Arkansas School of Law launches ‘Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative’
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas School of Law scheduled to launch the “Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative” on Jan. 15, making it the nation’s first law school initiative focusing on tribal food systems, agriculture and community sustainability.
The initiative will draw on the nationally recognized expertise of Janie Simms Hipp, who leaves her post as the senior adviser for tribal relations to Thomas Vilsack, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and on that of Cherokee Nation citizen Stacy Leeds, currently the only Native American law school dean in the country. Hipp will serve as director of the initiative and as visiting professor of law.
“I am honored and thrilled to return to my alma mater and to northwest Arkansas to assist the dean, the School of Law and the University of Arkansas in this important endeavor,” Hipp, a Chickasaw Nation citizen, said. “The initiative we are embarking upon will support tribal governments and rural communities throughout our region and the nation in making investments in our nation’s food and energy security. When indigenous communities use their natural resources to create jobs and strengthen local communities, we all benefit.”
Among its strategic plans, the initiative will provide educational and technical assistance to tribal governments, private entities and businesses engaging or entering the food sector.
Other areas of research, service and education will include agriculture, health and nutrition law and policy development, professional training of government and corporate leaders, and the formation of pipeline programs to engage students at the community level and foster them through four-year higher education institutions, law and graduate opportunities.
Hipp is an attorney and graduate of the U of A School of Law’s internationally renowned master of laws program in Agricultural and Food Law, the nation’s only advanced law degree program in agricultural and food law. She is the founder of the USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations in the Office of the Secretary and served two terms on the USDA Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. She also served on two delegations to the United Nations in the areas of women’s issues and indigenous issues.
Leeds is one of five commissioners of the Secretarial Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform, established by Secretary Ken Salazar of the U.S. Department of Interior.
The commission was created to conduct a comprehensive two-year evaluation of the department’s management and administration of nearly $4 billion in American Indian trust assets and to offer recommendations on improvements in the future. She will be honored in February with the American Bar Association’s Spirit of Excellence Award for her contributions to enhancing diversity in the legal profession. “This interdisciplinary initiative plays to the strengths of the university and the law school,” Leeds said. “It will further enrich our highly acclaimed L.L.M. program in Agricultural and Food Law, which has produced many of our nation’s most well-respected agriculture law and policy leaders, including Janie Hipp.”
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Established about five years ago, the Center for American Indians recently underwent restructuring to expand programs while uniting students at Bacone College.
“What we are trying to do basically is combine all of Indian students on campus together so that we’re all more united and we can expand our programs,” Dr. Patti Jo King, CAI director, said.
King, who came from the University of North Dakota in 2013, became CAI director in January and is the interim chair of the college’s American Indian Studies program.
Under new leadership, the CAI has grown to encompass all aspects of Native American students and programs, including coordinating American Indian scholarships, recruiting, overseeing cultural programs and supporting American Indian academic programs and degrees.
“We are on a multipronged program right now to reinvigorate our relationship with the Native American community, which has included discussions with a number of tribes about a more developed relationship we might have with them in terms of providing for their higher education and needs,” Bacone College President Franklin Willis said. “We would like to really get back to our original mission, which is to provide for Native American higher education and have Native American tribes think of Bacone as their private school of higher education.”
Almon C. Bacone, a missionary teacher, founded Bacone College in Muskogee in 1880. He started the school with three students in the Cherokee Baptist Mission at Tahlequah, Indian Territory.
Seeing the need to expand after an increase in the student population, an appeal was made to the Muscogee Creek Tribal Council for 160 acres in Muskogee. The land was granted and in 1885 Indian University was moved to its present site.
In 1910, it was renamed Bacone Indian University after its founder and was later changed to Bacone College. Today, it is a four-year school and has a student body including African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Caribbeans, Caucasians and Asians.
In 1953, Bacone had 170 students with 152 of those students being Native American. In 2013, there were 965 students with 247 being Native American.
Because of those numbers, King said there are people who ask if Bacone College is still a Native school.
“It’s the same as it always has been, we’ve just increased the other people around us,” she said. “It’s a fine place for students because of the teacher-to-student ratio and there’s a lot of one-on-one. We get to know them very well, we’re more like a family.”
At the CAI, which is across from the Native American student dormitory, students can study, play games, watch TV or participate in tribal cultural activities such as arts and crafts, basketry and stickball.
“We have a lot of students from just all over the place and they feel homesick and they need a place to touch base and we try to bring the kids together,” King said. “It helps because they are having an intercultural experience by meeting these other kids and that opens a new world to them, and also we can be there for them and we can help them whenever they need help.”
King said there are also culture clubs students can join while receiving academic credit such as tribal arts and crafts, the drum group and storytelling. A new fire pit was even built behind the center for the storytelling club.
To expand CAI programs, King created a partnership with other departments, including the business, agricultural science and criminal justice departments, so students majoring in those fields could find a way to relate to and include their culture.
“They have a business management degree program and so what we’ve done now is we have a partnership with them so we have a business management degree with an emphasis in American Indian business leadership,” King said.
The CAI has created a Three Sisters Garden Project within the agricultural science department, which will help students create a community garden where they will learn to work together to harvest what they grow. The students will also learn entrepreneurship skills by taking the harvest to farmers markets and grocers.
Stemmed from the Three Sisters Garden Project is a healthy living campaign that focuses on health and community awareness, addressing alcoholism while promoting alcohol awareness. The campaign will also promote tobacco and diabetes awareness.
In the criminal justice department, a program was created to help Native students learn how to deal with tribal border and homeland security issues.
The CAI also created a scholarship, the Alexander Posey Scholarship, which was named after Creek scholar Alexander Posey. The scholarship will benefit up to 100 Native American students. Students who live in dormitories on-campus will be eligible for the full $10,000 scholarship while those who live off campus will be eligible to receive $5,600.
For more information about the CAI, call 918-687-3299.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Hailey Baskeyfield, 10, is a fourth grader at Jackson Elementary School in Norman. She was born with severe health problems causing her to have scoliosis of the spine, as well as missing some ribs, vertebra and part of her brain. She was also declared blind at 6 months old.
She started learning Braille when she was 2 years old. Since then she’s learned other languages in Braille and speech, one of those languages being Cherokee.
Tami Baskeyfield, Hailey’s grandmother, said Hailey was chosen at her school as a child with potential to learn languages at a fast pace.
“Cedric Sunray began teaching her Cherokee, and what they did was they puff painted the syllabary and symbols,” she said. “She learned to read them by touch. He worked with her most of the school year, but only once a week. She took to it very quickly.”
With Hailey’s knowledge of Cherokee, she began entering language competitions, one of those being the 2014 Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair at the Sam Noble Museum in Norman.
At the competition, Hailey told judges the Cherokee names of different objects she picked up from a table located on stage. After that she was instructed to go to the Braille writer, which is the equivalent of a typewriter, and typed specific Cherokee words. Then she went to a basket of index cards that had Cherokee syllables in Braille on them and named 40 of the 86 syllables before running out of time.
Tami said after Hailey won the competition she was able to give the Braille writer its Cherokee name.
“It was put through a panel of linguistics and approved,” she said. “My understanding is theoretically in 150 years from now if they’re talking about the Braille writer in Cherokee, the name she gave it is what it will be called. She named it ‘My Mommy’s Baby.’”
Hailey said she named the Braille writer “My Mommy’s Baby” because she thought it was “pretty cool.”
Aside from competing in Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair, Hailey has competed in the Oklahoma Braille Challenge, is a part of her school’s Gifted and Talented program and Indian Education Program and is a straight-A student.
Tami said she is proud of her granddaughter, but believes “proud” does not even begin to explain how she feels about the challenges Hailey has overcome.
“I’ve had her since birth, and I’ve seen the challenges that she’s been faced with and has overcome,” she said. “I see everything from day one to now and proud is such a wimpy word. It just doesn’t give justice to my feelings for her and what she’s accomplished. It’s beyond pride. I tell her all the time how proud I am and it just seems to always feel like it falls short of what is real.”
The Cherokee syllabary in Braille is a new form to the language. Aside from Hailey and Sunray, the Commonwealth Braille and Talking Book Cooperative are working to help establish the Braille syllabary.
Roy Boney, Cherokee Nation language program manager, said he has been working with the group to help get this new form of the Cherokee language available.
“There’s a system called Unicode, which that’s the digital system that governs how languages are used on computers. Cherokee is in that system. And what they do is they go through and they ensure that every language that’s been encoded into the Unicode has a Braille equivalent,” he said. “So they got to Cherokee and saw that we didn’t have a Braille version and they wanted to make one.”
With the Cherokee syllabary now available in a Braille format, the raised print can now be readily made using special printers.
“It’s neat to see that the Cherokee syllabary has gone through all these changes, not really changes, but it adapts to every type of writing technology there is and this is another form of that for literacy,” he said.
For more information about the Cherokee syllabary in Braille, visit <a href="http://www.cbtbc.org/cherokee" target="_blank">www.cbtbc.org/cherokee</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Gov. Mary Fallin recently appointed Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick to serve on the Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education.
Walkingstick will serve on the 18-member council to make recommendations to the state board of education and the state superintendent of schools on issues affecting Native American students.
“It truly is an honor to receive this appointment from Gov. Fallin. I thank my parents, elders, coaches, custodians and others who were all hands on deck in my life every day at Woodall and Tahlequah Sequoyah. They instilled the value of education at an early age,” Walkingstick said. “The Cherokee Nation has an extensive history of promoting education and culture, and there is proven research that cultural inclusion, which is Native language and culture-enriched curriculum, boosts test scores. It’s very important that our Native American students walk in both worlds.”
Walkingstick serves as the federal programs director for Muskogee Public Schools, overseeing federal funding and compliance for the school district. Walkingstick is also a former teacher and athletic director for Bell Elementary School in Adair County.
“David Walkingstick is a dedicated educator and mentor to students,” Fallin said. “He has been heavily involved in Cherokee Nation issues through his work on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council.”
Walkingstick graduated from Sequoyah High School in 1999 and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and a master’s degree in school administration from East Central University in Ada. He has served on Tribal Council since 2011. He was also named a 2013 “Native American 40 Under 40” recipient by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation and Northeastern State University’s College of Liberal Arts are collaborating to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Cherokee Constitution.
There will be a celebratory symposium at 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 28 at NSU-Tahlequah’s University Center Ballroom. The Cherokee Nation Color Guard will kick off the event. Following, there will be panels discussing the history of the tribe’s 1839 Constitution.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Miriam Jorgensen, will speak during lunch.
Jorgensen is a lecturer for both University of Arizona and Harvard University’s Executive Education programs in Native American Leadership. She also works at George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University as an adjunct professor in Community Development with American Indian Communities.
For more information, email Dr. Diane Hammons at <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Indian Youth Wrestling organization based in Tahlequah is selling T-shirts to raise money for club expenses such as new singlets and equipment.
Cost per shirt is $15 plus $5 for shipping, with an additional option to donate more. The organization’s goal is to sell 50 shirts by Aug. 15. Customers should receive their shirts in the mail around Aug. 29.
To place an order, go to the booster.com website and search for IYW or type in <a href="http://www.booster.com/iyw" target="_blank">www.booster.com/iyw</a>
to be taken directly to the ordering page. Booster.com will ship anywhere around the world.
The organization has set out to provide its children with a strong work ethic, resilience and a sense of responsibility for their own destiny as well as lasting inner-strength and confidence.
For more information, visit <a href="http://www.facebook.com/IndianYouthWrestling/info" target="_blank">www.facebook.com/IndianYouthWrestling/info</a> or email Jillian Girty at <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Applications are being taken by Cherokee Nation Career Services to fill open slots for the 2014 fall semester Registered Nurse Scholarship Program. Applications will continue to be taken until all openings are filled.
Applicants must already be accepted to an associate of applied science in nursing degree program and currently enrolled full time in their respective program.
Students attending private and/or proprietary schools such as Tulsa Tech, ITT, University of Phoenix and Brown Mackie are also not eligible to apply. Students needing to meet general education requirements as well as students pursuing a bachelor’s of science in nursing and/or master’s of science in nursing should contact the College Resource Center for funding assistance at 918-453-5465.
For questions or to request an application, email RN Scholarship Manager Jan Grogan at <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a> or call 918-207-3873.