Native students at Montana State University have been awarded thousands of dollars for programs they designed and pitched to the school’s administrators in hopes of increasing recruitment and retention of Native students there.
KZBK of Bozeman, through the MSU New Service, reported that the school will distribute $104,000 to seven programs.
The projects, which range from expanding recruitment and orientation events to include families of Native American students to providing mentors in a variety of disciplines, were selected by a six-member committee.
MSU Provost Martha Potvin called for ideas in December and a six person committee selected the winners.
Here is a list of the chosen projects:
Rockin’ the Rez and Native Pathways to Success: A proposal submitted by Walter Fleming, Native American Studies, to extend funding of two successful MSU outreach programs will receive $14,500 over two years, for a total of $29,000. Since Rockin’ the Rez was started in 2007 to recruit students from Montana reservations and Indians living in urban communities, MSU’s Native student enrollment has increased by 83 percent. The funds will also support “Native Pathways to Success,” an orientation designed for Indian students.
Smart Pens, Smarter Students: Fleming also submitted a proposal that was awarded $ 3,000 to give Smart Pens, or pens that are able to record everything a student hears or writes, to 15 incoming Native students. The students will meet weekly for mentoring in note taking and studying skills and use of new technology.
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As Missoulian reporter Chelsi Moy explains, Native Americans makes up the largest student minority at the University of Montana. And graduation rate of Native students lags far behind that of non-minorities.
That’s just one area of concern.
A new study released by university council at UM lays out all the work the institution has to do when it comes to diversity.
Native students on campus say more should be done to provide diversity classes for students. Also they say, the university should follow up with drop outs so it can better understand the problems.
Here’s Moy’s story:
Walking across campus, the University of Montana may not appear all that diverse.
However, a new report compiled by the President’s Diversity Advisory Council tells a different story. The report is a compilation of all the diversity efforts by individual schools and departments on campus. It’s a baseline study that the university plans to use to gauge its progress.
“I was impressed on how many different units are doing really incredible work on all aspects of diversity,” said Lucy France, director of UM’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office.
Some statistics, however, show there’s much that still needs to be done. Thirty-four percent of UM’s tenured faculty are female, 1 percent are American Indian and 7 percent are black, Hispanic or Asian. The university recently hired a diversity retention and recruitment coordinator to address the under-representation of females and minority faculty and staff, France said.
White students make up 86 percent of the undergraduate population.
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The number of high school graduates to take the Advanced Placement tests has increased in the past decade, but as a Huffington Post Education post points out, talented Native America students with the most “potential” aren’t taking the tests as much as they should.
“AP potential” as defined by the College Board is a 70 percent or greater likelihood that a student will score a 3 (out of 5) or higher on an AP exam. The “potential” is calculated based on more than 2 million public school PSAT/NMSQT takers in the class of 2011.
But 74 percent of the “qualified” Native students didn’t take the tests. Huffington Post also noted that the College Board report finds that like Native students, most of the groups students not taking the tests are members of minorities.
The debate surrounding AP courses and exams is divided. Students who take and perform well on AP exams often benefit in the college arena: high scores show admissions officers that a student has the ability to master college-level work. Many colleges also use AP exam scores as ways of placing students in advanced classes, placing them out of introductory courses or simply in exchange for college credit by placing students out of course and graduation requirements altogether.
Do you think the AP tests matter? Tell the Huffington Post through its quick poll.
William Mendoza, who earned a master's degree in educational leadership from MSU in 2010, has been named head of the newly created White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education. (Photo courtesy of William Mendoza)
Montana State University grad William Mendoza has been named by President Barack Obama the head of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education.
Mendoza earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from MSU in 2010, a press release from MSU said, and will be the first leader of the new federal initiative to increase and improve educational opportunities for Indian Country.
One focus of the initiative will be to help drop-outs find ways back into the education system.
“We’re working hard to reduce the American Indian and Alaska Native student dropout rate and making sure students who stay in high school are ready to start their career by the time they complete college,” Mendoza said.
Previously, Mendoza was acting director of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities, or WHITCU. The office works to ensure that the nation’s tribal colleges and universities are more fully recognized, better informed and given full access to federal programs.
Mendoza, who is an enrolled Oglala Sioux and has deep Sicangu Sioux roots, grew up on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations in South Dakota.
Casey Lozar (Photo courtesy American Indian College Fund)
Casey Lozar, an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, was promoted to the position of vice president of resource development for the Denver, Colorado-based American Indian College Fund.
In his new role, Lozar is responsible for resource development for all fundraising departments at the Fund, a Fund news release said.
ICTMN had the story as well.
Lozar grew up in northwestern Montana and along with his job at the AIC Fund is working toward an MBA at the University of Colorado.
Lozar’s career includes having received two prestigious professional honors. He was named as one of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s 2010 Native American 40 Under 40 Award, which recognizes 40 existing and emerging American Indian leaders under 40 years of age who demonstrate leadership, initiative and dedication to achieve significant contributions in their careers, communities, and to Indian Country. He was also named as one of 12 of the Independent Sector NGEN Leadership Fellows.
Buffalo Post has to say it too: Congrats to all the grads! Here’s a few festive stories for your Sunday Brunch:
Centuries of interruption and a history rejoined
Tiffany Smalley at Harvard beneath a portrait of Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, her Wampanoag predecessor. (Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff)
It was 1665 when Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, Wampanoag, received his degree from Harvard. As Brian McGory of the Boston Globe explains
, it wasn’t until 346 years later that another Wampanoag Native would walk Harvard’s halls: Tiffany Smalley is the first (and third overall) Wampanoag in centuries to attend Harvard.
There is, however, a key distinction: Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck and Joel Iacommes hark from the 1600s, while Tiffany, sipping a Frappuccino and rushing off to an internship, is every bit of the modern world.
Come May 26, the bond between Smalley and both her ancestors will come full circle. That is the day she will stride across the stage to accept a diploma and become the first Wampanoag to graduate from Harvard College since Caleb received his degree in 1665.
“The connection, recognizing those roots, is really important to feeling at home here,’’ Smalley said. “And I’ve felt really at home, knowing Caleb did this. It gives you perspective. He was just thrown into it, and for him, it was a whole different world.’’
Wagner High School students celebrate more than graduation
In Wagner, S.D., the high school ceremonies were different this year. This time, it was a celebration of all and everyone, KSFY reports.
In previous years, it seems like graduation at the Wagner High School has been divided: one tradition for Native-American students, another tradition for everyone else. This weekend, that will change.
“To see a state school do this is very respectful and awesome. Bringing those ancient ways back. We don’t want them to change,” USD professor Jerome Kills Small said.
Display of song and dance, native to the Yankton Sioux Tribe, and tradition this school is now happy to embrace. For the first time, Wagner High School is celebrating their seniors as one. For Jerome Kills Small, all of this brings a smile.
Watch the video here.
National Indian Education Association members met in Great Falls, MT, this past weekend to share ideas, triumphs and frustrations about the status of Indian education in the country.
As Alex Grubbs of KRTV reports, Montana is a place where much success has been seen. Programs like the Indian Education for All are funded by the state and something other states could emulate to help youth succeed.
“The collaborative approach to education and Indian education is something that Montana is very much the leader in and it’s something that we need to be sharing,” (Mary Jane Oatman-Wakwak, president of the National Indian Education Association) said.
Part of why Montana is ahead of the curve is because of a constitutional provision that every student learn an accurate and authentic history of American Indians.
“We’re the only state in the country to have that constitutional provision, we’re the only ones where the state has actually appropriated funding to the schools and to the state to help implement that type of learning,” said Denise Juneau, superintendent of the Montana Office of Public Instruction.
Watch the full report here.
Dr. Janine Pease has been appointed head of the Crow Tribe's Department of Education. (BOB ZELLAR/Gazette Staff )
By SUSAN OLP, Of The Billings Gazette
Crow tribal chairman Cedric Black Eagle has appointed Dr. Janine Pease to head the tribe’s Education Department.
The Crow Legislature unanimously confirmed the cabinet-level appointment at a special session on Feb. 23.
In announcing Pease’s appointment, Black Eagle cited her extensive experience in education.
“Education for all the Crow people at all levels is a highest priority for our Crow national development,” he said. “Dr. Pease brings specific knowledge and experience of adult, vocational and college services, special programs for school-aged children, tribal language initiatives and workforce development training.”
Pease, a member of the Crow Tribe, will oversee a staff of eight. She holds both a master’s and a doctorate degree in adult and higher education from Montana State University.
Most recently, Pease was vice president for academic and vocational programs at Fort Peck Community College in Poplar for 2-½ years.
Before that, she was vice president for Indian Affairs and Planning and Rocky Mountain College for nearly five years. She also served on the Governor’s Kindergarten to College Task Group from 2006 to 2010 and on the Montana Board of Regents from 2006 until Feb. 1 of this year, when her term expired.
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A $1.2 million U.S. Department of Education grant will help pay for 10 graduation coaches in a South Dakota high school in hopes of helping to lower the Native American dropout rate, KOTA TV reports.
In Rapid City the Native American graduation rate dropped from 57% in 2009 to 46% in 2010. However, Central High School Principal Mike Talley is optimistic a new $1.2 million grant will turn things around.
“We’re hopeful and excited the grant will pay dividends for us into the next four years,” Talley said.
Number of Native smokers remains high
Courtesy of Indian Country Today
With Native American Heritage Month in full swing, the serious concern over the continued high-numbers of Native smokers is also being highlighted,Indian Country Today
In 2009, almost a quarter of the Native population smoked. The EX project, which is a collaborative public health campaign presented by the National Alliance for Tobacco Cessation, is hoping to drop that number to zero.
“Native Americans continue to smoke at a high rate,” said Cheryl G. Healton, president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation, “and it is an extremely difficult addiction to end. It’s important that Native Americans who do smoke are provided with quitting solutions. EX is a free resource created by and for smokers, and I am confident that it can help Americans re-learn life without cigarettes.”
Visiting speaker details problems with Native Americans as mascots
The author of “Native Americans in Sports,” Richard King visited Central Michigan’s campus to discuss the use of Native symbols and cultural representations as mascots.
The Michigan Central Life reports that King spoke on the common misconceptions and misrepresentations brought about by the images used as mascots.
“Native American mascots emerge out of commodity racism,” King said. “Misrepresentation of Indians leads to misrecognition”.
King closed with tips on moving forward from the issue of wrongful use of Native Americans in sports.
People have to be aware they are privileged, King said. They also have to work to recognize the humanity of indigenous people and combat racism, he said.
Treaty law, tribal sovereignty nuances, confusions discussed on Flathead Reservation
Attorney Dan Decker gave a presentation about treaty law and tribal sovereignty at SKC Monday. (B.L. Azure photo)
Bernie Azure of the Char-Koosta
News attended attorney Dan Decker’s presentation of Tribal law and sovereignty. Decker discussed what he sees as confusion on the part of Natives and non-Natives on both issues. Decker was speaking at Salish Kootenai College as a part of the W.J. Kellogg Foundation’s Heart Lines lecture series.
“The earliest treaties were a nation-to-nation basis with European nations then after the American Revolution the treaties continued to be on a nation-to-nation basis,” Decker said. “They are as good today as they were yesterday.”
Native American studies course for MT educators
My mom (on her way to completing 33 years of teaching middle school in Lolo) was excited to see this in the teachers’ lounge: Montana State University is offering two Native American Studies Spring 2011 online courses. “Federal Indian Law and Policy,” along with “Native America: Dispelling the Myths” will run starting in January for 12 credits in NAS (toward graduate credit). Interested educators can visit MSU’s website.