TEDNA Eagle Staff at Standing Rock camp schools


Dr. Martin Reinhardt, long time supporter of TEDNA, shares a picture with us of the TEDNA Eagle Staff at Standing Rock camp schools. Just two months ago Dr. Reinhardt joined TEDNA at the annual membership forum in Reno, NV to celebrate another plentiful year for TEDNA. We thank Dr. Reinhardt “Marty” for sharing this moment.

Interagency Native American Languages Summit 2016

The Administration for Native Americans (ANA), the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), and the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education (WHIAIANE) will be hosting a Native American Languages Summit, as agreed to under the Memorandum of Agreement on Native Languages signed in 2012. The purpose of the 2016 Summit is to share across federal agencies and with Native American language programs, the various resources available to preserve, protect, and promote Native Americans rights to use their indigenous languages anywhere, including as a medium of instruction in schools.

To register for this session, please click here. For more information about the 2016 Summit or NIEA Pre-Convention Meetings please click here.


Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) and Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) have partnered with the Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3F). Through their team efforts they have pushed for the initiative of youth-led physical fitness and wellness efforts across Indian Country. The event is NB3FIT Day on November 13m 2016. The eligibility requirements: any groups, tribes, organizations, businesses, communities, and families who wish to host a fit day event. To become a participant fill out the form: Gen-I Youth Challenge Event Registration.





Do you know about the lawsuit between the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe against the BIE Reorganization?

The Department of Interior has proposed reorganizing the Bureau of Indian Education in order to improve Indian Education across the States. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe sued the DOI to seek a permanent injunction to block the proposed restructuring. Does the DOI have the right to restructure BIE, how does this improve education, and do other tribes have a say?  To read more about the case please click here.


Want to Fix U.S. Schools? Look to Native American Communities

From EqualVoiceforFamilies.org:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Hidden in a corner of this city, amid a gleaming office park, strip malls, vacant lots, Interstate 40, and perhaps the city’s nicest Starbucks, is a two-story school that holds one of the country’s most promising educational models for Native American students.

The Native American Community Academy sits in New Mexico’s biggest city because that is where its students are. Today, more than 65 percent of Native Americans live in urban areas. In the Albuquerque school district, many are falling through the cracks, as invisible as the reservations that dot New Mexico’s landscape.

Despite their growing numbers, Native American students are often struggling in Albuquerque’s public schools and urban schools across the nation, advocates say. They are 237 percent more likely to drop out and less likely to graduate from high school than white students, typically lagging two to three grades behind in reading and math, according to a report released by the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators.

Over the last decade, the Native American Community Academy (NACA) has begun getting noticed because it has quietly built an educational model that is closing these achievement gaps. Now, its success is fueling the creation of similar schools around New Mexico and the country.

This fall, the NACA Inspired Schools Network will have five schools open in New Mexico, with five more on the way. The network is building these schools on NACA’s model of strong academics and college preparation that promote Native American culture, identity and community.

This charter school and its ideas did not spring from the policymakers and think tanks fighting over how to reform the nation’s education system, though it holds lessons for them.

Instead, it came from a tight-knit network of Native American organizations in Albuquerque, who started with a simple and powerful idea: They asked tribal communities and families what they wanted. Then, together, they built a middle school and a high school. From that grew a movement.

On the outside, NACA looks like any other middle school, with kids playing basketball, typing on their smartphones and gossiping on the steps of the stucco building between classes. Inside, it’s quieter, with signs of tribal culture everywhere: greetings in Navajo on doors; Native paintings along the hallways, and the school’s core values – respect; responsibility; community/service; culture; perseverance; and reflection – posted on many of the walls.

This focus on tribal identity is the heart of the Academy’s approach, which focuses on meeting students where they are, showing them the tribes they are from and getting them into college. This approach is working. Last year, 67 percent of NACA seniors graduated from high school on time, only slightly below the 69 percent statewide average for all students, and well above the 46 percent among Native students in Albuquerque Public Schools, according to a report by the NACA Inspired School Network.

“We prepare identity first,” says Leroy Silva, junior/senior dean of students and a member of the Laguna Pueblo Nation.

Since NACA opened its doors in 2006,networks of Native American families, tribes and community organizations have sustained and fueled its success.

Its ideas continue to spread through thenational Native Voice Network, which is comprised of more than 30 organizations working to elevate Native American issues and have reached the Seattle-based National Urban Indian Family Coalition.

That connection inspired the Coalition to develop a new type of Freedom School, based on schools launched for Black students during the 1964 Freedom Summer but for Native American students, in five cities across the nation by 2018.

The hub that connected the Albuquerque and national networks is Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO), a grassroots organization. Early on, AIO helped NACA develop its pioneering approach and student leadership programs. Then, it shared those ideas with the National Urban Indian Family Coalition.

Achievement gaps, unfortunately, are not unique to Native American students. Across the country, Black, Latino and other students also are struggling in public schools.

If educators and policymakers are willing to listen, they could learn from NACA’s approach: its sharp focus on students’ cultural identities; its ability to connect those identities to academic work, success and college preparation; and its integration from the beginning with the communities it serves.

Tribal communities and families demanded and co-created NACA, says Anpao Duta Flying Earth, the school’s associate director/head of school, and that is why it is succeeding today.

“What we say is good for our community is actually a (model) and a framework that should be reflected for many people around the globe,” says Kara Bobroff, one of the founders of the school and its first principal.

“We intentionally and organically try to incorporate community into the ways in which we offer our educational program.”

A Different Kind of School

On a late spring school day, Tirzah Toya-Waconda is dishing out tacos and bananas to students as they emerge from classes and head for lunch and recess.

In the morning, the woman that students affectionately call grandma hands out muffins and fruit. In between, she returns to her job in the front office as its manager and parent facilitator.

At NACA, every staff member appears to hold multiple jobs. A dean of students also directs wellness programs; school directors serve as student advisers; and deans head leadership development trips to other cities and countries.

Students have visited Washington D.C., met with tribes in South Dakota and participated in ceremonies with the Indigenous in New Zealand.

“It takes all the community to help run this school,” says Toya-Waconda, whose son graduated in 2013. “Literally, we are a huge family.”

Community and food are consistent themes at NACA — the school’s signature event is its annual Community Feast — and it strives to ensure that students, teachers and parents are all well-fed.

The academy is so interconnected with tribal communities — students come from more than 60 tribes, including the Isleta Pueblo, Laguna Pueblo and Navajo Nation — that there are no clear lines where one ends and another begins.

One thing community leaders and families wanted was a school that supported a student’s whole life. Upstairs, an entire wing is dedicated to student wellness and family support, complete with a dental exam room, two social workers, individual and parent counseling and support for families struggling with housing and other issues. There is also the Eagle Room, a quiet place for “peaceful, culturally-based meditation.”

When parents identified suicide as one of their biggest concerns two years ago — it is the second leading cause of death among Native American youth between the ages of 15 and 24, according to Native Americans in Philanthropy — the school created a suicide prevention program.

A Glaring Need

The suicide prevention program is a stark reminder of the challenges many NACA students face. The vast majority of the school’s students qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch, some families live on $6,000 a year, and many lack a home computer.

In Albuquerque, more than one in four Native Americans live below the federal poverty line, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2013.

In the city’s public school system, these Native American students were getting lost, NACA officials say. With few if any students from similar backgrounds in their classes, they were disconnected from their tribal culture.

School data reflected their struggles. Among Albuquerque school district students, Native Americans not only had the lowest four-year graduation rate, at 46 percent, but also the lowest scores in reading, math and science proficiency among identified racial and ethnic groups, according to the New Mexico Public Education Department.

One of the main reasons Native students struggle in traditional public schools is that they are invisible, an unseen minority, NACA educators say.

Josh Haynes was one of those invisible students. After starting at NACA in sixth grade, Haynes left for West Mesa High School in ninth grade. There, his GPA fell to 1.8, and he found himself on track to earn a GED rather than a traditional diploma.

After his sophomore year, Haynes’ mother convinced Haynes, who is Navajo and Black, to return to NACA for his final two years of high school. At NACA, his grades rose to a 3.5 GPA and he became a state champion in the 400-meter dash.

“Honestly, man, I’ve always had this confidence,” says Haynes, who sports a tattoo on his arm declaring, “I am of this world.”

“It’s just that no one’s ever come to me to hear what I had to say.”

Haynes starts community college this fall and plans to enroll at the University New Mexico next year.

Early Success

NACA was founded to give Haynes and other Native American students a place in three worlds: their tribe, their city and eventually college.

“It is the first urban charter school specifically focused on increasing the number of Native American students who choose the path of college — many as the first person in their family,” the NACA Inspired Schools Networksays on its website.

“NACA integrates culture, wellness, language, community, family, and preparation for college into each child’s education, which integrates partnership with families and the larger NACA community.”

Official data tell part of the school’s success story. The academy received a “B” from the New Mexico Public Education Department on its 2015 report card, and standardized test scores among its students are rising.

Perhaps the best measure of the school’s success is the acceptance wheel that sits on the wall of its college counseling office, made up of banners from colleges that accepted NACA students: Yale University; The University of Chicago; Hampshire College; Wellesley College; New Mexico Tech and others.

Within two years of graduating from high school, 71 percent of NACA’s class of 2013 was enrolled in four-year or community college, according to a report from the NACA Inspired Schools Network, which was based on the best available data.

This success is fueling growth inside and outside the school. This fall, the academy will begin expanding from a middle and high school to a K-12 campus.

Freedom Schools

The Native American Community Academy’s success is reaching far beyond Albuquerque and even New Mexico.

Fifteen hundred miles away in Seattle, Janeen Comenote, the head of the National Urban Indian Family Coalition, was inspired by NACA’s success to launch a new generation of Freedom Schools.

The original Freedom Schools were born in 1964 as a response to school segregation in the South. These Freedom Schools were created to teach students African-American history and culture while also showing them that they could be agents of change in society, according to the Children’s Defense Fund, which resurrected these schools in the 1990s.

This newest iteration of the Freedom School will rely on NACA for inspiration and lessons, basing six-week summer schools on seven core elements: civic engagement; sovereignty; nutrition and food sovereignty; identity and culture; life skills; indigenous ecology; and a national day of social action.

Comenote has an ambitious timetable. Her team plans to spend the next 18 months creating the new Freedom Schools curriculum and then open five schools by 2018 in Seattle, Portland, Albuquerque and two other cities. Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, already have two American Indian-focused Freedom Schools, run by the Children’s Defense Fund.

Together, this new generation of Freedom Schools, the Native American Community Academy, and the growing network of NACA Inspired Schools are making Native American students more visible in big-city school districts — and more successful.

“Because we are invisible, we tend to be left out of most conversations about education…especially with the framework of big urban school networks,” Comenote says. “Efforts like NACA, are really important. It gives the student a place in the world; a sense of identity.”

Written by Paul Nyhan

to view the original post, click here

Pine Ridge Summer Art Program Expands Colors on Life’s Palette

From Indianz.com:

Kyle, S.D. – Even a casual glance at artists in different mediums will find people who were looking for a way to express themselves and deal with the issues in their lives. A summer art program on the Pine Ridge Reservation introduced professional artists to tribal youth in an effort to help combat the high rate of suicide among young Lakota.The Mitakupi – or “My People” Foundation – hosted the “I am Sending a Voice” Summer Arts program to help lift Lakota youth out of the daily task of survival, explained Mitakupi founder Jennifer Jessum.“You know, I grew up in a real difficult situation and art saved my life,” Jessum recalled. “It gave me tools to express myself. It gave me ways to deal with some difficult things I was going through. And I wanted to share that with the kids out here…because every young person goes through difficulties. And out here on Pine Ridge and a lot of First Nations youth…they’re dealing with some additional difficulties.”So many additional difficulties, noted Jessum, that the reservation has had more than 25 youth suicides this year with 150 attempts per month.
Lakota students working on assignments in writing class during Pine Ridge Summer Art Program. Photo by Brittanie Sterner

Artists from as far away as India took part in the 2-week program that offered Lakota youth aged 6 to 21 alternative ways to express themselves through instruction in film, dance, music, visual arts, and writing. Brittanie Sterner is a Philadelphia-based writer. She’s been impacted by the spirituality on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She also cares for the Lakota people here and feels that the state-of-emergency they’re currently experiencing should be recognized and spoken about as well as being at a much higher level on the list of topics of public conversation.Sterner said that since the kids are really into rap, she used instruction in poetry and spoken-word to teach self-expression and claiming identity.“For a long time poetry was a medium that was inaccessible,” observed Sterner. “But that’s really changing. So we’re just trying to give them the tools to share their voices and tell their stories. And we talk a lot about how they’re the only ones who can represent themselves accurately…and using poetry as a self-empowerment tool. And it’s just been amazing. It’s been really amazing.”Although getting started was a bit difficult, Sterner noted that the 8 to 10 regular students who eventually became part of her class blossomed.“Initially, they were a little bit shy,” she recalled. “But then they were super engaged. They were really open to being vulnerable. And being teenagers their poetry goes back and forth between talking about the really difficult topics…like oppression and violence and suicide and cultural identity and hope and courage. Those are thing that come up a lot in spoken word, but they’re also things that are relevant here.”

Adam James Watters shares his work with writing class during Pine Ridge Summer Art Program Photo Credit Brittanie Sterner

Sterner noted that her students were very open to addressing all of those topics. They also had the opportunity to learn how to project their voices and develop confidence by taking part in performance poetry.Los Angeles artist Jess Minckley was invited to be part of the Mitakupi program due to her background of teaching a diverse student population at 3 different colleges, as well as her ability to offer instruction in various levels of art within the same classroom.In her role at the “I am Sending a Voice” Summer Arts program, Minckley offered guidance in drawing, painting, collage and sculpture.“They’re not really great at expressing their feelings in themselves and even being able to understand why they feel the way that they feel,” Minckley commented in observing her Lakota students. “But being able to talk to somebody…I tell them about my life and my experiences and show them ways that contemporary artists tackle cultural and political issues.”Minckley noted that art helped her “stay afloat” during a somewhat chaotic childhood and she enjoys being able to pass on that knowledge to others.
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Mitakupi founder Jennifer Jessum told students that the more experiences they have through opportunities like the “I am Sending a Voice” program, the more colors they’ll have on the paint pallet of their lives to bring into their art.The program culminated with a public presentation/performance of work by the students involved in the project at the Oglala Lakota College Campus in Kyle.

Written by Jim Kent 

Luci Tapahonso, Boarding Schools,& the Smithsonian

From Indian Country Today:

Luci Tapahonso (Navajo) wrote the text for a photo essay in the July 2016 issue of Smithsonian magazine: “For More Than 100 Years, the U.S. Forced Navajo Students Into Western Schools. The Damage Is Still Felt Today.”

She opens, “At the beginning of Navajo time, the Holy People (Diyin Dine’é) journeyed through three worlds before settling in Dinétah, our current homeland.” After describing the formation of the Dinétah physical world, she says, “Today, in the fourth world, when a Diné (Navajo) baby is born, the umbilical cord is buried near the family home, so the child is connected to its mother and the earth, and will not wander as if homeless.”

Tapahonso, now poet laureate of the Navajo Nation, writes from her roots. She was born and raised in Shiprock, the town where I first encountered Native culture, as a lawyer for Dinébe’iiná Náhiiłna be Agha’diit’ahii —the Navajo legal services program.

The Smithsonian essay focuses on the infamous boarding schools, where Native children were kidnapped from their families and forcibly inducted into American culture under the rubric, “kill the Indian, save the man.” The notion of “saving” arose from the Christian missionary complex that attended the entire boarding school assimilation effort.

Christians approach life from a starting point of “sin,” and see themselves—and all Creation—as in need of being “saved.” All too often, in trying to kill the Indian, the children themselves were killed. Mass graves are still found on old boarding school grounds. “Saved” by death.

The boarding schools were a knife stabbed into families and clans—the heart of Indian Country. The government and churches in Canada have acknowledged all this in what they call a “reconciliation process,” though it needs to be asked what “reconciliation” means when anti-Indian policies still exist.

United States government and churches have done far less—in most cases, nothing at all comparable to the acknowledgment of wrongdoing in Canada. For whatever reasons, Native people in the U.S. seem comparatively willing to let the wrongdoers go unnamed and unaccountable.

Tapahonso doesn’t wade into the “reconciliation process.” With her usual incisive writing, she chooses instead to focus on the survival of Native Peoples from the boarding school experience; albeit, survival that carries deep scars, passed from the children who were kidnapped to their children. “Today those [boarding school] students are parents and grandparents. Many hold onto a lingering homesickness and sense of alienation. Others are beset by nightmares, paranoia and a deep distrust of authority.”

Tapahonso tells her own stories of surviving a mission boarding school, and recounts the legal history of the 1928 Merriam Report and a 1969 U.S. Senate report, which constituted “major indictments” of the boarding school system. “It would be several years,” she writes, “before widespread changes would take hold.” By 1990, “tribal involvement in education had become the norm.”

I have the Navajo to thank for beginning my education in what it means to be a human being. My encounters in Navajoland set me on a path that changed my legal career and my life.

I recall one example related to Navajo schools: I had just spoken in the Teec Nos Pos Chapter House about the community taking control over the local school. When I finished my talk, which was being translated by Frank Begay, a Navajo Tribal Court Advocate, several people spoke. Frank said, “They want to know more.” I began to discuss the general plan for Navajo legal services. He stopped me: “No, that’s not what they’re asking about. They want to know about you. Where were you born? Do you have any brothers and sisters? Things like that.”

I was flabbergasted. American society—and especially law school—isolated professional work from personal life. I felt shock and surprise. I was embarrassed. I was thrilled. The people were looking at me as a human being, not just as their lawyer.

After that first experience of being cared about as a person, I worked with Frank a lot. We traveled to meetings together, sometimes hours away. He told me stories about places we passed, about people, about what it means to be human in the Navajo cosmos. I learned to see the world with new eyes.

One morning, months later, a family arrived outside my house. They said they were there to have an argument. They didn’t want my legal services, but my presence as a person. All day they stayed around, talking out whatever it was that had erupted among them. I never knew what it was, whether it was a legal problem or something else. By day’s end, they had resolved something, and they left. Their presence was an honor and a blessing.

You can tell the Smithsonian editors had trouble figuring out how to present Luci Tapahonso and the photographs by Daniella Zalcman without angering U.S. politicians who vote their budget: Although the essay subtitle focuses on “how native populations had a new nation foisted upon them,” the overall section title steps back from the acknowledgment of force and separate nationhood: It reads, “American Exiles: Leaving Home: A series of three photo essays explores how America has treated its own people in times of crisis.”

“Leaving home” sounds tame—even romantic—compared to “forced.” Moreover, Navajos and all other Indigenous Peoples of the continent are not America’s “own people.” The boarding schools were one element in a long—and still ongoing—effort to make Indians disappear as nations, to force them to become Americans. Many have succumbed.

If the Smithsonian were really to present the full history of U.S. treatment of Indigenous Peoples, the exhibit would be named “American Holocaust.” That would stir up even greater anger in the U.S. Congress than the 1995 controversy about the museum’s atomic bomb exhibit, or its 2003 exhibit about the Arctic and climate change.

We can be thankful that Luci Tapahonso’s essay made it through the gauntlet.

Peter d’Errico graduated from Yale Law School in 1968. He was Staff attorney in Dinébe’iiná Náhiiłna be Agha’diit’ahii Navajo Legal Services, 1968-1970, in Shiprock. He taught Legal Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1970-2002. He is a consulting attorney on indigenous issues.
Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/07/25/luci-tapahonso-boarding-schools-smithsonian

Written by Peter D’errico