The ANA Messenger: Native Language and Culture Edition

The ANA Messenger: Native Language and Culture Edition

November 28, 2012

The ANA Messenger, Administration for Native Americans, Promoting the Goal of Social and Economic Self-Sufficiency for All Native Americans

Commissioner's InsightLillian Sparks

ACF Forms Native American Languages Work Group

If we are going to turn the tide on the declining rates of Native American language usage and fluency, there must be a sense of urgency and willingness to come together and support one another.  At the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) we are constantly asking ourselves, how can we do more?  What other support and outreach can we offer?  We also wonder, how can ACF, and the federal government overall, better support Native Americans in their efforts to sustain and revitalize Native American languages in these times of fiscal uncertainty?  We are pleased to announce that Acting Assistant  Secretary George Sheldon, and the other Senior Leaders at ACF are lending their support to this effort through the creation of a new ACF-wide work group on Native American Languages (NAL).

ANA has been supporting economic and social self-sufficiency for American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Native American Pacific Islanders (including American Samoan Natives) as its own agency since passage of the Native American Programs Act (NAPA) in 1974.  NAPA has been amended several times since then, most noticeably in 1992 and 2006 with passage of the Native American Language Act of 1992 and the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act of 2006.  Both of these pieces of legislation build upon the Native American Languages Act of 1990, an important policy directive, that in and of itself, did not authorize new programs or grants, but called upon the federal government, as well as state and local governments to preserve, protect, and promote the rights of Native Americans to use their languages.

Here is an excerpt from the Declaration of Policy section of the 1990 Act:

SEC. 104. It is the policy of the United States to— (1) preserve, protect, and promote the rights and freedom of Native Americans to use, practice, and develop Native American languages; (2) allow exceptions to teacher certification requirements for Federal programs, and programs funded in whole or in part by the Federal Government, for instruction in Native American languages when such teacher certification requirements hinder the employment of qualified teachers who teach in Native American languages, and to encourage State and territorial governments to make similar exceptions; (3) encourage and support the use of Native American languages as a medium of instruction in order to encourage and support— (A) Native American language survival, (B) educational opportunity, (C) increased student success and performance, (D) increased student awareness and knowledge of their culture and history, and (E) increased student and community pride; (4) encourage State and local education programs to work with Native American parents, educator, Indian tribes, and other Native American governing bodies in the implementation of programs to put this policy into effect; (5) recognize the right of Indian tribes and other Native American governing bodies to use the Native American languages as a medium of instruction in all schools funded by the Secretary of the Interior; (6) fully recognize the inherent right of Indian tribes and other Native American governing bodies, States, territories, and possessions of the United States to take action on, and give official status to, their Native American languages for the purpose of conducting their own business; (7) support the granting of comparable proficiency achieved through course work in a Native American language the same academic credit as comparable proficiency achieved through course work in a foreign language, with recognition of such Native American language proficiency by institutions of higher education as fulfilling foreign language entrance or degree requirements; and (8) encourage all institutions of elementary, secondary and higher education, where appropriate, to include Native American languages in the curriculum in the same manner as foreign languages and to grant proficiency in Native American languages the same full academic credit as proficiency in foreign languages.
Section 104, Native American Languages Act

When you consider the broad scope of the Native American Languages Act of 1990, it is only fitting that ANA should partner with other federal agencies to ensure that the directives of the 1990 NALA continue to be implemented to the fullest extent possible.  To that end ANA is leading an internal Native American Languages work group within the Administration for Children and Families with the goals of supporting ACF programs in their efforts to provide education and services using Native American languages and culture.  ACF offices such as Head Start and Child Care have already begun assessing the types of support their programs need to implement high quality programs that incorporate language and culture, and they are responding with tools and resources to assist them in their efforts.  Our workgroup will continue to promote these available resources, in addition we will identify best practices and successful efforts by ACF grantees to encourage others to implement similar initiatives or practices, identify ways we can work together to encourage ACF programs to share resources, and foster networks that create opportunities for collaboration to share what is working and the creation of new ideas or approaches.

Mia Strickland, Richard Glass, Amy Sagalkin, and Michelle Sauve are the ANA staff supporting this effort.  We are joined by Carrie Peake and Brian Richmond from the Office of Child Care, Bridget Shea Westfall from the Tribal Maternal and Child Home Visiting Program, and Captain Robert Bialas and Sharon Yandian from the Office of Head Start.  The NAL Work Group will meet regularly in order to identify areas for coordination and collaboration that will benefit the communities we serve.  Be on the lookout for more resources and opportunities to connect across the ACF family, and if you have ideas, please feel free to reach out to us!


Lillian A. Sparks



ANA FY 2012 Awards Announced!

Each year ANA receives hundreds of applications for community based projects in Native American communities.  This year ANA was able to award funding to 78 of these projects, with goals ranging from the development of language immersion nests and tribal governance codes, to the delivery of social services and financial literacy courses. ANA is pleased to announce its new awardees for FY 2012.


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Community in the News

The Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project (WLRP) based in Aquinnah and Mashpee, Massachusetts were recently featured in Yankee Magazine Visit disclaimer page , on Cape Cod radio Visit disclaimer page , and on CBS Evening News Visit disclaimer page . Follow the links below to read, listen and watch! News teams from both Yankee Magazine and CBS attended portions of WLRP's two week Summer Turtle Camp, held for nearly 40 elementary school students.

Language Resources

The websites featured in this document provide resources relevant to Native American languages.  You can find this list on the Resource page of the ANA website.  Please check back often for updates, or to suggest new resources for us to add.

Native Language Preservation: A Reference Guide for Establishing Archives and Repositories
The ANA Native Language Preservation Reference Guide discusses the importance of language repositories to long-term language preservation efforts. 

Head Start Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness Resource Catalogue Visit disclaimer page
Volume two of the catalogue contains information on Native and Heritage Language Preservation, Revitalization, and Maintenance.

Spoken First Visit disclaimer page
Spoken First, created and maintained by Falmouth Institute, is a resource for news about American Indian languages. This blog, updated daily, keeps track of language news coming from Native American communities across the country. 

Center for Applied Linguistics Visit disclaimer page
The Center for Applied Linguistics is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a comprehensive range of research-based information, tools, and resources related to language and culture.  The center is a private, nonprofit organization established in 1959 and headquartered in Washington, DC.

The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition Less Commonly Taught Languages Visit disclaimer page
This searchable database allows users to learn where specific Less Commonly Taught Languages (all languages with the exception of English, French, German, and Spanish) are taught in North America.

Endangered Languages Project Visit disclaimer page
The Endangered Languages Project Visit disclaimer page is an online resource to record, access, and share samples of and research on endangered languages, as well as to share advice and best practices for those working to document or strengthen languages under threat.

Our Mother Tongues Visit disclaimer page
The interactive Our Mother Tongues website shares a wealth of information about North America’s indigenous languages.  Each featured language page contains video and audio clips, a snapshot of the language’s status and history, and a user-friendly forum for sharing ideas.

Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education Article for Teachers Visit disclaimer page
This journal article provides a collection of resources for teaching American Indian students.  The resources give a background in Indian education and suggest methods for teaching and integrating American Indian content into traditional subject areas.

Regional Resources

University of California Berkeley Languages of California Survey Visit disclaimer page
For its size, California is linguistically the most diverse area of North America. To learn more about the languages of California, visit the UC-Berkeley survey.

Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival Visit disclaimer page
Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival is a native non-profit with the mission to foster the restoration and revival of indigenous California languages.

Aha Punana Leo School Visit disclaimer page
Located in Hawaii, Aha Punana Leo School is one of the first full-scale indigenous language immersion efforts in the U.S.

Indigenous Peoples and Languages of Alaska Visit disclaimer page
This website features a map that displays indigenous peoples and languages of Alaska by region.

Akwesasne Freedom School Visit disclaimer page
Based in New York, the Akwesasne Freedom School (AFS) is an independent elementary/middle school that provides immersion learning in Mohawk. 


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Bay Mills Indian Community

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The name of our project is the Gnoozhekaaning (Place of the Pike; which is the name for Bay Mills Indian Community) Language Project.  We serve the Bay Mills Indian Community and surrounding areas through the Boys & Girls Club sites on the reservation and at Brimley Area Schools.  The project was originally submitted as a three year project but was only funded for two years.  As a tribally controlled community college and land grant institution, the mission of Bay Mills Community College (BMCC) is to provide quality educational opportunities, promote research, and facilitate individual development in an accessible, community-based, and culturally diverse environment that supports and maintains the Anishinaabek culture and language. 

B and G club language program participant group pictureBMCC has been teaching language to adults for many years and currently provides community members the opportunity to earn a certificate of completion, diploma, or associate of applied science in Nishnaabemwin.  The average age for students enrolled in the PANE (an Ojibwe word meaning always or forever) Immersion (6 year) language program is 40.  There have been sporadic efforts within the community to teach language and culture to the children of the community; with varying degrees of success.  Samantha Cameron, Vice President of Academics approached Kathy Adair, Director of Development, and President Michael C. Parish to discuss the potential for a grant to teach language to the “little kids” as they are the ones who will perpetuate the language; rather than the “older folks” that traditionally enroll in language classes.  Together, we tossed around ideas for teaching language to young children and since we already had both a Head Start/Early Head Start program and a Boys & Girls Club, we viewed these places as ideal venues to teach children.

OCS StudentsWe spoke with the directors of both programs and they were very enthusiastic about the opportunity to add language and cultural programming.  In fact, Ann Belleau, Head Start Director at the Intertribal Council of Michigan (which administers the Head Start grant for various Michigan Indian communities) stated that Bay Mills was the only site that did not have any specific language or cultural programming.  During the time between grant submission and award, we hired a new PANE Immersion Assistant Director, Michele Wellman-Teeple, who has been instrumental in assisting in the development and implementation of this project.  Michele is an experienced teacher, coming to us from a tribal charter school.  In addition, we have hired contractual language instructors to teach at the Head Start/Early Head Start full time and part time at the Boys & Girls Club of Bay Mills (two sites).  Michele is also working with the Bay Mills Ojibwe Charter School language/culture teacher to teach songs to students during school hours; which will be recorded as part of this project.  The teacher, Cathy DeVoy, also teaches language at the Boys & Girls Club after school hours as a contractual employee of the project. 

Objective 1:
Expose the 40 Early Head Start children ages 0-4 and 36 Head Start children ages 4-5 and 29 staff members to Anishinabe language and culture.

Results or Benefits Expected: Children will be able to identify and articulate specific objects in both English and Ojibwe by the time they turn 5 years of age and graduate from the Head Start classroom.

Objective 2:
Increase exposure to culture and language to Brimley Schools and Ojibwe Charter School through lessons and cultural exposure through Boys & Girls Club of Bay Mills (2 sites) after school and during the summer months.

Results or Benefits Expected: School aged youth will increase their knowledge of the culture and language through exposure to language lessons for a minimum of two to three hours per school day and during summer months.

The expected overall impact within the community is, while the children at the Head Start/Early Head start and the Boys & Girls Club are learning the language, so are the teachers so they may carry on beyond the grant period.  We have purchased various educational tools as well, which will stay with the center and club.  Children have shared their language acquisition, crafts, songs, and experiences with their families, which has served to revitalize an interest in language within this community.  Pre and post tests have been administered which document increased language acquisition.  We will be completing and distributing CD’s of various songs which have been translated into Ojibwe and performed by the various age groups of children involved; everyone from 3 years of age to 18 years of age. 

Our advice to others would be to find a “champion” within the community who has the drive, willpower, expertise, and capacity to see your project through.  A lot of people think projects are a great idea, until they are called on the carpet to actually do something.  We are very fortunate to have a committed group of individuals who see our project as a worthwhile endeavor; something that will benefit this community for years to come.

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An Interview with Nicole Calvo, Pa’a Taotao Tano’s Project Director

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  1. Three people talking while sitting in chairsWho are the key project staff members?
    Project Director – Nicole Calvo, Project Manager – Brian J. Terlaje, Project Assistants – Sean Perez, Susan Siguenza, and Vince San Nicolas, Music Educator – Catherine Calvo Cruz, Elder Consultant – Diana San Nicolas, Master Frank Rabon
  2. Where is your project located, what Native communities do you serve?
    The Chamorro Language through Chants/Prayers and Songs (CLCS) Project is located in the Pa’a Taotao Tano’ Office at 238 Archbishop Flores St., DNA Building, Ste. 905 Hagatna, Guam.  We serve the Chamorro people of Guam and more specifically the community of Chamorro Cultural Arts Practitioners and their beneficiaries.
  3. What are your main project objectives/ goals, and what is your strategy for accomplishing them?

    The CLCS Project Goal is to develop Chamorro language tools through chants/prayers and songs that would be used to preserve and maintain Chamorro, the indigenous language of the people of Guam.

    The Strategy to accomplish this goal and these objectives is to work very diligently with our partnerships that have been formed as a result of this native language project as well as to follow and execute the Objective Work Plan for our grant.

    The CLCS Project Objectives are:  
    Objective 1:
      To gather, compile and transcribe 80 undocumented Chamorro chants/prayers and songs by the 12-month. 

    Objective 2: To document and record selected Chamorro chants/prayers and songs into two Chamorro language tools, a music book and compact disc, by the end of the 24th month. 

    Objective 3: To train 16 Chamorro Dance Group members to implement the Chamorro chants and songs language tools in 8 Chamorro Cultural Dance Houses (Guma) impacting approximately 200 members by the 36th month of the project
  4. Four people in recording studioHow has the community received your project?
    The Chamorro community of Guam has been very responsive to our project, as is evident in the number of groups and choirs that participated in the recording of the compact disc.  In all, a total of 5 choral and chanting groups were a part of the recording of “I Ukon I Manaina-ta’, Chants and Songs from Our Elders” compact disc as well as 21 contributors to the music book of the same title.
  5. Have there been any resources, or best practices that you feel really propelled your project forward?
    As the project director, I feel very strongly that the greatest resource or best practice that propelled the CLCS Project forward was the Human Resource, the Elders as well as the young children and youth that helped to contribute by being interviewed or singing or playing an instrument for this project made all the tiresome work of translating and transcribing into musical notation the Chamorro chants and songs all worth the while and effort.
  6. What does project sustainability look like to you?
    The key to this project’s sustainability lie in Guam’s government and private sector such as the Department of Chamorro Affairs, Guam’s Historic Preservation Trust, Department of Education’s Chamorro Studies Division and the Guam Council of the Arts and Humanities to ensure that the many hundreds of songs and chants that were not featured in this project will also be musically transcribed and translated for Guam’s Chamorro People to enjoy for generations to come.
  7. What advice would you offer to someone planning or implementing a project similar to yours?
    Allow for more time with the musical transcribing of songs and chants, as well as for the translation of the language in your project.

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Piegan Institute

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The Nitskonatapssi Project, now in the second year of a three year award, is a crystallization of twenty six years of indigenous language revitalization efforts by the Piegan Institute on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana.  The project is a focused endeavor to produce proficient speakers of the Blackfoot language through an immersion language learning environment. In l987, three tribal members fashioned the institute as a private nonprofit reservation based organization to research, promote and preserve the language of the tribe.  This was inspired by a 1985 reservation wide survey conducted by the Blackfeet Community College which revealed the youngest majority of tribal language speakers were in the late sixties and early seventies age group.  The survey also indicated the number of speakers under the age of sixty five was small, and no children spoke the language.

Another motivation for the establishment of a private community based effort was, despite a tribal language program offered by the community college and a limited offering in the public school programs, it was clear neither effort was able to produce students able to speak the language with any fluency or spontaneity.  During a chance meeting with Native Hawaiian language instructors at an l987 conference Darrell Robes Kipp and Dr. Dorothy Still Smoking, Blackfeet tribal members, were invited to Hawaii to learn how the island immersion schools operated so successfully.  The hallmark of the schools was students “immersed” in a language, became speakers of the language through a natural internalization process, which also supported advanced language acquisition skill building.  In l995, the Piegan Institute, founded by Kipp and Still Smoking, along with Thomas Edward Little Plume, a gifted speaker of the tribal language, built a one room private school in Browning, Montana to provide full day immersion language instruction for two dozen children of the tribal community.

Beginning in l987, and to this day, the institute conducts extensive research and recovery for tribal language materials.  The institute maintains an extensive archival collection of historical and contemporary research on the Blackfoot language.  The marriage of scientific information with the holistic approach embodied in immersion programming has served the language revitalization work of the institute extremely well over the years. 

Cuts Wood School in Browning Montana

The K-8 immersion school program, now housed in a multi-faceted private school facility completed in 2000, has graduated fluent and spontaneous speaking children of the tribal language since its inception in l996.  One of the main ingredients of the successful immersion classroom is a heavy reliance on the Total Physical Response (TPR) teaching format designed by Dr. James J. Asher at San Jose State University.

Another aspect in synthesizing the program was a community attitude prevalent in the late l980’s.  There was a reluctance, and in some instances a hostile reaction, to support tribal language revitalization efforts among community members.  This, no doubt, was the result of long term institutional efforts to negate transfer of the language from parent to child.  In l991, the institute produced an award winning documentary entitled, Transitions, Death of a Mother Tongue, with the Native American Television Workshop at Montana State University.  The documentary chronicled several older members of the tribe who, as children, attended a reservation mission school.  The documentary was distributed throughout the reservation and discussions of the film took place in numerous settings over several months.  The documentary was instrumental in changing community awareness about the importance of maintaining the tribal language. 

Today, the teachers in the school are all second language speakers of the Blackfoot language.  None of the current staff spoke the language as children.  Kipp and Still Smoking were not speakers of the language as children, but learned to speak the language during the developmental phases of the institute.  The first ten years of the school programming was assisted by two certified teachers and fluent speakers of the Blackfoot language, tribal relatives from the Canadian branches of the tribe, who relocated to Montana to assist.  Until as recently as five years ago, more so today, the school still enjoyed having local tribal speakers support the school in many ways.  Today, there are less than a dozen first speakers in the tribe; all well into their late years and the presence of tribal first speakers in the school is limited.  The majority of speakers of the tribal language today are the graduates and staff members of the immersion school programming of the Piegan Institute.

Jocelyn DesRosier, lead teacher, joined the immersion school staff as a volunteer in l996.  Subsequently, she obtained her General Equivalency Diploma, a degree in elementary education, and mastered the language as an apprentice teacher with Shirley Crow Show, a master teacher from Canada. 

Megan Lunak, the granddaughter and daughter of English teachers, graduated from college in 2007 with a degree in English, but opted to teach in the school after a visit.  She learned the tribal language in an accelerated apprentice role with a master teacher.  Charles Kennedy, is in his third year as an apprentice teacher and will ultimately lead a classroom.  Darrell Robes Kipp continues to direct, research and design immersion formats for the school program.  The staff of the school is small in number serving 30 K-8 students.  The eventual return of alumni to roles in the school operation is anticipated and important to long term language revitalization.

The Piegan Institute began a private school building program in 1996 and purchased land within the city limits of Browning, Montana.  Despite the challenges of a private school endeavor the institute continues to advocate this approach in the name of autonomy and freedom to immerse students in full day, year round tribal language instruction. The Cuts Wood School, which houses the Nitskonatapssi Project, is a modern facility especially designed as a language learning environment for grades K-8.  The private school operates year round, and is noted for high academic and language acquisition achievement levels.  The graduates of the school program are noted as outstanding student citizens in the high school programs they attend.

The main goals of the project are etched in the original mantra of the institute’s educational approach: “Teach the children to speak our tribal language.”  All other considerations, challenges, objectives and related items are listed as various priorities under this one and only goal.  The only purpose of the school is to produce speakers of the tribal language and the certified results obtained through this is proof positive of the validity of this approach.  As long as the school operates in line with this mantra, all other items can be dealt with in an orderly fashion.

In l995, a reservation wide survey found many tribal members negatively reacting to mention of tribal heritage revitalization plans.  A common lament was a sense of being ashamed of their status as non-speakers of the tribal language, but unable to determine how this might be changed.  Since the implementation of the Piegan Institute’s successful tribal language school programs, the attitude of tribal members is positive in wishing to keep the tribal language intact and part of contemporary tribal heritage.  An important impact is, as the first speaker population fades away, the important role of speaker is being filled by students in the immersion school program.  It is now common to find a school student leading a tribal prayer at gatherings. 

The students of the immersion program are the ones who will carry the tribal language into the future for the tribe.

At present, the Piegan Institute is preparing a five; ten and twenty year plan of operation.  This task entails creating new definitions of the field, speculation about future directions and considerations for longevity of the revitalization movement and always the status of the language itself in modern society.  Much of the content and context of the planning documents may sound unexpected and unusual for the average educator or revivalist.  The core element of the language program is an ultimate determination to maintain the living spirit of the language well into the future.  All challenges aside, it is clear long term funding of the effort is paramount and is a major aspect of all planning.  As a private effort, with the exception of ANA support, the institute has always remained vigilant to long term financial support from patrons, donors and foundations.  This vigilance continues, and will be upgraded as part of the planning process.

Any successful language program will ultimately rest on the dedication and creativity of individuals truly happy doing the work connected to language revitalization.  The hired hand, be it a professional or laborer, will ultimately walk away.  The truly inspired will not, and this small group will always need support.  It is the basic approach which works best to produce children who learn to speak the tribal language. Language work can be most successful in private, small scale efforts: a classroom, a speaker, a teacher/apprentice and children of courageous parents who want their child to speak their language.

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Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

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Ginanda-gikendaamin (We Seek to Learn)

The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation is located in Northern Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Superior.  The Tribe operates an Early Childhood Center (ECC) which provides early care services for 118 children under the age of five.  These children are enrolled in Early Head Start (68 center-based and home-based children), Head Start (50), and full-day child care services. 

The ECC is in the third year of an ANA project which aims to preserve and revitalize the Ojibwe language in present and future families within the Red Cliff Community.  The project focus is on 24 Early Head Start children and their parents. 

The ECC utilizes a “looping” strategy of care for these infants and toddlers.  This means that the same teacher team will provide care during the first three years of the child’s life.  This strategy of care allows the children to form a unique bond with their teachers.  This strategy also allows the teachers to form unique bonds with the children’s families.  This relationship building strategy provides an excellent opportunity to provide additional support and resources to the families as needed. 

The Red Cliff Tribe identified the immediate and urgent need to preserve and revitalize the Ojibwe language through full community assessments conducted in 2009 and 2012.  Additional surveys indicate that there were only a few remaining speakers of the Ojibwe language when this project was submitted for consideration. 

Through this project, 24 children and their families are receiving Ojibwe language support and instruction.  The project has hired two Ojibwe Language Instructors to assist the Early Head Start teachers in providing an Ojibwe language immersion experience for the children.  In addition, language instructors provide Ojibwe language lessons for the parents and families of these children through Ojibwe language tables and home visits. 

Participating parents and families are encouraging others to learn and use the Ojibwe language in the community.  The language tables are open to the community and several additional families have been attending regularly to increase their Ojibwe language knowledge and use.  Language table participants include mothers, fathers, aunties, uncles, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, grandparents and even great-grandparents.  Additional people attending the language tables include community members, ECC staff and staff of the local k-12 school district.

This project is paving the way for the Red Cliff Tribe to increase efforts to preserve and revitalize the Ojibwe language in this community.  The cultural curriculum developed through the ECC is being translated into Ojibwe for future teachers use.  Ojibwe language assessment tools have been developed in order to track progress of the children and parents in terms of their language knowledge and skill.  The Early Head Start teachers have also increased their knowledge and use of the language in order to speak Ojibwe with the children.

The sustainability of this project is tied to the translated Early Head Start curriculum, modified Ojibwe language assessments and the teachers’ increased knowledge and use of the Ojibwe language.  The Early Head Start teachers will start over with the new babies and their families once these children graduate from the program and enter Head Start. 

The Red Cliff Tribe is seeking to continue revitalization efforts of the Ojibwe language as these children learn and grow.  The Tribe will be seeking funding to continue providing an immersion experience for the children graduating from the Early Head Start program and transitioning into Head Start.  Plans to continue providing an Ojibwe language immersion setting for these children have been developed with the Tribe’s goal of operating a Kindergarten to Third Grade Ojibwe Language Immersion school by the year 2015.   

These young children and their families have begun a journey that will revitalize the Ojibwe language for the Red Cliff Tribe.  We must continue to provide these children and families with knowledge of their own language and culture so they can have the strength and pride necessary to succeed in life.  We have encountered challenges along the way, but the spirit of our ancestors keeps us moving forward to ensure future generations are strong.

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Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians' Project

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The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians ‘Baawting Anishinaabemowin Language Immersion Camp Project’ is a three-year project funded by ANA that began in 2010.  The project came about through the vision of Orien Corbiere, who was our Language Instructor and had been working with our tribal communities providing native language class instruction.  While teaching the language he listened to his students and heard their frustrations at not being able to truly communicate with one another and began to think about the best approach to help them use the vocabulary they were learning to develop and communicate complete thoughts.

For a year Orien and his co-worker, Leonard Kimewan, who taught the classes with him and is another of our Language Instructors, began having discussions with the students at the end of each weekly class.  Both instructors are fluent first language speakers and shared a sincere dedication to teaching our native language. 

Three people pounding black ash to make traditional black ash baskets
"Baagaakoganan ndizhaa'an kokbinaaganan wii zhitoowat".

Together they began to document the class discussions and realized that the students wanted more immersion style language activities, so they informally assessed each student to determine if they were ready to advance to a higher level.  They were very excited when they realized that a good number of the students were indeed ready to participate in immersion. 

They conducted a survey to identify how the students and community felt about their native language learning experience and got excellent feedback to understand the struggles and frustrations of the students in learning Anishinaabemowin and provided suggestions for language programming.  The survey also helped to track the condition of our tribal language and locate individuals interested in learning. 

Their classes took them throughout the tribe’s seven-county service area and so they had a lot of time to talk.  They used that travel time to develop a strategy that would help the students advance from building their vocabulary to developing and communicating thought.

The idea of relating language while the activity was occurring led to the concept of culturally related crafts and life-skills development while internalizing language.  The need for language resources and the difficulty of serving a seven county area led to the idea of recording the immersion activity on DVD to serve other members who could not attend classes or camp.

By conducting a camp, students from throughout the service area could attend. The strategy also took advantage of the weekly tribal language classes by utilizing the existing classes to provide language lessons to correspond with upcoming camps and prepare students for the immersion experience.

Immersion can be very stressful so it was felt that because we are fortunate to have many fluent first language speakers in nearby First Nation communities that it would be extremely beneficial to have a high fluent mentor to student ratio and we partnered with two native organizations to help recruit and contract fluent speakers who had traditional craft and life-skills and knowledge.

Adrienne Shipman, a tribal member who had written and managed a three year ANA grant in 2001 and was familiar with the history of the tribe’s language revitalization efforts and ANA proposal criteria, had started working in another department within the Cultural Division as a Culture Camp Coordinator.  Noticing the effort of the Language staff she offered to help to put the project together and write the proposal.  Working together, Orien, Leonard and Adrienne, along with the Cultural Division and dedicated language students, were instrumental in the development of the project.  Currently, the project’s key staff members are: Cecil Pavlat-Grant Administrator, Cheryl Bernier-ANA Language Project Manager, Theresa Lewis- Language Instructor / Videographer Trainee and Leonard Kimewan-Language Instructor. 

Immersion camps are held at the Mary Murray Culture Camp located on Sugar Island in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  The Mary Murray Culture Camp is situated in our historical territory and the land was donated by a Tribal Elder for the purpose of providing cultural teaching to our children, so they would always be proud and knowledgeable of their ancestry.  The tribe serves approximately 13,600 tribal members who are residents of our seven county service area, out of our total enrollment of almost 40,000.

The project goal is to increase the number of students who can speak conversational Anishinaabemowin through the accomplishment of three objectives.  1) Conduct four immersion camps annually for a total of 12 camps and gradually increase the language skills 30 language students from novice high to intermediate high.  2) Produce 12 one-hour immersion activity DVDs and distribute to camp participants and language mentors as well as tribal centers located throughout our service area and make available on the Tribal Internet Language Class website.

The ANA Baawting Anishinaabemowin Language Immersion Camp Project has benefited our community in a variety of ways.  We now hear our language being used and the development of cultural skills taught in our language has increased the awareness of how much knowledge is contained in our language.  You can see a sense of pride in participants when they show what they made at camp and are able to acknowledge it in their ancestral language.

The Mary Murray Culture camp provides monthly culture camps where the language is incorporated as much as possible.  We are also interested in further development of the dedicated participants who have achieved their goal of intermediate fluency to train and certify them as language instructors so we will have teachers to continue the work of the Elders.

In planning or implementing a similar project we offer this advice.  Take advantage of existing resources (especially ANA Pre-Application Training and Technical Assistance), they are all around.  Always draw from the past and keep an eye to the future.  Listen to your community, they have so much to offer and can make things happen.  Actively and personally recruit volunteers and encourage participation.  And finally, don’t give up!  We have had to overcome some hurdles and major barriers but the end result is worth it.

Sadly and unexpectedly Orien Corbiere, our Language Instructor and Language Camp Director, was killed in an accident in the second year of the project and we would like to acknowledge his vision, dedication and contribution to native language survival and feel his spirit continues to help us to continue to face this great challenge of saving our language.  Kch’miigwech!

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Getting to Know Us
Tonya Garnett

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  1. Tonya on the Alaskan coastlineCan you provide us with some background and what lead you to the kind of work you do for ANA?
    I am Gwich'in Athabascan and originally from Arctic Village, AK and an enrolled member of the Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government.  Arctic Village, a Gwich'in village, is located in the northeastern interior region of Alaska about 250 miles north of Fairbanks, AK.  The current population is 150 people with one village owned store and continues to be strong with traditional subsistence activities.  I attended Fort Lewis College and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  Since graduation, a majority of my professional career has been spent working for the Arctic Village Council as Tribal Administrator and the Tanana Chiefs Conference as a Self Governance Coordinator. My background includes working with Tribes and other Native organizations, providing technical assistance, training, and ensuring compliance with federal funds.  Tanana Chiefs Conference is a regional non profit consortium of the 42 interior tribes.  While there I was able to gain experience working with the Tribes with maintaining compliance, assist in building capacity, and coordination of regional activities.  I am grateful that my past positions have allowed me to work with Tribes and Native organizations in building capacity so that they can be successful in their endeavors.  I have met and learned from many great people along the way and I am still continuing to learn from the amazing people in this line of work.  I love the working relations and the friendships that has been created at the AK T/TA Center staff and among the ANA DC staff and other TA providers.  Mahsi'
  2. What do you enjoy most about your job?
    I love being in a position that promotes positive activities created by the communities themselves.  I believe that it is up to our communities to create positive changes to strengthen the community, tribal governments, and the people.  The communities get to plan and implement their projects and I think this is a great part of ANA that allows our Native communities to determine their needs and the plan of action to meet those needs.  I am also deeply humbled and inspired with the impact evaluation visits because you get to visit with Native people and organizations from all over the United States that are doing some awesome things across the country.  I also love that all the TA providers and the ANA DC staff all have their hearts in their work.  We all believe in our work and in the mission of ANA. 
  3. Can you share with our readers your thoughts on the importance of language and culture?  What do you see in the communities you have visited that speaks to the importance of language and/or culture?
    Native Americans have been on these lands since time immemorial and we have creation stories from each region and community of how our people came.  Our language and culture is extremely important to save and to continue to pass on to future generations.  Our culture and language helps to strengthen our identity and to learn about our history.  There are a lot of language preservation and maintenance efforts across the country and it will be great for these efforts to share knowledge to help each other to strengthen the future of the Native American languages.  The ANA AK Regional Director, Anthony Caole, has created an online platform for language resources to be shared and is available on the national level.  One of the universal themes regarding Native languages that I have heard throughout my travel is; 'time is of the essence.  There is no more time to think about it and now is the time to act if we want to save the language.' I have met many warriors along the way that are working hard to keep the language and culture strong and they are inspiring to many and I am thankful for their hard work, determination, and dedication.
  4. What are some of your interests or hobbies?  What do you like to do most in your free time?
    Fish!!!! :) I love to go fishing but I have not had much time the last two summers.  I love going home to the village to camp, hike, fish, ride snow machines and just be among the homeland of my ancestors.  I spend a lot of time with family and friends and most of all my 3 year old son Ashton Philip.  My son and I usually share our free time swimming, sledding, visiting the park, and making play dates.  If time allows, I volunteer for community events for my home village or the Fairbanks area. 
  5. Is there anything else you would like to share?
    I would like to thank my boss Anthony, coworkers Angela and Kathy, and our consultants and peer advisers for all their assistance, direction, and collaboration over the past year.  We have a great team!


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Talking Stick


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This issue's author: Seh (Shay) Welch, M.B.A.

As I sit here and think about language and culture, I wonder how theses can be two separate topics.  I ponder about how one influences and affects the other.  I imagine language to be the wind’s reflection in the grass and trees, and the grass and trees to be the culture, intertwined and inseparable.  My thoughts drift to my own family; the smells drifting in the wind, as I get closer to “home.”  From a distance, the river and horses are nearing and the sounds of familiar voices in the kitchen as I approach the door become recognizable.  We each have a special way of greeting in the Indigenous world.  Distinct and yet the same, we embrace each other, no matter how long it has been since we saw each other last.

A culture where we have a sense of Belonging:  Just as an infant is welcomed into the world, into his/her tribe or clan, the first establishment of a sense of belonging and welcoming.  Elders, youth, teachers, learners, Natives and non-Native partners, leaders and grassroots advocates are all welcomed and included, and in one way or another belong.  We take the time for cultural and spiritual grounding to prepare for homecomings, visitors, and are grateful and humble for the opportunity.

Mastery:  Just as youth test their skills, knowledge and understanding, language and culture provide each of us with timely and socially critical information so that we can understand and be understood.  In doing so, we honor our different ways of learning, to include not just didactic information, but interactive and experiential formats, such as the Esther Martinez language immersion programs that ANA supports.  We embrace mistakes and use them as growing experiences guided by a teacher, much like many of the ANA Language preservation and maintenance programs- revitalizing our Indigenous languages.  We create positive environments, honor, and make a place for Native humor, which in-turn provides a safe place for learning, the healing power of grief, sharing, and ultimately empowerment through language and culture.

Interdependence:  Just as adults understand the survival of our community(ies) and families is based upon our interdependence with a larger society and environment, we collaborate, network and leverage resources to sustain programs so that the good work can continue to have a positive impact with, for and on participants and our communities.  The way in which we convey the importance of our work to restore, maintain, and immerse ourselves in our language and of Native culture and spirituality is interdependence.  As the Elders say, and many of us know, all things are related, we are all related, and you are my relation.

Generosity:  Finally, best signified by Elders in our Native communities, “generosity” is a traditional value, which is to be honored through our daily work, either here in D.C. or there in your own community, village, town and home.  Our culture teaches us the blessings of creating ways to give-back-to-community.  Today, we, you, she, he and I are catalysts for action now, as well as future efforts.  Our cultures and our languages rejuvenate and re-energize us to continue our work every day.  All things are related; intertwined like the wind’s reflection in the grass and trees.

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There were a few young fish swimming near an older, wise fish and the old, wise fish says, “My, isn’t the water wonderful today?” and the young fish say, “Water? What water?”

Relevance: Culture is like water to fish – influencing our lives but often taken for granted or never even seen. It can be this ethereal and abstract concept. However, reflecting on and examining culture can be pivotal in personal and professional growth, program improvement, and grantee change

Word Jumble

1. SATMER __ __ __ __ __ __
2. CRPEPATENI __ __ __ __ __ __  __ __ __ __
3. NUEYLFC __ __ __ __ __ __  __
4. MEISIRNOM __ __ __ __ __ __  __ __ __
5. LAOTT  LSYHACPI  ESOPRNCE __ __ __ __ __      __  __ __ __  __ __ __ __       __ __ __ __ __ __  __ __
6. IZVIRNOEALTATI  __ __ __ __ __ __  __ __ __  __ __ __ __ __
7. EHETSR  AZNIMERT __ __ __ __ __ __     __ __ __ __ __  __ __ __
8. RUUCCMRIUL __ __ __ __ __ __  __ __ __ __
9. RIFTECONTICAI __ __ __ __ __ __  __ __  __ __ __ __ __
10. LEERD __ __ __ __ __

What is it? or Where is it?

1.Description number 1 below


2.Reference Description 2 below


3.Reference Description 3 below


Answers to Word Jumble

  1. Master 
  2. Apprentice 
  3. Fluency
  4. Immersion 
  5. Total Physical Response
  6. Revitalization
  7. Esther Martinez
  8. Curriculum
  9. Certification
  10. Elder

Answers to What is it? or Where is it?

  1. Seattle waterfront at Washington Street c. 1890–1892, with Tribal canoes moored at the boat launch
  2. Canoes at rest in Port Townsend in 2007
  3. Leech Lake Canoe of the 1890s

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The Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs
Events and Activities

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Overview of ICNAA

The Intradepartmental Council on Native American Affairs (ICNAA), authorized by the Native American Programs Act of 1974 (42USC2991), as amended, serves as the focal point within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for coordination and consultation on health and human services issues affecting the American Indian, Alaska Native and Native American populations, including federally recognized Tribes, Tribes that are state recognized or seeking federal recognition, Indian organizations, Native Hawaiian communities, and Native American Pacific Islanders, including Native Samoans.

Chaired by the Commissioner of the Administration for Native Americans, it brings together HHS leadership to ensure consistency on policy affecting American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Americans, and to maximize limited resources. The major functions of the ICNAA are to:

  • Develop & promote HHS policy that provides greater access;
  • Assist in the Tribal Consultation process;
  • Develop both short term & long term strategic plans;
  • Promote self-sufficiency and self-determination;
  • Develop legislative, administrative, and regulatory proposals to benefit Native Americans; and
  • Promote the Government-to-Government relationship as reaffirmed by the President.

2012 ICNAA Priorities

A brief overview of each of the 2012 priorities of the ICNAA is provided below.  Subsequent articles will provide more detailed descriptions and updates of the work being done to address each of these priorities.

Access and Availability
The ICNAA continued to work to develop, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive initiative to increase Tribal accessibility to HHS Federal Financial Assistance Programs.

Grants Eligibility
The ICNAA worked to determine the funding opportunities, for which Tribes are eligible, so Tribes and HHS can identify priorities for technical assistance on application processes.  In this process the ICNAA also determined the funding opportunities, for which Tribes are not eligible, identified the nature of the barrier, helping HHS and Tribes identify priorities and develop options to reduce them. 

Expansion of Services and Pilot Development (Self Governance Expansion)
To explore options of expanding Tribal self-governance beyond the Indian Health Service and into other operating divisions at HHS, the ICNAA and the HHS Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee determined the need to understand more specifically how self-governance would work with programs whose funding was dedicated solely for Tribes.  As a result, a Self-Governance Tribal Federal Workgroup was created to assist HHS to:

  • Prioritize the HHS programs Tribes wish to include in a feasibility study or demonstration projection, if statutorily authorized;
  • Develop detailed recommendations to overcome legal and logistical barriers to  self-governance expansion; and,
  • Identify the benefits Tribes seek to achieve through the expansion of self-governance to other HHS programs, and to develop recommendations to achieve those benefits.

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Indigenous Language Institute’s Symposium

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Overcoming Challenges in Native Language Work

The Indigenous Language Institute held its Third Annual Symposium, Conquering Challenges in Native Language Work, at the Pueblo of Isleta on October 22-23, 2012.  There were 146 people who registered for the two day symposium, representing 55 tribes/nations from the United States, Canada and Australia.  The purpose of the symposium was to convene community language experts, linguists, teachers, parents and learners to share useful information and identify effective ways to conquer persistent challenges hindering efforts to produce Native language speakers. 

There were many informative speakers.  As we know, one of the hurdles to language learning is taking the first-step, asking for help in your journey to learn your language, especially with our youth. Three young people from two local pueblo communities presented their journey through learning Tewa and aired a video about them titled, The Young Ancestors Visit disclaimer page .  Marissa Naranjo and her brother David are from Santa Clara Pueblo and Jeremy Montoya is from the Pueblo of Pojoaque.  They recognized the Tewa language was dwindling – especially amongst their friends and families.  They sought the assistance from and used the Self-Study of American Indian Languages (SAIL), a self-driven method engaging elders and extended families in an intergenerational approach.  The SAIL curriculum was funded by ANA through the Indigenous Language Institute in 2009.  See page 84 of the 2010 Congressional Report for their impact summary on the ANA website.

As part of their project, the group traveled to Australia presenting at the Puliima 2011 National Indigenous Languages and Technology Forum Visit disclaimer page in Queensland, Australia.  They began using a program called, Miromaa.  Daryn McKenny from the Aboriginal language and Technology Centre presented this software he developed.  Miromaa is a framework for language learning.  This is a user friendly database which can be self populated by virtually any language.  You can up load video, audio and text files such as Acrobat and Word files to assist in the language learning process.

Kevin Shendo (Jemez Pueblo), Lana Toya (Jemez Pueblo), Ofilia Zepeda (Tohono O’odham), Kristopher Easton (Endangered Languages Project), Margaret and Fiona Noori (Ojibwe), Delaura Sanders (Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians) also presented on topics from ensuring language learning is a safe place without prior trauma brought to the table, to the benefits and challenges of the written word in Native language learning.


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Reflections on Language Project as the Impact Season Winds Down

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Beginning in early July every year, the Division of Policy Planning and Evaluation (DPPE) kicks off the impact evaluation season, in which 70% of all ending ANA grantees receive on-site visits.  During these visits, impact evaluators meet with grantees to talk about project successes and challenges. 

The impact evaluation team within DPPE is comprised of four evaluators who each visit between 15 – 20 grantees in the summer and fall months.  The traveling season will continue until early December, when the team will have completed 62 visits. 

Several grantees visited this season have completed language projects, demonstrating creativity and dedication to their communities.  The evaluators have been amazed by the wellspring of community support that carries these projects to the end and keeps them continuing when ANA funding ends.  Notable projects include:

Hannahville Indian Community: “Ewikkendaswat Ekenomagewat (They Will Learn To Teach): Language Teacher Training” Project

Based in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, this project provided professional development to nine Potawatomi language teachers and community mentors, giving them skills in creating lesson plans, engaging students, and understanding child psychology.  These crucial professional development hours propelled these teachers toward obtaining Tribal and state teaching certifications.  In addition, the Hannahville project brought Potawatomi bands from Oklahoma, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Canada together each summer in their week long immersion camps and shared valuable resources, such as the time of fluent elders.  The bands are exploring funding collaborations, in the spirit of what one student said of the language, “You can’t keep it if you don’t give it away.”

Mescalero Apache: “Language Immersion School” Project

This project assisted the Mescalero Apache Tribe, in partnership with a linguist from New Mexico State University, to open an immersion pre-school program located in a separate wing of the Tribal school.  Over the course of three years, the Tribe hired administrators and staff, built curricula, began day to day school operations, and increased children’s fluency.  Walking into the classroom, the evaluators heard young children playing in Apache.  One parent remarked her son comes home from school singing songs in Apache, and his self-confidence and behavior show improvement.  A grandparent spoke of losing her ability to speak Apache in grammar school, where it was forbidden, and the great joy she felt hearing her granddaughter speak it.

To learn more about these and other inspiring language projects, visit our website and read the most recent Congressional Report, or check out our Success Stories.

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9th Annual Native American Fatherhood is Leadership Conference

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Recently ANA announced it was entering into a cooperative agreement with the Native American Fatherhood and Family Association (NAFFA) to conduct a national outreach campaign focused on promoting the importance of fatherhood in Native communities.  Included in the national outreach campaign will be a national conference, regional workshops, webinars, and a Native American Responsible Fatherhood Day to be promoted and implemented throughout Native American communities during the month of June 2013.  NAFFA, located in Mesa, Arizona, is a Native non-profit organization whose mission is to strengthen Native Families by responsibly involving fathers in the lives of their children, families, and communities and partnering with mothers to provide happy and safe families.  NAFFA has developed a curriculum titled “Fatherhood is Sacred” which is used throughout Indian Country to promote responsible fatherhood.

Commissioner Lillian Sparks, Office of Family Assistance Director Earl Johnson, and Eugene Schneeberg, the Director for the Center for Faith Based & Neighborhood Partnerships at the US Department of Justice, were all keynote speakers at this year’s Fatherhood is Leadership Conference hosted by the Native American Fatherhood and Families Association.  The conference opened in a good way with a blessing by an elder and then the attendees were joined by third, fourth, and fifth grade students from Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.  The children led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance and sang songs in English and their Native American language.

The focus on the positive and using an asset-based approach was evident in all of the presentations.  Al Pooley, the founder and  President of NAFFA, stressed men in Indian Country are an untapped resource, they are the solution to many of the problems facing Native American communities, and it is the men’s role and responsibility in the native tradition to keep the family together.  In fact, traditional native leadership is not about hierarchy or status, but about providing and protecting your people, and it is in this spirit that “Fatherhood is Leadership” became the theme for the conference.

ANA’s listening session was well attended and the participants provided a rich array or experiences and ideas for how to strengthen fatherhood for Native Americans including ways to outreach to men through coaches, Indian centers, and veterans groups.  There was an emphasis on the importance of taking a whole family approach and building parenting and relationship skills in the mothers at the same time, integrating culture and traditional practices, and the need to involve tribal leaders, judges, tribal administrators, and program directors to make broader change within the community system.

Conference participants were impressed that this small but dedicated grassroots movement in the Native American community is gaining such top level recognition and support by the White House and federal leaders.  Over more than a decade in existence, NAFFA has been able to spread their message of Fatherhood is Sacred/Motherhood is Sacred to over 90 tribal chapters and is hoping to expand to 200 by the end of 2013.

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National Indian Education Association Convention

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October 18-21, 2012

NIEA recently hosted its 43rd Annual Convention, Maintaining Traditions in a Digital Era, in Oklahoma City.  Many outstanding presentations were offered for participants, both within the keynote addresses and the breakout sessions.  The topics varied from incorporating technology to provide students with more variety and challenging curricula, dealing with fetal alcohol syndrome, honoring the Choctaw code talkers of World War I, to leveraging the Title III, Office of English Language Acquisition, for native language instruction.

Ahniwake Rose, executive director of NIEA, addressed the audience on Friday.  Her message emphasized a couple items, the Native CLASS Act, which Indian Country is advocating being woven into the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and reauthorization of the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act (Esther Martinez Act).   The Native CLASS Act, so named for the Native Culture and Language for Access for Success in Schools, addresses the following five areas:

  1. Increase Tribal control of education of their children,
  2. Invest in culture and language revitalization,
  3. Focus on the development and retention of Native teachers, administrators and education leaders,
  4. Address the needs of all Native students, and
  5. Assure the federal government continues to fulfill trust responsibilities with respect to education. 

The current Senate Bill S.1262 would transfer language grants from ANA to the Bureau of Indian Education (Title III Sec. 302).
As part of the investing in culture and language revitalization, NIEA is calling for the reauthorization of the Esther Martinez Act (Senate Bill 3546) The Esther Martinez Act current supports ANA language immersion projects.  The current Senate bill would amend the current Act to extend the authorization until 2017.

Currently the bill is with the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and the Committee is seeking full support for the bill before passing it out of Committee.  Similar bills that reauthorize without changes to the Esther Martinez Act were introduced in the House of Representatives.

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ACF Native American Affairs Liaison Workgroup

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The ACF Native American Affairs Liaison Workgroup recently received an award for “Partnering for HHS Excellence Award.”  For this award, the Workgroup hosted a Tribal/Native American grantee conference in the Washington, D.C. area.  It was a great conference with the various agencies working together to demonstrate the integration of our programs.  The highlight of the conference was having Chaske Spencer, (Sam Uley, Twilight Saga) as a speaker.

In October, ACF hosted a 2 day training event on “Working in Indian Country” presented by the author of the book of the same title, Larry Keown.  Several members of ACF’s staff, located in both the Washington, D.C. offices and Regional Offices were able to participate in the training and it received overwhelming approval from a majority of attendees.  ANA, is planning to sponsor this same training in Spring 2013 to allow those who were unable to participate in October to attend in the Spring.

Additionally, the Workgroup hosted a couple of Native American Heritage events for the month of November.  These included a presentation on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, given by the Indian Law Resource Center.  (Please see the article, ACF Native American Heritage Month: Celebrating the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.)  Following the presentation was a showing of the movie “Crooked Arrows” and a discussion, led by Sid Jamieson, a former Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse team coach, including a question and answer session.  And finally, the Workgroup hosted a day of storytelling which entailed various canoe stories from representatives of ANA’s four regions.  After the stories there was a native food tasting event of Iroquois corn soup, fry bread, wild rice, pumpkin candy, and blue corn muffins. 

Future activities include a webinar on the ACF Tribal Consultation Policy, preparing for the HHS Annual Tribal Budget Consultation and the ACF Annual Tribal Consultation.  The Workgroup is also looking at how ACF can sponsor additional cultural events specific to Native Americans so we can help ACF staff become more culturally sensitive in their work with Indian Tribes.

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Native American Heritage Month:
Celebrating the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

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On December 16, 2010, President Obama formally announced the US support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.   While the Obama administration must be applauded for its formal support for the UN pronouncement, the journey that led to this landmark Declaration began in 1977, when a few Indian leaders gathered in Geneva to demand recognition for their individual and collective rights.  Thirty years later, their efforts paid off when the UN General Assembly officially adopted the Declaration on September 13, 2007.  These leaders also deserve applause for their courage. 

In recognition of the importance of these rights and their impact on ANA programs, ANA Commissioner, Lillian Sparks, and Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist, Kim Romine organized a briefing on the UN Declaration for ACF staff.  The briefing was conducted by the Indian Law Resources Center on November 9, 2012 in Washington, DC, as part of the commemoration for Native American Heritage month.  Thanks to Robert Coulter, Karla General, and Jana Walker of the Indian Law Center who walked ACF staff through the history of the efforts that led to the Declaration and an overview of the 46 Articles contained in the document.  The Articles cover “Rights” that range from fundamental human rights to education, health, children and youth, economic development,  protecting native women, and the interpretation of these rights.  While the briefing touched upon a broad range of issues, this piece focuses on the Declarations pertaining to language and culture.  These two concepts have been chosen to reflect the overall theme for this newsletter.

Specifically, Article 11 of the UN Declaration recognizes  indigenous peoples right to practice and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs, including the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as  archaeological and historical sites, artifacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies, and visual and performing arts and literature.  In addition, Article 12 of the Declaration recognizes indigenous people’s right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions; and corresponding State obligation to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights.  For the purpose of this Declaration, “States” refer to national governments (countries).  With respect to language, Article 13 of the UN Declaration recognizes the right of indigenous peoples to transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.  Article 14 further recognizes indigenous people’s rights to education in their own languages, including the media and State obligation to provide access to such education.

As these presentations clearly demonstrate, the UN Declaration is a further reaffirmation of the purpose for the “Native American Programs Act of 1974.”  The Articles contained in the Declaration reflect positively on ANA’s goal of promoting self-sufficiency for Native Americans, by providing discretionary grants for community-based projects and training and technical assistance to eligible tribes and native organizations.  From providing grant funding for social and economic development strategies, from providing grants for language and cultural preservation, from providing grant funding for environmental regulatory enhancement,  ANA programs help Native American communities achieve  the goals and aspirations embodied in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The event concluded with the showing of the “CROOKED ARROWS,” a fictional movie featuring the Native American game of lacrosse in modern times.  Prior to the viewing, Mr. Sid Jamieson, the former lacrosse coach for Bucknell University and the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team, provided a historical and traditional perspective to the “Creator’s Game” also known as the game of lacrosse.

ANA deeply appreciates the work of the Indian Law Resource Center, Mr. Jamieson, and other organizations for their contributions to Native Americans and are honored to feature their work in helping American Indian and Alaska Native nations.

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ANA Attends the National Congress of American Indians
Annual Convention

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Commissioner Sparks and staff from ANA attended the National Congress of American Indians Annual Convention in Sacramento, California from Sunday October 21 through Wednesday October 25. Commissioner Sparks provided an update on ACF programs at the Fourth General Assembly on Wednesday, on behalf of Acting Assistant Secretary George Sheldon.

ANA hosted a listening session on Wednesday afternoon to share information and hear from Tribal leaders on the upcoming special competition for economic development, the Sustainable Employment and Economic Development Strategies (SEEDS) competition for Fiscal Year 2013. Many participants provided very thoughtful comments, including how the competition should be focused, reminding us about barriers for small and non-federally recognized tribes, and lastly ideas about how to support grantees once they are funded. We will be taking comments on this until December 01, please read the concept paper on the ANA website.

ANA also participated in a session with the US Small Business Administration (SBA) and the US Department of Treasury, Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) on Building Healthy Economies—What does success look like? In this session Commissioner Sparks shared information on the ACF Asset Building Initiative, a multi-pronged approach to creating economic self-sufficiency through asset building. ANA has been active in helping to promote the ASSET Initiative through the Native Asset Building Initiative as well as promoting ways to help families access more income through the earned income tax credit.

In addition we attended several subcommittee meetings on Education, Human Resources, and Indian Child and Family Welfare.  NCAI has been a strong supporter of the reauthorization of the Esther Martinez Native Languages Preservation Act.  A resolution supporting the reauthorization passed during the Annual Convention, as well as several other resolutions relating to ACF. Please follow this link Visit disclaimer page to see all the resolutions passed by NCAI during the 69th Annual Convention.


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Native American Veterans: Storytelling for Healing

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The Administration for Native Americans (ANA) thanks you for your interest in Native American Veterans:  Storytelling for Healing featuring Native American veterans from World War II, Vietnam, the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.  ANA is proud and excited to offer this valuable resource to your community.

Storytelling for Healing is a website providing resources and a DVD.  The website covers many topics important to Native American veterans, while the DVD includes interviews with individual veterans discussing issues they face today.  The links on our website provide information on: historical perspective with statistics from previous wars; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; the role of ceremony in service and healing; and resources for Native American veterans.  For more details, please follow this link.


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Upcoming TTA Activities

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The ANA Training and Technical Assistance Program is designed to help Native American communities develop and sustain community-based projects supporting Native American language preservation and maintenance, social and economic development strategies, and environmental regulatory enhancement.  ANA supports four regional training and technical assistance centers that offer trainings in project planning and development, application writing, and post award management.  The centers also offer one-on-one technical assistance to Native communities in developing, supporting, and sustaining community-based projects.

Trainings in the Western region are being confirmed now, so please check routinely check ANA’s website for confirmation on these trainings.

Technical Assistance opportunities include pre-application electronic technical assistance on writing your application for ANA funding.  To be eligible for pre-application ETA, applicants must have completed 75% of the ANA application.  Please contact your regional T/TA Provider to register for pre-application ETA.  At the time of registration, please present a letter from your tribe or non-profit organization containing a short summary of the project, description of community involvement, project development, and pre-application trainings attended, and the primary contact. 

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