Special Saturday Enrollment Day Jan. 7 at OSU-Tulsa

Written by at December 28, 2011

TULSA, Okla. – Oklahoma State University-Tulsa will host a special Saturday Enrollment Day on Jan. 7 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Advising, enrollment and financial aid counselors will help current and prospective students finish admission, enroll for classes and verify financial aid.

“Our Saturday hours provide students with the opportunity to take care of enrollment related items before the beginning of the semester,” said Susan Tolbart, director of recruitment and student development at OSU-Tulsa. “Things can be pretty hectic during the week with work and family commitments as well as trying to take care of things for the start of the semester. The special enrollment day provides a more relaxed environment to register for classes, check on your financial aid or buy books.”

In addition to the special Saturday Enrollment Day, students can also visit OSU-Tulsa advising and enrollment counselors Jan. 3-5 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Jan. 6 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Spring classes start Jan. 9 at OSU-Tulsa.

An Undergraduate New Student Orientation session is being held during the Saturday event at 10:30 a.m. in North Hall 150. To attend, RSVP to tulsa.campuslife@okstate.edu. Graduate Student Orientation will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Main Hall Commons.

OSU-Tulsa’s Bookstore will also be open Jan. 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for students who wish to purchase books and other supplies.

Continuing students may enroll online through the Student Information System (SIS). The SIS System is available Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to midnight; Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday 7 a.m. to midnight.

For more information, contact Prospective Student Services at 918-594-8355.

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Navajo Nation seeks return of exhumed remains

Written by at December 26, 2011

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) – Archaeologists curious about American Indian cultures dug up human remains and associated funerary objects at Canyon de Chelly decades ago, while some remains were taken for protection from erosion in the canyon with towering red, sandstone walls.

Whatever the reason, the Navajo Nation wants hundreds of sets of human remains exhumed from the national monument on their reservation to be returned for proper burial, contending the tribe is the rightful owner of them. The Navajo Nation, whose members live on the country’s largest American Indian reservation, contend in a lawsuit filed last week that despite their demands for the remains, the National Park Service has unrightfully held them in a collection in Tucson.

Since 1931, the federal agency has been charged with preserving the thousands of artifacts and ruins within the national monument near Chinle. But the land revered by Navajos as sacred remains tribally owned.

Canyon de Chelly Superintendent Tom Clark said the Park Service’s goal is to repatriate the items, but it first must determine whether any other tribes have cultural affiliation to them under a 1990 federal law known as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Clark said that law appears to conflict with the property rights of the Navajo Nation.

“Until we see how this plays out, we would not proceed to aggravate the situation,” he said Tuesday. “But we’ll see how it actually plays out and determine from there. Obviously other tribes are interested in it, too.”

Canyon de Chelly has been inhabited for thousands of years, with artifacts and cliff dwellings lining the canyon walls dating from the 4th to 14th centuries. Clark said Zuni Pueblo, the Hopi Tribe, Apaches, Utes or other tribes could have rightful claims to the remains.

The Navajo Nation – which calls the canyon “tsegi” or “within the rock” – believe that digging up human remains causes illness to the living, including arthritis and depression, and damages the environment. The tribe said it never agreed to let the Park Service or any other entity carry off remains or cultural objects located on the monument because that would have contradicted traditional Navajo laws and violated the rights of tribal members.

“Since at least 1868, this has been the heart of Navajo country, and nothing in the act that created the national monument changed that,” said Alan Downer, director of the tribe’s Historic Preservation Department. “So for the Park Service to say, `we dug it up, put it in our collection and, therefore, it’s ours’ is wrong.”

The tribe further argues that the remains were taken before Congress outlined a process for museums and federal agencies to inventory their collections, consult with tribes regarding cultural affiliation and return remains to the appropriate tribe. Congress has allowed the Park Service to hold the objects and remains only temporarily to preserve and protect them at most, the tribe said.

The most recent excavation in Canyon de Chelly took place in 1988 when the tribe agreed to let the Park Service remove remains from an eroding arroyo under the condition that they be reburied soon after, Downer said. Instead, they ended up in the Park Service’s collection, he said. Other excavation work was done as early as the 1890s.

The Park Service met with tribes in June and showed them its collection. Downer said some of the pottery clearly is Navajo as are remains recovered from Massacre Cave, where 115 Navajos were killed in a bloody encounter with the Spanish in 1805.

“When you get to pre-contact times, it’s very difficult to say `this is unquestionably ancestral to this contemporary tribe,”’ Downer said.

Clark said the Park Service doesn’t claim ultimate ownership of the remains or objects but must follow the mandate of Congress.

“We all want to have the remains repatriated, that’s what all the tribes and the Park Service have all stated,” he said. “That is our goal. I guess the disagreement is in the process to get there.”

The Navajo Nation is asking a judge to declare that the remains are the property of the tribe and order the Park Service to immediately return them. Should the court determine that federal laws transferred the title of human remains and cultural objects from the tribe to the Park Service, the Navajo Nation wants those laws declared void.

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Funds sought for American Indian Cultural Center

Written by at December 26, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Private donations are being sought to complete the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum that’s being built in Oklahoma City,

The center’s new executive director, Blake Wade, says he will have to raise $80 million to complete the structure, which is about half finished. Wade says the center could open in three to four years.

The Oklahoman reports that Wade says he expects to have to raise $40 million from the public in private donations and the rest through state appropriations.

So far, the state has contributed $67 million in addition to $16 million from the federal government plus $6.7 million from Indian tribes and private donors.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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Healthy Marriage Project makes headway in Indian Country

Written by at December 19, 2011

Nebraska Healthy Marriage Project participants dance the Two-Step as a bonding exercise during a powwow.  COURTESY PHOTO / INDIAN CENTER, INC., LINCOLN, NEHONOLULU, HI – Tonight is set aside for “we” time between KiKi Kauwe and her other half, Daniel Cummings. Each is trying to figure out what the other is thinking as they look into each other’s face.  With three children this kind of interaction is rare. They juggle family and work; she as an intake specialist and Cummings as a security guard.

As part of their relationship session, they’ll use a “love map” to highlight each other’s likes and dislikes. Kiki and Daniel were one of eight Native couples out on a “date,” sponsored by the Keiki O Ka ‘Aina Family Learning Center’s Healthy Marriages Program. Kauwe and Cummings are using a relationship how-to guide fashioned by a Native Wellness Institute curriculum to help spawn healthier relationships in Indian Country.

Thanks to five-year grants applied for by tribes and tribal groups through Administration for Native Americans (ANA), federal monies are used to help tribal folks be better couples, developers said.

In their night out, candles are lit and hands held as attendees practice “Ho ‘ohiki Pilina” or “Maintaining Commitment.” In these couples, at least one half is of Native Hawaiian ancestry, like Kauwe, Hawaiian Healthy Marriages director, Jenna Umiamaka said.

Sadly, Native couples are often handicapped when it comes to relationships, officials said. The biggest culprit is often injuries from the past, said Jillene Joseph, Native Wellness Institute executive director. This doesn’t mean an argument from last night or even last year. Wounds go far deeper.  “The impact of historical trauma on Indian couples is awful,” Joseph said. “This goes for boarding school, substance, sexual and physical abuse that leaves issues of unresolved anger and grief. Two people hook up and it’s two times the baggage.”

The Native Wellness curriculum (used in the Healthy Families programs) encourages traditional courting with no substance abuse as a distracter. It’s paired with sharing chores and living in mutual respect under one roof.  Staffers at the Indian Center, Inc. in Lincoln NE, hope to turn the unhealthy to healthy by returning to traditional courting cues. Seeds of better partner behavior are planted, said Indian Center director, Linda Robinson.

Whether partners realize it or not, culture, particularly Indian cultural values, can add to a relationship, Joseph said. Although the idea of trading horses to a woman’s father to win her hand is a thing of the past,  employing respectful gestures and sharing chores puts a traditional touch on the partnership—even if marriages are no longer arranged.

“We have found that unhealthy relationships are not based on cultural things,” Joseph said. “And sometimes if a relationship still ends, it’s just not a healthy relationship to begin with.”

Being a couple in Indian Country is not one-plus-one and the kids. Even with mom and dad in the same house, matrimony is not standard. According to the 2002 U.S Census American Community Survey, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) males and females aggregately are more likely to be unmarried than Whites at 35 percent for Native males and 29 percent for Native females, compared to 27 percent and 21 percent respectively for Whites. The norm may be Indians living in couples, just not their marriage status.

Togetherness is tricky whether it’s on the Plains of Nebraska, inner Los Angeles or on an island in the Pacific Ocean, experts said. According to program officials, a relationship has a better chance to work when couples learn how to create improved time together.

The Healthy Marriage curriculum has been picked up by groups affiliated with their tribes including the Pawnee Nation, Caddo Nation and the Comanche Nation (Oklahoma) which have sponsored their own date night events and used “Loving Couples, Loving Children,” to help themselves build trust, heal old wounds, stay close after kids, hear two sides to every fight, and other principles.  They get guidance from the Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP) on how to sponsor the free couples seminars.

All the while, Indian couples are reminded an audience is watching.

“We know that children learn everything from those that raise them, their parents,” Umiamaka said. “Children learn how to have healthy relationships by watching their parents have a healthy relationship or ohana (family) sustainability.”

Tribal healthy marriage programs have learned to ad lib with cultural twists that fit Indian couples. In the Nebraska Indian Healthy Marriage Project, the idea of a couples’ Two-Step special at the local tribal powwows blossomed, said Rose Springer, marriage project trainer, and Omaha tribal member from Lincoln, NE. The social dance pairs off couples who dance as a symbol of their unity, she said.

Many are often surprised that culture and tradition are key parts of an Indian marriage blueprint.

“We go into our own culture,” Springer said. “Our young people have not been taught all the old ways and we reacquaint them with that.”

Linda Robinson, director of the Indian Center, Inc. in Lincoln, NE, took a look at marriages in central Plains tribes. In her research, she found the idea of yesteryear Indian marriage placed emphasis on factors like division of labor rather than focusing solely on love. Specifically, men were the hunters who protected the territory while the woman tended to the home and family. Much has changed today as women often become the breadwinners, she offered.

“The focus has a lot to do with respect, nurturing and sharing,” Robinson said.

Securing Indian families works in Los Angeles County with some help, said Donald Salcedo at the United American Involvement center (UAII).  A couple’s relationship skills have a strong effect on family’s stress levels. Young parents are more likely to stay in college and complete their degree if they know how to relate healthily to each other, even in tough times, Salcedo said.

“We have found that if we build on a couple’s relationship skills, there are higher rates of Indian students who enroll and stay in UCLA (University of California),” he said. “That means a degree and higher standard of living for the kids as a result.”

Getting together is relatively easy, it’s staying together that takes skills, Salcedo said. In L.A., good jobs are few while affordable and safe housing is often elusive for Natives.

“Here it’s survival. We (Indians) have to blend in with the rest of the population,” he said. “Relationships are hard; they take a toll on us.”

Making peace or calling a truce in a union goes a long way, program proponents said. Relationships in Indian Country don’t always end happily ever after.  About 12.5 percent of American Indians polled in the 2002 U.S. Census American Community Survey reported being divorced which is the highest among all racial groups. Globally, the United States already has a bad rating according to various websites with more than 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce. India has the best rate with just 1.1 percent.

In Los Angeles, Date Nights do the trick. On the Plains, dancing can make strong bond. But across the ocean, Hawaiian participants get a Kalo (Taro) plant. It represents their people as living, growing and reproducing. The couples are asked to take the plant home, care for it and bring it back, Umiamaka said.

“The goodness of the taro is judged by the fine young plants it produces,” Umiamaka said.

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Program aims to help Native Americans quit smoking

Written by at December 15, 2011

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – A special program to help Native Americans stop smoking will be held in Lincoln and Omaha.

The University of Kansas Medical Center is offering the eight-week program and has openings for 32 Native Americans ages 18 and older. Participants will be given health information as well as nicotine patches, gum and lozenges. Support sessions will be held. In cases of severe cravings and withdrawal symptoms, free medication will be available.

One portion of the group will participate in a program designed for Native Americans, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. The remainder will follow a program that uses the current best practices. Experts will study the results and evaluate the value of a culturally tailored smoking cessation program versus a non-tailored program.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that in 2009, adult Native Americans had the highest smoking rate of any ethnic group in the country: 23.2 percent.

Participants use tobacco in some Native American ceremonies.

“That’s going to be one deterrent on stopping, because that just creates more cravings,” said Dale Leach II, 36, who told the newspaper that he began smoking when he was 15. He’s interested in the program.

“If they’re willing to help us quit, I think that’s great,” Leach said. “There are Natives out there that can’t stop and that are smoking a couple packs a day.”

Chris Legband, a program facilitator and Ponca tribe member, said the program has helped her stop smoking.

Project manager Baljit Kaur said organizers hope to expand the program into Norfolk, Niobrara and Winnebago, then across the Missouri River to Sioux City, Iowa.

She hopes to establish the program in those communities and let local people or agencies take it over.

“We want to give it back to communities so they can tailor it according to their needs,” she said.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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SD proposes alternative to No Child Left Behind

Written by at December 15, 2011

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – Education Secretary Melody Schopp said Monday that South Dakota has put together a new system for assessing schools’ performance to replace flawed provisions in the federal school improvement law known as No Child Left Behind.

The new system should qualify the state for a waiver from current federal requirements and provide a long-term method of accountability once Congress makes expected changes in the law, Schopp said.

No Child Left Behind primarily uses an annual test to measure schools’ progress. South Dakota’s system would include testing but also look at students’ academic growth from year to year, elementary school attendance, high school students’ readiness for college or jobs, the effectiveness of teachers and school administrators and community attitudes toward local schools.

“We really think this model places the emphasis on continuing improvement,” Schopp said.

A group of 23 teachers, school administrators and officials from education groups developed the plan. After getting public comments and making changes in response, the committee will submit its final version to the state Board of Education for approval Jan. 27, and a waiver proposal will be submitted to the U.S. Education Department on Feb. 21, Schopp said.

South Dakota’s plan includes many elements contained in waiver proposals already submitted by 11 other states, Schopp said.

The public can comment on it on the Education Department’s website, www.doe.sd.us .

Wade Pogany, executive director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, said school boards believe a change is needed from the current federal law, but it will be particularly difficult to work out details for evaluating teachers.

“As a whole, school boards don’t mind accountability,” Pogany said. “They just want to know there will be some flexibility in it.”

An official with the South Dakota Education Association, the state’s main teachers’ union, was not immediately available to comment.

Education officials in many states have complained No Child Left Behind labels many schools as failures even if they make progress. It requires every student to be proficient in reading and math by 2014, but many education officials say that’s an unrealistic goal and they expected Congress to change the law by now.

President Barack Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan have said states can get waivers from current requirements if they agree to some reforms, such as tougher evaluation systems for teachers and administrators.

South Dakota would use the current test for this school year’s evaluations, and then the new system would be phased in over four years. Schools ranked near the bottom under the new system would receive support to make improvements instead of being punished, Schopp said.

Schools in the bottom 70 percent also would have to seek greater annual improvements than those above that level.

The new system would use annual tests to measure the percentage of each school’s students scoring proficient or advanced in reading and math. It would measure the academic achievement of students in groups that traditionally have scored lower than the statewide average on tests, including Native American, black, Hispanic and low-income students.

Student growth would be determined by the percentage of students exceeding projected academic progress from year to year. Teachers’ and principals’ evaluations would be based on observations and the academic growth of their students.

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MSU grad named head of Indian education initiative

Written by at December 15, 2011

HELENA, Mont. (AP) – Montana State University says one of its graduates has been named the head of the new White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education.

The university says William Mendoza will lead the initiative created by an executive order signed by President Barack Obama this month. It is aimed at expanding educational opportunities for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Mendoza had been the acting director of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities.

He is an enrolled Oglala Sioux tribal member who grew up on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian reservations.

Mendoza received a master’s degree in educational leadership from MSU last year.

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Science lab brings opportunity to S’Klallam kids

Written by at December 9, 2011

PORT GAMBLE, Wash. (AP) – Growing up, Shasheen Decotau would accompany her father on the water and along the beach as he fished and went crabbing.

Those regular visits left a lasting impression on Decotau, who says she’s always thought about pursuing a career in environmental science – that or teaching. Decotau is working as a reading specialist with children and enjoys her job, but now that she has a chance to follow her dream of getting a degree in environmental science, she isn’t going to pass up the opportunity.

In the spring, Decotau will graduate with an associate degree from the Northwest Indian College’s Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe campus. She plans to transfer the degree in the fall to participate in the school’s bachelor of science program to receive a degree in natural environmental science.

Until recently, Decotau would never have had the opportunity to receive a four-year native environmental science degree from the Port Gamble campus, but a $353,135 grant from the Department of Defense to Northwest Indian College allowed the college to outfit its one Port Gamble classroom with running water and supplies needed to offer more science classes. The college dedicated $30,000 of the grant to outfit the Port Gamble campus and purchase science equipment and supplies for its programs.

“A couple months ago, this was just a classroom and now we have all this awesome stuff we can do stuff with,” Decotau said. “The lab has opened up so many opportunities for our classes.”

One of the most significant opportunities is the college’s ability to offer the advanced science courses and degree programs outside its headquarters, which are near Bellingham on the Lummi Indian Reservation. The expanded courses mean more students can pursue a degree locally, which S’Klallam leaders and college officials hope will translate to more tribal members working with the tribe’s natural resources department.

“So many people want to join the natural resources group, they want to work with the tribe, they don’t want to move away,” said science teacher Joyce McClain, who is a part-time faculty member with the college. “A lot of students are really happy to see they can stay here. It was frustrating to have curriculum but not have any lab sciences available.”

Sixty-five students are enrolled in the college’s Port Gamble satellite campus, ranging in age from 17-year-old running start students to tribal elders, said Gina Corpuz, the college’s Port Gamble instructional site manager. The recent addition of the science lab to the college has prompted a number of students to change their educational direction to native environmental science, Corpuz said.

“The tribal leaders have spoken and shared that their highest priority is for Northwest Indian College to graduate students with skills and knowledge that will help grow the capacity of the tribal community,” Corpuz said. “It’s important to have an education, but it’s even more important to have a degree you can apply and help restore the environment to where it used to be.”

Students in McClain’s Biology 104 class – including Decotau – learned this quarter some of the ways the natural environment played a vital role in the lives of the S’Klallam people. Decotau did her final project on native species. For her project, she researched how plants like dandelions, nettles, salal and salmonberries can be used for medicinal purposes.

Classmate Hemeh Alexis collected mushrooms found around wooded areas of the reservation and learned some species that grow closer to the water can’t be found at higher elevations. Because of their receptive makeup, mushrooms can be used medicinally to help cancer patients and to help clean up toxic sites – which led Alexis to question why mushrooms aren’t used more to clean up trash. Traditionally, the S’Klallam people have used mushrooms for artwork, she said.

Like Decotau, Alexis wants to pursue a degree in environmental science. She had worked as a card dealer at the casino, but had to quit after dealing left her hands hurting. As an artist, Alexis didn’t want to destroy her hands, so she decided to make a life change and enroll in the college.

“I really, really like it,” she said. “I really like the science department. It’s way more interesting to do this.”

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Information from: Kitsap Sun, http://www.kitsapsun.com/

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Tribal officials object to historic garment sale

Written by at December 9, 2011

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) – Tribal officials on the Great Plains have objected to the plan of the Southern Oregon Historical Society to sell artifacts that include a shirt described as exquisite and dating as early as the 1830s.

The organization, under financial pressure, has been selling off artifacts that don’t relate to Southern Oregon history, The Medford Mail Tribune reported. The shirt that was to be auctioned in San Francisco on Monday was donated by a Grants Pass resident in 1957 and came from an ancestor who obtained it in Nebraska.

Steve Vance, historic preservation officer with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, says the shirt seems to have ceremonial significance and is the kind of artifact tribes have been unable to get returned.

“It’s basically a slap in the face, but we’ve seen worse,” Vance said.

The paper says the collection, including a few Anglo-American items in addition to Native American objects, is valued at $300,000 to $500,000.

Pat Harper, interim director of the historical society, said a report was commissioned in August to make sure that the sale of the shirt wouldn’t violate the Native American Grave Repatriation Act.

“Items such as shirts are not covered by cultural patrimony,” she said.

She said attempts to sell artifacts to a nonprofit have failed, and the organization couldn’t provide the proper preservation for the shirt.

She said part of the historical society’s mission is to generate sufficient money to preserve the artifacts that relate to Southern Oregon.

“If money were no object, it would be a different story,” she said. “We wish we could have given it away. But that wouldn’t be responsible to our mission.”

Dianne Desrosiers, tribal historic preservation officer for the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, said the shirt appears to be quite old, and she’s asked other tribal leaders for information about its significance.

“It’s exquisite, I will say that,” she said.

Vance, basing his observations on a photo, said a semi-circular pattern with points on it inside a circle on the shirt could indicate the seven bands that make up the Sioux. A light blue area could represent waterways and lakes that connect the tribes, he said.

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Guiding through the maze

Written by at December 8, 2011
Native American adviser helps assist, retain students

College can be a maze for any student with each twist and turn representing a new course or major that could lead a student into frustration. This is especially true for minority students, who might have to adapt to an entirely new environment if they want to succeed.

This is where Salena Hill comes in.

Hill is the student adviser, counselor and program liaison for the University of Montana Native American Studies department. She is an enrolled member of the Crow tribe and a descendent of the Blackfeet tribe. Her office walls are covered with posters promoting Native pride and tradition.

Among Hill’s duties, the biggest is providing academic advising to the university’s Native American students. She acts as a coach to these students, who are usually in their first years in college or fresh transfers from tribal colleges.

This year, she is working with about 50 students, she said.

“It’s a number of things,” Hill said about the benefits of her job. “It’s teaching, you’re teaching students how to use the system and you’re always giving advice. A part of that is building personal connections.”

The job gives Hill the opportunity to watch students starting from orientation and right through to graduation.

“To watch them come in and just not knowing anything about the university,” she said of her students. “And then to watch them graduate is probably one of the most rewarding pieces of my job.”

Hill’s position is especially important now, as the faltering economy has affected college enrollment nationwide. Schools, including the University of Montana, have been wrestling with tuition increases to make up for declining state support.

However, the University of Montana has managed to increase its Native American student population using a combination of support services that includes Hill’s position and the American Indian Student Services, a campus program that welcomes Native students and creates a community.

The school also offers tuition waivers to Native American students who are state residents.

According to a 2009-11 UM diversity action plan report, enrollment of Native Americans students increased from 2.7 percent to 4 percent during that time span. This year alone there are approximately 600 Native American students compared to 538 in 2008. UM is ranked nationally 19th for universities graduating Native Americans with baccalaureate degrees according to the report.

“(Hill) understands the struggles of being a student and understands the struggle of being a Native student,” said Terri Jarvey, a program coordinator with the American Indian Student Services. Hill manages to create an atmosphere in her office where students find familiarity and comfort.

“She’s an asset to the university and community,” Jarvey said.

Melissa Woodward, a student at the university, sat down with Hill for an advising session and said she felt that Hill was “way more personal.”

Woodward said she had friends with advisors that didn’t sit down and help them like Hill did with her.

The advising session was very relaxed as Hill joked and kept the air in the room light. In the background Hill’s iPod played a rhythm and blues song while they discussed a math class that Woodward dropped and they were deciding if she wanted to take it again next semester.

As Woodward described her current schedule, Hill consistently asked how each class was going and if she felt that her schedule for next semester was exactly what she wanted.

“From the beginning she helped me with picking my classes,” Woodward said, following the session.

Hill came to the University of Montana as an advisor in 2001 with an undergraduate degree in counseling from the University of Great Falls. She quickly realized the benefits of working for a university, and began working toward a masters degree in counseling education.

Posted on her office wall, is a whiteboard with “Tips 4 Students Success” written in marker. One of the tips for students is to utilize services including tutoring.

Although Hill is primarily there for advising she does dabble in a bit of counseling. Whenever students have an issue she gives them a comfortable environment to come to and also gives them further resources depending on their need.

“I want to be that person that if a student is struggling – whether it be academically or if something happened on campus – I want them to feel like they can come to me,” Hill said.

One of her most common questions she asks students as they plan their future semesters, especially if they are trying to rectify the effects of a misspent term: “What are you going to change this semester?”

She said she asks this question more frequently than she’d like. There are a lot of distractions in college that can cause students to veer off their path. This could missing classes or dropping out.

Native American student retention can be a challenge. The struggle to graduate can deter a student. Students might leave due to family problems or simply because they aren’t doing well in their classes.

Some students, Hill said, disappear.

Students commonly choose to drop classes. Hill is there to provide them with alternatives in hopes that they stay in the class and find another way to cope with any issues.

“Sometimes there are options students aren’t aware of,” Hill said. “I want them to know their options.”

Hill provides much needed perspective in her position, as a Native American, a student and an educator. She has seen students succeed while others struggle for years or even disappear from campus. In the end, Hill hopes to show her students that education never ends.  

“One of the benefits of working on a college campus is that you’re never done learning,” Hill said. “It’s going on around you all the time,”

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Stacy Thacker (Navajo) is from Navajo, N.M.

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UNMC to provide dental services for Omaha Tribe

Written by at December 6, 2011

MACY, Neb. (AP) – A new agreement will allow staff and students from the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s dental college to offer services to the Omaha Tribe.

Beginning Monday, pediatric dental residents and dental assistants will provide care for more than 70 children on the tribe’s reservation in Macy. It’s the first in a series of dental clinics.

The dental college’s Don Herbst says children with severe problems will be referred to a pediatric dental clinic in Omaha and treated at UNMC.

Tribal chairman Amen Sheridan says children’s dental health in a big concern on the reservation and the agreement with UNMC will increase awareness of oral health.

The services are being provided to the tribe with the help of two five-year grants from the National Institutes of Health totaling $3.5 million.

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American Indian schools in the Dakotas get grants

Written by at December 6, 2011

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – American Indian schools in the Dakotas are among recent recipients of grants from the Shakopee Mdewakanton (med-WAH’-kuh-tuhn) Sioux Community.

In South Dakota, the Flandreau Indian School in Flandreau got $35,000 to support a behavior incentive program and extracurricular activities including a rodeo club. St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain received $20,000 for a program for at-risk high school students and for cultural activities.

In North Dakota, the Circle of Nations school in Wahpeton got $8,000 for winter clothing for students.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community operates Mystic Lake Casino in Minnesota and other enterprises, and runs a charitable giving program. It recently donated $755,500 to education programs in Indian Country, including $585,000 to the American Indian College Fund.

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Apple juice can pose a health risk – from calories

Written by at December 4, 2011

It’s true – apple juice can pose a risk to your health. But not necessarily from the trace amounts of arsenic that people are arguing about.

Despite the government’s consideration of new limits on arsenic, nutrition experts say apple juice’s real danger is to waistlines and children’s teeth. Apple juice has few natural nutrients, lots of calories and, in some cases, more sugar than soda has. It trains a child to like very sweet things, displaces better beverages and foods, and adds to the obesity problem, its critics say.

“It’s like sugar water,” said Judith Stern, a nutrition professor at the University of California, Davis, who has consulted for candy makers as well as for Weight Watchers. “I won’t let my 3-year-old grandson drink apple juice.”

Many juices are fortified with vitamins, so they’re not just empty calories. But that doesn’t appease some nutritionists.

“If it wasn’t healthy in the first place, adding vitamins doesn’t make it into a health food,” and if it causes weight gain, it’s not a healthy choice, said Karen Ansel, a registered dietitian in New York and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says juice can be part of a healthy diet, but its policy is blunt: “Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit for infants younger than 6 months” and no benefits over whole fruit for older kids.

Kids under 12 consume 28 percent of all juice and juice drinks, according to the academy. Nationwide, apple juice is second only to orange juice in popularity. Americans slurp 267 ounces of apple juice on average each year, according to the Food Institute’s Almanac of Juice Products and the Juice Products Association, a trade group. Lots more is consumed as an ingredient in juice drinks and various foods.

Only 17 percent of the apple juice sold in the U.S. is produced here. The rest comes from other countries, mostly China, Argentina, Chile and Brazil, the association says.

Television’s Dr. Mehmet Oz made that a key point a few months ago when he raised an alarm – some say a false alarm – over arsenic in apple juice, based on tests his show commissioned by a private lab. The Food and Drug Administration said that its own tests disagreed and that apple juice is safe.

However, on Wednesday, after Consumer Reports did its own tests on several juice brands and called along with other consumer groups for stricter standards, the FDA said it will examine whether its restrictions on the amount of arsenic allowed in apple juice are stringent enough.

Some forms of arsenic, such as the type found in pesticides, can be toxic and may pose a cancer risk if consumed at high levels or over a long period.

All juice sold in the United States must be safe and meet U.S. standards, said Pat Faison, technical director for the juice association. As for making good nutrition choices, “a lot of the information that people need about fruit juices is on the label,” she said.

So what’s on those labels?

Carbohydrates, mostly sugars, in a much higher concentration than in milk. Juice has a small amount of protein and minerals and lacks the fiber in whole fruit, the pediatrics academy notes.

Drinking juice delivers a lot of calories quickly so you don’t realize how much you’ve consumed, whereas you would have to eat a lot of apples to get the same amount, and “you would feel much, much more full from the apples,” Ansel said.

“Whole fruits are much better for you,” said Dr. Frank Greer, a University of Wisconsin, Madison, professor and former head of the pediatrics academy’s nutrition committee.

He noted that the WIC program – the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children – revised its rules in 2005 to replace juice with baby food fruits and vegetables for children over 6 months. More than half of all infants born in the U.S. are eligible for WIC, and the government “really cut back severely on the ability of mothers to get fruit juices” through the program, Greer said.

If you or your family drinks juice, here is some advice from nutrition experts:

–Choose a juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D-3.

–Give children only pasteurized juice – that’s the only type safe from germs that can cause serious disease.

–Don’t give juice before 6 months of age, and never put it in bottles or covered cups that allow babies and children to consume it throughout the day, which can cause tooth decay. For the same reason, don’t give infants juice at bedtime.

–Limit juice to 4 to 6 ounces per day for children ages 1 to 6, and 8 to 12 ounces for those ages 7 to 18.

–Encourage kids to eat fruit.

–Don’t be swayed by healthy-sounding label claims. “No sugar added” doesn’t mean it isn’t full of naturally occurring sugar. And “cholesterol-free” is silly – only animal products contain cholesterol.

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Marilynn Marchione can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP

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Online:

Academy of Pediatrics on juice: http://tinyurl.com/qtkls

FDA: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm271394.htm

WIC program advice: http://bit.ly/sYXqAi

Industry: http://www.fruitjuicefacts.org

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Tunica-Biloxi Tribe opens center to house museum, classes

Written by at December 2, 2011

MARKSVILLE, La. (AP) – Slot machines might not be the only thing on the minds of people visiting Marksville.

On Wednesday, The Town Talk reports the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open its new Cultural and Educational Resources Center in Marksville.

Earl Barbry Jr., the center’s director, said education was a major focus in creating the center. “(Northwestern State University) will be offering graduate and undergraduate classes at the new facility, (beginning in 2012),” Barbry said. “This will be a major plus for Avoyelles Parish because a lot of people have to drive to (Louisiana State University-Alexandria) or NSU in Natchitoches for classes.

“We are known for our casino here, but we also want people to also think about education when they come to Marksville.”

Barbry said the vision to create the museum started seven years ago. “This started as a rebuilding of our previous museum and just grew from there,” he said. “This was a $13 million project and came from two HUD block grants and tribal funds. Construction started in August of 2007. We broke ground for the center in February.”

The building was constructed by Ratcliff Construction of Alexandria.

Clarence W. Hawkins, United States Department of Agriculture state director, said the USDA made “over $7 million (available) in financing, in loans and rates, to fund the project.”

“This is part of our initiative to develop culture and education in rural America,” Hawkins said. “This is helping Marksville and the parish broaden their attractiveness.”

The 40,000-square-foot museum will house both Native American and European artifacts from the Colonial era. It also will have Tunica Treasures artifacts on display and, in the future, be host to traveling exhibits.

Pete Gregory, a NSU anthropology professor, said the Tunica tribe always has had its sights on providing educational opportunities.

“I came here in 1960 to help the tribe with an archaeological find,” he said. “(Tunica-Biloxi) Chief Eli Barbry in the 1930s wanted his people to be able to go to school. The (Tunica-Biloxi) people weren’t able to go to school. NSU will have a distance-learning center here and eventually a place to place classes.”

Darlene Williams, NSU vice president of technology, research and economic development, said classes will be held both through video conferences and online.

“We will be looking at programs like criminal justice, general business and adult education,” she said. “We have 29 programs online, available anywhere in the world. We will also be looking to have staff on site.”

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Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, http://www.thetowntalk.com

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