Student Blogger Ulrick: Songs of Tribute Echo in Laughter

Over the past month I’ve been stressed with the load of late homework because I’m a professional procrastinator, and cramming studying for finals. I had completely forgotten about my personal duties. The anxiety weighed heavier on me than in previous semesters, but at the same time I liked it. “Working well under pressure” is what I heard from my instructors a lot, and at the moment I thought it was foolish and stupid, but as it all died down I was proven wrong. I did actually enjoy the feeling but I hope to never have to do it again because it helped me to love and cherish time with family, and friends.

I somehow managed to rekindle old friendships, but regrettably, I missed my godmother’s one-year death anniversary. To be honest, I’m not too good with that kind of stuff. My family had asked that some of us, her children and godchildren, write something and share it with everyone that day. I couldn’t find the words; I felt that anything I’d say wouldn’t do her memory justice because she had done so many great things for our family and our community. Every time I saw her, even in passing, it was like there was the brightest aura around her, and her energy was so strong that even if we didn’t hug it still felt like she had given me one. She is and will be dearly missed.

During this time felt a “push,” both metaphorically and physically. This burst of motivation, to which I hadn’t known where it came from, was very overwhelming. I sought out help from a makai (medicine person.) He didn’t tell me anything new but reassured me that what I was feeling was pure, and possibly from my godmother. It felt amazing. And he said I was also possibly getting support from my friends, family, and even community members I didn’t know! This had never happened to me, to be acknowledged by people, it feels really great.

I still felt I had to give some sort of tribute to my godmother. I don’t follow the Catholic religion like she did, and didn’t want it to be forced, so I did it in the fashion that felt natural to me. I asked one of my best friends, Ivan, to help me sing some of our traditional songs for her. These songs are usually sung with a gourd rattle and animal skin drum. Without hesitation he said yes. We invited some of our friends from the current and former youth council to come out and sing. I feel most comfort in saying prayers through our songs because the songs themselves are prayers. When singing you have the same mindset of praying: you have a clear mind, pray for everyone including the land, plants, and animals; and pray for everyone in the world.

Before we began we all met up and the laughter seemed to echo, bouncing from mountain to mountain. It felt so good to see everyone again. The jokes poured and delayed the songs for a bit, but that didn’t matter. Someone said “Oh man, that O’odham humor!” It set the tone for the night. I explained the reason why I wanted their help in singing these songs and it seemed to fit perfect for everyone. They too felt it was something they needed as well; they needed to give thanks and prayers. Ivan, being the lead singer, asked if there were any requests for songs in specific, but we were rusty, and I didn’t want to call for a song so I let him sing whatever he wanted to share, though I hoped he would sing the “Milky Way” song, a song that if I knew by heart I would sing for my beloved godmother. Midway through he sang it, and it felt really good, like it was a personal dedication to her. I don’t know how long we were sitting on top of the hill singing songs, but just judging by our freezing hands, it was no less than two hours.

The night could not end with one final laugh: all six of us crammed into a black 2008 Chevy Impala with chrome trimming, two in the front and three in the back with Ivan lying across us, and the chairs we had brought. We looked really cool, but when we left, the car scraped the ground because the back seat was carrying a heavy load. We dropped off the chairs at the youth council office, even that was a heavy task because it was so cold that nobody wanted to get down after we all had warmed up by huddling together, so it made a simple job even harder to do. It began with everyone laughing and ended the same way. The only thing that would’ve been even better is if we all had enough money to pitch in to order burgers.

This day had me wondering what others do in similar situations. Do they give thanks? Say prayers? Making a spiritual connection? I’d love to see or hear how others handle things like that.

 

Welcome Our Guest Student Blogger!

Meet Ulrick Francisco, a social services major from Sells, Ariz. attending Tohono O’Odham Community College. Ulrick will join us for the next year as a contributing blogger on the Think Indian Blog.

Ulrick was inspired to earn his degree in his hometown through service with Tohono O’Odham Community Action, AmeriCorps, and an internship as a photographer. He currently spends his time working in the campus library and working as a custodian in Sells. He is also serving as the student senate president and makes time to frequent the multiple campuses at TOCC. Ulrick finds inspiration in his enjoyment of punk-rock music and from friends spending time doing community work with the younger and elder generations among his tribe. He says this is what helps him stay in touch with his culture.

Ulrick dreams of sustainable agriculture and living for his tribe (and other tribes) and has a particular interest in food, gardening, and how agriculture promotes healthier eating in his community. He says he has much to learn before he can be the ideal member of society he wishes to be. Motivated by seeing how other tribal colleges represent other tribes’ sustainability, Ulrick realized college teaches him the most about how he can be proactive to create sustainable living for his people.

Ulrick created the video below about leadership earlier this year. Please help us welcome Ulrick and leave a comment!

Crazy Bull: Why Tribal Colleges and Universities Matter

The 2013 tribal college presidents in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building.

The week of November 18-22, 2013 was declared National Tribal Colleges and Universities Week through a U.S. Senate Resolution presented by North Dakota Senators Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven, sponsored by 17 Senators and adopted by the Senate on November 14.

Tribal Colleges and Universities are remarkable institutions serving over 80% of Indian Country with 37 colleges that have 75 campuses.  Twenty thousand American Indian, Alaska Native, and non-native students attend these institutions in some of the most rural and remote areas in the United States.  Despite historical oppression of educational access and an extreme lack of adequate resources, Tribal Colleges and Universities graduate teachers, business leaders, nurses, and environmental scientists.  They lead the Nation in the development of programs focused on food sovereignty and wellness.  They promote the cultural and place-based knowledge of tribal people with inclusive and accessible resources and community outreach.

Why do Tribal Colleges and Universities matter?  Often we think back to the early days of the tribal college movement when our insightful and activist elders, spiritual leaders, and educators first began the journey that resulted in the successful tribal colleges of today.  In those days, our relatives aspired to at least be able to have their own people have an education beyond high school.  Their vision included workforce education and training as well as programs that taught the professional skills needed for tribal people to be in the jobs that existed on our reservations – the school teachers, health care providers, and the managers in the government offices.  They believed that tribal colleges could provide this training and education while being true to the tribal knowledge that they knew they had – the knowledge that come from the traditional ways, languages, and kinship of the people.

First class of baccalaureate graduates of Dine College, which marked its 30th Anniversary in 1998 as the oldest tribal college. Graduation day May 15, 1998. photo by John Running


Once Tribal Colleges and Universities were founded, the doors to the intellect and passion of tribal people were flung open, and streaming through those doors came all of the pent-up desires of the people for their own education, their own languages to be taught, and for their own people to be the teachers.  Suddenly the founders and the staff and students of the Tribal Colleges had no boundaries – their aspirations soared on the prayers of the people and the dreams of students and their families.  As the founder of Sinte Gleska University, Stanley Red Bird, Sr., often said, “this is the way it must be,” acknowledging that the Tribal Colleges had no choice but to be everything to the people they served.

Literally thousands of Indigenous people suddenly had access to an education of their own making – they could go to school with each other, in safe places, learning what they needed to know to take care of themselves and their families, and to manage and grow the resources of their Tribes.

Tribal Colleges and Universities matter because without them the dream of a college education is elusive, even impossible for many Tribal people to imagine.  Without Tribal Colleges and Universities, we would have fewer Native teachers, counselors, entrepreneurs, or scientists.  Without Tribal Colleges and Universities there would be fewer Native Studies and Native Language programs.  Research based in the knowledge of place-based peoples would be limited and the significant contributions of Native people to ecological and environmental knowledge, to science, human services, criminal justice, counseling, and health would be practically unknown.

Tribal Colleges and Universities are evidence of the ability of Tribal people to dream, design, and lead their own educational institutions.  They are evidence of our cultural and intellectual knowledge and of the strength of our vision with the help of the Creator.

Tribal Colleges and Universities matter to every student who ever walked through the door – to sign up for one class or many, to finish part of the semester or to walk across the stage with a degree.  A formal education was not taken for granted by our ancestors who have gone before us, by the founders of the tribal college movement or by the students of today.  A Tribal College education is a dream come true.

Manuutuli at her graduation from Northwest Indian College May 2012.

Tribal College Brings Tradition to Life

Between July 15 and August 2, Leech Lake Tribal College held a Community Birch Bark Canoe Building Project. Community members created a 16-foot, late 1800s traditional wiigwaasi-jiimaan (birch bark canoe) from start to finish with Ojibwe language being taught and used throughout the process. See more photos (and like their page) on Facebook.com

Here is the story published in their Summer 2013 Wiindamaage (prounounced ween-duh-mah-gay) newsletter.

For some participants it is a science project, while some see it as a work of art, and others as a living history lesson – and they are all correct. Jim Jones, a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, is leading a month-long project to teach people about the art and science of building a wiigwaasi-jiimaan, the traditional birch bark canoe used by the Anishinaabeg for hundreds of years.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, in conjunction with the Leech Lake Tribal College com­munity education program.

Work began in mid-July, as Jones led the group to various areas on the reservation where the necessary birch bark, spruce roots, and cedar timber can be harvested. Temperatures that soared past 90 degrees and Minnesota’s ever-present deer flies gave participants a taste of some of the challenges that come with building a canoe in the old way.

With the raw materials in hand, the group set up shop on the LLTC campus and learned how to properly handle the birch bark to keep it from curling or splitting; how to treat the roots that are used for lacing the canoe in order to keep them soft and pliable, and how to split and finish the cedar logs that become the ribs and wales of the canoe. In addition to being a talented craftsman, Jones is a natural storyteller. His expla­nations of the canoe building process includes information on the mathematics and engineering behind the lightness and stability of the wiigwaasi-jiimaan, but also touch on the history and tradition of the craft as well as his own learning experiences. “This is the sixth canoe I’ve built, and every one is different,” says Jones. “When you’re working with all natural materials you don’t have perfect uniformity, but that’s also what gives each canoe it’s own character and identity.”

While a core group of about 10 workers has done the lion’s share of the work, nearly 150 people have participated in the project to date. Participants have ranged in age from preschool children all the way to elders in their 80s, and included local residents and tourists alike.

Once the canoe is completed, it will be feasted and formally given to Leech Lake Tribal College, where it will be kept. While it will add beauty to the LLTC cam­pus, this will also be a functional work of art, and it will be used to harvest manoomin (wild rice. Each year LLTC has a class teaching people how to harvest rice and finish it in the old way. With the addition of this canoe, people will be able to participate in the entire ricing process in much the same way that it was done centuries ago, bringing art, science, and history together in perfect harmony.

Photo by Vincent Walter/vincentseye.com

 

Guiding Our Destiny with Heritage and Tradition

DOUBLE YOUR DONATION! In honor of Native American Heritage Month, a generous supporter has offered to match ALL gifts up to $100,000!

November is Native American Heritage Month and the theme this year is “Guiding our Destiny with Heritage and Tradition.”

American Indians have made immeasurable contributions to our nation’s heritage and there are countless reasons to celebrate.  You can celebrate with us by visiting our website often this month for fascinating articles, fun activities, delicious recipes, and exciting blog posts from guest writers.

Also, in the midst of this celebration please remember that for American Indians celebrating their heritage isn’t confined to one month. American Indians are striving to keep their wonderful culture and customs alive every day of every year!

And we have an additional reason to celebrate this month! A generous donor has agreed to match any gift, dollar-for-dollar, made to the American Indian College Fund between now and November 15th, up to $100,000, helping to send even more students to college.

Even as we celebrate, we remember just how important it is to continue our work together to ensure that American Indian students have the help they need to lift themselves and their communities through receiving a college education.  We all know education is the bridge from poverty to sustainable self-sufficiency and American Indians living on reservations face harsh realities in life: devastating poverty, lack of educational opportunities, and unemployment rates as high as 90%.  This reality exists 365 days a year.

So this November, we at the College Fund challenge you to support American Indian students… and learn more about the unique and special American Indian culture that has enriched our lives throughout our nation’s history.

DOUBLE YOUR DONATION! In honor of Native American Heritage Month, a generous supporter has offered to match ALL gifts up to $100,000! Please do what you can to help us by November 15! DONATE HERE: https://community.collegefund.org/pages/native_heritage_month_2013

Flame of Hope Gala Honors Victory

The American Indian College Fund took over the ice rink at the old Depot to host its annual Flame of Hope Gala to celebrate its victories in educating the mind and spirit of Native people. Donors met the students that benefit from their generosity, enjoyed a live art performance and entertainment by Native musicians and dancers, and pledged their commitment to the next 25 years of success. Thank you for your support and commitment to Indian Education as we enter our 25th year.  Please enjoy a small glimpse of the imagery captured by the American Indian College Fund media specialist Jaime T Aguilar.

 

Annual Flame of Hope Fundraising Gala Raises More than $400,000 to Benefit Native Education

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The American Indian College Fund is projected to raise $550,000 support Native student scholarships at its 18th annual Flame of Hope Gala, held on October 10 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Proceeds will benefit Native education.

Native artist Steven Paul Judd (Kiowa/Choctaw) created a painting live at the event, which was awarded to the donor providing the largest gift. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Tribe took the painting for their donation of $50,000. A silent auction including art by the nation’s top Native artists, and entertainment by Native musicians, including classical guitarist Gabriel Ayala and the dance and music group Brulé, were featured. Haskell Indian Nations University alumnus Dominic Clichee spoke during the program.

The American Indian College Fund honored the Northwest Area Foundation of Minneapolis for funding a $1 million, one-year Tribal College Leaders in Community Innovation Award, providing financial assistance for tribal college programs impacting local communities at Leech Lake Tribal College in Minnesota; Sitting Bull College in North Dakota; Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota; Stone Child College in Montana; and Northwest Indian College in Washington State.

We thank the 37 individual, corporate, foundation, and tribal nation sponsors that made this year’s Flame of Hope Gala a tremendous success. Flame of Hope Sponsor: USA Funds. Keeper of the Flame Sponsor: Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota. Vision of Hope Sponsors: The CocaCola Company, Comcast NBC Universal , Lannan Foundation, Nissan North America, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. Circle of Hope Sponsors: Anheuser-Busch Companies, AT&T, The Richard Black Family: Richard, Heather, Kara, and Erica, Ford Motor Company Fund & Community Services; McDonald’s Corporation, Target Corporation, Travelers, UPS Foundation, US Bank, Walmart Foundation, Wieden + Kennedy. Spirit of Giving Sponsors: CBS Corporation, FedEx, Grotto Foundation, Jenzabar, Mattel, Peskoff Foundation, The Tierney Family Foundation, United Health Foundation. Visionary Sponsors: Amergent, Kimberly S. Blanchard, Dine College, Kauffman and Associates, Inc., Leech Lake Tribal College, National Indian Gaming Association, MAG Mechanical. Ignite the Flame Sponsors: Aramark, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, College of the Muscogee Nation, Northwest Indian College.

Photos

Apple mobile device users: please click here to see the photos on Flickr.com

Entertainment

Gabriel Ayala
AyalaNEWPRPHOTO2.jpgA member of the Yaqui people of Southern Arizona, guitarist Gabriel Ayala is an accomplished classical musician. Ayala earned a master’s degree in music performance from the University of Arizona in 1997, has taught at all educational levels from elementary through college, and
serves as a competition adjudicator. Although he enjoys being a teacher, his touring schedule allows him to only teach in Master Class settings.Ayala performs regularly throughout the United States and internationally. He has appeared at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National Museum of the American Indian, Musical Instrument Museum and the Oscar Meyer Theater in Madison, Wisconsin. Recently, he was a featured artist at President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Ball. >>Read More about the artist

Steven JuddPH1_0024_Edit.jpg

Steven Judd is an artist and writer. As a member of the Writers Guild of America, Judd has written many series and movie shorts, and was a semifinalist in NBC/Universal’s Comedy Short Cuts Diversity Film Festival in 2007. His work has also been included in an installment at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. In 2008, Judd was selected for the Disney/ABC Writing Fellowship Program with ABC/Disney. In 2009 Judd was nominated as a Distinguished Alumni for the University of Oklahoma, where he spoke as part of the Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series.  Steven Judd will be creating a painting live at the American Indian College Fund’s 2013 Flame of Hope Gala for auction. The proceeds will benefit Native student scholarships.

>>Read More about the artist

Brulé
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Paul LaRoche, adopted at birth off the Lower Brule Sioux Indian Reservation, discovered his heritage in 1993 after the death of both adoptive parents. He was reunited in 1993 with a brother, sister, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. The discovery of his true heritage influenced Paul to turn his feelings to humanitarian causes through music. In 1995, out of recognition for his tribe, Paul introduced his recording name as Brulé. Paul was selected as a musical ambassador and speaker for the 2000 UN Peace Conference held in The Hague Center for Peace.
Brulé has become one of the top-selling Native American recording artists with more than one million CDs sold worldwide. Brulé was also awarded the 1999 Outstanding Musical Achievement Award by The First Americans in the Arts, 2002 Group of the Year & Best Instrumental Recording Native American Music Awards (NAMMA), 2003 Best Instrumental Recording for Night Tree By Nicole with Brule (NAMMA), 2006 Group of the Year for Tatanka (NAMMA), 2007 Group of the Year for Silent Star Night and Best New Age Recording for Kinship (NAMMA), and 2008 Group of the Year for Lakota Piano II (NAMMA).

Our Partners:

Thank You to Our 2013 Flame of Hope Gala Silent Auction Contributors:

  • Timothy H. Terry (Akimel O’Odham)
  • Cara Romero (Chemehuevi Indian Tribe)
  • Judy Gould
  • Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
  • Bobby Bales (Taos Pueblo)
  • Andrew and Gladys Pacheco (Santo Domingo Pueblo)
  • Daniel B. Ramirez (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe)
  • Waya’ aisiwa Gary Keene (Acoma Pueblo)
  • David Gary Suazo (Taos Pueblo)
  • Than Povi Fine Art Gallery
  • Geraldine Tso (Navajo)
  • Todd Lone Dog Bordeaux (Sicangu Lakota Tribe)
  • C.J. Shije (Zia/Acoma Pueblo)
  • Lou Thoumann
  • >>see more

 

American Indian College Fund Annual Flame of Hope Fundraising Gala Raises More than $400,000 to Benefit Native Education

American Indian College Fund Annual Flame of Hope Fundraising Gala
Raises More than $400,000 to Benefit Native Education

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Please click here to see more photos on Flickr.com

 

The American Indian College Fund is projected to raise $550,000 support Native student scholarships at its 18th annual Flame of Hope Gala, held on October 10 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Proceeds will benefit Native education.

Native artist Steven Paul Judd (Kiowa/Choctaw) created a painting live at the event, which was awarded to the donor providing the largest gift. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Tribe took the painting for their donation of $50,000. A silent auction including art by the nation’s top Native artists, and entertainment by Native musicians, including classical guitarist Gabriel Ayala and the dance and music group Brulé, were featured. Haskell Indian Nations University alumnus Dominic Clichee spoke during the program.

The American Indian College Fund honored the Northwest Area Foundation of Minneapolis for funding a $1 million, one-year Tribal College Leaders in Community Innovation Award, providing financial assistance for tribal college programs impacting local communities at Leech Lake Tribal College in Minnesota; Sitting Bull College in North Dakota; Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota; Stone Child College in Montana; and Northwest Indian College in Washington State.

We thank the 37 individual, corporate, foundation, and tribal nation sponsors that made this year’s Flame of Hope Gala a tremendous success. Flame of Hope Sponsor: USA Funds. Keeper of the Flame Sponsor: Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota. Vision of Hope Sponsors: The CocaCola Company, Comcast NBC Universal , Lannan Foundation, Nissan North America, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. Circle of Hope Sponsors: Anheuser-Busch Companies, AT&T, The Richard Black Family: Richard, Heather, Kara, and Erica, Ford Motor Company Fund & Community Services; McDonald’s Corporation, Target Corporation, Travelers, UPS Foundation, US Bank, Walmart Foundation, Wieden + Kennedy. Spirit of Giving Sponsors: CBS Corporation, FedEx, Grotto Foundation, Jenzabar, Mattel, Peskoff Foundation, The Tierney Family Foundation, United Health Foundation. Visionary Sponsors: Amergent, Kimberly S. Blanchard, Dine College, Kauffman and Associates, Inc., Leech Lake Tribal College, National Indian Gaming Association, MAG Mechanical. Ignite the Flame Sponsors: Aramark, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, College of the Muscogee Nation, Northwest Indian College.

Our Partners:

Thank You to Our 2013 Flame of Hope Gala Silent Auction Contributors:

  • Timothy H. Terry (Akimel O’Odham)
  • Cara Romero (Chemehuevi Indian Tribe)
  • Judy Gould
  • Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
  • Bobby Bales (Taos Pueblo)
  • Andrew and Gladys Pacheco (Santo Domingo Pueblo)
  • Daniel B. Ramirez (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe)
  • Waya’ aisiwa Gary Keene (Acoma Pueblo)
  • David Gary Suazo (Taos Pueblo)
  • Than Povi Fine Art Gallery
  • Geraldine Tso (Navajo)
  • Todd Lone Dog Bordeaux (Sicangu Lakota Tribe)
  • C.J. Shije (Zia/Acoma Pueblo)
  • Lou Thoumann
  • >>see more

 

College of Menominee Nation Big Day in Pre-K

College of Menominee Nation’s (CMN) Sacred Little One’s project hosts an early childhood teacher institute on their campus in the Community Technology Center. Twenty-two lead teachers from the Menominee Nation’s Head Start programs are spending a day with a Scholastic trainer to be introduced to their new pre-K curriculum, Big Day in Pre-K. The Scholastic Big Day in Pre-K curriculum – a literacy based program – was selected by the Menominee Nation’s Head Start policy council with input from families and CMN faculty. Early childhood education faculty from CMN will work closely with the Menominee Nation’s Head Start to implement the Big Day in Pre-K curriculum. The second day of the teacher institute will focus on integrating the recently developed literacy book kits (developed by CMN early childhood students), with the goal of infusing Menominee culture and language into early childhood education instruction and align cultural curriculum with the scientifically-based chosen curriculum, Big Day in Pre-K.

Sacred Little Ones program event brings tribal educators to Lummi

By Shelley Macy, NWIC Early Childhood Education Director

On June 7, Lummi elders and community leaders, along with the Northwest Indian College Early Childhood Wakanyeja Sacred Little Ones (WSLO) program, welcomed WSLO teams from the College of the Menominee Nation (CMN-Wisconsin), Ilisagvik College (IC-Alaska), and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI-New Mexico) to the annual WSLO convening at the Silver Reef Casino.

All four colleges receive support funds from the American Indian College Fund’s “Wakanyeja ‘Sacred Little Ones’ –Tribal College Readiness and Success by Third Grade Initiative.”  The Wakanyeja project is generously funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The purpose of the project is to create innovative, tribally-based activities and solutions that improve early childhood education and empower families and communities to create better education for their children.

Read More

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