Tulalip movers and shakers form Native youth council

by Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News 

 

Chena Fryberg announces her candidacy for the Youth Council media coordinator.Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil

Chena Fryberg announces her candidacy for the Youth Council media coordinator.
Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil

 

Native youth across Indian country are assembling to make a difference in their communities. They are known as the Gen-I movers and what they say will be heard by top-level leaders in Washington D.C. The goal is to get youth involved in their communities and to remove barriers to education and health opportunities, while growing leaders for future generations.

Generation Indigenous was announced at the 2015 United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) midyear conference. Issued by President Obama this call to action, “is the first step in engaging a broad network of people interested in addressing the issues facing Native youth and creating a platform through which Native youth can access information about opportunities and resources, and have their voices and positive contributions highlighted and elevated.”

Tulalip youth have answered the challenge by creating the first ever Tulalip Youth Council. The thirteen-member council elected their officers on Wednesday, May 13, 2015.

Officers include co-chairs Andrew Davis and Mikaylee Pablo, vice-chairs Kayah George and Jlynn Joseph, secretary Ruth Pablo, treasure/ fundraiser coordinator Isabel Gomez, event coordinator Keryn Parks, media coordinator Cyena Fryberg, recruitment coordinator Tahera Mealing, and junior co-chairs Arnold Reeves and Krislyn Parks. Senior advisors are Santana Shopbell and Deyamonta Diaz. Each officer will hold a six-month term to establish the council. Elections will be held in November for one-year terms.

“This is something we have been looking forward to for many years,” said Marie Zackuse, Tulalip Tribes Board Secretary. “We want to hear from you. We know what we think might be important to you but we want to hear what is important to you, and through this we can.”

Many youth running for council mentioned wanting equal rights to opportunities and expressed a desire to support all youth in having a voice on the council.

“I want every single voice to be heard and I want us to be the voice of change in the Tribe, not just talk about it, but be that change,” said Kayah George, vice-chair.

“I speak from my heart and I want to see my community change in a positive way. I want to break the chain in my family and graduate from high school,” said Mikaylee Pablo, who encouraged her peers in her election speech to prove people wrong about negative reputations. Pablo was elected as co-chair along with Andrew Davis, who said he wants to get youth involved with community events and have a youth presence at ceremonies.

Mikaylee Pablo, the new Tulalip Youth Council female co-chair, listens as other candidates to the youth council discuss changes they would like to see happen in their community.Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil

Mikaylee Pablo, the new Tulalip Youth Council female co-chair, listens as other candidates to the youth council discuss changes they would like to see happen in their community.
Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil

 

While no projects have been decided on yet, youth will meet regularly and participate in national challenges such as working in their community and volunteering with local organizations or schools. Meetings will be scheduled at a later date for the council to brainstorm with youth on how to address issues of concern in the community.

As part of the national Gen-I challenge, youth will document their community efforts and projects through photos and video, which will be used to share their stories at the National Native Youth Network. Youth will also have the opportunity to represent their tribal communities at the first ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering in D.C. this summer.

“You all are future leaders,” said Zackuse. “You are role models and we are excited to see what you achieve.”

 

For more information on the Tulalip Youth Council please contact Jessica Bustad, Tulalip Youth Services Education Coordinator at 425-280-8705 or Natasha Fryberg at 425-422-9276.

 

Contact Brandi N. Montreuil, bmontreuil@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

 

 

 

 

Rapid City man awarded $10K grant to start Pine Ridge youth running camps

By John Lee McLaughlin, Rapid City Journal

James Pine, 23, goes on a run Friday afternoon in his southwest Rapid City neighborhood. Pine has been awarded a $10,000 grant to start a youth fitness camp this summer called Lakota Forever Running and Fitness in each of the eight districts of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. (Josh Morgan, Journal staff)

James Pine, 23, goes on a run Friday afternoon in his southwest Rapid City neighborhood. Pine has been awarded a $10,000 grant to start a youth fitness camp this summer called Lakota Forever Running and Fitness in each of the eight districts of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. (Josh Morgan, Journal staff)

James Pine has his heart set on empowering the Oglala Lakota, both young and old.

And Pine, 23, of Rapid City, has been awarded a $10,000 grant to take his desire and run with it. He is one of 10 recipients of the Dreamstarter grant program, which is administered by Running Strong, an American Indian youth nonprofit based in Alexandria, Va.

Each of the 10 awardees received $10,000 to start youth camps promoting health and wellness across the nation. Each will work with a mentoring nonprofit to help implement their startup camps.

Pine, who works at Dakota Business Center delivering office supplies and installing office furniture, will be working with Dustin Martin, program director for Wings of America in Santa Fe, N.M.

Born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Pine knows firsthand the problems that people there deal with daily.

“There’s not much to do,” he said last week in a phone interview while he was at the Dreamstarter Academy in Washington, D.C. “There are a lot of bad habits. There’s a lot of suicide. There are a lot of drugs and alcohol, and there’s not much to turn to. On a daily basis, a lot of people are bored, and they want to hang out with their friends, and they do bad things.”

An avid runner, Pine said, “I just want to bring my people up. I just want to help them out. I want to be a mentor and a coach. I just want to help the youth, and not even just the youth. I want to help everybody, elders, too, old people, tall, small — anybody.”

This summer, Pine said, he will be starting a series of two-day youth camps, dubbed Lakota Forever Running and Fitness, in eight communities across the reservation. He hopes to start the camps in June, continuing through August.

Pine is a former state-qualifying cross-country and track runner for Pine Ridge High School.

“Running has helped me in a major way, and I don’t even know if I can put it into words, but it was just an awesome thing because when I was younger, growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation, I went through the hardships, just like everyone else,” he said.

Running Strong was co-founded by 1964 Olympic champion Billy Mills, an Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, who to date is the only American to win a gold medal in the Olympic 10,000-meter run.

“Billy Mills, he played an important role in my life,” Pine said. “He was kind of like a hero, just someone to look up to. He was like the glimmer of hope. You know, you see all these NBA stars and these people on TV, and none of them are Native American. Some people get it in their head: ‘Oh, I can never be that,’ but then you look at Billy Mills. He’s a national idol.”

Pine applied to the Dreamstarter Program with friend and colleague Martin. The duo met last summer at a Wings of America program that trained Pine and others to facilitate youth running and fitness camps.

“Immediately, James stepped into a leadership role and was a leader for those facilitators that came down from Pine Ridge,” Martin said. “It was obvious to me that they looked up to him, and they respected his guidance when he gave it. So when we had this opportunity to apply for this grant, it was a no-brainer for me.”

Pine’s father, Dale, has been a long-time supporter of Wings of America running and fitness programs, Martin said. Dale Pine has coached at Pine Ridge High School for more than 25 years.

He is a leading force of Team One Spirit, which facilitates running programs and raises funds for youth on the reservation. The team sent James Pine to run with four other Oglala Lakota runners in the New York City Marathon. The group is collectively called the Lakota Five. Pine finished the 26-mile, 385-yard race with a time of 3:52:31.

Partnering with Pine to start running camps at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is a natural transition from an already strong partnership, Martin said.

“Dale Pine has been a longtime advocate and helper of Wings of America, and I sort of see myself as the next generation of Wings,” he said. “In a lot of ways, I see James as the continuation of that legacy, you know, and myself included, so together, he and I can continue that legacy of Wings working in South Dakota, and particularly in Pine Ridge.”

Pine said Wings of America has granted him an additional $9,000 to start the Pine Ridge running camps, which he said will incorporate games, mentorship and wellness education, all the while promoting the sport of running.

“Everything is going to revolve around running and being healthy and living a good, natural life,” he said. “If you make a game out of it, it’s very interesting and fun to them, even though they will be running the whole time.”

Pine said he will coordinate with schools on the reservation to see what gym space is available for his camps, though there’s always the option of holding them outdoors. He said he will also be seeking sponsorships from local businesses.

Running “took me a lot of places, and it brought me to where I am now,” said Pine, who lives in Rapid City with his girlfriend and 1-year-old daughter. “I’m a dad now. I just changed my life around … I just feel obligated to help my people and give back to the community.”

America Is Trying to Fix a Mental Health Crisis That It Created

Lawmakers and advocates are trying to help Native American youths, who are dying in record numbers.

(Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

(Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

By Jamilah King, Takepart.com

Julian Juan was only 13 when he noticed the scars. A high school freshman on the Tohono O’Odham Reservation, about an hour and a half southwest of Tucson, Arizona, Juan had a tight-knit group of seemingly gregarious friends. But even in southern Arizona’s desert heat, some of those friends wore long-sleeved shirts. Once, a friend’s sleeve rode up high enough to reveal scarred flesh.

“When I asked about it, they would say, ‘Oh, I cut myself doing yard work,’ or ‘I got caught in a fence,’ ” Juan remembered. He persistently pushed them for the truth. “They would say they were having these thoughts and would never fully explain,” he said. He could tell the people closest to him were suffering. And he wanted to do something about it.

Today, Juan is a 23-year-old junior at the University of New Mexico who serves as a youth cabinet member in the National Congress of American Indians, the largest advocacy organization for Native Americans in the country, where he’s worked with a broad coalition of young people to put mental health among tribal elders’ top concerns.

“This issue is really taboo for people in my community,” he said. “They don’t like to talk about it, and it does hurt to talk about, but it’s not going away.”

There’s a growing mental health crisis among Native American youths, and it’s being driven by poverty, violence, and lack of resources. It’s difficult to definitively assess how pervasive the problem is, partly because cultural stigma about mental illness makes it difficult for experts to access many Native American communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death among Native Americans between the ages of 15 and 34—a  rate that’s two and a half times higher than the national average for that age group. The crisis appears to be afflicting Native American communities across the country.

On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, nearly 1,000 suicide attempts were reported between 2004 and 2013. In roughly the same period, the local hospital has apparently treated more than 240 people under age 19 who planned or tried to commit suicide.

The crisis is getting national attention. Earlier this month, First Lady Michelle Obama touted the Generation Indigenous Native Youth Challenge, a White House–backed initiative with the U.S. Department of the Interior. The initiative has the lofty goal  of “removing the barriers that stand between Native youth and their opportunity to succeed.”

The first lady outlined a “long history of systemic discrimination and abuse,” ranging from 19th-century laws that forcibly removed Native Americans from their land to the early-20th-century boarding schools that meticulously extinguished many tribes’ language and culture. Those injustices set the tone for the dire situation in many of today’s tribal communities. Here are the statistics, according to the American Psychiatric Association: Native Americans are more than twice as likely to live in poverty than the rest of the U.S. population. They’re also nearly twice as likely as to suffer psychological distress, usually in the form of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Given this history, we shouldn’t be surprised at the challenges that kids in Indian Country are facing today,” the first lady said. “And we should never forget that we played a role in this. Make no mistake about it—we own this.”

In November 2014, a U.S. Justice Department task force, led by retired Democratic U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, submitted a report to Attorney General Eric Holder outlining several actions that could help address the trauma experienced by Native American children. The task force recommended that a Native American Affairs Office be fully staffed within the White House Domestic Policy Council and more federal money be spent on funding tribal criminal and civil prosecutions.

People working in tribal communities are searching for answers. Sheri Lesansee is program manager of New Mexico’s Native American Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse. She says that understanding the diversity of 22 tribal communities is key to accessing their needs. “The outreach and technical assistance really does have to be tailored to meet the needs of that community,” Lesansee told TakePart, pointing to therapists who are well versed in the concepts of generational trauma and familiar with tribal family dynamics. At the same time, Lesanee said it’s important to focus on the tools tribal communities already possess, such as endurance. “We believe—as Native people—we are strong and resilient, and we emphasize that in prevention efforts,” she said.

Jennifer Nanez, a senior program therapist at the University of New Mexico’s Native American Behavioral Health Program, said overt racism continues to play an important role in kids’ lives. “A lot of times the mainstream perspective is that Natives can’t seem to get out of this rut—and that it’s just a characteristic of an American Indian when it’s not,” Nanez said, before echoing the first lady’s sentiments. “[This] is the result of hundreds of years of oppression, and our kids are dealing with it.”

As proof, Nanez pointed to an instance from January when a group of Native American children attending a minor-league hockey game in South Dakota were accosted by a group of white men in a skybox above their seats. The men allegedly dumped beer and yelled racial slurs at the kids, and the story eventually made headlines. “They were getting drunk, and around the third quarter they were talking crap to our kids and throwing beer down on some of them, including our staff and students…telling our students to go back to the rez,” one chaperone wrote on Facebook.

New Mexico is one of a handful of states that have tried to address the problem through legislation. In 2011, the state legislature passed a bill that, in part, created the Native American Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse, which does outreach and consultation for various tribal communities.

Even Native Americans who don’t live in tribal communities feel the impact of the problem. Christian Redbird, 22, was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and has struggled with mental illness while attending community college. Members of her family suffered from undiagnosed mental illness. No one in her family had ever gone to therapy, and instead self-medicated with alcohol, she said. Redbird, the first person in her family to go to college, realized she didn’t have the familial and social networks to help her thrive.

“I work as a server in a restaurant and make more money than anyone in my family does,” she said. “It’s hard for me to know what steps to take when I don’t know what they are.”

Tulalip team sweeps through game tournament

Jay Miranda, Tulalip Boys & Girls Club games room director stands in front of the special display that houses the medals won in the March 7, 2015 Boys & Girls Club of Snohomish County Games Tournament. (Tulalip News Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

Jay Miranda, Tulalip Boys & Girls Club games room director stands in front of the special display that houses the medals won in the March 7, 2015 Boys & Girls Club of Snohomish County Games Tournament. (Tulalip News Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP – Tulalip Boys & Girls Club gaming team had an incredible performance at this year’s annual Snohomish County Boys & Girls Club Game Tournament on March 7. Players in the Tulalip team took home 12 medals including several first place spots, in a variety of game categories.

The annual event brings together club teams from around the county to compete in games such as bumper pool, checkers, pool, foosball, ping-pong and card games. This year the event was held at the Everett Boys & Girls Club.

The Tulalip team placed in the top three slots for each game category. Tulalip club members Gaylan Grey placed first in checkers and pool, and second in bumper pool. Terrance Phillips second in ping-pong, Mauricio Garcia first in foosball, Joshua Miranda third in pool, and Maximo Gonzalez third in checkers. Matthew Miranda placed first in ping-pong and second in foosball, while Marcella Gonzalez placed second in speed cards and Ayrik Miranda placed first in pool and third in bumper pool.

Tulalip Games Room Director Jay Miranda explains the tournament is more than just a bunch of kids playing games. Unlike other popular sport choices such as basketball and football, games in the tournament are played individually. They also help the kids develop skills that they can use later in life.

Medals won during the March 7, 2015 Boys & Girls Club of Snohomish County hang in a special display area inside the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club. (Tulalip News Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

Medals won during the March 7, 2015 Boys & Girls Club of Snohomish County hang in a special display area inside the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club.
(Tulalip News Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

“These games teach the kids strategic thinking, along with critical thinking skills. Bumper pool and pool are games about angles which helps in math at school because they have to look at the angles before they make their move. They have to calculate before they shoot,” said Miranda, who has been the director for just under year and incorporates a philosophy of fair play and respect with players.

“I tell the kids, when you get older you will learn life isn’t fair, but as long as you keep trying you will overcome the things that seem unfair in life. I tell them to always play to win,” said Miranda.

Unlike other clubs in the Boys & Girls Club of America chain, the club at Tulalip is uniquely tailored to the population it serves, which has a large percentage of Native American youth.

“We teach more than just the rules of the games. We teach about having morals and standards for personal growth and we incorporate traditional cultural teachings in our club,” Miranda said. “If there was no games room it would impact the other departments in the club with an overflow of kids. The games room gives them a competitive outlet. If we lose the games room, the kids lose the feeling of accomplishment.”

“This year was a great accomplishment,” Miranda said. “In last year’s tournament we had only three players, but this year we had seven and they did great.”

 

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

 

 

 

 

Secretary Jewell to Kick Off Native Youth Listening Tour

Obama Administration Officials to meet with young people across Indian Country to better understand and act on unique challenges facing Native Youth 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of President Obama’s Generation Indigenous (“Gen-I”) initiative to remove barriers standing between Native youth and their opportunity to succeed, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will kick off the Obama Administration Native Youth Listening Tour tomorrow, Tuesday, February 10, in the Phoenix, Arizona area with tribal visits and student discussions at Salt River Elementary and Gila River Crossing Community Schools.

During the sixth White House Tribal Nations Conference, President Obama announced that members of his Cabinet would visit Indian Country to hear directly from Native youth on how to bolster federal policies to help improve the lives and opportunities for the next generation of Indian Country. Over the coming year, Obama Administration Cabinet Secretaries will hold listening sessions with native youth across the country.

As part of her visit with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Secretary Jewell will learn about the tribe’s Family Advocacy Center which follows a ‘co-location’ model for social services, such as counseling, law enforcement and other professional social services. The Center serves as a national model for taking a ‘whole-of-child’ approach to youth and social services.

At the Gila River Crossing Community School, Secretary Jewell will meet with students who are part of Akimel O’odham/Pee-Posh Youth Council, an active and well-established youth council that has served to provide an avenue for empowerment and mutual support for native youth within the community.

According to a recent White House report, nearly half of Native American people (42 percent) are under the age of 24; more than one-third of Native children live in poverty; and Native youth have the lowest high school graduation rate of students across all schools.

Youth become government employees though summer program

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Fifteen-year-old Tulalip tribal member Demery Johnson, in her second year participating in the Tulalip Tribes Youth Employment Program, says her position in Tulalip Probation is helping her gain work skills she hopes to use in business administration one day. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Fifteen-year-old Tulalip tribal member Demery Johnson, in her second year participating in the Tulalip Tribes Youth Employment Program, says her position in Tulalip Probation is helping her gain work skills she hopes to use in business administration one day.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP – Each year Tulalip youth, 14 -18 years old, have a chance to gain work experience before graduation through the Tulalip Tribes Youth Employment Program. The program, funded by the Tulalip Tribes Youth Services Department, is designed to provide Native youth with a positive work experience to foster future growth.

This year funding was available originally for 70 positions with a stipulation that youth applying attend a three-day orientation and meet a 2.0 GPA standard. After receiving additional funding allocated by the Tulalip Board of Directors, the GPA restriction was removed and 30 additional positions added. The program, at the time of this article, had 75 youth employed.
“The most important role of this program in the community is that we are showing our youth that work and dedication is important. Starting work at a young age is a good thing, then they they turn 18, they are more prepared to get a job and be successful employees,” said Jessica Bustad, Tulalip Youth Services Education Coordinator.
The goal of the program she says “is to have youth gain skills, confidence and knowledge that they can use to obtain a full time job in the future.” This essentially puts youth who participate in the program ahead of their peers when applying for future jobs. These youth will have already established critical job skills that ensure success, such as abiding by professional standards, keeping confidentiality, and time management.
In fact, the Tribe has hired youth who have participated in the program said Bustad, due to the youth’s excellent work while in the program. “There have been several throughout the years and it is an awesome thing to see. Two years ago we had an 18-year-old start the Youth Employment Program and resign from it because she applied and received a regular position with the department she was assigned to.”
Youth are treated like regular employees, which means they are required to work a typical 40-hour workweek, a task that may seem daunting for those who are suddenly required to conduct themselves in a professional manner in a government setting, such as the Tulalip Tribes. However, many youth relish in the opportunity to be responsible. Demery Johnson is one of them.

Despite being only 15, and in her second year working in the program, she chose to work in the Tulalip Tribes Probation Department at the Tulalip Tribal Court, a position that requires strict confidentiality and professionalism.
“I chose this department because I wanted to get a more business feel,” said Johnson who worked last year at the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club and plans to open her own bakery one day. “I wanted to be able to put on my resume that I have worked in a professional environment. I have learned how probation works and how the court operates.”
Although a court house and a probation department may seem like high-risk positions to have youth work, Bustad explains the Tribe’s youth services education staff decide job placements based on surveys youth fill out that ask questions such as what their interests are.
“We provide the youth with a survey and look at what requests we have for youth. We try to place youth where they will be successful and interested. This can also be a challenge if we do not receive youth worker requests from departments that youth wish to work at,” said Bustad.
“This program helps in many different ways,” said Bustad. “Supervisors and co-workers provide youth with training and other learning opportunities within the departments. This program is teaching them good work ethics and how to communicate properly with others in the workforce.”
“This program benefits me and other youth in a way that we can actually experience what the real world is like and be put into real world situations and actually experience them with a little bit of training wheels instead of just being put into them without any guidance,” said Johnson, whose job duties include office tasks, such as answering phones, greeting clients, taking messages, and filing and data input. Her position in probation teaches her how court cases are processed and how to interact with clients in addition to how a probation department supervises clients during criminal proceedings
“What I like most about the probation department is that I am not treated like a child. I am treated like an equal. I thought it would be boring but what surprised me was going into court and seeing how it works. I am glad to be here and gain this experience. I would encourage everyone to participate,” said Johnson.“The GPA requirement wasn’t a problem for me. A 2.0 is a C-, and having a GPA requirement is a good thing. Last year there were many kids who didn’t want to work, and this is actually achieving a goal. They are hanging a paycheck in front of you saying you have to be able to at least get this, and it is doable. I think that it is a great thing to do. Just like making them take a drug test, which is perfectly normal, it is what you would do in the real world. It shows you that you have to actually work to get stuff in the real world. I don’t see what would hold anybody back. Other than amusement parks, I would be just sitting at home. There is nothing to lose, you get paid and you get experience.”

 

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

 

 

Dan Snyder to Indian tribe: We’ll build you a skate park

By Erik Brady, USA TODAY Sports

A foundation controlled by Washington NFL team owner Daniel Snyder, shown here on the field before a game last season, has offered to build a skate park for an Indian tribe located in Arizona and California. Snyder's team name, defined as a slur in the dictionary, is under fire from various groups, including American Indians. The tribe has not yet decided whether it will accept the offer. / Brad Mills, USA TODAY Sports

A foundation controlled by Washington NFL team owner Daniel Snyder, shown here on the field before a game last season, has offered to build a skate park for an Indian tribe located in Arizona and California. Snyder’s team name, defined as a slur in the dictionary, is under fire from various groups, including American Indians. The tribe has not yet decided whether it will accept the offer. / Brad Mills, USA TODAY Sports

The Fort Yuma Quechan (Kwatsan) Tribe listened to an offer Wednesday from Washington NFL team owner Daniel Snyder’s foundation to build a memorial skate park on its reservation, according to tribal member Kenrick Escalanti, who attended two meetings with foundation representatives at the tribal administration building on the Arizona-California border.

“They told us it wouldn’t cost us a thing, that we wouldn’t have to say anything and we wouldn’t have to support” the franchise’s controversial team name, Escalanti told USA TODAY Sports. “They said they were not asking for an endorsement or a photo op, they just wanted to help. But if you know their track record, we didn’t really believe that. â?¦ We know bribe money when we see it. ”

Escalanti, president of Kwatsan Media Inc., said his organization, which is leading a drive to build a skate park, has turned down the offer from the team’s Original Americans Foundation. Tribal administrator Vernon Smith said the tribe has not reached a decision on whether to ask more questions of the foundation or to leave the offer on the table.

“We just listened politely and said we’d think about it,” Smith said. “They told us there would be no stipulations, but I have heard otherwise from other tribes who have received things from them.”

The foundation was represented by executive director Gary Edwards and director Karl Schreiber, plus a park designer, according to Escalanti. “They showed us digital renderings of a skate park and what struck me was the designs were all in burgundy and gold,” Escalanti said. Those are the colors of the Washington NFL team.

The team issued this statement from the foundation: “Tribal leaders from the Fort Yuma Quechan (Kwatsan) Tribe invited and met with staff from the Original Americans Foundation to discuss projects that needed funding in Yuma. The conversation centered around eight projects that the tribe requested assistance for projects that improved their quality of life and at no time during our on-site discussion did the tribe object to working with our foundation.

“We are very proud of the more than 145 projects in partnership with 40 tribes that we have worked on and will continue to do what we can for those in need. We will maintain our foundation’s policy of not disclosing our private conversations with tribal leaders.”

A team spokesman said a statement from the foundation would be released later today.

Escalanti’s description of the two meetings, which together lasted nearly an hour, open a window on the nonprofit announced by Snyder in March to help Native American causes. Foundation reps told the tribe that they have 147 projects lined up involving about 40 tribes across the country. Escalanti said the reps added that about 100 tribes, including his, have participated in a survey concerning their needs.

Escalanti said no dollar amount was mentioned, but he said the budget for the planned Quechan Memorial Skatepark is $250,000 and “they offered to build it, like a blank check.” Kwatsan Media Inc., a nonprofit that runs a radio station, is accepting donations for the skate park, which will be dedicated to suicide prevention in Native youth.

“When we told them the skate park would be dedicated to fallen Native youth, you could see their eyes open up big, like they could smell good PR,” Escalanti said. “And that really irritated me.”

The first meeting with tribal leaders, including three council members, lasted about 20 minutes and the second with Kwatsan Media about 30 minutes, according to Escalanti, who attended both. Smith said he was able to attend part of the first meeting.

One council member asked foundation reps why the team cares about Native American causes now, Escalanti said. “Edwards said they always cared and this is not an issue of the (team) name,” Escalanti said. “He said the reason it comes up now is the team and the NFL have a diversity policy and they are trying to live by that.”

The foundation representatives said they have helped tribes already with backhoes, jackets and boots, according to Escalanti, who said the reps “kept name-dropping tribe after tribe, and president after president, even though they were promising us we could have the skate park and nobody had to know” where the money came from.

Edwards addressed the team name issue, according to Escalanti: “He said he is a proud ‘redskin’ and that the controversy is a non-issue. He said it is inaccurate to call it a slur. He said the name stands for pride, courage and intelligence. And he said people who oppose the name are part of a white, liberal agenda.”

Escalanti said that Edwards made an impassioned plea for Native American strength against white aggression: “The last words he said to us were, ‘We need to get stronger, because if we don’t, they will annihilate us.'”

Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Dan Snyder to Indian tribe: We’ll build you a skate park

NCAI Applauds President Obama’s Historic Visit to Indian Country

Source: National Congress of American Indians
 
WASHINGTON, DC – The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) applauds President Obama for upholding his ongoing commitment to tribal nations and Native peoples by travelling to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation this Friday, June 13. Since taking office, President Obama has remained steadfast in honoring our nation-to-nation relationship. President Obama has kept his commitment to host the annual White House Tribal Nations Summit in Washington D.C. These summits have facilitated unprecedented engagement between tribal leaders and the President and members of his Cabinet.
At the 2013 White House Tribal Nations Summit, the President announced that he would visit Indian Country himself – a longtime priority of tribal leaders. Friday’s visit to Standing Rock fulfills that promise. This historic visit is the first by a sitting President in over 15 years and makes President Obama only the fourth President in history to ever visit Indian Country.
NCAI expects the President to address the economic development needs of tribal nations and the needs of Native youth.  While tribal youth are included in the Administration’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, this Administration has always known that Native children have specific cultural and education needs that require focused attention.
For this reason, Indian Country has witnessed an unprecedented collaboration between the Secretary Jewell at the Department of the Interior and Secretary Duncan at the Department of Education, to study what is necessary to make sure that all of our Native students – in public schools, tribal schools, and Bureau of Indian Education schools have the tools they need to ensure a strong future for all Native children. In 2013, Secretary Jewell visited the Pueblo of Laguna to see first hand how a tribal education department was improving the quality of schools operations, performance and structure of BIE schools. She witnessed a nation that was engaged and excited to participate in efforts to improve educational outcomes in Indian Country.
It will take visits like this – the agencies working together with tribal governments and national organizations such as the NCAI and the National Indian Education Association to ensure that our students can be the future tribal leaders, teachers, health care workers, and entrepreneurs that our nations and the United States need to thrive for generations to come.
The President’s visit builds on ongoing efforts of his Administration to work closely with tribal nations on policy that affects their citizens. We trust the visit will be a catalyst for more policies that will not only succeed today, but cement the positive relationship between tribal governments and the federal government well into the future. President Obama has made annual summits between our nations in his words, “almost routine.” We trust this will be the continuation of his Administration’s engagement with our nations that makes visits to Indian Country by the President and his Cabinet routine too.
 
 
About The National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information visit www.ncai.org

New support group designed to teach Native girls life skills

Tulalip Family Haven held an open house on April 10, for their new program, Girls Group, that is designed to be a support network for Native girls, ages 14-17. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Tulalip Family Haven held an open house on April 10, for their new program, Girls Group, that is designed to be a support network for Native girls, ages 14-17.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Just for the girls

by Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP, WA. – Being young is one of the most thrilling times in a person’s life. It is the time frame between major responsibilities and no responsibilities at all, however, the decisions made during this phase can be hazardous to their future. Some decisions can destroy your life while others will define what type of an adult you will be. To help teen Native girls navigate this precarious time, a new group designed just for them through Tulalip Family Haven is providing Native girls the support they need to become the most successful person they can be.

Girls-Group-grand-opening_3

The group, simply referred to as Girls Group, will offer Native girls, 14-17 years old, support in life skills, education, and cultural understanding. The group uses the Canoe Journey, Life’s Journey curriculum guide by June LeMarr and G. Alan Marlatt, which is a comprehensive evidence-based intervention curriculum guide for Native adolescents. The girls will be taught to make choices that promote positive actions while learning to avoid the hazards of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

“This is about intervention, prevention and education to keep girls away from hazardous lifestyles, while increasing their self-esteem and empowering their self-awareness to ensure they become successful adults,” said Yvette McGimpsey the group’s project director.

As part of the Girls Group curriculum, young girls will be introduced to different art mediums and crafting, such as the keepsake jars girls made during the Group's open house. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

As part of the Girls Group curriculum, young girls will be introduced to different art mediums and crafting, such as the keepsake jars girls made during the Group’s open house.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

“The idea is to teach young Native women life skills, everything from how to cook and clean to budgeting finances, along with cultural awareness,” explained Sasha Smith the group’s lead youth advocate. “As we do our curriculum, we will be incorporating activities such as crafts and guest speakers from the community and from our elders. We will also be doing other education pieces such as sexual education, and dangers of alcohol and drug use.”

Curriculum will also include nutrition education through the Washington State University Nutrition Program, which uses an interactive approach through trained staff, to teach participants to develop skills and behavioral healthy eating. Community work, such as cleaning up beaches and visiting elders will also be included.

A health and beauty station was available during the Girls Group open house on April 10, where girls received hand massages, aromatherapy, and facial beautification.Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

A health and beauty station was available during the Girls Group open house on April 10, where girls received hand massages, aromatherapy, and facial beautification.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

“A simple day in the group would be, we pick them up from school, they will have time devoted to doing homework, then we do an activity such as art and craft making. Then we will all make dinner together and work on a lesson from the curriculum guide,” said McGimpsey.

“And that is the biggest thing, these girls may not have a healthy place to go after school or have homework help or have someone teaching them those critical life skills. This will be a safe place for them,” said Smith. “We will also be exposing them to things they would never get a chance to experience, such as the ballet or an art gallery,” continued Smith.

The group meets every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays and is free to join, and participants can be enrolled in the group until they graduate. A community advisory board, made up of youth advocate volunteers and professionals, will also evaluate the group’s progress monthly for effectiveness.

For more information on the Family Haven Girls Group or how to sign up, please contact lead youth advocate Sasha Smith at 360-716-4404.

 

 

Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

 

Tulalip tribal member Mandy Carter volunteered her gardening expertise to teach the girls how to plant their own vegetables and flowers during the Girls Group opening house held on April 10. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Tulalip tribal member Mandy Carter volunteered her gardening expertise to teach the girls how to plant their own vegetables and flowers during the Girls Group opening house held on April 10.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

 

 

 

 

IHS and the Notah Begay III Foundation form partnership to address obesity in Native youth

Source: Indian Health Service

The Indian Health Service (IHS) and the Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3F) are collaborating on activities aimed at preventing childhood obesity in American Indian and Alaska Native youth. The partnership will include sharing best practices in implementation of community-based activities directed at addressing childhood obesity in Indian Country.

The collaboration, initiated Nov. 12, 2013, was developed in support of the Let’s Move! In Indian Country (LMIC) program, which is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. The LMIC seeks to advance the work tribal leaders and community members are doing to improve the health of Native youth.

“Today’s partnership is an important step towards helping Native American youth lead healthier lives,” said Sam Kass, executive director of Let’s Move! and White House senior policy advisor on nutrition. “With the LMIC, we’ve seen tribal leaders engage their communities by creating food policy councils and reintroducing sports like lacrosse into schools, but we know there is more work to be done to ensure all our children have the healthy futures they deserve.”

Obesity is a significant problem in Native communities. It is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, which are among the leading causes of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

“Tribal leaders have asked us to focus more on prevention efforts, especially with our youth,” said Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, acting director of the IHS. “Our new partnership with the NB3F gives us an opportunity to identify and share best practices from all of our prevention efforts, including the successful activities and outcomes of our Special Diabetes Program for Indians grantees, to help in the fight against childhood obesity in the communities we serve. We are excited to partner with them as they establish a new national center focused on these issues.”

With a mission centered on reducing the incidence of type 2 diabetes and childhood obesity among Native American children, NB3F has developed community-driven, scalable, and replicable prevention models that have seen statistically significant outcomes among child participants in the areas of reduced body mass index or BMI (a measure of weight proportionate to a person’s height), increased self-confidence and endurance, and enhanced understanding of nutrition knowledge. In August of this year, NB3F launched a national initiative, Native Strong: Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures that functions as a national center focused on strategic grant making, research and mapping, capacity building, and advocacy to combat type 2 diabetes and obesity among Native American children.

“This unprecedented partnership between the Obama administration, the IHS, and the NB3F demonstrates the critical importance of leveraging partnerships and resources to tackle the health crisis facing Native American children,” said NB3F founder Notah Begay III. “With 1 out of 2 Native American children expected to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime, it is vital that effective strategies and best practices are accessible for all Native communities, so together we can turn the tide on childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes.”


About the Indian Health Service: The IHS provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.1 million American Indians and Alaska Natives who are members of federally recognized Tribes. The IHS is the principal federal health care provider and health advocate for American Indians and Alaska Natives, and its mission is to raise their health status to the highest level. For more information about the IHS, visit www.ihs.gov

About the Notah Begay III Foundation: In 2005, Notah Begay III established the Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3F), a 502c3 non-profit organization to address the profound health and wellness issues impacting Native American children and to empower them to realize their potential as tomorrow’s leaders. The mission of NB3F is to reduce the incidences of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes and advance the lives of Native American children through physical activity and wellness programming. To this end, NB3F develops community-driven, sustainable, evidence-based, and innovative wellness programs designed by Native Americans for Native American children that promote physical fitness, wellness, and leadership development. For more information on Notah Begay III and NB3F, visit: www.nb3foundation.org.