36th Annual California Conference on American Indian education (event)

36th Annual California Conference
on American Indian Education

March 17—19, 2013

Location:      Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort by Hilton – Santa Barbara
                        633 E. Cabrillo Boulevard
                        Santa Barbara, California, 93103

Hotel Reservations:           1-800-879-2929 (Reference CCAIE)
                                                Single/Double: $139.00
                                                Triple: $149.00
                                                Quad: $159.00

All rooms have a 20% tax per night plus a $2.00/night (Santa Barbara Tourism Fee)

For more Information contact:

Irma Amaro
Phone: 707-464-3512                     Fax: 707-464-7462

Rachel McBride
Phone: 530-895-4212 x 110          Fax: 530-895-4310


NCAI Newsletter (education)

NCAI Education Newsletter
December 5, 2012
Edition 38

Table of Contents

·         Other News and Commentary
·         Trends, Data, and Reports

NCAI Announces Policy Priorities for the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Summit

In preparation for the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Summit this Wednesday, December 5, in Washington, DC, NCAI has released a briefing book for tribal leaders outlining Indian Country’s policy priorities for the next administration.

·         Download the full briefing book
·         Download the schedule of events

NCAI developed its policy priorities for education in partnership with the National Indian Education Association. To promote excellence in Native education, Indian Country offers the following recommendations to the Obama Administration for the next four years:

Support passage of the Native CLASS Act. Indian Country needs strong, concerted, and sustained support to pass the Native Culture, Language, and Access for Success in Schools Act (CLASS) in Congress. While not a fix-all, the Native CLASS Act addresses many of the systemic problems in Native education and includes the following tribal priorities:

·         Strengthen tribal control of education: Tribes should be granted the authority and funds to build capacity for their education departments in the same ways that are provided to states and districts. The Native CLASS Act authorizes tribes to operate ESEA title programs in schools that are located on Indian lands and serve predominantly Native students.
·         Preserve and revitalize Native languages: The survival of Native languages and cultures is essential to the success of our communities and ways of life. Because immersion is largely recognized as the best way to learn a language, the Native CLASS Act establishes a grant program to develop and maintain Native language immersion programs.
·         Provide tribes with access to tribal member student records: The Native CLASS Act expressly grants tribes and tribal education agencies (TEAs) access to tribal student academic records in the same way that local educational agencies have access. Tribes and their education agencies are in the best position to track and coordinate Native student data.
·         Encourage tribal/state partnership: The Native CLASS Act requires states and local educational agencies to consult with tribes when developing applications for various ESEA title programs.

Reissue the Executive Order on Tribal Colleges and Universities. Executive Order 13592, which established the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, was a step in the right direction for Native education. However, tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) previously had a stand-alone Executive Order and their own initiative, which Executive Order 13592 rescinded and folded into a single Executive Order on broader Native education. Tribal leaders and Native educators did not request this change, and the net result has been less effort focused on strengthening TCUs. This Administration should reissue the separate Executive Order and Initiative on TCUs, sufficiently fund both programs so they may meet their mandates, and direct that the two Initiatives work together. Current Executive Orders on African American education and historically black colleges and universities already do this for other students. American Indian and Alaska Native students deserve no less.

Reaffirm and acknowledge the Department of Education’s federal trust responsibility for American Indian and Alaska Native students. The President issued his Executive Memorandum regarding implementation of Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, in November 2009. The Department of Education has yet to release its consultation policy. As a result, tribes are still fighting for a seat at the table—both with the Department and states—in developing meaningful education policy for Native students. The Department must ensure that tribes are key stakeholders and that it consults with tribes prior to the development of regulations that will affect how Native students and schools are funded.

Click here to view a PDF of Indian Country’s education priorities. For more information, please contact Katie Jones at kjones@ncai.org.

Tribal Nations Send Strong Message to Congress about the “Fiscal Cliff”

Native leaders are weighing in on the effect the fiscal cliff will have on the 566 federally recognized tribal nations and American Indian and Alaska Native citizens. A joint tribal letter sent last week to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, signed by the National Congress of American Indians and 65 tribes and tribal organizations, outlines the risk of deep sequestration cuts to the already underfunded federal responsibilities to tribal nations.

The letter to Senate and House leaders identified exactly how cuts would impact Indian Country and called for leadership to secure and protect tribal communities by upholding commitments to health care, education, public safety, energy development, and infrastructure like housing, roads, and broadband, which are all in the non-defense discretionary portion of the federal budget. The letter outlines where cuts would impact specific American Indian and Alaska Native programs.

Using the estimate of 8.2% reductions just for the first year of sequestration, many tribal programs will face difficult reductions below FY2010 levels, when adjusted for inflation. NCAI estimates that if sequestration were implemented, the percentage cuts from fiscal-year 2010 Native education programs (when adjusted for inflation) would be:


(In thousands of dollars)

FY 2010



FY2013 Pres. Budget

FY2013 Funding After Cuts    (est -8.2%)

FY13 Cuts

% Cut, FY10 to FY13 (inflation adjusted)

Bureau of Indian Affairs








    Bureau of Indian Education














NIEA Advancement (education)

NIEA Annual Fund
Dear NIEA Members and Advocates:


Thanks to your support, NIEA has made tremendous accomplishments in 2012 to improve the education for our American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children.


Thanks to our advocacy, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13592, which commits all agencies of the federal government to improving Native education. NIEA's advocacy also led to the launch of the State-Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) Pilot Program, which has provided $2 million in grants so far to help tribal education departments build the their capacity.


Through our research, NIEA teamed up with Harvard University Graduate School of Education to publish Charter Schools Serving Native Students: An Exploration of Best Practices, which provided new insight into how Native communities can use flexible school structures to provide our students with high-quality culturally based education.


NIEA is also helping tribal governments and school districts support Native student success. This includes a subcontract with the South Central Comprehensive Center to provide technical assistance to districts on how to improve student achievement. We are also showing educators how they can incorporate Native language and culture into Common Core reading and math standards.


Your NIEA is planning on doing even more in 2013 - from advocating for the passage of the Native CLASS Act, to working on preserving federal funding from Fiscal Cliff-related budget cuts. But your continued support is essential to our work. Please invest in NIEA's Annual Fund to help us carry on this important work.


Each year-end contribution you make is one that helps our Native students become leaders of our tribes, communities, and the nation. Go to NIEA.org today and learn more about what we do each and every day for our children - and feel free to share this message with your colleagues.


Thank you for being part of NIEA. And thank you for supporting the most-important mission of all: Building brighter futures for our Native students. Wado.


Ahniwake Rose
Executive Director, National Indian Education Association 

Native Culture in Education Part 2

This is the second in the series 
By Anna Ferdinand
In the late 1800s, after the United States government’s policy toward Native Americans had evolved from annihilating them to assimilating them, the practice was to exterminate any vestige of their old ways. 
When Indian reservations were established, many cul-tural practices were actually outlawed, and children were put into boarding schools, where they were forced to forget their heritage. Today, educators are working to heal the scars that were passed down through generations.
“Some of our great-great-grandparents would go hide out in the woods in small cabins down by the channel, and they would practice our singing and dancing,” Aurelia Washington told La Conner High School students at an assembly last week.  
Washington, who is the cultural director for the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, spoke to La Conner High School students on Native American Day last week.  The goal is to raise the identity of the tribe to both native and non-native students as an integral part of education in La Conner.  
General Cayou, a senior at La Conner High, told his school mates about hunting, fishing and gathering with his father. Their quests for traditional foods take them up into the Cascade Mountains hunting for bear, deer and elk and fishing in the Skagit River and in the Salish Sea.
“When it’s berry season, my dad goes out and picks like seven gallons of berries. It’s ridiculous,” Cayou said. “It takes a lot going out fishing and hunting; there’s a lot of preparation we do.  Me and my cousin Willy, we’re learning how to do all that so we can take over. When my dad steps down, we step up.”
The 2011 Canoe Journey, which was hosted by Swinomish, played a major role in generating pride in the youth and interest and awareness on the part of non-native students. 
During a session of oral storytelling, necklace making and dancing, La Conner music teacher Shegay Vanderpool said she has seen a major shift in students’ attitudes towards the Swinomish traditions.
“I’ve seen lots more participation from all of the kids since the Canoe Journey,” said Vanderpool. 
 Second-graders were dancing the Spirit of the Eagle as Washington sang and drummed in Vanderpool’s class.  “I think because they saw it so often, and they worked and practiced so hard and were so excited about it, that it’s kind of caught on,” she said. “I really see that.”
In contrast, Swinomish students of earlier generations speak of having no sense of cultural identity and feeling uncomfortable at schools while growing up.  
“We never had our cultural identity,” says Washington.  “It wasn’t until we started getting ready for the Canoe Journey that Swinomish pride was re-instilled.  We’ve seen complete changes with the kids; their whole attitudes and desire to do well changed, and to me, it was that pride of knowing who they were.”
The school district aims to bring this sense of identity deeper into the fabric of the schools by including instruction in native culture and language as well as an understanding of the past.
“One of the primary things you have to look at was the boarding schools and access to education at its root level,” says La Conner Superintendent Tim Bruce.  Generations of sending Native American children away to boarding schools “created a lot of mistrust and a lot of feelings that ‘this isn’t for me.’  We’re just into the generation where we can start getting past that,” Bruce said. 
In 1866 Catholic nuns in Tulalip started a school which would become the first contract boarding school with the federal government in the United States. In 1879, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School was established in Pennsylvania and was the first of many off-reservation boarding schools. 
Children were taken from their families and tribes and forced to abandon their native cultures and languages. By the late 1920s, the government changed its official culture-destroying policy, but Native American children were still routinely sent away to boarding schools well into the 1970s.  
Recently La Conner teaching staff attended a training session at Swinomish that featured a documentary film with accounts of people who had been students in boarding schools.
Beatings for speaking in their native language, having their hair cut off, being separated from their families, sexual abuse and sometimes even death are described in the first-hand accounts of former boarding school students. 
The reverberations of self-hate the experience engendered had a profound effect on those students and the generations that followed them. 
Washington’s grandfather, Chester Cayou, Sr., was taken to a boarding school in Canada.  
She discovered her grandfather’s story in 2008, when retrieving his birth certificate in Canada. There was a settlement from the Canadian government for students of that school.  Washington learned horrific stories of boarding school life, including an incident in which a boy was hung in the school gym as an example to deter bad behavior. 
“I was in tears, I had never even fathomed…,” said Washington.  Chester Cayou “was this gentle, gentle man, who never raised his voice.  That was just his character and his spirit.  His motto was what we used for the Canoe Journey; ‘Loving, caring and sharing together.’”
According to Washington, her grandfather was rescued from the school by his older brother in a canoe and brought to Swinomish, where he was adopted by the tribe.  
During the time of the boarding schools, “You had this clash of worlds,” explains Theresa Trebon, archivist for the Swinomish tribe. “Instead of learning to subsist and create baskets, all of a sudden, they had this non-native-based education.  Kids were heavily punished if they spoke their native language of Lushootseed. They lost their Indian names and were baptized with the names of saints.   Everything changes.”   
Swinomish Chariman, Brian Cladoosby explained at a speaking event last month the effect the boarding schools had on his own family.  
“My grandparents were boarding school kids,” he said. “Boarding school experience was unspeakable; the physical abuse, the mental abuse, the sexual abuse, even kids dying at these schools. If you had to experience that type of education, it wouldn’t be a top priority for you to push that on your kids.”
Cladoosby says the dropout rate for his parents’ generation was probably more than 90 percent. Today the high school dropout rate for Native Americans hovers around 20 percent in La Conner. 
It’s been a slow climb back up for the traditional ways of the tribe, says former tribal senator, Ray Williams. Williams grew up with an impoverished sense of his own culture, which he didn’t discover until studying Indian law at the University of New Mexico. He was invited to a Navajo ceremony and was moved by the connection these tribal members had to their spiritual culture, based on a deep connection to the land.
 “I met up with the Navajos and the Hopi people who lived in the old way, and I said, oh my God, this was what was haunting me all these years.”
The Swinomish longhouse culture came back with the building of the tribe’s longhouse in the 1990s. Williams says the longhouse brought a major increase in the activity around spiritual and cultural teachings. “The educational institution for us was the longhouse,” Williams said. “That was our university, our way of teaching.”  
The next essential step is bringing back the language, says Williams. 
“What we realized was that the Lushootseed language was essential to our future,” he said.
Washington says they are working on a plan to bring teachers to teach tribal members who will then teach the native language to the kids. There are only two people still living who are fluent Lushootseed speakers.  
“All along this coast the language has been in jeopardy of being lost,” Washington said. “It’s going to be a lot of work, but it will be worth it in the end, and the kids want to learn how to speak and identify themselves in their own language. If we can incorporate it in the schools in a couple of years, that would be ultimate.” 
Tim Bruce says he hopes to eventually see the language taught at the schools.  For now, the impact on the cultural identity of this generation’s students has been gratifying in terms of levels of participation, both with sports and academics.
“We’ve had a lot more students willing to share a piece of their culture,” says Bruce, who sees the sense of identity built from Canoe Journey as a stepping stone to move forward.  
“I think with this renewed pride that’s come out of the Canoe Journey and everything the tribe and the school is working on,” he said, “I think this will probably be one of our largest graduating classes with one of the largest percentages of Native American students.” 
Next week: Washington State history curriculum – teaching the sovereignty curriculum. 

Native culture In Education Part 3

A curriculum that connects with native students

This is the third story in the a series.
By Anna Ferdinand
For the state of Washington, the high school dropout rate for Native American students in the school year that ended in June was 28.4 percent. That’s the highest percentage of dropouts of any group in the state.
In order to understand that number, it’s important to revisit some Washington state history — And this is what La Conner High School has done in an attempt to boost the graduation rate of its Native American students.
“I think we have a history across the United States where the story of Native Americans was fractured,” said La Conner School District Superintendent Tim Bruce, speaking about the grant he helped write to teach the sovereignty curriculum developed by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  
The state Legislature in 2005 passed a law that encourages schools to teach from a native perspective, working with tribes to help develop and implement curriculum. 
“The history was told from perhaps the person who wrote it, it wasn’t necessarily the facts,” Bruce said.  “These are curriculum materials and resources that have been put together with the assistance of Native American tribes throughout our state and basically have their stamp of approval that we can all agree is truthful and represents what people went through and the historical context.”
Treaties signed between tribes and the U.S. Government had been given short shrift in most Washington state history classes, given the vast amount of material to be covered in a semester.  But for tribes around the state, the treaties are the documents upon which much of today’s current issues are based. The sovereignty curriculum takes students deeper into topics central to tribal governance today.
La Conner High School social studies teacher Peter Voorhees is in his second year teaching state history using the curriculum developed in cooperation with tribes indigenous to Washington State. 
“We looked at the Point No Point Treaty and the Point Elliot treaty,” Voorhees said. “We looked at the tribes that signed on to them and what were the promises. It’s always nice to have a list of resources.  It makes a topic that is unwieldy, like tribal sovereignty, a bit more approachable.”
 After a number of Swinomish students failed their Washington state history class, the school received grant money to teach the tribal sovereignty curriculum.
Linda Willup was a para-professional in the class and a student at the Northwest Indian College on the Swinomish Reservation, where she is earning her degree in Native Science.  
“Typically Washington state history focuses on who were the main participants in making a government here and what were some interesting things that happened during those first years,” said Willup, who is researching the role the curriculum played in engaging students on a deeper level.  “To go into a native perspective of teaching for the first time, they are having to say, ‘OK, what happened with our native history?’  Instead of thinking, ‘when did Lewis and Clark get here?’  Well, ‘how did the arrival of Lewis and Clark affect our area?’”
Theresa Trebon, archivist for the Swinomish tribe, and a consultant when needed for the schools, aims to give students a tribal perspective on the La Conner community when she talks to classrooms.
“The treaty was signed in January of 1855,” said Trebon. “By October, you’re in a full-blown war on the east side of the mountains, and there is stuff happening on this side.”  She said there was conflict from the beginning.
Issues of trust lands, fishing rights and tribal authority on reservation lands have their roots in treaties the tribes signed with Isaac Stevens, a soldier who was appointed by President Franklin Pierce to be the first governor of Washington Territory from 1853 to 1857 and was also Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the territory. Those treaties, mostly signed under threats and coercion, are the basis in which issues of tribal sovereignty and rights are argued in today’s context. The goal of the new curriculum is to understand these issues at a deeper level.    
Trebon likes to explain to students how the changes in the area’s waterways slowly eroded the rights promised in the treaties.
“The way the non-native population affected this waterway created a very effective dividing line between this side of the channel and that side of the channel.” Trebon said. “In order to understand that these aren’t two separate histories, these are the same histories, you have to look at those changes over time — the change in place, the change in people, the change in education. All of those are really profound.”
Amanda Washington was at Shuksan Middle School in Bellingham when she first took Washington state history.  Washington says she was one of five native students in a school of 800. 
“Shuksan was just different,” Amanda said. “You get to meet all these different ethnicities, but you don’t get as much help as you do at La Conner. The teachers here explain it a little more, go into deeper depth. It’s to make sure that everyone gets it.”
The La Conner High School history class took a field trip to Diablo Dam, up in the Cascades, bringing the discussion of dams and salmon into full relief.   
“The original curriculum talked about dams being important for hydroelectricity or boating,” said Tracy James, the education director for the tribe. But Voorhees “flipped” the curriculum, James said.  He looked at how it affected the fishing, the flooding of native sites,” she said. “He looked at two different perspectives, what were the pros and cons.”
Another lesson looked at major landmarks in Washington showing the mountain ranges and major cities.  Students were asked to show major sites and tribes they knew, connecting tribal history to place names.  
“I actually liked it better,” said Amanda, of taking the class the second time around. “Maybe it was the fact that it helped me learn more about native history than when was Washington state started.  I had something to connect with it.”  
 Auralia Washington, cultural director for the tribe and who also worked in the class, says she saw a change in students who sometimes don’t feel they have a foothold in their education.
“Sometimes our kids get the attitude like ‘I really don’t care, I’m just here because I have to be here.’  I think since this was geared towards them, and they were learning about their area, their ancestry and the ways the other tribes lived in the U.S. and their belief system,” she said, “that made a huge difference, it was more attention grabbing for them.”
After the first year, there is not much quantifiable data to determine whether the shift in curricular focus will have an impact on the statistics.
“I wish it were the case that if we taught a Native American history class, that every Native American student would do great in it. But that’s not the case. Our educational issues are a lot deeper and a lot more complex than offering a topic that some kids can relate to,” said Voorhees, who is just beginning another year with the sovereignty curriculum.
Voorhees is still waiting for video recording equipment purchased with the grant money, which he hopes to use to help students create tribal history by interviewing Swinomish elders.
Beth Clothier, La Conner School District librarian, says the school and local library received grant money for technology and materials to support the curriculum. 
“The need has been there for a really long time, and I think only now are we starting to say, ‘Here are some materials to make that happen,’” says Clothier. 
For children in younger grades, the school purchased primary readers that reflect native students in their daily lives.
“We bought a lot of these books with the hopes that, even from as early as kindergarten, kids have an opportunity to be reading and seeing more that we’re all part of a family and a community, instead of the feeling, being that over there, you have one community, and over here, you have a different community,” she said.
Clothier says the implemen-tation of the curriculum materials coincided with activities asso-ciated with last year’s canoe journey. 
 “We were able to start this presentation with some of the things our kids are doing, to open up the eyes of kids that don’t have that experience, who are, like, ‘Wow, there’s this whole other cultural experience that’s going on around me that I was unaware of.’  I’m hopeful that things like that will bring us closer.” 

Native Culture in Education Part 1

Native Culture in Education series

    The newspaper published a four-part series by award-winning journalist and educator Anna Ferdinand, who looked at local education through the lens of the Swinomish and La Conner communities as the school district incorporates native culture not only into the curriculum, but into its daily school environment. The series was published on Wednesdays, September 26 through October 17, 2012.

13 moons – a natural balance in education

This is the first in the series

By Anna Ferdinand
Before the arrival of explorers, fur traders, clergy, wagon trains and their 12-month calendar, people native to our area measured their lives according to the 13 moons of the year.
They knew which moon meant tides were low or high, what sea foods could be harvested and when and where to gather roots and bulbs.   
A recent $45,000 grant awarded to the Northwest Indian College on the Swinomish Reservation aims to bring community members and students closer to the 13 moon philosophy.
“The Coast Salish diet is primarily related to the sea, but there were also times of harvesting greens, roots and bulbs,” says Jessica Gigot, science faculty at the college.  
Gigot helped write the First Nations Development Institute grant, which is funding the establishment of a community garden with a greenhouse, gardening supplies to tribal community members and eventually classes for community members. 
Historically, seafood and game were augmented with starches harvested in the mountain regions on both sides of the Cascades.  While seafood is still a mainstay of the Swinomish diet, traditional gathering is a way of the past.  
Over the years, a lack of fresh produce and high consumption of processed foods in native communities has led to dietary deficiencies and alarmingly high rates of diabetes.  
The Institute of Indigenous Food Systems, a project of the cooperative extension’s Traditional Plants program within the Northwest Indian College, recently held a conference on Bainbridge Island for tribes to revitalize traditional foods and cooking technologies.
“The Traditional Plant’s program is focusing on food as our medicine and looking at other areas on the West Coast, primarily Vancouver Island and Alaska and what they have done to reestablish indigenous food networks and traditions,” said Gigot, who teaches nutrition as well as biology classes.
While heading up to the cascades to harvest camus bulbs might not be realistic in this day and age, incorporating an understanding of the past into an understanding of healthy living is the goal, says Gigot.
“If they are not the exact traditional foods, what are they?  They are wild foods, they are organic, they are whole foods and they are local.”
The school offers a holistic approach to education based on a cooperative, hands-on learning within the environment, where students in the class plant seeds, transplant and tend the plants in raised beds behind the school. Getting students into the environment is a central feature of an education geared towards the goal of being active in the community.  
“As a teacher, I strive to integrate certain elements into my teaching that helps students bring their own understanding into native science, integrating the arts, visual learning and oral storytelling,” says Gigot, speaking in the school’s new science lab, with new lab materials still in boxes. The college has grown from one room in the tribal headquarters, to its own building with four classrooms over the last several years.  
The college now offers a four-year certified bachelor’s degree program in native environmental science, with a curriculum that incorporates standard science classes such as chemistry and biology but works to connect the science to the community’s interaction with the environment. 
“In standard western science, you are really taught to be quite distant from your subject matter, and so in Native science, we acknowledge that there is an involved role,” says Gigot. 
Tribal members work closely with the western scientists to address restoration of habitat, fisheries protocols and climate change issues, integrating traditional ecological knowledge into every aspect of decision making.   
“And so that aspect of traditional ecological knowledge, which is secondary in western science, is primary in native environmental science,” Gigot said.
Nadine Clark is a student at the Northwest Indian College.  At the age of 50, she decided to take advantage of the tribe’s policy of paying for continuing education.  As a teenager, she dropped out of La Conner High School but later received her GED. She earned her associates degree at the college in 2003.  
Her son Nick Clark was one of the three boys in the documentary “March Point,” which looked at the effect that pollution from the Tesero and Shell oil refineries were having on the ecology of the area.  Last year she decided to go for her four-year degree in the native environmental science program.
“I saw all the pollution that was coming from the smoke stacks. I have grandchildren, and I wanted to make sure that the environment and the seafood were going to be safe for their future.  I just wanted to make sure this was a clean place for them to grow up,” said Clark, who hopes to find a job with the tribe after graduating in 2014.  The tribe has been pushing to have tribal members earn science degrees so they can come back and work for the tribe.  
Initially, Clark struggled with the math and a sense of self-doubt.
 “I thought, ‘who the heck am I? I’m 50 years old, trying to come back and go to school  with these younger students,’ and I almost quit,” she said. “But I stuck it out and I stayed and studied really hard, and in the long run, it paid off.  I was getting As and Bs.”
Clark has two girls in the high school right now, both cheerleaders. “I hope that me coming to school will make my kids want to come to school,” she said.  “Maybe not necessarily here, but knowing that the college is just across the road from where we live, knowing that it’s here to benefit them, I hope they continue to go to college.” 
Clark says both her girls were involved in activities surrounding the canoe journey last year.
A return to the 13 moons philosophy, manifested most prominently with the canoe journey, is taking hold. The starts in the 13 moons garden are still small, and the native garden is yet to be built to capacity.   
But the push to restore the natural landscape, native plants, and step back from harmful substances like drugs, alcohol and a processed food diet is gaining momentum.
“I think people are really wanting that sense of culture and connectedness,” says Gigot. “A lot of ways that sense of connectedness to the environment has been through a knowing of the landscape and a knowing of the plants and that’s what we’re trying to facilitate here.” 
Next week: How events, including the 2011 Canoe Journey hosted by Swinomish and engaging the entire La Conner community, have contributed to the academic success of students.

NCAI Newsletter (education)

NCAI Education Newsletter
November 16, 2012
Edition 36

Table of Contents

·         Other News and Commentary
·         Trends, Data, and Reports

Action Alert: Call Senator Barrasso about Reauthorizing the Esther Martinez Native Languages Preservation Act

The Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act, which provides tribes with critical support to establish and maintain immersion programs that revitalize Native languages, is currently up for reauthorization.

Both the Senate and House introduced reauthorization bills in September 2012. The Senate bill (S.3546, introduced by Senator Johnson) swiftly passed out of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs just one week after being introduced and is currently pending floor action. The House bill (H.R.6399, introduced by Representative Heinrich) has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The bills provide a clean reauthorization and do not make any substantive changes to the Esther Martinez program.

NCAI is confident that with bipartisan support, Congress can pass the reauthorization during the lame duck session. Right now, the bill needs the support of Senator Barrassso (R-WY), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, to pass out of the Senate.

Action Requested:
Please call Senator Barrasso's office today at (202) 224-6441 and ask him to co-sponsor S.3546. Also, e-mail Senator Barrasso and explain how the Esther Martinez program helps Native communities support student success.

More Information:
For more information on the Esther Martinez reauthorization, see the Esther Martinez - NCAI Support Document. Contact Katie Jones at kjones@ncai.org with any questions.

White House Announces 4th Annual Tribal Nations Summit (December 5)

Yesterday, the White House announced that the 4th Annual White House Tribal Nations Summit will be held on Wednesday, December 5th, 2012. During the Summit, tribal leaders from across the nation will once again convene in Washington, DC to discuss key tribal priorities with high-level members of the Obama administration.

As in past years, NCAI will co-host a Tribal Leaders Preparatory Meeting on Tuesday, December 4th from 5-7pm. The meeting will be at the Four Points Sheraton. NCAI will also host a tribal leader preparatory teleconference on Friday, November 30th at 1pm Eastern to assist tribal leaders in preparing for the Summit. 

The Tribal Nations Summit continues to serve as one of the leading forums for direct and substantive dialogue between tribal leaders and key administration officials. The voice of every tribal nation is crucial in this dialogue and we hope you will join us in the nation's capital for this important opportunity.

For a recap of last year's meeting and to review the 2011 tribal leader's briefing book, please visit the 2011 Tribal Leaders Conference Event Page on NCAI.org.

Current Issues in Education Policy: Sequestration and the Impact of the Election

Resources and News

Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog has some excellent coverage on how sequestration and the election will impact education. See the below articles for more information:

Overall, given the results of the election, the initial consensus in Washington DC is that waivers will dominate the education policy landscape for the next year or two. Congress has stalled in reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) because the issue has become increasingly polarized and partisan. The election has not done much to change the situation. Because Democrats continue to lead the Senate and Republicans the House, leadership on each chamber’s respective education committee is not expected to change. Many education policy commentators project that the result will be a continued stalemate on ESEA reauthorization and an increased focus on waivers. As such, it is more important than ever that tribes be engaged partners during the waiver application and implementation processes, and NCAI will continue to press for more meaningful tribal participation.

Native Vote Election Analysis Webinar Recap

Native Voters turned out in a big way this year, making key differences in important races. During last week's post-election webinar, the Native Vote campaign reported on preliminary results of this unprecedented turnout. Click here to download the presentation.

The Post-Election Webinar underscored the bipartisan opportunity presented by the election results. NCAI Executive Director, Jacqueline Pata, noted on the webinar that "just two years ago, we were outlining the path that a commonsense moderate Republican, from my own state of Alaska, [Senator Lisa Murkowski] took to engage tribes and ultimately win an historic reelection." In 2012, we saw Native people support the President's reelection, candidates in close Senate races, and leading members of the House, like Chickasaw citizen, Congressman Tom Cole. These candidates were all successful in part because of their strong engagement with tribal nations.

The 113th Congress will seek a bipartisan tone and Indian Country is ready to move our priorities forward with our champions on both sides of the aisle.

North Dakota
The Native Vote made a key difference in the North Dakota Senate race. Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp's victory was won by 2,994 votes. Her net vote gain in the three counties with reservations and high Native population was 4,282. Jacqueline Pata, NCAI Executive Director said on the Post Election Webinar, "She won the Native Vote because she is a commonsense moderate who has worked closely with tribes as Attorney General and understands the importance of our nation-to-nation relationship."

The House of Representatives, thanks to Oklahoma, now has two Native members of Congress: Tom Cole (R) who easily won re-election and now Markwayne Mullin (R), an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation who won the open seat to replace retiring Congressman Dan Boren (D).  

Congressman Tom Cole, Chickasaw citizen and co-chair of the House Native American Caucus, won 68% of the overall vote. Congressman-elect Markwayne Mullin won his race with 57% (143,253) of the votes in Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional District. The 2nd District has one of the highest percentages of Native voters in the country. 

Incumbent Senator John Tester was re-elected by a narrow margin with help from the Native Vote. Senator Tester acknowledged before the election that his success would be built on turnout on Montana's Indian reservations and Native voters rewarded the Senator for his close engagement with tribal nations.  

NCAI Joins 146 National Groups in Outlining Priorities to Avoid the "Fiscal Cliff"

Last week, NCAI joined 146 national organizations—including the National American Indian Housing Council, the National Indian Health Board, and the National Indian Child Welfare Association—on a letter outlining priorities for President Obama and Congress to avoid the "fiscal cliff."

The letter outlines five priorities for any budget agreement:
·         Creating jobs and growing the economy
·         No cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security benefits, or shifting costs to beneficiaries or the states.
·         No cuts to the safety net and vital services.
·         Stopping the sequester.
·         Requiring the wealthiest and corporations to pay their fair share, starting with ending tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent.

USDA Announces $3.3 Million for Tribal Colleges and Universities

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that 21 projects in eight states have been funded through the Tribal College Initiative Grant program to make campus improvements and provide outreach and educational offerings.

The USDA Rural Development Tribal College Grant program provides land-grant institutions with funds for outreach and education services to help meet the needs of American Indian and Alaska Native communities. The $3.3 million in grants will help tribal colleges finance infrastructure improvements, purchase equipment, and develop essential community facilities.

For example, in Brimley, Michigan, Bay Mills Community College has been selected to receive a grant to help construct an Early Childhood Education Learning lab building. In Mission, South Dakota, Sinte Gleska University has been selected to receive a grant to renovate the North Campus college science center, classroom, and a computer lab. Nebraska's Little Priest Tribal College will receive funds to help construct an educational facility with classrooms for science, math, writing, speech and other courses.

Click here to view a complete listing of which tribal colleges received this grant.

Other News and Commentary

·         Hundreds of School Districts Apply for $400 Million Race to the Top-District Competition: This week, the US Department of Education announced it received 371 applications – representing more than 1,100 school districts – for the Race to the Top-District competition.

·         Oklahoma Eyes Consolidation for Small, Rural Schools: In an effort to reduce education spending, Oklahoma is considering consolidating small, rural schools, many of which serve Native communities.

·         Navajo Charter School First in Nation to Be Off Electric Grid: The STAR Charter School is a 130-student preschool through eighth-grade school about 30 miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona. It's on the southwest corner of the Navajo Nation and mostly serves rural students. It appears to be the first solar- and wind-powered public school in the country.

·         Higher Education on the Crow Reservation (Part 1 and Part 2): Little Big Horn College is changing the future of education on the Crow Reservation in Montana.

·         White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education Launches New Website: This new website features information on the Initiative’s work for Native students. It includes highlights, events, grants, scholarships, and internships.

·         The Rules We Play By: Who Makes the Rules? Rural Policy Matters explores the laws that govern local public schools and the ways that public policy affects local schools.

Trends, Data, and Reports

·         Tribal Language Report (Office of Head Start): In 2010–11, the Office of Head Start (OHS) began an effort to learn about the successes, progress, and challenges faced by a number of large and small tribal communities in various stages of preserving, revitalizing, or reclaiming their tribal language. This report is not meant to be a comprehensive review of tribal language efforts. Rather, this report provides illustrative examples of tribal language efforts around the country and discusses the recommendations and implications for OHS.

·         Alaskan Schools: What Matters to Students? (Association of Alaska School Boards): Through a series of focus groups with about 280 students—engaged and disengaged, rural and urban, Alaska Native and non-Native, middle and high school-aged, and students who have recently dropped out—young people from 26 schools in four districts (Anchorage, Juneau, Lower Kuskokwim, and Yukon-Koyukuk), shared their perspectives on a series of questions about what matters to Alaska Native and non-Native students. These questions include: What makes a school a place where students want to be and do well? Why do students stay in school or drop out? What do students believe that schools can do to help them succeed? An 8-page summary is also available.

·         Teacher Absence as a Leading Indicator of Student Achievement (Center for American Progress): This report uses the Civil Rights Data Collection dataset released in early 2012 to raise questions and drive debate about the subject of teacher absence. This dataset comes from the first national survey to include school-level information on teacher absence. The measure constructed from this information is the percentage of teachers who were absent more than 10 times during the year. The Department of Education calls the measure a “leading indicator,” a reasonable label given the documented relationship between absence rates measured at the teacher level and student achievement.