NORMAN, Okla. – The University of Oklahoma College of Law on March 24 will host the American Indian Law Review’s annual “Indigenous Peoples, Law, and Power Symposium.”
This year’s theme is “Oil and Water.” The symposium is co-sponsored in partnership with the OU’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Native American Studies Department. The event will begin at 10 a.m. in the Dick Bell Courtroom in Andrew M. Coats Hall.
Experts of Native American environmental issues will sit on two panels and give two keynote addresses. The speakers and their topics include:
Morning Panel: “The Chickasaw-Choctaw Compact in Context,” Sara Hill, senior assistant attorney general of the Cherokee Nation, and Taiawagi Helton, professor of law, University of Oklahoma College of Law.
Morning Keynote: “Water Sovereignty and Stewardship: The Historic Chickasaw-Choctaw Water Settlement,” Stephen Greetham, chief general counsel and special counsel on water and natural resources, Chickasaw Nation and Michael Burrage, managing partner, Whitten Burrage Law Firm;
Afternoon Panel: “Justice and Juxtaposition: Environmental Justice and Protest in Parallel,” Taiawagi Helton, professor of law, University of Oklahoma College of Law; and
Afternoon Keynote: “The Impact of Fracking on Indian Nations: A Case Study,” Walter Echo-Hawk, of counsel, Crowe & Dunlevy.
“This year’s “Indigenous Peoples, Law, and Power Symposium” builds upon several dedicated events we have held this year, all of which have focused on the intersection of Native American rights and environmental law,” said OU College of Law Dean Joseph Harroz Jr. “We are honored to host these discussions on such important issues and we’re pleased to have the partnership of OU’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Native American Studies Department as we do so.”
In December 2015, the OU Board of Regents unanimously voted to elevate Native American Studies from a program to department status at the request of OU President David L. Boren. Since 1994, OU’s Native American Studies focus has attracted and served students of diverse backgrounds who are committed to using distinctly Native American perspectives to place the sovereignty of Native nations and the cultures of Native peoples at the center of academic study. In addition to a graduate certificate in American Indian Social Work, the Department offers bachelor’s, master’s, and joint master’s and juris doctorate degrees.
“This is our sixth year to co-host this special event,” said Dr. Amanda Cobb-Greetham (Chickasaw), chair of the Native American Studies Department and director of the newly established Native Nations Center. “Our partnership grows out of our joint M.A./J.D. program, which makes all of our students uniquely competitive. This year’s symposium topic is of critical importance to Native nations and communities. The subject matter is dear to our hearts as it impacts our lands as well as our political and cultural identities.”
WASHINGTON – The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian will host a Teacher Training Institute at the museum in Washington, D.C., this summer as a part of its national education initiative, Native Knowledge 360.
The weeklong teacher training experience will provide foundational information about American Indians and support effective use of a new online interactive lesson “American Indian Removal: What Does It Mean To Remove a People?”
The sessions will focus on the impact of removal on Native Nations before, during and after the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830 under Andrew Jackson’s presidency. Applications are open for middle and high school educators, including classroom teachers, librarians, curriculum or content coordinators and school administrators in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee – the region most affected by removal. Applications will be accepted through April 14.
Native Knowledge 360 inspires and promotes the improvement of teaching and learning about American Indians. The summer institute is a pilot project funded through a Smithsonian Institution Youth Access Grant.
The Teacher Training Institute will take place July 10-14. Each selected educator will receive an honorarium. Participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation and housing. Summer institute participants will take part in scholarly lectures and discussions, tour the museum’s collections and work with staff, Native scholars and education experts throughout the week.
For more information, <a href="http://nmai.si.edu/explore/education/summer-educator-institute/" target="_blank">http://nmai.si.edu/explore/education/summer-educator-institute/</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, the Cherokee Nation’s Education Services will start collaborating with schools inside the tribe’s jurisdiction that have high Native American enrollments on projected expenditures of Every Student Succeeds Act funds.
Derived from a U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant, school districts receive ESSA funds based on their respective numbers of enrolled Native American students.
Ron Etheridge, Education Services deputy executive director, said the dollar amount received per student equates to about $182 per student.
The Obama administration signed the act into law in 2015 as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The law mandates that “schools collaborate with the tribes” and that schools and tribes “sign off that they agree with the projected expenditures,” Etheridge said.
He said the act encompasses “every tribe in the state of Oklahoma and all school districts that receive Title VI money.”
Etheridge said the tribes would have “local control” of funds as long as the schools spend the federally allocated funds for what they are to be used.
“Concerning how that title money is used in the respective districts, it’s used for schools supplies. It’s used k-12 (kindergarten through 12th grade),” he said. “When they (Native students) get older and they require a lot more things it goes in toward technology…you can use it for college and career to get everyone prepped toward the future and life and what they’re going to do. You can guide them there.”
For example, Etheridge said Tulsa school districts are using grant monies on teachers and counselors, known as resource advisors, to visit schools and meet with students for needs such as attendance and grade issues.
According to documents, Education Services is focusing on 17 schools in three counties within the CN jurisdiction that have enrollments of at least 50 percent Cherokee students.
In Adair County, the tribe will collaborate with Cave Springs, Dahlonegah, Greasy, Maryetta, Peavine, Rocky Mountain, Stilwell, Watts, Westville and Zion public schools.
In Cherokee County, the tribe will work with Briggs, CN Head Start, Cherokee Immersion Charter, Sequoyah High, Grand View, Hulbert, Keys, Lowrey, Norwood, Peggs, Shady Grove, Tahlequah and Tenkiller schools.
In Delaware County, the tribe will collaborate with Kenwood and Leach public schools.
Etheridge said the CN and other Oklahoma tribes involved are determined to finalize plans for ESSA funding by the new school year in August.
CLAREMORE, Okla. – An agreement between the Cherokee Nation and city of Claremore worth nearly $20,000 is helping Justus-Tiawah Schools in Rogers County abandon old sewage lagoons in favor of modernizing infrastructure.
CN officials recently provided the Claremore Public Works Authority with $14,750 to help the city extend sewer lines to Justus-Tiawah Schools, which uses a lagoon for the treatment and disposal of sewage.
Tribal Councilor Keith Austin donated another $5,000 from the tribe’s special projects fund. Projects funded through the special projects fund are selected by the Tribal Council and Principal Chief Bill John Baker’s office, and allow the tribe to partner with communities and organizations on projects that benefit both CN citizens and non-Cherokees alike.
“Cherokee Nation remains a good partner in Rogers County for economic growth and community improvement, and no expansion project means more than one which directly benefits a local school and its mission to educate our kids for a better future,” Baker said. “Now, Justus-Tiawah Schools will be able to do more for its students and make significant upgrades to its campus for healthier, happier students.”
Austin said the tribe’s contributions would position the Rogers County school for future growth.
“I am always pleased when I can help find a way to support the schools in District 14. Justus-Tiawah is a school with one of the higher percentages of Cherokee students in the area and has a reputation as a great school. This donation will help put them in a position to grow to meet the needs of the district. I am proud the Cherokee Nation believes in supporting our schools with these kind of investments,” Austin said.
Claremore will tap into an ongoing extension project managed by Cherokee Nation Businesses to run sewer lines to Justus-Tiawah buildings.
Once the city extends sewer lines from the nearby project to the school site, bond funds will aid the school in carrying out other improvements such as connecting to the city’s sewer main and abandoning the lagoons.
Justus-Tiawah Public Schools Superintendent David Garroutte applauded the tribe’s contributions to the school and the impact the funding will have on the future of the campus
“We’re honored to accept this donation from Cherokee Nation, which does so much for public schools. It’s like a shot in the arm,” Garroutte said. “This money helps cover the cost to connect all our buildings to the waste line.”
A second phase of work will result in the removal of lagoons, which would create additional playground space for students of the school, Garroutte said.
WARNER, Okla. – In August, Connors State College opened the doors to its Native American Success and Cultural Center that features Native American art, a computer lab, language repository and study group rooms for students, faculty, staff and the public.
The center is part of a Title III grant program that Connors received in 2014.
“This was a $5 million dollar grant spread over five years. This particular one has two focus areas. It has the Native American Success Center area, and it also has another focus for online hybrid course development,” Gwen Rodgers, Connors Title III project director, said.
Rodgers said Connors developed a “pride model” to help Native students with retention, help them learn about their respective cultures and be “inclusive” of all cultures.
“The center is open to anybody. It is not exclusive to Native Americans. There’s a rumor going around that only Native American students can utilize the center, and we’re trying to dispel that,” Colleen Noble, NASCC director, said. “We want students, the public, faculty, staff to feel comfortable to come and learn about the history, culture, literature, artwork of the Five Civilized Tribes. That’s our focus. We are reaching out to school districts for them to come and be a part of field trips.”
The Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), Chickasaw and Seminole nations were labeled as the Five Civilized Tribes.
Noble said in the center’s cultural section artwork is featured with a majority of it being Cherokee, but it also has Muscogee, Seminole, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Pawnee and Osage artwork. For the grant’s remainder, NASCC officials plan to acquire more art pieces from the Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Cherokee tribes in Oklahoma.
The center also offers cultural activities throughout the year by inviting presenters from different tribes to teach classes such as basket making and moccasin making.
Noble said Connors has a high population of Native American students, and the center is a “stop gap” for them to learn more about their respective cultures and heritages without having to travel to places such as Tulsa, Tahlequah and Muskogee to visit museums.
“We are currently 38 percent Native American students, which is a really good percentage for this area. We are one of the highest Native American populations for the state of Oklahoma for a higher learning institute. The biggest percentage of our students are Cherokee. We have over 900 students who are Native American and out of that over 600 are Cherokee,” Noble said. “We’re able to partner with Cherokee Nation and bring in some really wonderful cultural experts to share their knowledge and skills with our students.”
In the NASCC’s success center section, students learn styles in audio, visual and kinesthetic areas. Kinesthetic learning or tactile learning is where students learn by carrying out physical activities rather than listening to a lecture or watching demonstrations.
Noble said the computers labs have headphones, study rooms have marker and art boards and students can utilize a “spinning chair” to de-stress and re-focus on college studies.
“It is a five-year grant, but it is developed and designed for continuation so that at the end of the five years this doesn’t all stop. It’s institutionalized throughout so that everything we’re doing now will keep going. So Connors will just be stronger because of it. We’re excited to be a part of it,” Rodgers said.
For more information, visit <a href="http://www.connorsstate.edu" target="_blank">connorsstate.edu</a> or call 918-463-6364.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Teacher Enrichment Program recently graduated 28 people who are now certified to teach Cherokee language, culture and history in public schools and communities.
The graduation took place Jan. 31 in the Osiyo Community Room for CTE and Cherokee language teachers who participated in the program for the 2015-2016 school year. The graduates are either teachers or para-professionals who worked with Johnson-O’Malley staff to learn about Cherokee culture, language and history.
Special Projects Coordinator for JOM Tonya Bryant said the CTE program has been in place for eight years. The group that graduated on Jan. 31 is the eighth graduating class, and more than 100 teachers have participated in the program.
“We have affected 75 schools that we (JOM) work with directly. We have probably had 50 of them (schools) with a teacher in this program at some point,” Bryant said. “Once they finish this program, they can continue on to a second year, and it’s Cherokee Language Methods for Teachers where they push a lot of language. They teach the methodology of how to teach the language in schools. We have teachers that have been a part of that for three years now.”
Fifteen men and women in the language program graduated along with 13 CTE graduates.
CTE students take 12 hours of Cherokee history with Dr. Duane King of the Gilcrease Museum, 12 hours of “Culture through Clothing” with Cherokee National Treasure Tonia Weavel and also took courses with Cherokee National Treasures Jane Osti, Martha Berry, David Comingdeer and Noel Grayson. United Keetoowah Band Traditional Keeper Danny McCarter also worked with the participants.
She added the participants also did hands on activities like going out to the woods to dig up wild onions. Students were able to use the Sycamore Springs facility near Locust Grove in Mayes County, which allows CTE participates to explore nature and gather items like wild onions and watercress, which is also a traditional Cherokee food item.
“They take all of this information and then they write lesson plans, and then they go out and teach those lesson plans in their schools, so that our kids get to benefit from this knowledge. They are required to write four lesson plans a year, one for Cherokee language, culture and history and then one they choose,” Bryant said. “They go out and work with their students, and we see that it greatly affects our Cherokee cultural competitions.”
The JOM program annually hosts a Cherokee Challenge Bowl and a Cherokee Language Bowl for area grade schools where student teams compete using Cherokee history, language and culture. An art competition is also held, and Bryant added JOM staff has noticed students use Cherokee stories shared by CTE-certified teachers in the art they create.
“We definitely can see it’s working in our schools,” Bryant said.
CTE Graduate Amicia Craig, 26, of Tahlequah said it means a lot for her to complete the CTE course because it will allow her to share what she has learned with “younger generations.”
Currently, Craig is taking online college courses through Iowa State University and Connors State College in Warner, Oklahoma.
“I’d love to come back home to Tahlequah and teach,” she said. “I learned a lot. There’s stuff that I thought I knew that was wrong.”
She added she took part in the annual “Remember the Removal” bike ride last summer and got to see firsthand many of the historic sites she studied in her CTE history class.
The graduates received a certificate, various teaching items and a traditional Cherokee basket.
“Tonight they will be receiving over $600 worth of items and a beautiful basket made by (Cherokee) National Treasure Thelma Forrest,” Bryant said. “We are able to provide quality resources for the program once they graduate. There are posters, CDs...we just try to equip them to go out and do a great job.”
Principal Chief Bill John Baker said he is glad the CN is able to provide the resources for the Cherokee Teacher Enrichment program to enable the participants to go out and teach proper Cherokee history, culture and language.
“Everybody has talents and skills, but when you take everybody’s and put them together so that each one of these teachers has that knowledge and that ability to pass on that culture, heritage, history and language of the Cherokee people, then it’s just that many more kids we're going to touch and get excited about their heritage and about the Cherokee people, he said.