Tribal history and culture to be taught at all MSD schools

Marysville School Board members, MSD Native American Liaisons, Denny Hurtado of WA Office of Native Education and Dr. Kyle Kinoshita the Ex. Dir. of Learning and Teaching, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, following the passing of Since Time Immemorial curriculum in MSD schools. (Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

Marysville School Board members, MSD Native American Liaisons, Denny Hurtado of WA Office of Native Education and Dr. Kyle Kinoshita the Ex. Dir. of Learning and Teaching, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, following the passing of Since Time Immemorial curriculum in MSD schools. (Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

MSD adopts Since Time Immemorial curriculum during regular board meeting

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

MARYSVILLE – The work to correct history began long before the Marysville School Board met on December 8, to vote on adopting accurate tribal history and culture via the Since Time Immemorial curriculum into their district schools. The idea was first introduced by then newly elected Rep., John McCoy (D-Tulalip), in HB 1495 on January 26, 2005. The bill proposed requiring school districts to offer tribal history and culture along with Washington State and United States history curriculum. It passed 78-18 in the House on March 9, 2005. However, since then school districts have lagged in offering accurate tribal history on the 29 federally recognized tribes located in Washington state. On December 8, MSD decided to unanimously pass adopting the Since Time Immemorial curriculum as part of required curriculum in all their schools.

“This is awesome. This is a big district and to have a school board adopt it means a lot to us at the Native Office of Education, us as Indian people, and the people who created it. This is a great thing, because they are saying how important it is to start teaching about our history and our culture,” said Denny Hurtado, the outgoing Director of Washington Office of Native Education, following the vote.

STI is the result of partnership between the State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, private and public agencies and several of the 29 federal recognized tribes in Washington state. The curriculum provides a basic framework of Indian history and understanding of sovereignty for grades k-12. Aligned with the Common Core standards for English, language and art, STI lessons can be adapted by teachers to reflect the specific histories of tribes in their local area.

Denny Hurtado, outgoing WA Office of Native Education Director speaks to Marysville School Board, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, on developing Since Time Immemorial curriculum. (Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

Denny Hurtado, outgoing WA Office of Native Education Director speaks to Marysville School Board, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, on developing Since Time Immemorial curriculum. (Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

Teachers Shana Brown from the Seattle School District who is of Yakima dependency, Jerry Price, a middle school teacher with the Yelm School District and Elese Washines, an educator in the Yakima Nation Tribal schools, developed the curriculum under the leadership of Hurtado. STI was designed not just for non-Native students, but also for Native students. Its purpose, explained Hurtado to MSD board members, is to breakdown Native American stereotypes and misconceptions and to build bridges between tribal communities and non-Native communities.

“All they [students] know about us is what they learned in school, which is very little, and what you see on TV, which is not true, and what you read about during Columbus Day and Halloween,” Hurtado said before the vote.  “I didn’t want this curriculum to seem like it was just an Indian thing. This was a true partnership to develop something good for our school to use. The purpose is to build bridges between our community and your community. That is a big point for us Indian people, because we have a lot of mistrust of the education system because our first experience of education was the military boarding schools.”

Over 1,000 teachers have received STI training by the Washington State Office of Native Education and 30 percent of school districts in Washington are using STI curriculum in some shape or form. Montana, Oregon and Alaska have also adopted STI curriculum in their school districts, and currently the Seattle School Board is looking into implementing it into their schools.

Tulalip member and MSD Native Liaison Eliza Davis speaks to Marysville School Board members, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, on the importance of accurate tribal history in school curriculum. (Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

Tulalip member and MSD Native Liaison Eliza Davis speaks to Marysville School Board members, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, on the importance of accurate tribal history in school curriculum. (Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

Matt Remle, a Lakota Native from the Standing Rock Reservation and Native American Liaison with MSD, who was present for the voting, said the change was long overdue. Fellow liaison, Eliza Davis, Tulalip tribal member, said the history of her own Tribe was lacking during her high school education.

“I graduated from Marysville-Pilchuck High School. I remember in Washington State history we watched the movie “Appaloosa.” That is what I remember of Washington State history. I don’t remember learning a whole lot about our Indian people or about Tulalip Tribes. I support the curriculum 100 percent. It is so important for our kids, all of our kids, and the whole community to understand the true history of all Washington Tribes, and also the history of Tulalip, Marysville, and what Tulalip does for this community as a whole. I think adopting this curriculum is the right direction.”

“I am excited for this day. I am excited about this and I am ready to approve this. We should have had this a long time ago,” said MSD board member Chris Nation right before the unanimous vote.

For more information on STI, please visit the website www.indian-ed.org.

 

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

 

Comcast and NBCUniversal Donate Over $5 Million in Advertising in Partnership with American Indian College Fund to Raise Awareness about Higher Education Needs in Native American Communities

SOURCE:  American Indian College Fund

DENVER, Oct. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The American Indian College Fund (the College Fund), a national Native education non-profit, today announced that Comcast and NBCUniversal is partnering with them to further the cause of Native American higher education with a donation of $5 million of advertising for its 2015 public service announcement (PSA) on its cable system and an additional gift of $500,000 of in-kind services and cash. The support will help the College Fund launch its 25(th) anniversary goals to increase Native American scholarship support and financial assistance for the nation’s tribal colleges and universities to increase the number of Native Americans with a higher education.

Comcast and NBCUniversal’s commitment follows its 2013 donation of more than $6.35 million in television advertising time for the College Fund’s 30-second Help A Student Help A Tribe (www.tribalcollege.org) PSA. Comcast and NBCUniversal played the advertisement over several weeks in nine major metropolitan markets at prime viewing times, resulting in increased public awareness about the need to support Native higher education. Internationally renowned advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy and award-winning director Joe Pytka donated their talents to collaborate on the production of the  PSA, which depicts the impact one person has on their Native American community after earning a higher education.

“We are delighted to support the American Indian College Fund’s mission to provide Native American students with access to affordable, high quality education, and congratulate them on 25 years of making a meaningful difference in the lives of Native American youth,” said Charisse R. Lillie, Vice President of Community Investment for Comcast Corporation and President of the Comcast Foundation. “As we prepare to celebrate Native American Heritage Month, we are proud to support the next generation of Native American leaders who strive to continue their education through tribal colleges and universities.”

Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund said, “As indigenous people, we honor storytelling as a means of sharing our values and our way of life. The American Indian College Fund’s partnership with Comcast and NBCUniversal allows us to bring our story to a broader audience.  The engagement of all Americans in the education of tribal people is strengthened when they hear our story.  We appreciate that Comcast and NBCUniversal have allowed us to use their technology to share who we are with the rest of the country.  They are part of the movement to improve American Indian higher education and we are proud of our partnership with them.”

About the American Indian College Fund
Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest provider of support for Native higher education for 25 years. The College Fund provides an average of 6,000 scholarships annually and support for the nation’s 34 accredited tribal colleges and universities located on or near Indian reservations. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators. For more information, please visit www.collegefund.org.

American Indian College Fund

Kelso’s successful Indian Education programs mix classroom, culture

By Lauren Kronebusch, The Daily News

Kelso’s Indian Education Program shares the qualities of Hermia, a pint-sized but spirited character featured in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”

The core of the program is a small classroom on the first level of Wallace Elementary School. It protects a wealth of history. A glass display case full of traditional Native American objects greets visitors at the front entrance. Several bookshelves laden with children’s and educational books about Native American culture sit against a wall adorned with dream catchers. In the back of the classroom a map of the United States is stabbed with push pins locating which tribes students in the program have roots.

Shelley Hamrick, the program’s coordinator since 1997, sees the classroom as the source of the program’s strength and uniqueness. When the district formed its diversity committee around 1995, it had a broad mission that the room came to physically exemplify.

“(The district wanted) to make kids feel connected and included,” she said. “And then they saw everything that we have.”

Hamrick smiles as she sweeps her hand through the air to point to dozens of artifacts in the room, donated over time by community families. The district decided to give the program its permanent home at Wallace in 1997, when it moved from a portable classroom to a room inside the school.

Native American cultural education is having a big year in Kelso and the state. Kelso’s annual Pow Wow will celebrate its 30th anniversary in May. In March, Washington’s House of Representatives formalized the Friday after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day.

Kelso created its program in the 1970s in response to the federal Indian Education Act, adopted in 1972 to restore and preserve cultural traditions weakened when many Native American children were sent to boarding schools in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“It was kind of like (the government, schools and tribes) wanted to bring that (knowledge) back to the people,” Hamrick said of Kelso’s participation in the Indian Education Act.

Few other districts in their area have built up their Indian Education programs as thoroughly as has Kelso. When Hamrick began as a tutor in 1989, the program had about 240 students. The program has 400 students this year. Hamrick said the district now includes students with ancestral links to 63 tribes. The program’s success, Hamrick said, has been a result of a close working relationship between her and district administrators that Hamrick said fosters a sense of inclusion for the district’s Native students.

Hamrick said the program’s educational and cultural missions reinforce each other.

“Many students who were really, really struggling in school, they’d get some extra help in school, and they’d start valuing their culture, because they (didn’t) have that connection to the reservation anymore or maybe they didn’t at all,” she said.

Wallace Elementary students beat on a rawhide drum with LaMere. Photo/ Roger Werth / The Daily News

Wallace Elementary students beat on a rawhide drum with LaMere. Photo/ Roger Werth / The Daily News

Lory Evans brings her two grandchildren to Tuesday’s culture class. She said it has helped her and her children feel more connected to their Native American heritage.

“I thought they should have some of the culture,” Evans said. “I never got any (cultural education) when I grew up so I wanted them to have some.”

Her granddaughter Kaydince Evans talked excitedly of the free “Ratatouille” cooking book she got from the program. Her grandson Quincy Evans picked “Buffalo Before Breakfast,” a Magic Tree House series novel. He said it only took him a few days to read. Both books come from First Book Grants, which donated more than 2,200 books in the last five years.

Marie Dancing Star LaMere, a Native drummer, singer, dancer and educator, teaches the program’s culture class.

She said she thinks Native Americans learn differently. Like herself, she said her students are more oral learners. LaMere said that’s why she tries to teach her culture class through demonstration and activity.

“I think that’s our culture,” she said. “Just like our stories — they’re passed down from generation to generation (through speech).”

Program tutor and parent Elizabeth Jones said the culture class has helped keep her and her children connected to her tribe, the Lummi of western Washington.

“It’s so hands-on, they don’t even realize they’re (learning),” Jones said. “They don’t understand that while they’re having fun, they’re getting the education part of it, too.”

LaMere said her culture class is most effective for a simple reason: it’s fun.

“Kids love movement,” she said.

LaMere’s class involves plenty of it. The room boomed Tuesday night with the guttural voice of a raw hide drum, beaten as LaMere sang a coastal Native American song to the class. Students circled the display case, rowing along to her song with drum sticks.

LaMere said the program reaches students at a level beyond the cultural and educational.

“I think it touches on a spiritual level as well,” she said.

UW seeks tribes’ help to recruit, retain Native American students

 

David "Napos" Turney Sr., who serves a mentor to Native American students at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, talks Tuesday about the challenges of increasing UW System enrollment among young people from the state’s tribes. Photo Mark Hoffman


David “Napos” Turney Sr., who serves a mentor to Native American students at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, talks Tuesday about the challenges of increasing UW System enrollment among young people from the state’s tribes. Photo Mark Hoffman

By Karen Herzog, Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

Green Bay — Students at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay who want to learn about the state’s American Indian tribes don’t turn to books, but to tribal elders who live on nearby reservations and keep office hours in Wood Hall.

It’s a unique opportunity for any student on campus to sit face-to-face with a tribal member who is a repository of knowledge and wisdom passed on to him by his elders — everything from tribal beliefs and teachings to tribal culture, language and faith in the Great Spirit, the Creator.

Green Bay is within 100 miles of five Indian reservations for the: Oneida, Menominee, Ho-Chunk, Stockbridge-Munsee and Mole Lake. The Oneida reservation is on the city’s outskirts.

It would be logical to assume UW-Green Bay draws a large number of Native American students with its proximity to tribal lands. But like the rest of the UW System, UW-Green Bay’s enrollment of Native students is flat, while the numbers of other underrepresented minorities are growing.

Last fall, only 98 of UW-Green Bay’s 6,667 students were Native American. Systemwide, 679 of the 154,446 undergraduates at campuses across the state identified themselves as Native Americans — 0.4% of the total enrollment.

In an effort to better understand why that is — and what can be done to help more Native American students in Wisconsin earn college degrees — the UW System Board of Regents invited leaders of the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council to join them Friday at an unprecedented meeting in Stevens Point.

It may be the first time tribal leaders have sat down with leaders of the state’s system of higher education, UW officials said. UW Regent Ed Manydeeds and UW System President Ray Cross attended a Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council meeting in July to extend the invitation.

“The history that happened to these people didn’t happen that long ago,” said Manydeeds, the first Native American regent and a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

“They’ve never been asked anything; they’ve just been directed,” Manydeeds said. “They are entitled to the same careful relationship-building as others. We owe it to these people, like everyone else, to have a chance to be educated. We want them to help us help their students be successful.”

Wisconsin’s Native American population is about 1% of the total population, but the numbers have increased 12.6% since the 2000 census.

The state has 11 federally recognized tribes. About 45% of the Native American population is in the state’s metropolitan areas; 13.7% (7,313 people) lived in Milwaukee County in 2008.

UW-Oshkosh last year had the UW System’s highest Native American enrollment (117), followed by UW-Milwaukee (114), UW-Madison (112) and UW-Green Bay (98).

The Wisconsin Technical College System has about twice as many Native American students as the UW System. The state’s two tribal colleges have about the same as the UW System.

Increasing Native American enrollment may require a shift in campus culture, according to tribal elders at UW-Green Bay. There’s a need for non-Native students to understand and respect Native American culture, and a need for Native students to feel like they fit in on college campuses.

UW-Green Bay has a First Nations Studies program that focuses on Wisconsin’s Native American tribes and bands, and is considered a model for building understanding and respect of tribal cultures. It reaches students who are interested in a First Nations Studies major or minor, students learning to be teachers, and students in general education classes such as history.

David Voelker, an associate professor of Humanistic Studies and History, set out several years ago to fuse First Nations content with his American history classes because he wanted to teach in a way that was relevant and respectful. He has learned from tribal elders and colleagues in the First Nations Studies program.

“Part of it is reminding everyone that First Nations still exist,” said Voelker, who grew up in Indiana and had only a rudimentary exposure to Native American history while working toward his master’s degree and doctorate in American history.

“Just having more knowledge and respect is important,” Voelker said. “It’s hard to be respectful if you’re ignorant.”

Tim Kaufman, chair of the Education Department, considers the elders in residence the heart and soul of the Education Center for First Nations Studies. Students learning to be teachers take courses in First Studies and meet with tribal elders to help them better understand Wisconsin’s tribes so they can teach specific content in K-12 schools, as required by Wisconsin Act 31.

“One of the real focuses on this center and the program is interdisciplinary connections,” Kaufman said.

The First Nations Studies program teaches history, sovereignty, laws and policies, and indigenous philosophy. Students also learn about the contemporary status of bands and nations, according to Lisa Poupart, associate professor of Humanistic Studies, First Nations Studies and Women’s Studies.

Poupart is chair and adviser for the First Nation Studies program, and is an enrolled member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Anishinabe (Ojibwe).

Menominee elders David “Napos” Turney Sr., and Richie Plass enjoy sitting down with students who stop by the First Nations Studies office in Wood Hall to ask questions. Many of the students are non-Native, and know nothing about Native culture.

They talk about everything from the degradation of school mascots to cultural stereotypes.

For example, “everybody thinks if you’re Native American and have a casino, you’re rich,” Plass said.

Plass, a published poet, was an Indian mascot in high school in 1968, and remembers traveling to another school where students threw banana peels, orange peels and paper cups at him. Then they spit on him.

“To me, there’s no honor in having people laugh at me, throw food on me and spit on me,” he said. Plass travels around the country with an exhibit he created on Native American imagery, showing both the “good” and culturally correct items from Native American culture and the “not so good” images, such as school mascots.

Turney said when he meets students, he asks who they are, where they are from and whether they have ever been around Native Americans. He is a Vietnam War veteran. He also works with students in Green Bay schools as a traditional elder in residence for the Title 7 cultural program.

Turney teaches Menominee at UW-Green Bay and in Green Bay public schools. Today, there are only five first-language Menominee speakers on the tribal rolls of 9,000 people, he said.

Turney and Plass sat deep in thought when asked why there aren’t more Native American students on UW campuses.

Part of it is the devastation of addiction on reservations, they said. “There’s some very smart Indian kids who didn’t graduate from high school because they were cutting the rug,” Plass said.

Tribal colleges on tribal lands have helped raise the numbers of college educated American Indians, he said.

Some Native Americans don’t realize they need a college degree until they are adults, Turney said. He didn’t earn his bachelor’s degree until he was 50.

Why did it take him so long?

“I didn’t think I was ready for it and I didn’t think I could do it,” he said. “When I was young, I also was worried they would change my way of thinking or who I was if I went to college. I was really proud of who I was.”

It also can be hard for Native American youths to fit in on college campuses because there are so few students like them, Turney and Plass said.

Plass said many youths just don’t want to leave the reservation — sovereign land where they can hunt and fish whenever they want.

And then there’s racism. “That’s a very uncomfortable subject to come out,” Plass said.

Turney recalled that the Inter-tribal Student Council on campus several years ago met resistance from the non-Native student government when they sought funding to serve Native food at a powwow. The Native students were angry and chose not to have the powwow as a friendly boycott.

They brought the powwow back two years ago, when UW-Green Bay was recognized among the top schools in the U.S. for Native American students, said Turney, who was the group’s adviser.

Native students look at the tribal elders in residence as campus allies. “We have to help non-Native students learn about us,” Turney said Native students tell him.

Turney said he doesn’t preach going to college, but believes the key to success for Native American students is knowing who they are and taking pride in their culture.

“If your roots are strong, there’s no wind that can blow you over,” he said.

American Indian College Fund Poised for Growth

American Indian College FundDr. Cheryl Crazy Bull gets acquainted with her new resource and development staff during a staff retreat in the fall of 2012 when she took the reins as the president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund.

American Indian College Fund
Dr. Cheryl Crazy Bull gets acquainted with her new resource and development staff during a staff retreat in the fall of 2012 when she took the reins as the president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund.

 

Christina Rose, 9/3/14, Indian Country Today

 

From small local tribal colleges to regional and national institutions, more Native students are opting for a college education, on their terms, than ever before. Simply by doing what needs to be done, tribal colleges are leading the national trend in higher education to develop programs that serve their own community.

Tribal schools are re-shaping Indian country, and here, Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, speaks about the College Fund’s impact on Native students, tribal colleges, and communities.

Are there reasons besides location that Native students choose tribal colleges?

Tribal colleges are a place where you go to school with people like yourself. It’s a sanctuary, an environment to explore your identity and your place in the world while furthering your professional and career goals.

Tribal colleges don’t teach about Indians, they teach Indians, and that is a significant difference. The intention, the mission, the vision, of the tribal college is so grounded in saving who we are and being who we are. You can probably get that social network when you go to other institutions, but you are not going to get the intensity or the breadth of it the way you do at a tribal college, and that’s very rewarding.

How many Native students attend tribal colleges?

Tribal colleges comprise about 20,000 students of probably 180,000 Native students across the country. Most of the time, our institutions educate more American Indians than other institutions. We are a very significant and important participant in the higher education systems in this country, not only because we educate American Indian and Alaska Native students, but because we are also educating rural Americans. Many times, we are the place where rural families are able to get a college education.

 

Sitting High Construction carpentry students at Aaniiih Nakoda College. (Aaniiih Nakoda College)
Sitting High Construction carpentry students at Aaniiih Nakoda College. (Aaniiih Nakoda College)

 

How many students does the organization fund?

We fund about 6,000 students, probably about one-quarter of our applicants. We primarily support Native American students in tribal colleges, but we currently give 8 to 10 percent of our scholarships to Native students attending other institutions.

The College Fund’s scholarship programs range from smaller scholarships of less than copy,000 to scholarships as high as copy0,000 depending on the wishes of the donor. Some scholarships are supported by donors for specific fields, such as healthcare or business majors. Many scholarships are funded through endowments established by donors and others are funded through annual contributions.

We know of course that there are a significant number of Native students at tribal colleges who don’t apply. Some first generation, low income, college students don’t necessarily understand financial aid or scholarships. We have had a significant increase over the years of scholarship applicants, but we still have a long way to go to serve all of the students, and to fully fund students, which is as important as the number of students who participate.

How do tribal colleges change communities?

A special characteristic of the tribal colleges is that they are very much embedded in their community. They are founded by their communities, they serve their communities wishes, and the degree programs of the tribal colleges are almost always driven by community demand.

We were on the cutting edge of creating community-based baccalaureate programs and we didn’t even know it. We were just doing the work that needed to be done—creating the kind of programs that served the career and professional needs of our communities. Today, that’s a big driver for a lot of higher education institutions. We were already doing that, and we might be doing that a lot. We might be the leading provider of adult education or rural education, simply because we are doing the work we are called upon to do. We are often invisible.

What kind of degree programs do tribal colleges offer?

Tribal colleges are a combination of community and comprehensive institutions. I think about 15 or 16 offer bachelor’s degrees, and a few are now offering master’s degrees. Some offer career and technical education as well as professional degrees like teaching and counseling. More and more are offering degree programs in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields, and business is one of the most popular majors of tribal college students.

 

Comanche Nation College students check out what’s under the microscope (Comanche Nation College)
Comanche Nation College students check out what’s under the microscope (Comanche Nation College)

 

Besides scholarships, how is College Fund money used?

The College Fund provides support to tribal colleges in these areas:

Faculty development, which includes funding individuals to complete graduate degrees and to participate in research;

Training faculty to be better teachers;

We are a re-granter for funders who are interested in developing an area of programming, such as cultural and traditional arts or sustainability. We work with tribal colleges to expand their curriculum or maybe provide internships or fellowships for students, or train faculty to teach in those areas. I don’t want to say we are just a conduit to give them resources, because we also provide them with technical assistance, giving them the resources they need to be successful.

We also provide some support to the tribal colleges for operations. It’s not a lot, but it’s money they can use for whatever they wish, operationally. This money comes from the proceeds of endowments and money we get from fund raising.

 

Dr. Cheryl Crazy Bull (right) introduces the tribal college presidents at the “Honoring the Presidents” grand entry during the 2013 AIHEC Student Conference in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This was her first AIHEC as the president of the College Fund. Also in the photo: Jim Davis, (left) president of Turtle Mountain Community College; Lionel Bordeaux, (center) president of Sinte Gleska University; and Maggie George, president of Dine College. (American Indian College Fund)
Dr. Cheryl Crazy Bull (right) introduces the tribal college presidents at the “Honoring the Presidents” grand entry during the 2013 AIHEC Student Conference in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This was her first AIHEC as the president of the College Fund. Also in the photo: Jim Davis, (left) president of Turtle Mountain Community College; Lionel Bordeaux, (center) president of Sinte Gleska University; and Maggie George, president of Dine College. (American Indian College Fund)

 

What is on the horizon for the College Fund?

Our 25th anniversary is coming up in October and we are positioned for dramatic growth. The College Fund has enjoyed incremental growth over the years and we intend to have exponential growth. Since I came here two years ago, we have spent a lot of time really focusing on market research and developing a new strategic plan. We are looking at best practices, at what do we want to strengthen and improve in our work.

The need is so great that we feel we have to bring a dramatically greater amount of resources to our organization to share with the tribal colleges and students.

We have support in all directions. Tribes really support the College Fund because they recognize that tribal colleges provide higher education to the tribes. We also have a lot of support from corporations and foundations. They can invest in us to steward their resources well in distributing to the colleges and students; they know we have great success with their resources. Individual donors want to be part of a movement, and they want to see a better America. They want to see minority and low-income people have the opportunity to succeed. The College Fund can be a conduit to helping our donors achieve their goals while helping Native students succeed.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/09/03/american-indian-college-fund-poised-growth-156574

Native Education Situation Dire, Says Report; Sequestration Not Helping

education-trust-native-reportBy Rob Capriccioso, Indian Country Today Media Network

The Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that focuses on student achievement gaps, has released a new report, “The State of Education for Native Students,” and the state is not good—to say the least.

The report, issued in August, notes that despite recent progress in improving achievement among most students of color, achievement results for Native students have remained nearly flat, and as achievement has stagnated, the gaps separating Native students from their peers have mostly widened.

The hard numbers are eye-opening. “In 2011, only 18 percent of Native fourth-graders were proficient or advanced in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), compared with 42 percent of white fourth-graders,” the report states. “In math, only 17 percent of Native eighth-graders were proficient or advanced, and nearly half (46 percent) performed below even the basic level. For white students, the pattern was almost exactly the reverse, with 17 percent below basic and 43 percent proficient or advanced.” NAEP results for Native students improved more slowly between 2005 and 2011 than for any other major ethnic group. “As a result, while Native students were performing better in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math than African American and Latino students in 2005, by 2011 that lead had all but disappeared,” the report finds.

On the higher education front, the report finds that of the Native students who enrolled in a four-year college in the fall of 2004, only 39 percent completed a bachelor’s degree within six years. It was the lowest graduation rate for any group of students.

“Our country’s focus on raising achievement for all groups of students has left behind one important group—Native students,” said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, in a statement. “To ensure that all Native students succeed, we must do more and better for them starting now.”

“There’s an urgent need to pick up the pace of improvement for Native students in this country,” added Natasha Ushomirsky, Education Trust’s senior data and policy analyst and author of the brief.

The good news is that the poor trends are far from inevitable, as the report points out that some states, schools and institutions of higher education are already working hard to ensure progress for Native students.

Still, there’s a long, long way to go, said Native education experts who have reviewed the report.

Quinton Roman Nose, executive director of the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly, said the report paints a dire picture that Indian education experts have long been asking the federal government to heed and change for the better. He believes the information presented in the report offers a starting point for more research as to why there has been little progress under the Obama administration for Native students. “I wish there were more information regarding local partnerships between tribes, local education agencies and state education agencies,” Roman Nose added. “The recent State Tribal Education Partnership grant has awarded four grants to have tribal education agencies partner with local education agencies and state education agencies in developing selected title programs from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.”

Heather Shotton, president of the National Indian Education Association, said her organization is “troubled” by the achievement statistics highlighted in the report, but it helps to focus on some success stories that illustrate these trends are not irreversible.

“As noted in the report, some states are currently raising Native academic achievement outcomes,” Shotton said. “Among other successes, increased tribal and Native community involvement in Oregon and Oklahoma ensure Native-serving schools include culture-based education and provide resources for language immersion, which as research shows, increases academic outcomes.”

But the biggest problem for both programs that are struggling and for those that are succeeding in aiding Native students, Shotton said, is ongoing federal sequestration that inordinately harms Indians dependent on federal funds.

“[S]equestration has limited the success of such programs—disproportionately affecting America’s most vulnerable populations,” Shotton said. “For tribes and educators working tirelessly to reverse the disparaging statistics, sequestration has reduced budgets, increased class sizes, and reduced staff when Native students need them most.”

RELATED: Every Child Left Behind: Sequester Guts Indian Education, Part 1

NIEA is currently asking federal lawmakers to leave Native education programs held unharmed as sequestration continues to be implemented, or for Congress to work with the Obama administration to implement a planned reduction measure, rather than across-the-board cuts that disproportionately diminish the education of those who need it most—Native students.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/09/24/native-education-situation-dire-says-report-sequestration-not-helping-151426

Professor helps students, community see sky as Natives did

Is it the Big Dipper or a fisher shining in the night sky?

Annette Lee sits in the planetarium with constellations behind her at Cloud State University. (Photo by Stacy Thacker/St. Cloud Times)

Annette Lee sits in the planetarium with constellations behind her at Cloud State University. (Photo by Stacy Thacker/St. Cloud Times)

Source: The Buffalo Post

According to Native lore, the constellation of stars is a fisher that jumped into the sky while chasing its dinner. A professor in Minnesota is helping tell the story of Native stars and stories.

Ann Wessel of the St. Cloud Times has the story about Annette Lee’s work.Lee, assistant professor of astronomy and physics, explained to a room full of teachers attending a summer conference at St. Cloud State, that in Ojibwe culture the fisher is a clever, fierce and brave animal and a good fighter. It climbed a pine tree and jumped through a hole in the sky to bring back the birds and, therefore, the spring. Fishers are constantly on the move, sleeping for only a few hours before returning to the hunt. Like the fisher, the Big Dipper is constantly on the move in the sky.

On the Dakota star map, the Big Dipper contains the Blue Spirit Woman, who helps newborns pass from the star world to Earth and back again.

Through the Native Starwatchers Project, Lee has introduced audiences in Minnesota and throughout the U.S. to some Dakota and Ojibwe constellations and the stories they carry. Minnesota teachers are tuning in because state science standards require instructors to show how people from other cultures, including the state’s American Indian tribes, have contributed to science.

“I think it’s important for people to understand that although the mainstream science uses European and Greek (constellations), it’s important to know it comes from a certain culture,” Lee said later. “There are many ways of knowing, and that’s just one way.”

Lee said she hoped her efforts would give native people a better sense of their own history — a history that is being lost in a culture where stories were spoken, not written.

“Part of it’s recognizing all different cultures. We all have our connection to the stars, and that’s one of the few things in this day and age that connects us,” Lee said.