. You should know what you are going to major in, and what you are going to do after graduation. But the rewards are huge. I tell students they should win all the scholarships they can, and if they have more than they need for college, they should give their momma money. And I mean it. Few students do that, but they should. And they can start their retirement with it if they want to.

There is a national scholarship group that was formed 15 years ago. It is an association of college and private scholarship people. I went to the first or second meeting, and several people told me they wanted to get applications from Indian students. “We never get an application from an Indian student,” they told me.

God bless Al Paulsen and the other people who are trying to run scholarship programs. Don’t give up, boys and girls. We need to develop all the talent we can in Indian country.

Dr. Dean Chavers is director of Catching the Dream. Founded in 1986, CTD awards scholarships to high potential Indian college students. It also works to improve Indian schools. His next book will be called “The American Indian Dropout.” It will be published in early 2013. He has written books on Indian leaders, racism in Indian country, exemplary Indian schools, and how to write winning proposals in the past 40 years.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/09/01/too-many-scholarships-not-enough-native-students-applying-132188