Marysville educator recognized for advocating for Natives

Anthony Craig, co-principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, received the “Outstanding Young Educator” award on Sept. 2.

 

Christopher AnderssonAnthony Craig (center), co-principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, stands with his wife and children next to him and Marysville education leaders behind him after being given the "Outstanding Young Educator" award during the Sept. 2 Marysville School Board meeting.

Christopher Andersson
Anthony Craig (center), co-principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, stands with his wife and children next to him and Marysville education leaders behind him after being given the “Outstanding Young Educator” award during the Sept. 2 Marysville School Board meeting.

 

By Christopher Andersson, North County Outlook

 

The co-principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, Anthony Craig, was recognized by a prominent Washington education group as their “Outstanding Young Educator” of the year.

Craig, who is of Native American heritage himself, was recognized for bringing “culturally competent” practices to his school and being an advocate for Native American students.

The Washington State Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (WSASCD) announced the award during the Sept. 2 school board meeting.

“The Outstanding Young Educator award is our way of recognizing an emerging educational leader and share his or her exemplary practices with the education community at large,” said Art Jarvis, executive director of WSASCD.

Craig said he was humbled with the award and thanked his colleagues and everyone who has helped him to serve the students.

“I do this to serve my community, but also because my grandmother worked very hard so that I could go to college and be a teacher,” he said. “I once asked her what she wanted to do and she said ‘I wanted to be a teacher, but Indians didn’t go to college then, so you can do that.’ So I stand on the shoulders of a lot of people that came before me.”

Craig completed his Doctorate in Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington in 2012.

Since then he has become a published author in the Journal of Staff Development and will write a full chapter in the upcoming book “Narrowing the Achievement Gap for Native American Students: Paying the Education Debt.”

Craig is committed to social justice and advocating in various roles for his students, according to a peer statement read by director of teaching and learning at the district, Kyle Kinoshita.

“Over the years he worked at Tulalip he provided exceptional instructional leadership,” read Kinoshita. “The evidence was seen in the classroom where instructional improvement was traceable to how Anthony modeled, supported and led the learning of the teachers he worked with and demonstrated some of his early leadership capabilities.”

This leadership led him to become co-principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary and help provide space for all his students.

“Dr. Craig has shown a deep commitment to serving the students in the school and creating an identity-safe place for all students. He has had the courage to confront racism and elitism in a culture of low expectations and done so in a way that unites people, rather than as a way that divides,” wrote Marysville superintendent Becky Berg in a statement.

Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary still sees low scores on state assessments, however Berg points to the improvements that early grades have shown with high levels of achievement in district assessments.

She says the culturally competent practices and data teams implemented by Craig have helped to better engage with Native American students.

Despite the scores, Berg praised the school as “one of the most successful she has ever seen” when it comes to rebuilding education for tribal students

“Yes, the students are not at an acceptable state achievement level yet, but it takes more than three years to reverse decades of malpractice when it comes to the needs of First Nations children,” she wrote.

Colleges aim to attract more Native American students

Colleges are introducing new programs targeting prospective Native American students, hoping to show that higher education and their cultural identities can complement each other.

Few Native Americans go to college and most of those who do never graduate. To improve those statistics, more colleges are offering camps where teens from different tribes are exposed to college life. In this image, Native American, Brandon Duran plays during a drum circle before workshop sessions at University of California, Riverside on Thursday, June 26. Photo/ Chris Carlson, AP

Few Native Americans go to college and most of those who do never graduate. To improve those statistics, more colleges are offering camps where teens from different tribes are exposed to college life. In this image, Native American, Brandon Duran plays during a drum circle before workshop sessions at University of California, Riverside on Thursday, June 26.
Photo/ Chris Carlson, AP

By Krysta Fauria, Associated Press

Elijah Watson knows he wants to go to college. He also knows that it will be difficult to leave home on the Navajo reservation if he does.

The 17-year-old was reminded of the tough decision he’ll face next year when he participated in a weeklong celebration in March of his cousin’s Kinaalda, a hallowed Navajo ceremony marking a girl’s transition into womanhood.

“I’m afraid because it’s really hard to leave my family,” he said, noting that college would mean he’d be away from taking part in the same rite for his little sister and participating in other important tribal ceremonies.

To reach students like Watson with higher education aspirations, a growing number of universities are offering programs to recruit and prepare Native American students for a transition to college life that can bring on a wrenching emotional conflict as they straddle two worlds.

Many young Native Americans find themselves divided by their desire for a higher education and the drive to stay close to home to hold onto a critical part of their identity. Sometimes, families discourage children from pursuing college, fearing once they leave the reservation they won’t come back.

That was the case with Watson’s mother — his grandmother encouraged her to stay home and carry on the family tradition of pottery-making.

“These students could be in a classroom with hundreds of kids and no one will be like them so it’s really good for these programs to pull all of these kids together,” said Ahniwake Rose, the director of the National Indian Education Association.

“Moving to college for these kids is taking them so far away from their homes. On top of that, we still have so many first generation students and their parents can’t give them any idea of what college is like,” Ms. Rose said.

Dozens have implemented mini-college boot camps, including the University of California, Los Angeles, Yale, and Duke. Last week, Watson found himself at the University of California, Riverside, where he was joined by other students, including some as young as 12.

The programs challenge the idea that tribal customs and higher education don’t mix, said Joshua Gonzalez, the director of Native American Student Programs at the university 60 miles east of Los Angeles and hundreds of miles from Watson’s home on the Navajo Nation.

Throughout their week at Riverside, students got a taste of the college experience by attending classroom lectures, eating in the cafeteria and sleeping in the dorms. The 30 students also participated in cultural activities like prayer circles and beading workshops.

“We encourage having your culture and traditions as well as academics,” said Mr. Gonzalez, whose program has a roughly 90 percent success rate in getting Native Americans to go to college.

“To be able to know your language, to be able to sing the songs, to know the creation stories — those are things that are really important,” he said.

Upon completion of Riverside’s program, students are given access to the university’s resources and staff to assist with the application process.

Pamela Agoyo, the director of American Indian Student Services at the University of New Mexico, said many programs are introducing kids to the idea of college as early as middle school to give them the time to embrace the possibility and plan for it.

“Institutions are realizing that you don’t start planning for college your freshman year of college,” Ms. Agoyo said, noting that students need to plan and prepare for their experience beforehand.

Rose said the boot camps are critical to college success because they help identify peers and mentors who can guide students through rough patches.

Few go on to college and when they do, most drop out.

Only 12 percent of Native Americans between 25 and 34 have four-year degrees, compared to 37 percent of whites, according to a 2012 report by the National Center for Education Statistics. Of the students who do go to college, less than 40 percent graduate, compared to 60 percent of whites.

Jordan Thomas, a member of the Lummi Tribe, attended Riverside’s program and will be a freshman there this fall. She was born on a reservation in Washington state and at age 2 moved with her family to Southern California because there were more educational opportunities.

Lummi cultural traditions are important to her family — she once missed eight weeks of middle school to attend her grandfather’s burial ceremony — and the Riverside program gave her confidence that she can attend school and not lose her Native American identity.

“I learned that it’s all about balance,” she said. “This program has truly helped me.”

Ute Tribe, U. of U. reach new agreement over name

By Lya Wodraska and Matthew Piper, The Salt Lake Tribune

The University of Utah has reached a new agreement over its continued use of the Ute name and drum and feather logo for athletics teams, a university source tells The Tribune.

A memorandum of understanding that outlines collaborative efforts to encourage more Ute students to attend the school is expected to be signed by U. President David Pershing and Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee chairman Gordon Howell 11 a.m. Tuesday in Fort Duchesne. The university will not pay to use the name.

The Ute Tribal Business Committee sent a letter to the University of Utah late last year, requesting a meeting with the school. Attached to the letter was a resolution stating support for the school’s use of the Ute name and drum and feather logo, but also hopes to negotiate tuition waivers instead of scholarships for Ute Indian Tribe students.

The resolution further called for the creation of a special adviser to Pershing on American Indian Affairs, and to appoint a member of the Ute Indian Tribe in this role.

The current memorandum of understanding was established in 2005. U. Vice President Fred Esplin told The Tribune in November that the school and the tribe had been involved in ongoing discussions about the 2005 agreement, which was not immediately available to The Tribune late Monday.

Tuesday’s scheduled signing comes amid objections from within the U.’s own ranks over the school’s handling of diversity. Last week, assistant vice president for student equity and diversity Enrique Alemán resigned in part, he said, because he was accused of leaking the letter the U. received from the Ute Tribe.

Days earlier, chief diversity officer Octavio Villalpando resigned. Alemán said he was told Villalpando was being investigated for human resources issues.

A U. student group in December petitioned the school to drop ties with the tribe altogether, rather than continue to react to evolving notions of political correctness.

Even if handled delicately by the U., the teams’ association with American Indians leads to a problem of “education,” said Samantha Eldridge, a leader of the initiative and now a liaison for Native American Outreach in the National Education Association in Washington, D.C. Fans of the team must be told it is inappropriate to wear mock headdresses or paint their faces red at games.

“We are always going to get a negative, stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans,” Eldridge said Monday night. “We’re always going to get a new cohort of students attending the university who we are going to continually have to educate on what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior.”

Anything but Anomalies

 

Mar 31st, 2014 | By rwinn Tribal College Journal

By Ryan Winn

Every Thanksgiving, America celebrates how the Wampanoag tribe famously saved some pilgrims from starvation, but how many people realize that the Mandan, Hidatsa, Nez Perce, and countless other tribes also broke bread with famished non-Natives? Since 2000, the United States Mint has produced millions of coins reminding us that Lemhi Shoshone tribal member Sacagawea served as an invaluable interpreter and guide for the Lewis and Clark Expedition, but when will the 16 scouts from various tribes who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor between 1872 and1890 be remembered for their service? The Navajo code talkers’ celebrated contribution to the American victory in World War II is well known, but when will the Choctaw, Comanche, Hopi, Meskwaki, and Sioux Nations’ code talkers’ service be venerated in textbooks? Twenty-first century American Indian milestones are often achieved around boardroom tables, at tribal government meetings, and on the campuses of tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) across the country, but how many Americans can name a current tribal leader or dignitary? The settings have changed, but the fact remains that too often American Indian achievements are treated as exceptions to the rule. By honoring American Indian successes on every college campus, we can help ensure that students realize the multitudes of Indigenous achievements are anything but anomalies.

One starting point for educators is The Extraordinary Book of Native American Lists, in which the editors provide students a more accurate view of history and prompt them “to delve into research materials housed in libraries and resource centers.” The text is rich with the names, dates, and tribes of American Indian accomplishments. For example, how many people know that in 1775, Sally Anise (Oneida) became the first successful Native woman business owner? Or that in 1882, David Moniac (Creek) became the first tribal member admitted to the United States Military Academy, and that Carlos Montezuma (Yavapai) and Susan LaFlesche Picotte (Omaha) became the first American Indian doctors in 1899? Did you know that John Rollin Ridge/Yellowbird (Cherokee) became the first published American Indian novelist in 1854, or that Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox) served as the first president of the American Football League (now the National Football League) in 1920? The records span centuries: in 1982, Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree) became the first American Indian to win an Academy Award; in 1665, Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck (Wampanoag) was the first Native graduate of Harvard. Arthur C. Parker (Seneca) was inaugurated as the first American Indian president of the Society of American Archaeology in 1935, while William R. Pogue (Choctaw) became the first American Indian astronaut in 1966. These individual successes are impressive; collectively, they provide concrete evidence that American Indian achievements are ubiquitous throughout history.

Every fall, TCUs welcome incoming freshmen who are amongst the first in their family to seek a higher education. Navigating college curricula may seem daunting to some, but we can help fortify students’ academic resolve by reminding them they’re not walking their educational road alone. They need to know that American Indians have succeeded and made great contributions in every academic discipline—and many have done so by building upon a foundation of Indigenous knowledge. But perhaps an educator’s greatest undertaking is to encourage students to initiate the positive change they envision for the future. What better way to do that than to showcase the accolades of those who’ve walked the road before them?

Scrolling through the non-fiction entries in TCJ Student (online at www.tcjstudent.org),I findauthors young and old artfully voicing their values and accomplishments. In “Remembering in a World of Forgetting,” Tom Swift Bird (Oglala Lakota), a student at Oglala Lakota College, laments the carnage which befell his ancestors during the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 and how so few know the full story of the tragedy. He asserts students must know and learn from their peoples’ past. But he faces forward, asking, “Where do you come from?…Who are you?…[and] where do you need to go, what do you need to do with yourself?”

Another article, by College of Menominee Nation student Burton Arthur (San Carlos Apache), discusses how a local Menominee tribal school has become “a hub in the community that not only works to revitalize language and culture, but that also strives to nurture Menominee children.” Arthur sees this preservation and passing on of cultural knowledge as tangible evidence of Indigenous perseverance and optimism. Arthur’s observation of disbursements of cultural knowledge provides tangible optimism of Indigenous perseverance.

And in an essay titled “The Whisper,” Jayni Anderson (Assiniboine), says “Ignorance is not always bliss,” telling how a callous teacher’s criticism in her youth prevented her from pursuing a higher education until her fifties, fearing she “wasn’t smart enough.” Anderson’s story is all too common throughout Indian country, but her story of overcoming her teacher’s assertions—she is now attending Fort Peck Community College—is inspiring to read. Like the impressive lists of American Indian accomplishments, the strength of these students’ writing can motivate.

TCU faculty should dedicate time and devise curricula that confirm the myriad achievements of Native people—so many have made the world better for us all. It’s true that we may never be able to correct every misguided assumption about Indigenous accomplishments, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. We don’t know where our students’ career aspirations will take them, but we can take pride in knowing that every TCU alumnus recognizes that successful American Indians are anything but anomalies.

REFERENCES

Anderson, J. (2012). The whisper. TCJ Student. Retrieved March 2014, from http://www.tcjstudent.org/whisper/

Arthur, B. (2013). Community, culture, and language revitalization in the Menominee Nation. TCJ Student. Retrieved March 2014, http://www.tcjstudent.org/community-culture-and-language-revitalization-in-the-menominee-nation/

Hirschfelder, A., & Molin, P.F., eds. (2012). The extraordinary book of Native American lists.Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.

Swift Bird, T. (2013). Remembering in a world of forgetting. TCJ Student. Retrieved March 2014, from http://www.tcjstudent.org/remembering-in-a-world-of-forgetting/

Ryan Winn teaches English, theater, and communications at College of Menominee Nation, where he also serves as the Humanities Department chair.

Kickapoo chairman: K-12 bill could hurt Native American students

Cuts to bus aid would hit rural areas hard, warns Steve Cadue

By Celia Llopis-Jepsen, cjonline.com

2011 FILE PHOTO/THE CAPITAL-JOURNALIn this 2011 photo, Steve Cadue, center, accepts a proclamation from Gov. Sam Brownback at the Kansas Museum of History. In a letter to Brownback this week, Cadue expressed concern that the Legislature might cut transportation aid to school districts.

2011 FILE PHOTO/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
In this 2011 photo, Steve Cadue, center, accepts a proclamation from Gov. Sam Brownback at the Kansas Museum of History. In a letter to Brownback this week, Cadue expressed concern that the Legislature might cut transportation aid to school districts.

The head of the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas expressed concern in a letter to Gov. Sam Brownback this week that the Legislature could cut transportation aid to school districts to help foot the bill for court-ordered equalization funding.

Tribal Chairman Steve Cadue suggested cuts to state aid for busing students to school would hit rural districts — and therefore Native American students — especially hard.

“As indicated in your own Governor’s Proclamations, the legacy of illegal and unscrupulous land cession treaties has left many tribes such as the Kickapoo located in rural areas on remote plots of land,” Cadue wrote. “Native American children will be disproportionately impacted by funding cuts to school bus services.”

Last week, House Republicans unveiled a K-12 finance bill that addresses a recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling ordering the state to fill a gap in equalization funding to school districts with weaker local tax bases.

In addition to addressing the court order to remedy the estimated $129 million shortfall, the bill proposed cutting an estimated $14.8 million in transportation aid for schools.

Cadue invited the governor to meet one-on-one to discuss the potential effects of such cuts.

“The current state of education for Native Americans is such that it cannot withstand funding cuts and service disruptions without increasing the educational achievement gap,” Cadue said. “I urge you to ensure that our Native American children have the same educational opportunities as the most fortunate children in Kansas.”

The Capital-Journal has contacted the Governor’s Office seeking comment.

A House budget panel has been holding hearings on the K-12 funding bill this week. The bill has drawn criticism from all sides. School districts are concerned lawmakers aren’t making a good faith effort to satisfy the court order, and are instead trimming funding from elsewhere in public education, such as aid for busing and for virtual schools. At the same time, some conservative Republican lawmakers and education-reform advocates would like to include school-choice options in the bill, such as expanding charter schools or allowing corporate tax breaks for private school tuition scholarships.

The governor released a statement earlier this month calling on the Legislature to fully fund the court’s equalization order and acknowledging “the solution to the equity problem will require significant new funding.”

OU Law establishes first Native American Law Chair

 

By Associated Press

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – The University of Oklahoma College of Law has received a gift from the Chickasaw Nation for the Chickasaw Nation Native American Law Chair.

The position is the first endowed chair of its kind in the nation. It will allow OU to attract and retain national scholars in Native American law.

OU Law offers three different programs providing specialization in Native American law: the Juris Doctor Certificate, the Master of Laws and the new Master of Legal Studies.

The OU College of Law has maintained the highest average enrollment of Native American students among law schools nationwide over the past 10 years. This year, 11.1 percent of the incoming first-year class is Native American.

The college also has one of the most important collections of Native American art in the country.

Parents, Advocates Team Up to Save Native Education Program

save-native-heritage-seattle-by_raven_ember-crop

By Richard Walker, ICTMN

A few months ago, all seemed lost for two Seattle school communities.

Wilson-Pacific School was slated for demolition to make way for a new K-8 school, sounding the death knell for a 40-year-old program for Native American students in grades 6-12. The program, with a culturally competent curriculum and teachers, once had a 100 percent graduation and college attendance rate.

Pinehurst School, formerly Alternative School No. 1, was slated for demolition for construction of a new K-8, threatening the end of a 42-year-old program of experiential, project-based learning with an emphasis on social justice.

In rallying to save their programs, parents and advocates from both schools discovered similarities in values and pedagogy and, at the urging of school board member Sharon Peaslee, came together to develop an idea: Merge the programs into a new K-8 program called Native Heritage AS-1, to be housed in the wing of an existing school until the new school is finished at the Wilson-Pacific site.

The merger was approved by the school district 5-2 on November 20. Students offered their voices at the board meeting, testifying for the need for Native Heritage AS-1.

A group of parents, advocates and students protested to save the program November 20, 2013. (Damien Conway)
A group of parents, advocates and students protested to save the program November 20, 2013. (Damien Conway)

“We made our voices heard in a constructive, positively influential [way],” said Sarah Sense-Wilson, Oglala, chairwoman of the Urban Native Education Alliance. “This was truly historic.”

She added, “A lot of people have volunteered their time to create a real solution for supporting Native learners and [to] develop programs which serve the unique cultural and educational needs of Native kids and families.”

She said Superintendent José Banda “has repeatedly stated he supports revitalizing the Indian Heritage school program.” She said the Native Heritage AS-1 program will help the district comply with its own policy regarding educational and racial equity, and meet its Title VII obligations, for which it receives federal funding.

Students from Pinehurst and the former American Indian Heritage School program will attend Native Heritage AS-1 beginning September 2014, in a wing of the former Lincoln High School. That school no longer exists, but the buildings house other educational programs.

Native Heritage AS-1 will be housed at Lincoln until the end of the 2016-17 school year, when it will move to the new school at the Wilson-Pacific site. Meanwhile, parents and advocates are working to develop a high school Native Heritage program at Ingraham High School, which has the highest population of Native students, so that Native Heritage AS-1 is K-12 when it moves to Wilson-Pacific. They are also lobbying for the new school to be named after Robert Eaglestaff School, after the late principal of the Indian Heritage school program.

The Wilson-Pacific site is significant to Seattle’s Native community. A spring, long ago diverted underground, flows under the property; the spring was important to the Duwamish people and the neighborhood’s name—Licton Springs—is derived from the Duwamish name for the reddish mud of the spring. On several school walls are murals depicting Native heritage and leaders, including Chief Seattle, the city’s namesake, by noted Haida/Apache artist Andrew Morrison. The school has long been a venue for powwows and other Native events. The Urban Native Education Alliance and the Clear Sky Native Youth Council regularly host events there.

The murals were threatened with being lost when the school is demolished, but parents and advocates rallied and the school district agreed to save them. The walls with the murals will be incorporated into the new school.

Courtesy Andrew Morrison
Courtesy Andrew Morrison

RELATED: Will Endangered Seattle School Murals Be Saved?

According to the proposal, the Native Heritage AS-1 program will focus on Native culture, history and worldview with culturally competent leadership. It will also collaborate with Native community-based organizations on instructional materials.

School district officials had cut back on support and resources for the Pinehurst and Indian Heritage programs because of declining enrollment over the last decade. But parents and advocates said enrollment declined because parents were uncertain about their schools’ future.

Despite Indian Heritage’s closure and the assimilation of its students into other schools, student participation in cultural activities presented at Wilson-Pacific remains high. Even though the school is closed, as many as 75 Native students participate twice a week in Clear Sky Native Youth Council activities there. Over the summer, dozens of students participated in rallies to preserve the Indian Heritage program and the murals.

At Pinehurst, despite cutbacks in resources and district support, the school’s commitment to social justice remains high.

Supporters of the creation of Native Heritage AS-1 rally at the Seattle Public Schools offices on November 20, 2013. (Alex Garland)
Supporters of the creation of Native Heritage AS-1 rally at the Seattle Public Schools offices on November 20, 2013. (Alex Garland)

Pinehurst has an Equity Committee committed to “undoing institutional racism.” On the school walls are photos of students participating in rallies to save their school. A poster by Tahltan artist Alano Edzerza features the Raven-Frog crest Ga,ahaba, flying out of the reach of despair, with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

As part of their science curriculum, students learned about the role of salmon in local Native culture, and the release of salmon fry they raised included a traditional blessing by Glen Pinkham, Yakama. Students collaborated with Tlingit carver Saaduuts Peele on a traditional Northwest canoe that was gifted at a potlatch in Hydaburg, Alaska.

Parents and advocates expect enrollment will climb once Native Heritage AS-1 opens at Lincoln. Because of low enrollment, the district estimates it spends $6,500 per student. Projected enrollment increases, and merging two programs under one administration, are expected to drop that cost to $5,500 per student.

John Chapman, a Pinehurst parent and member of the school’s site committee, helped write the 12-page merger proposal. Next they will work on staff training.

He’s enthusiastic about the next school year. “We’re eager to get it going,” he said.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/01/02/parents-advocates-team-save-native-education-program-152947

Native Students Prep for College, Racism and Ignorance

 

Hillary AbeOne hundred College Horizons students mingle at the college fair with over 40 institutions represented

Hillary Abe
One hundred College Horizons students mingle at the college fair with over 40 institutions represented

Simon Moya-Smith

July 22, 2013 ICTMN.com

Approximately 100 indigenous high school students from 22 different states flocked to New York University this month to take part in a weeklong college fair.

Hosted by College Horizons, a nonprofit organization that prepares Native American students for the rigors of applying to and attending college, the students took part in workshops and lectures—and, of course, experienced the Big Apple.

“I think all but eight flew in to [New York] and about 20 had never been on an airplane before,” said Executive Director Carmen Lopez, a citizen of the Navajo Nation. “And about 75 of them had never been to New York City.”

Lopez said the students range in age from 15 to 17 years old and each student is either American Indian, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian. This was the first timeCollege Horizonshosted a college fair in New York City.

Universities in attendance included Harvard University, Norte Dame and even representatives of the American Indian Community House of New York City were on hand to answer questions about the city.

In order to be accepted into the College Horizons program, Native American students were asked to provide a myriad of documents.

“[The students] submit an application, a personal essay, a list of activities, teacher recommendation, counselor recommendation, official transcripts,” said Lopez. “They don’t know it at the time of application, but they’re learning what they’re potentially going to do for college [applications].”

The college fair was also an opportunity for the students to learn what to do when faced with issues of racism on their prospective campus.

“If some of our students are going to go to schools, predominately white schools, they need to get ready for what that feels like, especially if they’re coming from a community that’s mostly Native people,” said Lopez. “We want to start to plant a seed for the kids with things that could happen—those [students] that may have a brush with racism and ignorance—so it doesn’t hurt as much when they do experience it.”

Genesis Tuyuc, a Maya Kaqchikel and a student at NYU, volunteered to assist the kids and faculty during the college fair. When the fair concluded, she said the goodbyes were “bittersweet.”

“I am happy to have worked besides such strong-willed people,” she said. “Their influence is immeasurable.”

College Horizons students received test preparation information and experienced an in-depth review of the college application process. (Hillary Abe)

College Horizons students received test preparation information and experienced an in-depth review of the college application process. (Hillary Abe)

Native American High School Students Sample University Life

UCR’s annual Gathering of the Tribes encourages academic success, consideration of college degree

Albert Rodriguez (l-r), Paakuma Tawinat, Joshua Gonzales, Brandon Duran and Randy Plummer sing Cahuilla bird songs during the 2012 Gathering of the Tribes.

Albert Rodriguez (l-r), Paakuma Tawinat, Joshua Gonzales, Brandon Duran and Randy Plummer sing Cahuilla bird songs during the 2012 Gathering of the Tribes.

By Bettye Miller, UCR Today

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Thirty Native American high school students will get a taste of college life when they arrive at the University of California, Riverside on June 23 for the Gathering of the Tribes, the longest-running program of its kind in Southern California.

The eight-day event, which began at UCR in 2005, invites Native American students to experience life in a residence hall and the classroom, and provides information about admissions and financial aid requirements and deadlines.

“We want them to see that the university is an exciting place, and encourage them to do well in high school and consider going to college,” said Cliff Trafzer, professor of history and the Rupert Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs at UCR. “We need future American Indian leaders going to college.”

Parents will drop off their students on June 23 and participate in an orientation lunch.

Throughout the week students will attend classes in video production and creative writing, participate in various exercise and recreation activities, and hear from motivational speakers, career counselors, and advisors on how to apply for admission to college and financial aid. One activity added to the program last year is practice writing personal essays based on prompts contained in the UC application.

A majority of the students come from Southern California, but in the past have included others from Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Arizona and Alaska, said Joshua Gonzales, director of Native American Student Programs at UCR.

“More than 90 percent of these students do go on to some form of college,” Gonzales said.

Gathering of the Tribes is sponsored by Native American Student Programs and the Native American Education Program, a UCR chancellor’s initiative intended to encourage American Indian students and parents to embrace higher education.