Community-driven Projects Support Native Pacific Islanders
As we end this year’s month-long recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage, the Administration for Native Americans would like to share with you some of the current projects that Native Pacific Islander communities are implementing that honors their culture and heritage while also improving economic and social self-sufficiency.
In Guam, Hurao, Inc. has been developing Chamoru Immersion Curriculum manuals and training 20 educators on how to implement the curriculum across the island. Like many endangered languages across the world, the most proficient speakers of Guam’s native language, Chamoru are all over 50 years old, and the local educators have felt an urgent need to reach the younger generations. Before they received an ANA Esther Martinez Initiative language award, language immersion teachers developed their curriculum and lesson plans independently. This made it more difficult to assess students in the same grade across schools, as well as for the next year’s teacher to plan lessons, not knowing what the students learned in the previous year. Hurao, Inc. has worked hard to develop the curriculum and then to provide professional development to the teachers. They have improved the Chamoru fluency of over 2000 children in the past three years in the Hurao Academy immersion schools.
In Hawaii, Native Hawaiians are overrepresented in the homeless population and in transitional shelters. Aside from a steady income, some that are homeless face an additional obstacle to obtaining permanent housing, low credit scores. Even the public housing authority, which provides housing to low income families in Hawaii, requires a minimum credit score in order to qualify for an apartment. However, both clients in transitional housing and case workers lacked the knowledge on how to check, maintain, and repair their credit. Hawaiian Community Assets has been providing financial literacy education and credit counseling services that will assist 300 homeless individuals and families in transitional shelters overcome this barrier to obtain and retain permanent housing.
In American Samoa, the Native American Samoan Advisory Council (NASAC) wanted to address two problems: deteriorating relationships between Native American Samoan elders and youth caused by a lack of intergenerational activities and providing cultural and economic self-sufficiency skills training to the youth. To address the first issue, cultural specialists are providing hands on workshops to youth teaching them traditional farming, healing, weaving, songs and legends that are specific to those activities. NASAC is also working with those same youth to provide financial, marketing, and technological skills so they can use these traditional livelihood skills for personal and family economic stability. They have been successful in attracting both more elders and youth to participate than they originally planned.
The Administration for Native Americans promotes self-sufficiency and cultural preservation for Native Americans by providing social and economic development opportunities through financial assistance, training, and technical assistance to eligible tribes and Native American communities, including American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Native Pacific Islander organizations.
Lillian Sparks, a Lakota woman of the Rosebud and Oglala Sioux Tribes, is the Commissioner of the Administration of Native Americans. Miss Sparks was confirmed by the United States Senate as the Commissioner on March 3, 2010, and was sworn in on March 5, 2010. She has devoted her career to supporting the educational pursuits of Native American students, protecting the rights of indigenous people, and empowering tribal communities.