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The ANA Messenger: Native Languages Edition 2014

Published: February 19, 2014
Audience:
Native Languages
Topics:
Grantee Resources, Language Immersion
Types:
Newsletter
The ANA Messenger, Administration for Native Americans, Promoting the Goal of Social and Economic Self-Sufficiency for All Native Americans


Commissioner's InsightLillian Sparks

Taŋyáŋ yahípi, welcome to this edition of the ANA Messenger.  Our theme for this issue is native languages and cultures.  We are highlighting several of our current grantee projects and a few recently ended ones that were visited by our impact evaluators.  I am always inspired by the work and dedication of the grantee communities in revitalizing and maintaining our native languages, so please be sure to read the Grantee Highlights for inspiration or new ideas for language and cultural preservation projects in your community.  

One particularly inspiring individual, who walked on in 2013, is Dr. Darrel Kipp, Blackfeet, Director of the Piegan Institute and founder of the Cuts Wood School in Montana. We know he counseled many native language advocates over the years not to wait, that the time to save our languages is now. We couldn’t agree more. I recall calling on Dr. Kipp to get his input on the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Act and he advised that this program would make it possible for many communities to realize their dream of having native language immersion programs available for their children and pledged his support. We want to thank Scott Thompson, Briana Wipf and Larry Beckner with the Great Falls Tribune, for allowing us to reprint their article on Dr. Kipp, so that those who didn’t get a chance to meet him get a sense of his contributions to our shared cause.

Last year, in the fall 2012 ANA Messenger, I announced the formation of the Administration for Children and Families Native Languages Workgroup, which has two objectives.  The first objective is to better coordinate resources and share native language success stories across ACF funded programs such as the Office of Child Care and Office of Head Start. The second objective is to have a core team that can work on the purpose and goals of the interagency Native Language Memorandum of Agreement signed with the Department of Education’s White House Initiative on Improving American Indian and Alaska Native Education and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education in 2012.   I am happy to report that the efforts of this team are beginning to bear fruit, and you can read more about it in the ANA Language Update for 2013.  

ANA staff members have been busy in 2013 creating resources for potential ANA language applicants, such as the Grantee ANA Language Grantee Best Practices, and the technical assistance providers have coordinated various language webinars to highlight topics such as language proficiency assessment tools and successful strategies for teacher training. In addition we’ve joined together in language grantee calls and in the ANA Native Languages virtual community center.  We are planning to do more of these activities in 2014, as well as looking for ways of making ANA grantee created resources more readily accessible, when appropriate, so that we can build on the wealth of language resources that have been created over the years.

Also in this edition are updates from the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs including HHS’s Interagency Council on Native American Affairs, as well as from ACF and other federal offices.

We are continually looking for ways to support the hard work you are doing, and as always I look forward to your feedback on how we are doing, and what would help you most.  

Wopila,

Commissioner Lillian Sparks Robinson

 

 

ANA FY 2014 Funding Update

Please note the Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) for ANA’s Language, Environmental and Regulatory Enhancement, Sustainable Employment and Economic Development Strategies and Social and Economic Development Strategies were published on February 14. Application deadlines are April 15 for all of those funding opportunities. Copies of the FOAs can be found on the ANA website and grants.gov. Also, we will have training and technical assistance scheduled for the published funding opportunities.

With respect to the Native Asset Building Initiative FOA, ANA will issue the Notice of Public Comment later this month and we plan to publish the FOA in mid to late April. Please check the ANA website for more information.
 

Get to Know Us!


We have a couple new Program Specialists this quarter!
First let's introduce William Post!

Tyanne Benallie

And our other new member, Mardella Costanzo!

Also, we had a portion of our team recognized. Read about it here in Staff Kudos.

 

Talking Stick

In honor of International  Mother Languages Day on February 21, the recent publication of ANA’s funding announcements and the upcoming Native Languages Summit we will co-host June 20, 2014, we wish to re-share the Commissioner’s editorial on Native American languages.

 

 

Communities in the News

Oklahoma EMI Programs Featured on local PBS station
Two ANA Esther Martinez Immersion Programs are featured in this program on the importance of American Indian Language Programs in Oklahoma.

Read about how our communities have been recognized through other venues

 

The Dispatch

ACF Office Updates

Office of Head Start "Celebrating Mother Language Day" Resources

 

Resources

 

 

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William PostMardella Costanzo

 

 

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Comanche Nation College, Oklahoma

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“Numa Tekwapu” Comanche Language

“The difference between a community college and a Tribal community college is language and culture.”   -- Gene Pekaw, Dean of Student Services

Organized in 2002, Comanche Nation College (CNC) was the first Tribal College established in the state of Oklahoma, and in 2012 it became the first Tribal community college in the state to receive accreditation.  The mission of CNC is to provide educational opportunities in higher education combined with the traditions and customs of the Comanche Nation and other American Indian perspectives.  The College provides associate degree programs and educational opportunities in higher education that meet the needs of Comanche Nation citizens, all other Tribal members, and the public.

Elders provided on-going input, and participated in the recording of Comanche language words and phrases.  The recordings, along The front of the Comanche Nation College, with a teepee in the foregroundwith appropriate pictures, advanced the development of the computer training modules and student comprehension, and allowed students to hear fluent, Native speakers pronounce Comanche words.

The project was designed to develop audio and visual materials to support Native learning styles which tend to be visual and oral.  Success was driven by a dedicated (and humorous) staff and 40 Elders and 55 youth being involved.

The College also built upon internal and external collaborations to develop interactive language computer modules, resulting in an increase in available instructional materials. Over 5,100 hours of Comanche language instruction has been given and 20 students have increased their ability to speak and comprehend the language.

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Le Fetuao Samoan Language Preservation and Maintenance in Hawaii

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Over the past several decades, competency in the Samoan language has shown a marked decrease among successive generations of U.S.-born Samoans.  This language loss has created problems for Samoan youth in the areas of literacy, educational attainment, and identity.  While there is a university-level Samoan language program and two high school programs in Hawaii, there are no wide-spread educational schemes in place, public or private, to keep Samoan a viable living language for local-born youth.  The city and county of Honolulu has one of the largest urban population cores of Samoans in the U.S., yet without educational strategies for teaching Samoan, the culture and language is steadily dying out with each succeeding generation.  Le Fetuao Samoan Language Center (LFSLC) was founded to address this problem.  Our grant works to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Samoan language and culture for future generations. 

Row of students showing artworkWhen Le Fetuao held its first class in 2008, survey questions included in LFSLC registration indicated that about 98% of children participants of LFSLC could not speak, read, or write Samoan when they initially entered the center.

This three year grant is working to accomplish three objectives. The first is to develop a formalized, culturally-based Samoan language curriculum and evaluation tools. Once developed, the curriculum will encompass teacher manuals and student worksheets for a full semester of Samoan language instruction, beginning with rudimentary skills including the Samoan alphabet. By the end of the project, we hope to this disseminate the curriculum to 20 teachers. 

In accomplishing the second objective, LFSLC hopes to have increased the Samoan language capabilities and fluencies of 30 instructional staff (20 teachers and 10 teaching assistants) at three community-based sites, as demonstrated through successful completion of trainings in years two and three and certification of 30 teachers in Samoan language instruction.

As part of the final objective, LFSLC will have expanded Samoan language education to include three community-based sites. These sites will engage 500 children and 20 parent and community volunteers in the study of Samoan language by the end of the project.

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Mescalero Apache Tribe, New Mexico

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Mescalero Apache Language Immersion School

Located in the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains in southern New Mexico, the Mescalero Apache Reservation is home to approximately 4,000 members. The Mescalero Apache Language Immersion School goal was to increase the numbers of fluent young speakers who are knowledgeable about and make use of Apache culture.

Partnering linguist from New Mexico State University, and staff developed an age-appropriate immersion curriculum including lesson plans, games, and other activities leading to learning. The Tribe provided space in the school for an Apache-only environment, and various Tribal departments donated supplies, equipment, and furniture.  

In total, 28 students increased their knowledge of the language, 10 of whom became conversationally fluent as measured by project staff.  Parents reported that students are excited to use the language at home.  The language lessons have also instilled Apache values in the youth.  

The immersion program’s benefits extend to the Mescalero Apache community as a whole, as well. Community members’ have become motivated to learn the language and to participate in cultural events. “Who we are as a people is identified through the language.” – anonymous Apache community member.

Learning your language early in life matters; staff  report that the Tribal school’s overall performance has improved; students who graduated from the immersion program are now scoring higher on tests.

The Tribe held hour-long, weekly language classes for adults and hosted a language summit which attracted over 100 people – get involved and have fun!

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Getting to Know William Post

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Head shot of William Post1. Can you provide us with some background, including what lead you to the kind of work you do for ANA?

I have been working in international development and human rights for the last 10 years. I began my career with the Peace Corps, where I lived and worked in a rural village in Cameroon supporting forest conservation and public health initiatives. Most recently I was with USAID in Helmand, Afghanistan using development strategies to support the Marines in their stabilization efforts. Although I love working internationally, I wanted to return home and work with indigenous communities throughout the United States. 

2. Being new to ANA, what do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy being a Program Specialist at ANA and learning about all the different native communities, their cultures, and languages. The most rewarding aspect of this job is working directly with grantees, talking about the progress of their projects, and assisting them to achieve their goals.

3. What are some of your interests or hobbies?  What do you like to do most in your free time?

I love to cook and I love to eat, they go hand in hand. I enjoy reading, both books and newspapers. And I love being outside fishing, hiking, or camping - the more remote and wild the better. 

4. Is there anything else you would like to share?

I refuse to get a Facebook account.

 

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Getting to Know Mardella S. Costanzo

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Head shot of Mardella Costanzo1. Can you provide us with some background, including what lead you to the kind of work you do for ANA?

For the past seven years I have been volunteering and working in Indigenous communities in North Carolina. North Carolina is home to eight State Recognized Tribes and four Native American based urban organizations. While attending the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, I volunteered with the Lumbee Tribe’s Boy and Girls Club and the dance & culture classes. After graduation in 2010, I began working with the Office of Indian Education, Cumberland County Schools. While Fayetteville is widely known as the home of Fort Bragg Army Base and Pop Air Force Base, the area is also situated in between two rural tribal communities. Home to generations of urbanized Native families, the Office of Indian Education serves as advocate for student and families rights and needs. Working through the Catching the Dream Drop Out Prevention Grant I was able to help students navigate the road of college and career planning. After the grant period ended I worked at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, as an Assistant Director of Admissions with a special emphasis in American Indian Recruitment. While there I was able to assist Native students and their families with the transition to college and navigate the procedures involved in the admissions and enrollment. 

 I am passionate about helping Native communities come together to work for the betterment of the next generation. 

2. Being new to ANA, what do you enjoy most about your job so far?

Working with dedicated grantees in the Alaska, Eastern, Pacific and Western regions I really enjoy learning about the different projects and how they are tied to local Indigenous communities.

3. What are some of your interests or hobbies?  What do you like to do most in your free time?

In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, getting lost in a good book, traveling to new places and powwows. 

4. Is there anything else you would like to share?

I am proud to come from two rich and distinct cultures! I am a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and first generation Italian American. 

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Staff Kudos!

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The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recognized several ANA staff members for their exceptional achievement in reviewing and updating all ANA (Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs). The members of team – Courtney Roy, David Berlin, Sarah Schappert and Denise Litz – ensured the FOAs comply with ACF policies and streamlined guidance for applicants and reviewers.  The team worked to renew the standing status for four of ANA’s six annual program announcements including Social and Economic Development Strategies (SEDS), Native Languages – Preservation and Maintenance, Native Languages – Esther Martinez Immersion, and Environmental and Regulatory Enhancement.  The newest ANA program, Sustainable Employment and Economic Development Strategies (SEEDS) was also revised to become a standing FOA.  The standing status allows ANA to reissue the FOAs more timely in future years, and allows potential applicants more time to prepare, as they can expect more consistency between funding cycles. The team worked diligently throughout the year so ANA’s FOAs would be the first to be submitted and approved by ACF Administration for the FY 2013 funding cycle.  This aggressive timeframe also serves ANA applicants by providing more time for the review process.   

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Book Review of
In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided

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Walter R. EchoHawk, the author of In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided, introduces readers to several Federal Indian law cases.  The author provides both a historical and political framework for readers. Due to the complexity of Federal laws governing Indians, this book allows the reader to enter into the world of Indian law and engage in compelling discussions that involve cases within the United States judicial system. These complexities include an array of issues such as sovereignty, legal jurisdiction, land use, family affairs, crime and violence. 

The book offers readers a glimpse into the world of Indian Law by providing 10 Indian cases that have set the tone throughout the years effecting current Federal Indian Legislation passed by Congress.  The author’s viewpoint shows readers the “darker side” of Federal Indian law, and examines how certain laws have affected the survival of Native Americans and their culture. Mr. Echohawk points out that Federal Indian Legislation can be viewed as laws that are forced into Native American culture through historical colonial power, and viewed as injustice with prejudices.

Historically, all ethnic minorities within the United States – African Americans, Native Americans, Asians among others – have faced discrimination in one form or another.  The author raises the following question: Is justice the principal foundation of the courts? Mr. Echohawk states, “One explanation is that justice is not the principal foundation of the courts….” (p. 34) For example; the well-known Dred Scott case (1857), in which the Supreme Court held that a slave may not sue for his freedom in courts because blacks are not, and could never be, citizens entitled to use the federal courts [Dred Scott v. John F.A. Sanford, 60 US 393 (1856)]. In 1924, the Indian Citizenship Act was enacted. While Indians became citizens of the United States “[they] were not considered wards of the government until Congress decides that they should be let out of the dates of pupilage and admitted to the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship” [Elk V. Wilkins, 112 US 94, 106 (1884)].  Both cases are examples that highlight the injustices and prejudices against minorities in the American judicial system, and demonstrates why one would question if justice is the principal foundation of the court.

The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) was enacted to govern the out-of-home placement of Indian children in part because “there is no resource that is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children.” Woven into the text of ICWA are means to maintain children’s culture and heritage when they are adopted out to a family outside their birth mother or father. ICWA mandates that significant efforts be made to ensure adopted Indian children remain within Native communities even if children cannot remain with their parents.  Prior to this Act, many Indian children were placed into non-Indian families. The author states that prior to the enactment of ICWA, the system basically robbed children of their cultural heritage and; 

seriously impaired the ability of Indian families and tribes...the staggering loss of kids and culture reached crisis proportions in many Indian communities, exposing a legal system so rigid in its refusal to incorporate Native American values into the law that it produced a system so abusive and destructive of Indian families and culture as to allow the twin specters of ethnocide and genocide to awaken and thread then cultural survival of Indian tribes (p. 219).

ICWA has been hailed as a triumph by many and seen as Congress’s best work regarding human rights and promotion of tribal sovereignty. Yet, the issue becomes more complex when the sole responsibility for enforcing ICWA lies with state courts even is ICWA appears to place decisions in the hands of the Indian tribe who have supposed to have exclusive authority over Indian children living within the community, and also when the tribe rightfully request state courts to transfer placement cases to the tribe. The author illustrates how current court cases relate to the 10 Indian Law cases identified in the book. The recent Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (2013), more commonly known as the “Baby Veronica case”, provides a compelling example of the implementation of ICWA. The Baby Veronica case is a clear example of how one father who is Cherokee simply fought to maintain paternal rights of his Native American daughter, certain he was protected by ICWA, and the belief that his daughter’s cultural ties would be safe. Yet the case resulted in a non-Indian family successfully adopting the Indian child. A reader might question the purpose of ICWA.

In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided allows the reader to understand the political and historical roots of Indian law, and provides demonstrations on how current laws are impacted by laws that were previously enacted. The author shows that the early laws governing Native Americans were enacted with a “colonial” mind set. As we into a contemporary American judicial system, progress and justice in Indian Country continues to remain a question. The author claims that there is still unfinished business in the American judicial system. 

In a positive light, the recently passed bipartisan 2013 legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), is an example of progress being made within Indian Country. Prior to VAWA, non-Indian perpetrators of violence against women in Indian country were not allowed to be prosecuted in the Native court system, yet that is soon to change.  The 2013 VAWA amendments allow tribes to exercise their sovereign authority to investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence both Natives and non-Natives who assault women in Indian country.  The cases are an introduction to Indian law and help readers to better understand the current issues in Indian Country. 

Tyanne Benallie (Diné)
Program Specialist, Tribal Tech, LLC
under contract to The Administration for Native Americans

In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided by Walter R. Echo-Hawk ©2010 Fulcrum Publishers, Yale, OK. ISBN 978-1-936218-01-1

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Health and Human Services continues to assist Tribes with access to HHS Grants

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Secretary Sebelius has charged the Intra-agency Council on Native American Affairs (ICNAA) to develop, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive initiative to increase Tribal accessibility to HHS grants.  The latest effort is to host a day and a half-long workshop January 22-23, 2014 with over 100 tribal representatives in attendance. The workshop is designed so that Tribes and HHS staff can participate together to improve tribal access to grants. In addition, the Department will unveil and provide technical assistance for the Grants Matrix Tool. The training will be video-taped and made available at a later date to assist those not able to attend. 

The workshop has three objectives:

  1. To inform tribal communities about current HHS tools for accessing grant opportunities and the grants process at HHS
  2. To receive feedback from tribal communities on how HHS can improve accessibility
  3. To build a better working relationship between HHS and tribal communities. 

The following activities have been completed so far to increase access and availability:

  • Awareness training was conducted in December of 2011 to HHS grants and program officials to offer ways to improve Tribes access. The “Supporting Tribal Access to Grants” workshop was held and included strategies for partnering with the Office of Grants Policy Oversight, and Evaluation to assist in bridging barriers to obtaining maximum grant funding opportunities for Tribes. Over 200 grants and program officials from across the Department attended the training.  
  • In 2012, HHS hosted a webinar for tribal communities titled, “Finding HHS Grant Opportunities for Tribes.”
  • Starting in 2010, we asked each of the grant making divisions at the Department to take a look at the grants they offer to determine tribal eligibility as well as ineligibility, in instances of ineligibility, we asked divisions to identify the barriers to eligibility whether they are policy, programmatic or regulatory in nature; 
  • The ICNAA has collected, reviewed and finalized all data and will unveil and discuss the resulting Grants Matrix Tool from this nearly three year project.

 

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Upcoming ANA Language Events for 2014

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Upcoming Webinars:
As part of ANA’s weekly webinar series, we have planned several webinars that will be of special interest for Native Language grantees and programs. We encourage you to participate in these if they fit your schedule, Thursdays at 3:00PM eastern time. 

February 20, 2014: Native Languages in Early Childhood Settings, a joint webinar with ANA, OHS and Dept. of Education.  We will discuss how to use or adapt a non-native curriculum in a language immersion setting, strategies to overcome challenges to parent involvement in Native American language learning, and developing indigenous/heritage language fluency measures for preschoolers.

April 10, 2014: The Native Language Tipping point: Getting from “endangered” to “thriving”. There seems to be a lot happening in communities, as well as at the state and federal level to support Native American languages. This webinar will be about focusing that momentum to turn the tide on language loss.

May 22, 2014: Native Language revitalization in urban and other multi-indigenous language settings. There are special challenges when in a non-tribal setting or in a multi-indigenous language setting. We will explore those obstacles and how some organizations and tribes are addressing them.

(August or September) (Date to be confirmed) Native Languages- Strategies for Sustainability

November 6, 2014: Champions of Native Languages: inspiration and lessons from leaders in the field about keeping the passion and effecting change.

Missed a webinar? Find recordings of these as well as others about three weeks after the webinar date on the ANA Resources tab keyword: webinar.

National Native Language Summit:
Those of you who were ANA Language grantees in 2011 may have attended our ANA Language Symposium at Mystic Lake, MN. We are excited to announce that we have received approval to host a similar convening this year, as part of the ACF Tribal and Native American grantee meeting. The date for the language summit will be Friday June 20th, the final day of the ACF Tribal and Native American grantee meeting and we will be inviting the Department of Education, the Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Education and other federal partners to participate in this one day summit.

We are discussing the theme and one possibility is for it to be related to Data/Assessment. One day is not a lot of time, and we want the Summit to be action oriented and have some deliverables that will move the field forward.  Stay tuned on the ANA website for more details.

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The Consortium of Indigenous Language Organizations Upcoming Workshops

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CILO Language Immersion Planning and Methodology: Early Childhood/ Head Start Workshop

This ILI/CILO three day workshop will train parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers and community people who interact regularly with Early childhood / Head Start age groups where Native language is the main language of activity. The workshop provides hands-on experience on how to prepare long-range plans for language and culture transmission (Curriculum), daily plans of activities and materials development.

The cost of this workshop is $325.00. For a registration form click here.

This event will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The conference room rate is $99.00 per night plus tax, reservations must be made by March 14, 2014 by calling 1-800 EMBASSY (362-2779) or 505-245-7000 and refer to the CILO April 2014 Workshop. Note that the hotel does not have shuttle service so you will have to take a taxi, shuttle or rent a car at the Albuquerque Sunport Airport.

Event Info
Dates: April 14, 15 and 16, 2014

Venue: Embassy Suites Hotel, 1000 Woodward Place NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 505-245-7000.
For more information contact Indigenous Language Institute by calling 505-820-0311 or email: laura.benavidez@ilinative.org.


CILO Curriculum Development, Lesson Planning and Language Activities for Early Childhood Immersion Workshop

This ILI/CILO three day workshop is a follow-up to the Language Immersion Planning and Methodology for Early Childhood/Head Start Workshops offered in 2013 and in April 2014. The workshop will focus more in depth the development of curriculum, lesson plans, language activities, and materials development for Early Childhood / Head Start Programs. There will be hands-on activities and practice sessions for participants. This workshop is recommended for parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers and community people who interact regularly with Early childhood / Head Start age groups where Native language is the main language of activity.

The cost of this workshop is $325.00. For a registration form click here.

This event will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The conference room rate is $89.00 per night plus tax, reservations must be made by May 24, 2014 by calling 1-800 EMBASSY (362-2779) or 505-245-7000 and refer to the CILO June 2014 Workshop. Note that the hotel does not have shuttle service so you will have to take a taxi, shuttle or rent a car at the Albuquerque Sunport Airport.

Event Info
Dates:June 23, 24, & 25, 2014

Venue: Embassy Suites Hotel, 1000 Woodward Place NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 505-245-7000.
For more information contact Indigenous Language Institute by calling 505-820-0311 or email: laura.benavidez@ilinative.org.

2014 ILI Workshop/Conference Calendar and Other Language Conferences

Announcing ILI's 2014 Workshop/Conference Calendar. Click here to download schedule. This year ILI is traveling some of our workshops to Native communities/cities outside of New Mexico. DATES, VENUES, ETC. SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

Click here for a list and registration form for 2014 ILI In-House Technology Workshops: Digital Storytelling and Print. These workshops will be held at the ILI offices in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

If you are interested in any ILI or ILI/CILO workshops but cannot attend the dates listed, ILI can be contracted to provide these workshops in your community. For more information contact us at 505-820-0311 or email ili@ilinative.org.

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White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education

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White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education seal

The White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education leads the President’s Executive Order 13592, signed December 2, 2011, Improving American Indian and Alaska Native Educational Opportunities and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities.

The Initiative, located within the Department of Education, seeks to support activities that will strengthen the Nation by expanding education opportunities and improving education outcomes for all American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students. It is committed to furthering tribal self-determination and ensuring AI/AN students, at all levels of education, have an opportunity to learn their Native languages and histories, receive complete and competitive educations, preparing them for college, careers, and productive and satisfying lives.

Department of Education Native Language Activities for 2013

Interagency MOA on Native Languages

The Department of Education (ED) continues to work with the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ANA) and the Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) on promoting Native American languages in education settings.  The Native American Languages Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), signed in November of 2012, provides a framework for our coordination across federal agencies including establishing the Native Language Workgroup.  The Workgroup met three times in 2013 and has developed a course of action to accomplish the seven goals outlined in the MOA and will continue to work closely with tribal governments to help preserve and revitalize Native languages. In addition, the agencies are exploring possibilities for a Native Languages Summit in 2014.

Title III

The Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) is including an Invitational Priority to support activities that strengthen Native language preservation and revitalization at our institutions of higher education” in the Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions grant competition in FY 2014. 

Title VII

Office of Indian Education (OIE) is making several changes to the application for Title VII formula grants for FY 2014, in order to emphasize the statutory requirement that grant funds be used as part of a comprehensive program for meeting the culturally-related academic needs of Indian students, including the language and cultural needs of the children.  The revised application will provide grantees an opportunity to describe the specific activities including Native language activities planned to meet students’ culturally-related academic needs.

Tribal Consultations: To receive input from Tribal leaders regarding critical education issues affecting tribal communities, the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education (WHIAIANE) and the Department of Education conducted regional tribal consultations in Smith River, CA, Niagara Falls, NY and Scottsdale AZ from May through September, 2013. During each consultation tribal leaders expressed the need for preserving, protecting, and promoting the rights and freedom of Native Americans to use, practice, and develop Native languages.

Several tribal colleges have implemented Native language activities as part of their curricula.  Below is a brief summary of some programs and accomplishments listed by school:

Chief Dull Knife College is located on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana.  Cheyenne language courses are currently being offered at the college in a four course series: Cheyenne Language I, Cheyenne Language II, Cheyenne Language III, and Cheyenne Language IV, with each level advancing the level of speaking ability and fluency.  Cheyenne Language IV introduces students to reading and writing of the language.  Chief Dull Knife had 45 students enrolled in Cheyenne Language courses for the summer and 42 students enrolled for the fall.

The College also provides summer Cheyenne language immersion experiences for youth in the surrounding communities.  The Day Camp experience is limited to children ages 5-10 and enrollment during this past summer was 30 students.  The other week long camp for youth ages 11-17 was attended by 27 students.  The programs are facilitated using Cheyenne language exclusively as well as students learning about culture and native arts.

In addition, the College hosts a “Cheyenne Language Bowl” language competition which invites teams from all local schools and the college itself to participate in a day long competition judged by elders and other community members.  The very popular competition, which is held in the spring each year, hosted 14 teams last year and was attended by nearly 100 community members and school staff.

The College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN) is a two-year private American Indian tribal college, located in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.  This past April, the College participated in a language forum as part of the 41st annual Symposium on the American Indian at Northeastern State University (NSU) in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  Presentations featured speakers with varying degrees of proficiency in the Muscogee language.  CMN instructors coordinated with students and NSU staff to prepare the presentation.  This was the first year for the Muscogee forum.

Blackfeet Community College is located on the Blackfeet reservation in Browning, Montana on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains.  The Blackfeet Language Studies curriculum is designed to promote language fluency in accordance with Blackfeet Language standards, which are equivalent to national standards for language acquisition.  Students will have an opportunity to learn the basic fundamentals of the Blackfeet communication process by taking beginning, intermediate, and advanced Blackfeet Language courses.  Knowledge gained from the classes in this program will enable the student to converse in the Blackfeet Language and understand the philosophy that controls its usage.  Students that complete this program of study will be encouraged to apply for the Montana Office of Public Instruction Class 7 License or transfer to a Baccalaureate plan of study in Native American Studies.

Fort Berthold Community College, a tribal college of the Three Affiliated Tribes, has started a project that will provide linguistic training to tribal members in technologically advanced methods of linguistic data collection and analysis aimed at preventing the loss of the highly endangered Mandan language.  It will allow the Mandan Language Project to continue documenting conversational Mandan, and to produce a Mandan Dictionary.  Data collected through the project will be used to construct a web-based Mandan Language database, which can be used for language acquisition by members of the Three Affiliated Tribes and other interested individuals.  All data will be archived via the Fort Berthold Community College website.  The project will provide a model for other tribal colleges in developing their language programs.

Tohono O'odham Community College’s (TOCC) Native Language activities include copying O'odham language cd's created with a collaboration from the University of Arizona.  These CD's are handed out to the students so they can hear the language.  The O'odham language roots are based on a Uto-Aztecan structure and this structure is unlike common Romance languages so a language CD is very beneficial for students and the community.  The school currently offers O'odham language and culture classes in the high schools as dual enrollment courses, giving credit both in high school and the college.  A new project TOCC is working on is using iPads for the language class to record the language and conversations.  They will then create an iPad app for iTunes University that students and community members will be able to access.

The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), Title III State Consolidated Grant Group Student Achievement and School Accountability Programs (SASA) is working to obtain information from States, LEAs, schools, tribes, and other public parties pertaining to the accurate identification of Native American students who are English learners so that these students can receive services through language instruction educational programs. A Federal Register Request For Information (RFI) on Native American English learners.  Responses will be posted online, synthesized, and shared with the public.

  1. In 2013 the South Central Comprehensive Center (SC3) supported the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) in the development of the Native Language Certification and is continuing to provide technical assistance during statewide implementation of an alternate pathway in Native language certification.  The goal of the South Central Comprehensive Center (SC3) Native Language Revitalization is to improve the pathway for Native Language Certification to address the critical need for fluent Native language instructors in efforts to enhance Native language revitalization among 39 Oklahoma tribes. SC3 supported modification of the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s (OSDE’s) World Language Certification to provide access to classroom instruction by fluent tribal language speakers in districts and schools.

 

National Advisory Council on Indian Education

The National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE) serves as the Initiative’s advisory council. NACIE was authorized by Section 1714 of the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA). The Council consists of fifteen members who are American Indian and Alaska Native and are appointed by the President. The fifteen members represent different geographic areas of the United States. Council members are asked to provide their best judgment that is free from any conflict of interest, provide advice, and recommendations based on their previous experiences and expertise.

NACIE published an annual report to Congress submitted in June of 2013.  The report specifically calls on Congress to “Stimulate the Vitality of Native Languages, Histories, and Cultures” through several recommendations, such as expanding funding for native languages using Title III funds and ensuring that the No Child Left Behind Act requirement for highly qualified teachers not be used in a manner detrimental to native language teachers. 

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Setting Research Priorities That Support Native Students

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Published on Education Northwest

Traditional dancer at NIEA Pow Wow

Tribal representatives from across the country gathered November 3, in Rapid City, South Dakota, for a common cause: examining how our education system incorporates indigenous language and culture and what research could help increase and improve those efforts.

Convened by REL Northwest with REL Central and REL Pacific, the unprecedented event focused on an uncomfortable truth. While narrowing achievement gaps and ensuring all students are proficient in academic subjects is at the core of our educational policy and practice, strategies designed to accomplish those goals don’t work for all students. American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students often have unique needs that call for alternate approaches.

Research has shown that culturally based education (CBE) can make a difference for Native students, including improving graduation rates, college-going, and test scores. However, more information is needed about how federal policies support indigenous language and culture in education, what CBE programs are currently in use, and how to evaluate and scale up the most effective strategies. Moreover, the Office of Indian Education within the U. S. Department of Education is encouraging educators to shift the focus of their Title VII Indian Education formula grants to place a greater emphasis on “culturally responsive education.”

“The time is long overdue for the educational R&D community to provide a venue for Indian educators to share their current knowledge of policy, research, and practice

supporting the use of indigenous language and culture for the education of their children and create a meaningful road map for carrying out future research that will benefit Native American communities. It’s time for us to hear the research questions that the Indian communities want answered.” Steve Nelson, Education Northwest

Supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, the event attracted 31 leaders from 11 states. Participants included representatives of tribal education departments, state education agencies, school districts, higher education institutions, and private foundations. 

One tribal services director said the sessions were thought provoking and would prompt him to “develop a tribal strategic education plan to share and implement with tribal leaders and the community.”

A staff member of a community-based organization appreciated “the ability to hear success stories and understand how I might apply the examples to my own context.” And, another participant from the Cherokee nation remarked that as a result of the event he was going to draft CBE standards and work with his state education agency to incorporate them into the state standards. 

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NCAI Re-Launches the Native Languages Working Group

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In October 2013, thousands of members of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) travelled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, as part of the organization's 70th Annual Convention. Led by past NCAI President, Joe Garcia of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, and past National Indian Education Association (NIEA) President, Ryan Wilson of the Oglala Lakota Nation, NCAI re-launched its Native Languages Working Group. In a full-day session, participants discussed community and policy priorities, reviewed background research on Native language education compiled by NCAI, and heard from New Zealand Maori language educators. The NCAI Native Languages Working Group will convene next at the NCAI Mid-Year Conference in Anchorage, Alaska, in mid-June 2014. 

For more information, please contact Brian Howard, NCAI Legislative Associate, at bhoward@ncai.org

 

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NIEA Workshops on the Common Core Standards

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Clint Bowers, NIEA Policy and Research Associate

Throughout 2013, the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) provided Common Core State Standards (CCSS) professional development to Native communities and their school systems' teachers. The primary goal was to ensure teachers had the tools they need to work with their local tribes and parents and include culture and language within the curriculum. NIEA held  four two-day training sessions near Santa Fe and Albuquerque that each brought over 50 teachers and administrators together to coordinate the various schools' (Bureau of Indian Education, public, and charter schools) curriculum and staff.

NIEA and its partners at the Pueblo of Jemez Education Department invited regional CCSS experts, as well as Language and Culture-Based Education Experts from the Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii, to help the school districts implement CCSS while also respecting the local Native culture. In each pilot training NIEA provided teachers ample opportunity to exchange best practices for respectfully creating work plans that include local Native linguistic and cultural traditions. NIEA provided material, instruction, and a means for ongoing collaboration between schools, tribes, and the state education department.

The pilot project focused on a small community yet because it is served by numerous school districts it was a prime location for illustrating the ongoing benefits of coordination and active collaboration between education partners. The work in 2013 will help CCSS succeed by raising student achievement and strengthening culture and language in Native communities. Additionally, the model will provide a framework for academic and cultural collaboration for other Native and non-Native communities.

NIEA will be working in 2014 with Native and civil rights partners as well as state governments to develop CCSS town hall meetings throughout the Southwest so parents understand the benefits of Common Core and have access to CCSS material that is translated not only in Spanish, but also in Diné (Navajo). NIEA will also be expanding work into other communities in the states of New Mexico and Washington to increase the inclusion of language and culture into the new academic standards.

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Communities in the News

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Students earn credit for American Indian language classes Written by Henry Dolive with NewsOK.com (Featuring the Sac and Fox Nation)

Language Immersion Preschools: Kids learn from early bilingual opportunities. Written by , Scott Driscoll with the Alaska Airlines Horizon Edition. (Article begins on page 66 and feaures the Crow tribe in the inset on page 70)

Press Release from U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1) on the ANA Language Preservation and Maintenance Grant to the Le Fetuao Samoan Language Center.

Cherokee Language Added to Microsoft Office Web Apps article written by Native News Online.

Legislation to recognize Native Alaskan Languages as Official State Language

On January 10, Alaska State Representatives Jonathan Kreiss-Thompkins (D-34), Charisse Millett (R-24), Bryce Edgmon (D-36) and Benjamin Nageak (D-40) introduced House Bill 216 that seeks to designate Native Alaskan languages as official state languages alongside English.

For more information:
Text of the Legislation
News article from the Alaska Dispatch

 

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The Dispatch

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Administration on Children, Youth and Families’ Children’s Bureau

A Diligent Recruitment of Families for Children in the Foster Care System grant was awarded to Winnebago Tribe for $400,000 for up to 5 years.  Projects will implement multi-faceted, comprehensive diligent recruitment programs to recruit, train, and support a cadre of foster and adoptive families (including concurrent and dual) that reflect the characteristics of the children and youth in foster care awaiting placement. 

Office of Child Care

The Office of Child Care (OCC) approved 259 Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF)     FY 2014-2015 Tribal Plans.
OCC released the Summary of Tribal Child Care Activities at the end of FY 2013.  The summary represents a snapshot of information collected during FY 2011-2012. A copy of the Summary of Tribal Child Care Activities is available on the OCC website at: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/summary_of_tribal_lea....

Office of Community Service 

On September 10 – 13, 2013, at the 2013 Annual National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) conference held in Phoenix, Arizona, 20 Tribes participated in several first-ever Community Services Block Grant Tribal Technical Assistance tracks.

Discussions were led on collaborative efforts to serve Indian Country where panel experts addressed ways in which Tribes could work with other organizations to support programs, address Tribal members’ needs, and create resources while building and sustaining Tribal communities.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

ACF funds 51 states, 5 territories, and 152 tribes through its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

This past year, ACF has made considerable efforts to begin providing tribes with expanded training and technical assistance (“T&TA”) opportunities. 

Office of Head Start

DRS re-evaluation training for the federal team leaders was scheduled for  October 23-24, 2013.  This training covered the Region XI American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Re-Evaluation Monitoring tool and use of the Office of Head Start Monitoring Software.
FHI 360 Training and Technical Assistance continued to provide services to Region XI AI/AN Head Start grantees during the government shutdown.

Assets for Independence

The Assets for Independence (AFI) Program will be conducting Tribal Learning Cohorts in the upcoming months.  The Tribal Learning Cohorts are a peer-learning series designed to provide an opportunity for all Tribal AFI programs to connect with peers, collaborate around common challenges, as well as share experiences and best practices. 

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