Aspen Institute: Michelle Obama Issues Call to Support Native American Youth

Here, and an excerpt:

Native American youth represent some of the most inspiring, resilient leaders across our country, especially in tribal and urban Indian communities. Their resiliency exists despite health, education, and other significant disparities, structural racism, and barriers to success. At a recent convening at the White House, co-hosted by the Aspen InstituteCenter for Native American Youth (CNAY), first lady Michelle Obama acknowledged the issues they face.

“Folks in Indian Country didn’t just wake up one day with addiction problems,” Obama said. “Poverty and violence didn’t just randomly happen… these issues are the result of a long history of systematic discrimination and abuse.”

The Creating Opportunities for Native Youth convening brought together the first lady, several US Cabinet secretaries, and more than 160 nonprofit and philanthropic leaders, policymakers, tribal leaders, and youth for a day of discussions around increasing investments in Native American youth. The goal of the convening was to elevate awareness about Native youth issues, facilitate actionable dialogue, and call for increased public and private sector investments in Native American youth.

More often than their non-Native peers, Native youth go to schools that lack adequate resources to hire enough teachers, mental health counselors, and other necessary support staff and materials. They wait in long lines — for hours — to see a doctor within a health care system that is funded at half of the communities’ needs. And Native Americans experience higher rates of poverty and homelessness than any other population in this country. The challenges they face each day are very real, but are often left out of the national dialogue.

That context is important.

WP: Administration to seek $1 billion for tribal schools

Here, from Washington Post.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration says it will ask Congress for $1 billion next year to run schools for Native American children — including millions in new money to help fix crumbling buildings.

The request — $150 million more than in this year’s budget — sets aside $58 million in new funding for school construction and $18 million in new funding for repairs. It also seeks $33 million to expand the schools’ Internet capabilities.

“It’s hard not to feel sad or angry when I look at the condition of the facilities,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told reporters, adding, “We can and we must do better.”

The federally run schools situated primarily on remote and impoverished reservations are among the nation’s worst performing. About 48,000 students attend the 183 schools in 23 states.

The schools have a tainted legacy dating to the 19th century when Native American children were shipped to boarding schools. The federal government continues to have a treaty and trust responsibility to run them, but they’ve historically struggled with issues such as financial mismanagement, bureaucracy, poverty and attracting high-quality teachers.

Since President Barack Obama’s summer visit to a North Dakota reservation, the administration has pushed ahead with a plan to give tribes more control, but the endeavor has been complicated by the estimated $1 billion in disrepair at the schools.

Mold, mice and leaky roofs are among the problems. More than 60 of the schools are listed in poor condition, and less than one-third have the Internet and the computer capability to administer new student assessments rolling out in much of the country.

Late last year, Congress provided the schools with a $40 million bump in annual spending for 2015 over the previous year — about $19 million for school replacement. That meant funding to finish the Beatrice Rafferty school in Maine and design new facilities for the Little Singer Community and Cove Day schools in Arizona, according to the Interior Department.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a member of the House Appropriations Committee and a Native American, said in a statement that he appreciates the effort to put more money into tribal education.

“In the days ahead, as my colleagues in the House and Senate seek to find common ground with the administration, I remain hopeful that we can make significant progress in Indian country during this session of Congress,” he said.

ICT – Making American Indian Children a Priority

Here, and an excerpt:

In June of this year, President Barack Obama and the First Lady visited the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in North Dakota. This was ya historic visit. He was only the fourth sitting President to visit Indian Country, joining Coolidge in 1927, Roosevelt in 1936, and Clinton in 1999.

The events that have happened since demonstrate that for this President, it wasn’t a routine visit!

In the months after the visit he has made it a priority to reach out to Native American youth searching for ways to improve their lives.

Last week the President announced an initiative called “Generation – Indigenous”, a new initiative including a series of efforts to improve the lives of our youngest First Americans.

Read more athttp://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/12/31/making-american-indian-children-priority

USA Today: Young tribal leaders optimistic about Obama initiative

Here.  An excerpt:

The plight of indigenous youth became the central theme of the Dec. 3 White House Tribal Nations Conference, where Obama spoke about visiting the Crow Nation in Montana while campaigning to become president, and his recent visit to the Lakota reservation at Standing Rock, N.D.

“I made another promise, that I’d visit Indian Country as president,” Obama said to the conference’s attendees, including leaders from the 566 federally recognized tribes. “And this June, I kept that promise.”

We previously posted about the White House’s 2014 Native Youth Report here.

Alaska Native News: Native Americans Work to Save Language

An excerpt: FORT YATES, NORTH DAKOTA—One evening a week, young and old gather in Michael Moore’s classroom in Fort Yates, North Dakota, to learn Lakota — the language of their Sioux tribal ancestors.

For many of the students here at Sitting Bull College, it’s a tongue their great grandparents spoke fluently at home.

But that changed in the early 1900’s, when thousands of Native American children were sent to boarding schools where they were told to assimilate, learn English and forget all aspects of their native culture.

Gabe Black Moon, who co-teaches Lakota with Moore, remembered his time at one such school.

“The government punished [us for speaking] our language, and I’ve seen that happen. It happened to me,” he said. “Day one, I went to school, I couldn’t speak English. I got punished pretty bad.”

Presidential recognition

Renewed efforts to preserve Lakota for future generations received national recognition earlier this year when President Barack Obama visited Standing Rock Native American Reservation, where he praised Sioux tribal leaders’ for revitalizing the endangered tongue.

To read the full article, click here.

PBS: Can the U.S. restructure schools to nurture Native American students?

Here. An overview of this interview with Secretary Sally Jewell:

The high school graduation rate for Native Americans is the lowest of any ethnic or racial group in the United States. How can the government assist reservation schools while respecting autonomy of tribes? Judy Woodruff talks to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell about a series of initiatives announced by the president on how to undo deep-seated education challenges for Native Americans.