November 28, 2006

More on Frazier's bequest

Author underwrites effort to translate his best-seller into CherokeeIn writing the follow-up to his best-selling debut "Cold Mountain," novelist Charles Frazier borrowed the history of the Cherokee Indians and their forced removal from the mountains of his native western North Carolina for the setting of "Thirteen Moons."

As a way of giving back to the Eastern Band of Cherokees, Frazier is translating a portion of the novel and other books into the Cherokee language. They will be the first contemporary works translated into the tribal tongue in 175 years.

"I'm just glad that this happened during my lifetime," said Myrtle Driver, an Eastern Band member who is helping Frazier translate the section of "Thirteen Moons" that chronicles the tribe's removal from their Appalachian homeland to Oklahoma in the late 1830s. "I feel like my life is complete."

November 25, 2006

Indian schools help

Indian Schools Help Students Connect With Their CultureIndian schools, once a term connected to this country's history of using educational facilities to assimilate American Indians into a new society, are back under different circumstances. This time, the schools are becoming havens for the native culture, a place where the languages, music and arts--all part of a heritage that has been slipping away over generations--can live and grow.

The resurgence of Indian schools is attributed in part to the growing charter school movement. There are currently 53 Native American charter schools across the country, 31 of which are located on non-tribal lands, according to the Center for Education Reform.

November 18, 2006

Passamaquoddy book provides balance

Children's book teaches Indian cultureThe Passamaquoddy Tribe has teamed up with a lakes conservation organization to produce an illustrated book that uses tribal oral history to teach children about living in balance with the natural world.

The book, "Wind Bird: Gift of the Mist," recounts the tale of Gluskop who attempts to save his village by manipulating nature. But the endeavor backfires and his people must learn to live in concert with nature.

The book, which is being distributed free to all elementary schools across Maine, grew out of an existing partnership between the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Maine Lakes Conservancy Institute.

Elder preserves Lushootseed

Native language lives in womanHilbert has dedicated her life to the rebirth of Lushootseed. She worked in the linguistics department at the University of Washington for 15 years. In 1989, she received an honorary doctorate from Seattle University and was named a Washington State Living Treasure.

Hilbert has worked closely with linguists to develop a written form of Lushootseed and publish dictionaries for the language.

November 10, 2006

English = genocide?

Joe Shirley Jr., newly reelected president of the Navajo Nation, makes an important point about English-only laws in Newspaper Rock.

November 01, 2006

Educators rally to save languages

Education leader urges federal preservation of Native languagesIndian educators have been called upon to unify in a lobbying effort to restore federal legislation that will curb damage to Native language programs.

Ryan Wilson, president of the National Indian Education Association, chose the venue of the association's 37th annual convention to rally about 1,500 educators to curb the loss of Native languages by supporting efforts to push federal legislation that will increase educational immersion programs.

Playwriting motivates kids

Actors inspire young writers at tribal schoolThis is the second time MAPP taught the Young Native Playwrights program at the Coeur d'Alene Tribal School and the results both times were stunning, according to Willard, who said last year's program proved to be a groundbreaking experience that impressed on students how valid their ideas are.

"The playwrights were really impacted," he said. "This opened up a whole new world to them. It gave them an idea about their capabilities that they never even fathomed. The rest of the year, behavior problems in those kids dropped to zero. I had kids that were bringing in their math homework after that. It was like the ripple effect of dropping a rock in the water. It wasn't just writing. It was their lives."

Validation = success

Heritage key to education for Natives

Native survival, success depends on cultural heritageAlaska Native students tend to complete high school, enter college and finish degrees at lower rates than their counterparts because their cultural heritage and very identity is missing from Alaska education systems, leaders in Alaska Native education say.

“They don’t want to be a part of education as much because it doesn’t validate them,” Anchorage School District board member Mary Marks said.