White House Hosts Tribal Youth, The ‘Heart Of The American Story’

"I know that you may have moments in your lives when you're filled with doubts, or you feel weighed down by history ... But when you start to feel that way, I want you all to remember one simple but powerful truth — that every single one of your lives is precious and sacred, and each of you was put on this earth for a reason," Michelle Obama said addressing the gathering.Jacquelyn Martin/AP

“I know that you may have moments in your lives when you’re filled with doubts, or you feel weighed down by history … But when you start to feel that way, I want you all to remember one simple but powerful truth — that every single one of your lives is precious and sacred, and each of you was put on this earth for a reason,” Michelle Obama said addressing the gathering.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP




First lady Michelle Obama spoke to Native youth at the White House last week, saying their customs, values, and discoveries “are at the heart of the American story.”

“Yet as we all know, America hasn’t always treated your people and your heritage with dignity and respect. Tragically, it’s been the opposite,” Obama continued.

Obama addressed the inaugural White House Tribal Youth Gathering, which brought together more than 1,000 youths from around the country. The conference featured sessions on safety, health and education, moderated by young people.

“Your traditions were systematically targeted for destruction,” she said, speaking about forced relocation, young people sent to boarding schools and other regulations that “literally made your cultures illegal.”

“While that kind of blatant discrimination is thankfully far behind us,” she said, “you all are still seeing the consequences of those actions every single day in your Nations. You see it in the families who are barely getting by. You see it in the classmates who never finish school, in communities struggling with violence and despair.”

Obama embraces Deandra Antonio, 17, of Whiteriver, Ariz., after her speech.Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Obama embraces Deandra Antonio, 17, of Whiteriver, Ariz., after her speech.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Obama read the names of some of the 240 tribes represented.

The gathering coincided with an announcement from Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who announced new funding and grants devoted to education in tribal nations. Education was a focus for many at the gathering as well, including a session with Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, who spoke on the importance of science and technology.

Obama also touted Gen-I, the President’s initiative focused on empowering Native youth. To be invited to the conference, individuals ages 14-24 were required to enter the Gen-I Challenge.

The afternoon sessions ended with remarks from Cheyenne Brady, Miss Indian World and member of the Sac and Fox Nation in North Dakota. Brady emphasized the importance of education to the American Indian population. The day also included a performance from Canadian artist Inez Jasper, who encouraged the youth to join her on stage.

The first lady was introduced by 15-year-old Hamilton Seymour, a member of the Nooksack Indian Tribe in Bellingham, Wash., who wore traditional attire, as many attendees did.

“We have made a difference,” Seymour said. “This day signifies that our voice has been heard.”

Assistant Secretary Washburn Announces $2 million in Grants to Build the Capacity of Tribal Education Departments

Funds will enable tribes to plan for directly operating BIE-funded schools on their lands and improving student educational outcomes

Source: U.S. Department of the Interior
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn today announced that grants ranging from $25,000 to $150,000 per fiscal year are available for federally recognized tribes and their education departments. The grants are designed to help tribes assume control of Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)-funded schools in their communities, promote tribal education capacity, and provide academically rigorous and culturally appropriate education to Indian students on their reservations and trust lands.
Eligible tribal governments may apply for these grants by responding to the Request for Proposals that the BIE published on May 15, 2015, in the Federal Register.
“This grant program reflects President Obama’s commitment to tribal self-governance and self-determination, and will support tribal educators who best understand the unique needs of their communities as they strengthen their capacity to assume full control of BIE-funded schools on their reservations,”said Secretary Jewell, who chairs the White House Council on Native American Affairs. “It is a critical step in redesigning the BIE from a direct provider of education into an innovative organization that will serve as a capacity-builder and service-provider to tribes with BIE-funded schools.”
“With this announcement, we are taking the next major step in our efforts to return the education of Indian children to their tribes,” Assistant Secretary Washburn said. “We understand that tribal leaders, educators and parents have the greatest need to ensure that their children receive a world-class education, and with this effort, we will see to it that tribes can assume total control over the BIE-funded schools in their communities to improve the educational outcomes for their students.  We’re grateful Congress understands the importance of this process and appropriated funding to support this effort.”
“This grant solicitation carries out recommendations of Secretary Jewell and Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s Blueprint for Reform to transform the Bureau of Indian Education from a school administrator into a capacity builder and service provider to support tribes in educating their children and youth,” said BIE Director Dr. Charles M. “Monty” Roessel. “These grants will help tribes and their tribal departments of education to assume control of the BIE-funded schools serving their communities.”
The Blueprint for Reform, issued in June 2014 following consultation with tribal leaders, is an initiative of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, chaired by Secretary Jewell.
President Obama established the Council as part of his commitment to engage in a true and lasting government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribes in a more coordinated and effective manner, including promoting and sustaining prosperous and resilient tribal communities. 
Jewell then issued a Secretarial Order to begin restructuring BIE from solely a provider of education to a capacity-builder and education service-provider to tribes. The goal of this transformation is to give tribes the ability themselves to provide an academically rigorous and culturally appropriate education to their students, according to their needs.
The Blueprint made several recommendations regarding the BIE’s budget. Interior should invest in the school system’s infrastructure, including new school construction, and align its budget to support tribal self-determination by requesting and increasing tribal grant and Tribal Grant Support Costs for tribally controlled grant schools.
Under the solicitation announced today, grants will range from $25,000 to $150,000 per fiscal year depending on the project, number of educational programs impacted, project design, and expected outcomes. Subject to the availability of appropriated funds, grants will be provided for three years and, depending on performance, may be renewed for additional two-year terms.
Grant funds will support program goals for the following areas that promote tribal education capacity-building:
·         To provide for the development and enforcement of tribal educational codes, including tribal educational policies and tribal standards applicable to curriculum, personnel, students, facilities, and support programs;
·         To facilitate tribal control in all matters relating to the education of Indian children on reservations and on former reservations in Oklahoma; and
·         To provide for the development of coordinated educational programs on reservations and on former reservations in Oklahoma by encouraging tribal administrative support of all BIE-funded educational programs, as well as encouraging tribal cooperation and coordination with entities carrying out all educational programs receiving financial support from other federal agencies, state agencies or private entities.
Top priority will be given to applicants that meet the following conditions:
·         Serves three or more BIE-funded schools (less priority will be given if the applicant has less than three schools, but with at least one BIE-funded school).
·         Provides coordinating services and technical assistance to all relevant BIE-funded schools.
·         Monitors and audits its grant funds by or through its Tribal Education Department (TED)
·         And offers a plan and schedule that provides for:
o   Its TED to assume all assets and functions of the Bureau agency office associated with the tribe to the extent the assets and functions relate to education;
o   The termination by the BIE of all such functions and office at the times of such assumption; and
o   The assumption to occur over the term of the grant, unless mutually agreeable to the tribal governing body and the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs, the period in which such assumption is to occur may be modified, reduced or extended after the initial year of the grant.
The BIE will assist tribes in the development and operation of TEDs for the purpose of planning and coordinating all educational programs of the tribe. Each proposal must include a project narrative, a budget narrative, a work plan outline, and a project coordinator to serve as the point of contact for the program. The project coordinator is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the TED fulfills the obligations of its grant.
The BIE will provide pre-grant application training at several sites to support tribes and TEDs in applying for grants. Details on location and times will be made available here.
The BIE oversees 183 elementary and secondary schools, located on 64 reservations in 23 states, serving more than 48,000 students. Of these, 59 are BIE-operated and 124 are tribally operated under Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act contracts or Tribally Controlled Schools Act grants. BIE also funds or operates off-reservation boarding schools and peripheral dormitories near reservations for students attending public schools.

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Promote Preservation of Native American Languages

 Press release, United States Senate 
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) announced they have introduced the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act, a bill to provide grants to Native American language educational organizations to preserve disappearing Native languages in Indian Country. The bill reauthorizes the Native American Languages Program until 2020, and includes improvements to expand the program’s eligibility to smaller-sized classes and allow for longer grant periods. 
The senators’ bill reauthorizes legislation that first passed in 2006 with Udall’s leadership, named for the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo master storyteller Esther Martinez. The Esther Martinez Native American Preservation Act amends the Native American Languages Act of 1990 to strengthen Native language education by creating and funding Native language nests, Native language survival schools, and Native American language restoration programs. The program’s current authorization expired in 2012, but annual appropriations have continued during the lapse. 
“Esther Martinez was one of New Mexico’s strongest advocates for preserving Native heritage and language, and I’m proud to introduce this legislation to honor and continue her work. Grants through the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act help families and communities keep their languages alive, preserving the deep history and culture behind them,” Udall said. “Language education is about more than tradition; it fosters pride and an interconnectedness between generations and has been linked to higher academic achievement among Native youth. I’m pleased to support the continuation and expansion of these important grants in New Mexico and across the country.” 
“Preserving Native language is central to cultural identity, and that’s what Esther Martinez fought for,” Heinrich said. “Languages like Keres, Tewa, Tiwa, Towa, Zuni, Diné, Eastern Apache and Western Apache, make us a stronger, more culturally rich and historically grounded nation. Simultaneously, the preservation and instruction of these languages raises high school graduation rates and college enrollment for tribal students. Teaching and preserving these languages should be a central educational priority. This bill helps to achieve that goal.”
“The spoken language of our Native peoples is the thread that weaves together generations, enriching tribal communities and strengthening their sovereignty and culture,” said Heitkamp. “Throughout North Dakota, we have seen the benefits of enabling Native American children to learn their native languages – helping them understand their history and culture while also giving them the tools they need to learn and grow. This bipartisan bill will enable these critical programs continue to give Native American children the head start they deserve while also helping make sure their sacred bonds and ancestral stories are protected and strengthened for future generations.”
“Preserving native languages connects students with generations of rich history and culture,” Tester said. “This bill strengthens cultural identity, helps keep students in school, and preserves the vibrant history of Indian Country. We need to act to ensure the survival of native languages before it is too late.”
“Language is key to maintaining cultural heritage,” said Franken. “The Native American Languages Program promotes learning of Dakota, Ojibwe, and other languages throughout Indian Country. This legislation is about not only teaching the words themselves but also passing along the history and culture those words represent.”
“Once nearly extinct, the Hawaiian language lives today through thousands of speakers in Hawai‘i and across the country,” Schatz said. “Visiting schools in Hawai‘i, I have seen first-hand how critical Native language schools and programs are in preserving the Hawaiian language and culture. Our legislation will help strengthen language programs and ensure the Hawaiian language and many other indigenous languages continue to thrive for generations to come.”
Based on recommendations from tribes and the administration, the senators included improvements to the program in this bill to reduce the class size eligibility for the grants and allow longer grant periods of up to five years. The bill reduces the number of students required for eligibility from 10 to five for Native American language nests, which provide childcare and instruction for children up to age seven and their parents. The bill also reduces the class size required for eligibility from 15 to 10 students for Native language survival schools, which aim for their students to achieve Native language fluency, and provide teacher training and development to support successful language learning. The urgent need to protect and preserve Native American languages is clear and applications for grants through the program roughly doubled from fiscal year 2013 to 2014, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

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

Cobell Scholarships in the Works

iStockInterior transferred $5M to the Scholarship Fund for American Indian/Alaska Native students authorized by the Cobell settlement. So where are they?

Interior transferred $5M to the Scholarship Fund for American Indian/Alaska Native students authorized by the Cobell settlement. So where are they?



The U.S. Interior Department has transferred $5 million to the Scholarship Fund for American Indian/Alaska Native students authorized by the Cobell settlement.

So where are all the scholarships?

Turk Cobell and Alex Pearl, members of the Board of Trustees for the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund, spoke with ICTMN about the status of the scholarship program recently.

Some of the $5 million will go directly to scholarships and some will be held back, Pearl said. “This is meant to be a perpetual fund so that Indian students can be going to college and receiving Cobell Scholarship Funds well after we’re long gone. It operates like any other Scholarship Funds where you restrict a portion of it so that the fund can continue for years and years and years.”

RELATED: Interior Ends Year with Total Transfer of $5M to Cobell Scholarship Fund

How much money will be available immediately for scholarships is something the American Indian Graduate Center and the trustees are still talking about, Pearl said.

The AIGC and the trustees are also working on the eligibility criteria for the scholarships. “Since we’re just sort of getting the wheels going on working with the American Indian Graduate Center [eligibility criteria are] something that we’re working with them on, just trying to figure out what makes sense, what’s feasible, what we need to do,” Pearl said.

One thing is certain: the scholarships will go only to AI/AN students. Pearl said, “That is set by statute; the settlement requires that the scholarship funds be used for American Indian/Alaska Native students.”

The American Indian Graduate Center is the “recipient organization” for the Scholarship Fund. Its duties include establishing the eligibility criteria for the scholarships as well as managing and administering the fund. A few months ago, the American Indian College Fund was selected to be the recipient organization, with the AIGC getting 20 percent of the funds to support graduate students, but that arrangement has been changed. Now the AIGC will administer the funds for both undergraduate and graduate students. Scholarships will also be available for certificate programs and vocational training.

A five-member Board of Trustees will oversee the fund and report on the AIGC’s work. Two of the board’s members were selected by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and two by the lead plaintiffs in the Cobellsuit.

Jewell appointed Jean O’Brien, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Mississippi Band of the White Earth Ojibwa, of the University of Minnesota, a professor of history and chair of the University of Minnesota Department of American Indian Studies. Jewell’s other appointee is Pamela Agoyo, Kewa, Cochiti and Ohkay Owingeh Pueblos, director of American Indian Student Services and special assistant to the president for American Indian Affairs at the University of New Mexico.

The plaintiffs selected Turk Cobell, Blackfeet, Elouise Cobell’s son and founder and president of Native Hospitality Advisors, and Alex Pearl, Chickasaw, an assistant professor of law and associate director of the Center for Water Law and Policy at Texas Tech University School of Law. The AIGC will select the fifth member of the board.
The $3.4-billion Cobellsettlement, signed by President Barack Obama in 2010, ended the 16-year lawsuit brought by Elouise Cobell, Blackfeet, against the U.S. government for mismanaging trust funds for AI/AN landowners.

As part of the settlement, copy.9 billion was set aside for the Lands Buy-Back Program for Indian Nations. Under the program, the federal government is buying back fractionated land interests from individual owners and putting them in the hands of tribal governments.

RELATED: Two Tribal Nations Sign Land Buy-Back Agreements

Contributions to the Scholarship Fund, which is intended to be an incentive for landowners to sell, are based on the payments made for fractionated land interests, according to a formula specified in the Cobellsettlement. If the amount of the land purchase is less than $200, copy0 will be paid to the holding fund; if it is between $200 and $500, the payment is $25, and if it is more than $500, five percent of the purchase price goes to the fund.

How much money will eventually end up in the scholarship fund is not yet known. “It depends on the type of sales that occur through the Land Buy-Back program and we won’t know how much that’s going to be until 10 years have passed since the settlement agreement,” Pearl said. The maximum amount that could go into the fund from the program is $60 million.

RELATED: ICTMN Exclusive: Interior’s Mike Connor Discusses Tribal Land Buy-Back Program

In addition, “the principal amount of any class member funds in an Individual Indian Money (IIM) account for which the whereabouts are unknown and left unclaimed for five years,” and “any leftover funds from the administration of the Settlement (after all payments under the Settlement are made)” could boost the fund later, according to the Department of Interior.

The AIGC and the board of trustees are focused on getting scholarships into the hands of students as quickly as possible. P. “Sam” Deloria, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is director of the AIGC. He said in an email: “At the moment, it is safe to say that we expect to be funding Cobell Scholarships for this fall.”

Pearl said: “We are really excited to start distributing some funds as quickly as is feasible and we’re excited about the potential for Native students to succeed in undergraduate and graduate programs.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/03/24/cobell-scholarships-works-159702

Northwest Indian College builds Lummi workforce, values tradition


BY TIM BALLEW II, Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald


For thousands of years, along the shorelines of the Salish Sea, the Lummi people have dug deep into the earth to harvest clams, oysters and mussels. We have set our reef nets between our canoes to catch salmon from the Salish Sea. For many of us, our most important education has been alongside our elders at the beach or on the water, learning firsthand by doing, and doing again, to understand the ways of our people and the history of our tribe.

But even as we hold fast to traditions, we’ve also embraced changing times, new technology and the advanced training that’s needed to support a productive shellfish harvest. What we’ve learned through the years is that a skilled workforce — and a bountiful harvest — are possible if we make the right investments in training and education.

In 1973, our tribe established the Lummi School of Aquaculture as a way to train a new generation of native technicians to staff the growing number of Indian-owned fish and shellfish hatcheries in the U.S. and Canada. From this single-purpose school, a foundation was built for what later became the Lummi Community College that gave Pacific Northwest natives the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree. In 1989, in recognition of the changing and growing needs of students, the community college became Northwest Indian College.

Today, the four-year college provides a high-quality post-secondary education for 1,064 students at our main campus on the Lummi reservation, plus six satellite campuses in Washington and Idaho. We offer bachelor and associate degrees, plus certificate programs in areas that include environmental science, tribal governance, native studies, hospitality and construction.

At the heart of the Northwest Indian College is the understanding that as native people, we must provide for all levels of learning within our own community. According to the American Indian College Fund, fewer than 13 percent of American Indian and Alaska native students earn a college degree, compared to 28 percent of other racial groups. The reasons for this are complex, ranging from poverty and low rates of high school graduation, to students’ perceptions that college is out of reach academically, too far from home, or not aligned with their values and culture. One answer to this challenge is to provide an education for native students on the reservation, where they can have the support of their community and the comforts of home.

At Lummi Nation, we know we have a responsibility to build our workforce and provide an education that is steeped in the values of our traditions and history. As a member of the larger community of Whatcom County and the Pacific Northwest, we’re also pleased to provide a degree to all students, regardless of whether they’re tribal members. We’ve done this, in part, by partnering with Western Washington University and Washington State University to provide an even broader learning experience for our students.

Our strong focus on education is why we’ve been able to grow a small school for hatchery technicians into a college that serves more than 1,000 people looking to further their education and careers. I would love to see the day when the college becomes Salish Sea University, flying a flag printed with the Lummi-invented reef net, where students from across the nation and world come to learn.

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2015/03/04/4163046_northwest-indian-college-builds.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy


State of Indian Nations speech underlines US-tribe relations

In this Sept. 16, 2014 file photo, President of National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and Chairman of the Swinomish Tribe Brian Cladoosby, joins other native Americans and lawmakers during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Tribes must insist the federal government honor its commitments and create partnerships with them based on deference, not paternalism, Cladoosby said Thursday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

In this Sept. 16, 2014 file photo, President of National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and Chairman of the Swinomish Tribe Brian Cladoosby, joins other native Americans and lawmakers during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Tribes must insist the federal government honor its commitments and create partnerships with them based on deference, not paternalism, Cladoosby said Thursday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)


By FELICIA FONSECA, Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Tribes must insist the federal government honor its commitments to them and create partnerships with them based on deference, not paternalism, the president of the National Congress of American Indians said Thursday.

 Brian Cladoosby said in the annual State of Indian Nations address that too many reservations are plagued with high unemployment and dropout rates, rampant drug and alcohol abuse, and an epidemic of suicides.

Congress needs to update laws and regulations on energy, taxation and education to help tribes overcome those long-standing challenges, but it shouldn’t dictate solutions, he said.

“Honoring its trust responsibility means recognizing Indian Country’s legal authority to control its own destiny,” Cladoosby told a crowd gathered in Washington, D.C. “It means respecting Native peoples for who we are, not who others think we are. And it means modernizing the trust relationship between our nations.”

In the congressional response, Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said the relationship between tribes and the federal government hasn’t always been positive. But as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, he vowed to lead efforts to strengthen it.

“We are equally committed to so much of what you have raised,” Barrasso said.

In exchange for land, the federal government promised things like health care, education, social services and public safety in perpetuity for members of federally recognized tribes. Those vows generally are born out of treaties. The U.S. negotiated more than 400 treaties with tribes, most of which were ratified by the Senate.

Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Nation of Washington state, invited members of Congress to visit Indian Country and see some of its successes: the rehabilitation of centuries-old homes at Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo in New Mexico; cavity-free classrooms in Shaktoolik, Alaska, created by a first-of-its-kind dental health therapist program; and the country’s first commercial wetland mitigation bank developed and operated by a tribe in Washington.

But he said federal funding often falls short of what tribes need to provide for their membership.

Congress should build on efforts to improve public safety on reservations, bring culturally appropriate education to Native students and stimulate economic growth, Cladoosby said.

He called on lawmakers to simplify and streamline government regulations that would give tribes the ability to issue tax-exempt bonds, give tax credits to members who live on reservations and adopt children with special needs, and provide tribal law enforcement access to a national crime database.

Cladoosby noted the federal government should do more to expand broadband access in Indian County, which stands at 10 percent. He also said it should study tribes’ technology needs and improve infrastructure and housing.

The responsibility falls on all members of Congress, Cladoosby said, whether their districts include Indian Country or not.

“This trust, it’s not a handout,” he said. “It’s a contract. It’s a commitment. And it’s their duty to honor it.”


Press Release, National Indian Education Association

WASHINGTON, DC – Following yesterday’s Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Hearing on “Fixing No Child Left Behind (NCLB): Testing and Accountability,” National Indian Education Association (NIEA) President Melvin Monette issued the following statement explaining the need for an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization that upholds the trust responsibility of the United States and fairly provides Native students education services based on principles of accountability, equity, and excellence. President Monette stated:

The ESEA is in pressing need of updating and we commend the Senate HELP Committee under the leadership of Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) for moving forward the reauthorization through recently introduced draft language. However, the current iteration illustrates a need for improvement, so we request that the federal government honor its’ trust responsibility to tribes and Native education by fairly providing comprehensive educational opportunities to Native students within any ESEA reauthorization.

During the State of the Union Address, President Obama rightfully celebrated the nation’s all-time high graduation rates among high school students. Unfortunately, the stressed graduation rates and academic successes are often not representative of many Native communities. NCLB has done little to address the longstanding challenges affecting Native students. Over the past decade, Native students continue to trail their peers in reading and mathematics (grades four and eight). Nationwide, our students face some of the lowest high school graduation rates with even fewer students graduating from college. Native education is in a state of emergency and tribes have long awaited the opportunity to partner with Congress to take bold action that will significantly improve the education systems serving Native communities.

Tribes and Native communities have an enormous stake in their children’s education. While the ESEA reauthorization must provide effective accountability and protect the civil rights of all Americans, the ESEA reauthorization must also be a commitment to the sovereignty of this country’s First Americans. As such, the ESEA draft should be revised to support tribal nations as they develop their ability to deliver education services as well as coordinate with local and state educational agencies. Only by including the following priorities will an ESEA reauthorization ensure effective and efficient use of funds and delivery of resources to Native communities as well as increase Native student achievement.

NIEA calls on the Senate to include the following priorities:
  • Strengthen Native Participation in Education: Tribes should have the authority to build their capacity to administer education title programs. Native leaders understand their children best and can better address their students’ unique cultural and academic needs.
  • Encourage Tribal/State Partnerships: While the federal government has a trust responsibility to work with tribes, tribal concerns are often excluded at the state and local level. The ESEA reauthorization should require local and state educational agencies to closely work and meaningfully consult with tribes when developing applications and plans for ESEA title programs.
  • Preserve and Revitalize Native Languages: The continued existence of Native languages is crucial to protecting and strengthening Native culture and tribal communities as well as increasing the academic achievement of Native students. Any ESEA reauthorization should provide resources for eligible schools to participate in a program to develop and maintain Native language immersion education models.
  • Increase Access to Native Student Records: Native students often transfer between federal, state, and tribal school districts, which creates information gaps as systems are not required to track and coordinate student data. The ESEA reauthorization should provide the ability for schools and state and local educational agencies to share Native student data with their local tribes. Providing such information will create longitudinal student statistics that will help schools and Native partners alleviate issues that decrease Native student achievement.

NIEA, tribes, and our national and local partners look forward to working with members of Congress to strengthen this initial draft proposal. It is critical the ESEA reauthorization serves Native students and their peers by not only ensuring equity and accountability, but also including tribes within their local education systems. This great country cannot afford to ignore the needs of its most vulnerable students. By reinforcing America’s trust responsibility and strengthening tribal sovereignty throughout the ESEA, Congress will begin to reverse the negative impacts affecting Native communities and ensure local cooperation fosters efficiency and academic excellence for all students.

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Finally, you can save hundreds of dollars on eRESOURCES (subscription fees for the vital trade and market information) that you need. You can use premium online research services for FREE if you are a Sno-Isle Librariescustomer. Sign-up for a library card and gain access to popular business resources, including:


ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry Journal articles, market reports, and news on every major industry

AtoZdatatabases – Millions of business and residential profiles. Ideal for sales leads, mailing lists and research

Business Source Premier – Search regional, national and international business news – including marketing research and reports, emerging business trends, and detailed company profiles for the world’s 10,000 largest companies from Datamonitor.

Demographics Now…Business & People – U.S. demographic data for gaining consumer and market insight for opening a business, finding an audience for products/services, or analyzing the shifts and needs of a given population. Standard and custom reports for download.

Learning Express Library – interactive practice exams and guides for academic (GED, GED Spanish, ACT, SAT, GRE), U.S. citizenship, civil service, military, and professional licensing and certification tests – plus computer software tutorials (Wordperfect, Microsoft Office, Windows & Mac operating systems).

LegalForms – Customizable online legal documents, including Washington state specific forms.

Legal Information Reference Center – Full-text publications and legal forms to address a range legal issues including business law financial planning, family law, property & real estate and rights & disputes.

Microsoft IT Academy – Training in fundamental technology skills, such as Windows 8, and more. Provides unlimited access for more than 400 courses.

Small Business Reference Center – All areas of starting and operating a business including financing, marketing, taxes, business plans, and more.


No Library card? Register for one at any library or online at www.sno-isle.org/getacard and get instant 24/7 access to most of Sno-Isle Libraries eResources

In February, we are having the Sno-Isle Libraries program Getting Started with Craigslist. February’s offering is Idea Management & Innovation. You can also check out monthly programming information on the Higher ED Webpage, on Tulalip TV and through information mailed to your home. You can call us at 360-716-4888 or email us at highered@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov for additional information.

Getting started with Craigslist 020215


Native Leaders Appointed to Positions in Education, Environment, Justice in Washington State

 Washington State Governor Jay Inslee

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee


Richard Walker, Indian Country Today


Three prominent Native American Washingtonians have been appointed to key positions in education, environmental protection, and the judiciary.

On December 15, Gov. Jay Inslee announced his appointment of Raquel Montoya-Lewis, Isleta Pueblo/Laguna Pueblo, to the Whatcom County Superior Court. She will be the only Native American Superior Court judge in Washington state when she takes office in January.

That day, Inslee also announced his appointment of Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe Vice Chairman Russell Hepfer to the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council. The Partnership is a state agency charged with mobilizing community, regional, and state efforts to restore the health of Puget Sound.

And in November, the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction hired Michael Vendiola, communications director of the Swinomish Tribe, as program supervisor for the Office of Native Education.

Montoya-Lewis is chief judge for the Nooksack Tribe and the Upper Skagit Tribe, and is an associate professor at Western Washington University. She is also an appellate court judge for the Nisqually Tribe Court of Appeals and the Northwest Intertribal Court System and previously for the Nooksack Tribal Court of Appeals. She is former chief judge of the Lummi Nation Court.

Montoya-Lewis serves on the federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice and was appointed by Inslee’s predecessor to the state’s Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice. She has a J.D. and a master’s in social work from the University of Washington and a B.A. from the University of New Mexico.

“Raquel’s 15 years of experience as a judge will be well appreciated on the Superior Court,” Inslee said in his announcement. “She is wise and has a strong commitment to service and to promoting justice. I know she will serve the community and the court exceptionally well.”

Earlier in her career, Montoya-Lewis taught legal research and writing at the University of New Mexico, represented Indian country governments as an attorney at Williams, Janov & Cooney, and served as a law clerk to New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Pamela B. Minzner.

Bellingham City Council member Roxanne Murphy, Nooksack, who is also assistant to the general manager of the Nooksack Tribe, wrote a letter to Inslee encouraging Montoya-Lewis’s appointment.

“She has handled some of our most complex cultural, political and societal issues and managed these cases with the utmost care, intelligence, timeliness and fairness,” Murphy wrote.

Murphy, the first Native American elected to the Bellingham City Council, added that Montoya-Lewis’ appointment would create another important role model.

“I still feel overwhelmed when I think about my campaign experiences and just how many people supported me [for City Council],” Murphy wrote. “This has meant so much to our tribes; to the City Council and our work; to the little girls on and off the [reservation] who tell me that they want to be on the Bellingham City Council; and to the general population that appreciates my ability to understand and work with so many walks of life.”

At the Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council, Hepfer brings an indigenous perspective “as well as hands-on experience with the Elwha dam removal project and knowledge of what it takes to rebuild an ecosystem that welcomes salmon home,” Inslee said in his announcement. “His rich knowledge of the complex voices and issues involved in Puget Sound recovery work are a welcome addition to the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council.”

Hepfer’s term on the leadership council continues to June 25, 2018.

Hepfer’s career in natural resources began in 1995 as a water quality technician. He has served on the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission for 18 years and on the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Council for 16 years, formerly as chairman and now as vice chairman.

Hepfer is the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s delegate to the state Department of Social & Health Services’ Indian Policy Advisory Committee; and to the Coast Salish Gathering, an annual meeting of representatives from Coast Salish nations from the U.S. and Canada.

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, one of three Native Americans in the state legislature, said of the governor’s appointments, “I think these two are great appointments. I know the both of them will do a tremendous job.”

In a farewell column in the December edition of the Swinomish news magazine he edits, Vendiola wrote that in his new position in the state Office of Native Education, “I will get the chance to apply my academic and cultural skills to support Native education.”

Vendiola, Swinomish/Lummi, has been editor of qyuuqs, the Swinomish Tribe’s monthly news magazine, since November 2011. During his editorship, he expanded the magazine’s news coverage, elevated its graphic design and news presentation, and established features designed to improve the reader’s grasp of the Lushootseed language. He helped establish the communications department at the Swinomish Tribe.

In addition to serving as editor of qyuuqs, Vendiola has served as coordinator/activities adviser at Western Washington University since August 1998. He was director of student activities at Northwest Indian College from September 1995 to July 1998. He was recruitment and retention specialist at Skagit Valley College from August 1991 to August 1993. He also founded The Philomath Groove, a project that instills love of learning through the use of mixed media.

Vendiola earned a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies in 2013 from the University of Washington. He earned a master’s degree in adult education administration in 1997 from Western Washington University. He earned a bachelor’s in American cultural studies in 1994 from Western Washington.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/12/18/native-leaders-appointed-positions-education-environment-justice-washington-state-158350