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  • Popplestone, Ann
    Tribal Colleges Drum Up Students 30,000 Learning Job Skills, Indian Heritage, Culture By Tom Nugent Special to The Washington Post Saturday, April 19, 2003;
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 19, 2003
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      Wash Post article

      Tribal Colleges Drum Up Students
      30,000 Learning Job Skills, Indian Heritage, Culture

      By Tom Nugent
      Special to The Washington Post
      Saturday, April 19, 2003; Page A03

      MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- One of the first things George Roy tells his new Ojibwe students each semester is that they should feel free to call him "Signaak," rather than "Mr. Roy."

      "It means 'Blackbird,' " explains Roy, a veteran Native American Studies instructor at the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College here, about 60 miles north of Lansing. Pronounced SIG-ah-nawk, it is his tribal name. "Among Native Americans, tribal family names are a big part of your identity. And the language is also important -- it's the glue that holds our culture together."

      Like the increasingly popular Ojibwe language courses at Saginaw Chippewa, America's 58 tribal colleges are these days drawing more students than ever before. Created in the late 1960s to provide poverty-ridden reservation Indians with skills for the U.S. job market, the colleges are now educating more than 30,000 full- and part-time students each semester, with most of the campuses located in the Great Plains states and the Southwest.

      While nearly doubling their student enrollment during the past decade, these specialized community colleges -- most award two-year associate degrees -- have also triggered a surge of interest among students in courses dealing with Native American culture, language and art. Seven of the reservation-linked schools have expanded into four-year degree-granting colleges in recent years and several offer master's degrees.

      In addition to addressing cultural issues, many tribal colleges are trying to help the country's 1.5 million reservation-area Indians cope with poverty and unemployment, which is now estimated at 49 percent in many communities.

      The colleges' success is also showing up in how students are prepared for more advanced education. An American Indian Higher Education Consortium survey found that only 10 percent of Native Americans who enter mainstream, four-year colleges and universities directly from high school earn a degree. But the graduation rate jumps to more than 90 percent for those who have first attended a two-year tribal college.

      "Those numbers speak for themselves," said Gerald E. Gipp, executive director of the consortium, a Washington-based advocacy group that represents 34 U.S. tribal colleges. "But the tribal colleges are doing more for their communities than just preparing Indian students to compete in the mainstream. Increasingly, they're helping many Native Americans to rediscover their cultures and relearn their own languages. They're teaching students about native plants and medicines, or traditional tribal arts and crafts. Learning about their own culture gives Indian students a new feeling of empowerment and pride."

      At Saginaw Chippewa, Native American Arts instructor Patrick Collins said many of his students "are interested in regaining their culture. They're drawn to learn about Ojibwa arts and traditions by what we call 'blood memory' -- by the spirit that is inside them and has never been lost. When they learn about drumming or about traditional alabaster sculpture, then they start to feel the excitement of discovering their own buried identities.

      "I remember my first powwow, 15 years ago," said Collins, 28, a Native American. "I'd grown up in Michigan without knowing the [Ojibwe] language or anything about our culture. But then I went to the powwow and I heard the drum. You know, they say the drum is the 'heartbeat of our people.' I heard that, and it gave me goose bumps. My 'blood memory' was starting to return. And this return of memory is what I often see in my students, when we talk in class about Native American arts. I think we're experiencing a renaissance at the tribal colleges -- a rebirth of Indian cultures and values."

      About 20 percent of the students at the colleges are non-Native Americans.
      Although many tribal college administrators say they are primarily focused on helping Native Americans recover their cultural past, others point out that they are determined to build rigorous academic programs for all students, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.

      At Bay Mills Community College in Brimley, Mich. -- an Ojibwa institution that began operations in an abandoned fish-processing plant back in the early 1980s -- President Michael "Mickey" Parish noted that "we do our best to help with these cultural issues -- but we still expect students to do their homework. We require students to meet high academic standards, just like any other college."

      At Bay Mills, with 400 students, the course content shows the strong influence of the surrounding Native American community.

      "A lot of students in my Western Civilization course are surprised to discover that there was a thriving city of 30,000 -- Cahokia -- located in Illinois, back during the 13th and 14th centuries," said Rick Elder, a non-Native American who teaches history. "While Europe was going through the plagues of the medieval period, this group of Mississippians [Indians] had built a sophisticated culture, complete with temples and a priest-based religion.

      "That's the kind of subject matter that makes studying history a little different at a tribal college."
      Although many educators at the tribal colleges said they feel optimistic about the future, some warned that the battle to rescue Indian culture from impending extinction hasn't been won yet.

      "As Native Americans, I don't think we should forget that we're still engaged in a struggle for survival," said Saginaw Chippewa College President Jeffrey L. Hamley. "Preserving the tribal colleges is an equity issue and it's a social justice issue. In many ways, I think Native Americans got left out of the civil rights movement. As a result, we've had to work hard to build institutions that will ensure our self-determination and our identity."

      According to Hamley, the demographic profile of America's tribal college students reflects the social stresses they face. About 65 percent of the students are women, and more than half are single parents. Their average age -- 31.5 years -- is slightly higher than the average age of U.S. community college students, which is 29.

      Like most tribal college and university administrators today, Gipp frets constantly over lack of resources -- and especially over lack of funding from the federal government, which is today providing only $3,912 in tuition assistance per Indian student, rather than the $6,000 per student authorized by Congress under the 1978 law that helped to create the colleges. (As "sovereign nation" institutions, most tribal colleges are ineligible for financial assistance from state and local governments.)

      "The tribal colleges are the most underfunded institutions of higher education in America today," said Gipp, after pointing out that the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of the Interior each year together decide how much of the $6,000-per-student, congressionally authorized funding maximum to actually allocate to the institutions. "We need more resources, if we're going to continue growing and getting better -- and yet the president's latest proposed budget calls for a $4 million cut in federal funds [currently $42 million a year] for the tribal colleges.

      "We need to reach funding parity with all the other colleges and universities across the country."


      Ann Popplestone

      CCC Metro TLC
      216-987-3584

    • Lewine, Mark
      Does anyone know anything about this group of community colleges? Are they in any association? I would like SACC to find a spokesperson to speak with us in
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 21, 2003
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        Wash Post article

        Does anyone know anything about this group of community colleges?  Are they in any association?  I would like SACC to find a spokesperson to speak with us in our next AAA meeting and in Montreal.  Also would like to see AAA and SACC be supportive of their efforts and encourage their membership with us.

        Tribal Colleges Drum Up Students
        30,000 Learning Job Skills, Indian Heritage, Culture
        By Tom Nugent
        Special to The
        Washington Post
        Saturday, April 19, 2003; Page A03

        MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- One of the first things George Roy tells his new Ojibwe students each semester is that they should feel free to call him "Signaak," rather than "Mr. Roy."

        "It means 'Blackbird,' " explains Roy, a veteran Native American Studies instructor at the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College here, about 60 miles north of Lansing. Pronounced SIG-ah-nawk, it is his tribal name. "Among Native Americans, tribal family names are a big part of your identity. And the language is also important -- it's the glue that holds our culture together."

        Like the increasingly popular Ojibwe language courses at Saginaw Chippewa, America's 58 tribal colleges are these days drawing more students than ever before. Created in the late 1960s to provide poverty-ridden reservation Indians with skills for the U.S. job market, the colleges are now educating more than 30,000 full- and part-time students each semester, with most of the campuses located in the Great Plains states and the Southwest.

        While nearly doubling their student enrollment during the past decade, these specialized community colleges -- most award two-year associate degrees -- have also triggered a surge of interest among students in courses dealing with Native American culture, language and art. Seven of the reservation-linked schools have expanded into four-year degree-granting colleges in recent years and several offer master's degrees.

        In addition to addressing cultural issues, many tribal colleges are trying to help the country's 1.5 million reservation-area Indians cope with poverty and unemployment, which is now estimated at 49 percent in many communities.

        The colleges' success is also showing up in how students are prepared for more advanced education. An American Indian Higher Education Consortium survey found that only 10 percent of Native Americans who enter mainstream, four-year colleges and universities directly from high school earn a degree. But the graduation rate jumps to more than 90 percent for those who have first attended a two-year tribal college.

        "Those numbers speak for themselves," said Gerald E. Gipp, executive director of the consortium, a Washington-based advocacy group that represents 34 U.S. tribal colleges. "But the tribal colleges are doing more for their communities than just preparing Indian students to compete in the mainstream. Increasingly, they're helping many Native Americans to rediscover their cultures and relearn their own languages. They're teaching students about native plants and medicines, or traditional tribal arts and crafts. Learning about their own culture gives Indian students a new feeling of empowerment and pride."

        At Saginaw Chippewa, Native American Arts instructor Patrick Collins said many of his students "are interested in regaining their culture. They're drawn to learn about Ojibwa arts and traditions by what we call 'blood memory' -- by the spirit that is inside them and has never been lost. When they learn about drumming or about traditional alabaster sculpture, then they start to feel the excitement of discovering their own buried identities.

        "I remember my first powwow, 15 years ago," said Collins, 28, a Native American. "I'd grown up in Michigan without knowing the [Ojibwe] language or anything about our culture. But then I went to the powwow and I heard the drum. You know, they say the drum is the 'heartbeat of our people.' I heard that, and it gave me goose bumps. My 'blood memory' was starting to return. And this return of memory is what I often see in my students, when we talk in class about Native American arts. I think we're experiencing a renaissance at the tribal colleges -- a rebirth of Indian cultures and values."

        About 20 percent of the students at the colleges are non-Native Americans.
        Although many tribal college administrators say they are primarily focused on helping Native Americans recover their cultural past, others point out that they are determined to build rigorous academic programs for all students, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.

        At Bay Mills Community College in Brimley, Mich. -- an Ojibwa institution that began operations in an abandoned fish-processing plant back in the early 1980s -- President Michael "Mickey" Parish noted that "we do our best to help with these cultural issues -- but we still expect students to do their homework. We require students to meet high academic standards, just like any other college."

        At Bay Mills, with 400 students, the course content shows the strong influence of the surrounding Native American community.

        "A lot of students in my Western Civilization course are surprised to discover that there was a thriving city of 30,000 -- Cahokia -- located in Illinois, back during the 13th and 14th centuries," said Rick Elder, a non-Native American who teaches history. "While Europe was going through the plagues of the medieval period, this group of Mississippians [Indians] had built a sophisticated culture, complete with temples and a priest-based religion.

        "That's the kind of subject matter that makes studying history a little different at a tribal college."
        Although many educators at the tribal colleges said they feel optimistic about the future, some warned that the battle to rescue Indian culture from impending extinction hasn't been won yet.

        "As Native Americans, I don't think we should forget that we're still engaged in a struggle for survival," said Saginaw Chippewa College President Jeffrey L. Hamley. "Preserving the tribal colleges is an equity issue and it's a social justice issue. In many ways, I think Native Americans got left out of the civil rights movement. As a result, we've had to work hard to build institutions that will ensure our self-determination and our identity."

        According to Hamley, the demographic profile of America's tribal college students reflects the social stresses they face. About 65 percent of the students are women, and more than half are single parents. Their average age -- 31.5 years -- is slightly higher than the average age of U.S. community college students, which is 29.

        Like most tribal college and university administrators today, Gipp frets constantly over lack of resources -- and especially over lack of funding from the federal government, which is today providing only $3,912 in tuition assistance per Indian student, rather than the $6,000 per student authorized by Congress under the 1978 law that helped to create the colleges. (As "sovereign nation" institutions, most tribal colleges are ineligible for financial assistance from state and local governments.)

        "The tribal colleges are the most underfunded institutions of higher education in America today," said Gipp, after pointing out that the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of the Interior each year together decide how much of the $6,000-per-student, congressionally authorized funding maximum to actually allocate to the institutions. "We need more resources, if we're going to continue growing and getting better -- and yet the president's latest proposed budget calls for a $4 million cut in federal funds [currently $42 million a year] for the tribal colleges.

        "We need to reach funding parity with all the other colleges and universities across the country."

         

        Ann Popplestone

        CCC Metro TLC
        216-987-3584



        Be sure to check out the SACC web page at www.anthro.cc  (NOTE THE NEW ADDRESS!!) for meeting materials, newsletters, etc.

        Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
      • Dianne.Chidester@kctcs.edu
        Mark, Here s the address for the community college: BIA Rd 700 PO Box 689 Sisseton, SD 57262 Ph. (605) 698-3966 Fax. (605) 698-3132 I couldn t find George
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 21, 2003
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          Wash Post article

          Mark,

           

          Here's the address for the community college:

           BIA Rd 700
          PO Box 689
          Sisseton, SD 57262

          Ph. (605) 698-3966
          Fax. (605) 698-3132

           

          I couldn't find "George Roy" or "Signaak" on the faculty list.  All of the "hits" on yahoo were about this article. -- Dianne

           

           

          Dianne Lynn Chidester, M.A., Assistant Professor

          Social & Behavioral Sciences

          Jefferson Community College SW

          1000 Community College Drive

          Louisville, KY  40272

           

          (502) 213-7354

           

           

        • Popplestone, Ann
          Archaeologists on the Block? Park Service May Ax Its Experts in Outsourcing Initiative By Guy Gugliotta Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, July 15, 2003;
          Message 4 of 4 , Jul 15, 2003
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            Wash Post article

            Archaeologists on the Block?
            Park Service May Ax Its Experts in 'Outsourcing' Initiative

            By Guy Gugliotta
            Washington Post Staff Writer
            Tuesday, July 15, 2003; Page A17

            The Bush administration is considering privatizing archaeological oversight of hundreds of national parks and landmarks and firing the National Park Service archaeologists who for decades have been charged with protecting their historic value and cultural heritage.

            The administration says turning over the archaeology jobs to private contractors could save money, but critics charge that contractors are ill-equipped to cope with an array of endemic challenges, including influential outsiders trying to dictate Park policy, chronic congressional underfunding and serious personnel shortages that Park Service archaeologists mitigate by using thousands of volunteers -- an option not open to a private company.

            And that says nothing about the institutional memory, experience and public trust that would be squandered, said Ron Tipton, senior vice president of the National Parks Conservation Association, a citizens' group that closely monitors the Park Service: "This is an agency that to some degree is respected and even loved."

            Under an administration initiative first elaborated two years ago and modified several times since, the Park Service must decide by year's end whether to keep intact its Midwest Archaeological Center in Lincoln, Neb., and its Southeast Archaeological Center, in Tallahassee, or offer most of the jobs for bid to outside contractors.

            The two centers between them employ fewer than 100 archaeologists, but with the help of volunteers, cooperative agreements with universities and their own outsourcing, they supervise the care, protection and promotion of national heritage resources at 122 national parks and 780 national historical landmarks in 22 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

            At Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee, archaeologists from the Southeast Center are hurrying to excavate a 1,000-year-old Indian burial mound even as it washes into the Tennessee River. To accomplish this, the investigators must work around the graves of Civil War soldiers who were killed on the mound during the Battle of Shiloh in 1862 and buried on the spot.

            At Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, Midwest Center archaeologists have led a 20-year project to study land use by Native Americans going back 9,000 years, and have used oral history, archives and excavation to document the movement of individual Chippewa families since the 1700s.

            Besides working in their own areas, the centers also provide assistance and do outside work of their own for other government agencies on projects as varied as reevaluating the Little Big Horn site of Custer's Last Stand and conducting forensic investigations of the remains of pilots and aircraft found in Vietnam.

            The privatization plan is part of a "competitive sourcing" initiative outlined by President Bush in the summer of 2001. Under the plan, agencies must submit 15 percent of their jobs to competition with the private sector. The goal is to achieve savings for the federal government through "efficient and effective competition between public and private sources," the agenda says.

            The quota for the Interior Department is about 5,000 jobs, with the biggest piece -- 1,708 jobs -- coming from the Park Service, the agency's largest employer. Donna Kalvels, the Park Service's competitive sourcing coordinator, said that more than 11,000 of the Park Service's 19,000 jobs were deemed not "inherently governmental" and therefore subject to the initiative.

            The Park Service outsourced its first 859 jobs by "direct conversion" of vacant positions and upcoming "new work," Kalvels said, but the rest are to come from five places, including 45 jobs from the Midwest Center and 50 from the Southeast Center.

            The diversity of the center's portfolios is one reason the centers may end up on the auction block, she said. Since the centers do project work funded by other federal agencies, "budget people complain that they are taking work from the private sector," she said. "This process will put that argument to rest."

            Since last fall, the centers' staffs have helped outside consultants put together detailed descriptions of what each facility does, a tedious exercise that has seriously sapped morale, say center archaeologists. Now the staffs must try to make the case that they can do the work better and cheaper than an outside contractor.

            "You could call it a bitter pill," said the Midwest Center's Douglas Scott, lead investigator in the Little Big Horn study and an internationally known expert on battlefield archaeology. Last September, Scott received the Distinguished Service Award, the Interior Department's highest decoration, and "two weeks later our outsourcing study begins and they're asking, 'Are you really necessary?' "

            Once the centers finish their plans, they will be compared to similar private-sector contracts. If the center's plan costs less, the jobs stay in-house. If the center's cost is higher, the jobs are put out for bid. Kalvels, the subject of much criticism as the Park Service official in charge of overseeing the outsourcing initiative, nevertheless said "we are feeling we can win most of these."

            Why the centers were chosen in the first place has remained a mystery to many of those most intimately involved. John E. Ehrenhard, superintendent at the Southeast Center, noted that the centers "have been so underfunded and so understaffed for so long, that we've had to learn to be efficient. This whole idea is almost laughable, and it's an insult."

            In an effort to find out how the centers came to be targeted, Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-Neb.), whose district includes the Midwest Center archaeologists, demanded that the Interior Department produce the "feasibility study" or "assessment" that led the Park Service to its decision.

            J. Scott Cameron, deputy assistant secretary for performance and management, noted in a May 30 reply that archaeology is the "fourth most commercial activity" in the Park Service, and that the centers employ large clusters of archaeologists in one place. Kalvels acknowledged that "we did the arithmetic" and settled on the centers.

            Bereuter concluded that the initiative was driven strictly by quotas -- "a very arbitrary decision," he said: "On a job-by-job basis there are firms that could do this work, but you're not going to have the institutional history, archives and resources. This will destroy centers of expertise that can never be reassembled."

            Even more important, added Ehrenhard, "you lose the watchdog function."
            Park Service archaeologists are nonprofit-oriented, he said, and have the full weight of the U.S. government behind whatever decisions they make: "We do what's in the best interests of the public, which is not always in the best interests of some developer and may not make the most sense economically," Ehrenhard said. "But we're the government, and we can't be bought."

            © 2003 The Washington Post Company

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            Ann Popplestone

            CCC Metro TLC
            216-987-3584

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