Via Indian Country Today: New School, New Vision for Isleta Pueblo

Isleta Pueblo has taken over the Isleta Elementary School, which since its founding in the 1890s had been under the control of the federal government. The difference in school morale and the children’s behavior, say school officials, is already evident. And it was certainly easy to see the day ICTMN visited—bubbly, friendly, well-behaved children, smiling teachers only too eager to show off their classrooms, and committed staff who took time to share their programs and plans for the future.

The transfer was official July 1. Just a few days before school started in August Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn, Bureau of Indian Education Director Charles Roessel and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M, joined Isleta Pueblo Gov. E. Paul Torres at the school to celebrate and turn over the keys. This is the first BIE-to-tribal school transition enabled by the Obama Administration’s Blueprint for Reform and the president’s Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) initiative, according to the Department of the Interior.

Torres explained that this is the school his grandmas and grandpas attended. It had once been an important gathering place for the community and provided a sense of continuity.

The language program has been active in the school for about two and a half years, with David Lente, Isleta Pueblo, serving as language teacher for grades K-6. “We’re incubating the language program now, working up to integrating language/culture into all instruction at the school,” he said. Among the initiatives underway, explained Lujan, are the production of cartoons in Tiwa for the younger kids and working with a private contractor to develop a Tiwa language program to run on Apple devices, called Tiwa Talk.

“Language, culture, and tradition are the focus of our new school,” said Gov. Torres. “We need our future leaders to be strong in language and culture to keep our identity.”

Via The News Tribune: Amy Eveskcige of Chief Leschi Schools is First Puyallup Tribe Member Superintendent

Chief Leschi Schools -The school is funded primarily by the federal Bureau of Indian Education and also receives some funding from Washington state. It is one of the largest BIE schools in the nation. The current campus opened in 1996. Chief Leschi focuses on serving the educational needs of all Native Americans. Students come from nearly 60 tribes. The school is designed to honor Puyallup culture, from the staircase rails that resemble fishing nets to the hallways that replicate a longhouse design. Students study the Puyallup language, Twulshootseed, and have opportunities to participate in dance, drumming and other cultural activities.

Amy Eveskcige followed a winding road home.

As a rebellious teen growing up in Tacoma, she dropped out of school and landed in foster care. But she credits a rediscovery of her Puyallup Indian heritage and support from family and tribe for pulling her back from what could have been a disastrous path.

Today, armed with a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Washington State University, she is preparing to take the reins as superintendent at Chief Leschi Schools, operated by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. She will be the first Puyallup tribal member to head the school, which educates nearly 1,000 students from preschool to high school.

“I truly could not have done it without the support of my community,” Eveskcige said. In her culture, she added, “the honor of one is the honor of all.”

Eveskcige, who moves to her new post full-time on June 1, is currently an administrator in Tacoma Public Schools, where she has led staff recruitment and worked on implementing a new teacher evaluation system.

She has broad experience in South Sound education circles, having held leadership positions in the Vashon Island, Puyallup and Tacoma school districts. She was also an administrator of the Muckleshoot Tribal School in Auburn and previously worked as a secretary, teacher and elementary principal at Chief Leschi.

As Eveskcige prepared to begin her new work, she talked with The News Tribune about her personal and career path.

To read the her full interview, click here.