Stacy Leeds

Arkansas School of Law launches ‘Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative’

Stacy Leeds Janie Simms Hipp
Stacy Leeds
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/06/2013 08:09 AM
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.”

Education

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter – @cp_wchavez
08/22/2016 08:15 AM
BROKEN ARROW, Okla. – Broken Arrow High School student Jacob Taylor has a heart for mission work to help the less fortunate and recently helped solve a food problem for children in Kenya, Africa. The 17-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen, and four other Broken Arrow students who are part of the school’s InvenTeam, traveled to Kenya in June to share research that is helping children living in an orphanage improve their diets. “It all began with my teacher, and she had a connection with this man named Bill Lester who lives in Oklahoma City, who went to Broken Arrow High School back in the (19)60s. He has a big heart for missions and mission work, and he began an orphanage named Generations Children’s Home,” he said. The home is located in central Kenya and accepts orphans and children whose parents could no longer afford to raise them. “The problem with a lot of kids in this region is that they don’t get enough protein in their diet. My environmental science teacher has been teaching on subjects like this. She knew about the issue of protein deficiency in children, so she decided she wanted to try out this new trend going on in east Africa called aquaponic systems or artificial ponds for fish,” Taylor said. Four years ago, environmental science teacher Donna Gradel took Broken Arrow students to Kenya and built 20-foot-by-40-foot ponds and a greenhouse. The ponds were used to raise tilapia fish to help solve the protein deficiency. “But it became a problem because the fish food they were purchasing from town cost about $3 or $4 a day to feed all the fish, in this region where people make less than a dollar a day. So the problem was how expensive it was and the sustainability of that kind of fishery because it (fish food) was being shipped from China. It (fish food) was filled with tons of non-natural ingredients for the tilapia to eat like...ground-up pieces of dead fish,” Taylor said. “Plus that food was being shipped 1,000 miles from China, and it just cost too much to get there.” In 2014, Gradel attended a seminar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge after she submitted an idea for producing less costly fish food for tilapia farms. “She came back and we had to write a grant proposal to MIT by October (2014) for all the things we were going to build and what we were going to do and why it was important,” Taylor said. “We decided we were going to make a new kind of fish food out of natural ingredients in the diet of the tilapia, which are algae, duckweed (an aquatic plant), meal worms (the larvae form of beetles) and filler ingredients like ground-up banana leaves.” That October, the Broken Arrow team began working to create sustainable fish food for developing countries after it won a Lemelson-MIT Program grant, which provides funding for projects to help sustain communities. From October 2014 to May 2015, the group spent 500 hours in the lab working on tilapia food. They worked on ponds for algae and duckweed to grow in, built pens for meal worms and worked on ways to dehydrate those ingredients on a reflective surface outside. They also worked on a machine that made fish food pellets from the ingredients. “We had a lot of trial and error and failure, but we ended up coming up with a clear idea of what we wanted to do, so by the time we got to June 2015, we got to propose all of our ideas (at MIT),” he said. “Ours was unique because we had a set place (Kenya) where we wanted to solve a problem.” Taylor said the process decreased fish food cost by 90 percent. Some students on the project in 2015 graduated high school, but the remaining students took the endeavor to Kenya this past June to share it with the orphanage. “We were able to build some things we imagined and shared with the Kenyans what we thought they could do to solve their (fish food) problem,” Taylor said. “We will probably go back to check on how it’s doing next year.” For two weeks the students stayed in the Kenyan village. One thing Taylor said he appreciated about his visit was that he learned some Swahili, the Kenyan people’s language. “We got to try to talk to people on the streets and say ‘hello, how are you.’ And we got to play soccer with some of the kids and got to go to their church. All of those experiences were pretty amazing,” he said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/15/2016 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education voiced its concern regarding the impact of reduced education funding on students at its July 20 meeting at the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. Dwight Pickering, director of American Indian Education with the Oklahoma State Department of Education, said the more than 130,000 Native American students enrolled in Oklahoma’s public schools are experiencing the same difficulties as all children in the state. “In some instances, our tribes across the state are helping those districts that are in their tribal jurisdiction,” said Pickering. “The partnership the tribes have created with the schools is so important.” An example cited in an OSDE press release was a $4.7 million donation the Cherokee Nation made to school districts in its jurisdictional area in February. The donation went to 106 districts and originated from tribal car tag fees, 38 percent of which went to education. OSDE officials also said they are providing opportunities for tribes to give feedback on public education as part of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind, at <a href="http://sde.ok.gov/sde/essa" target="_blank">http://sde.ok.gov/sde/essa</a>. In other discussion, Jim Parrish, a Choctaw Nation representative, said U.S. Senate Bill 2842 was introduced by U.S. Sen. James Lankford, which would provide for increased student count in the Johnson-O’Malley Supplemental Indian Education Program as well as increased per-pupil funding to $125. Also, school districts receiving more than $40,000 for Title VII will be required to hold tribal consultations, Pickering said. If the district has more than 50 percent American Indian student enrollment, it may be required to hold tribal consultations. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Dode Barnett, Native American Juvenile Justice Task Force chairwoman, said more tribes other than the Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek, Chickasaw and Seminole nations need to be involved by developing juvenile justice codes. She said tribal governments need the codes to support their young citizens holistically, and it is important that students stay focused on education even if they are in custody. Also, the Muscogee Creek Nation is promoting a promising literacy program, Pickering said. Information about the Myron reading program will soon be available on the OSDE’s website, <a href="http://www.sde.ok.gov" target="_blank">www.sde.ok.gov</a>. Other tribes sponsoring special reading programs include the Chickasaw, Choctaw and Cherokee nations. And Phil Gover, director of the Sovereign Schools Project, said tribes could now sponsor charter schools through state legislation. Gover said his organization is expecting three tribal-sponsored charter schools to be created in the coming year.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
08/11/2016 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band citizen Melessa Kelley, 41, who was scheduled to graduate Aug. 9 from Florida Atlantic University with a doctorate in nursing, recently presented her dissertation “Native American Early Adolescents Prevention for Obesity.” She said her study focused on UKB citizens. “Obesity and diabetes is really big in this area, so we’re really trying to work on prevention more than anything and teaching them early on to prevent it,” she said. “What I ended up doing was I tailored Dr. (John) Lowe’s (her professor) Talking Circle Intervention for my study.” Kelley said it was important to highlight UKB citizens because it’s a way to “give” back. “I think it’s very important to work with them because giving back is the one thing that’s really important,” she said. Kelley said after years of work she would be one of 22 Native Americans to graduate with a doctorate in nursing in North America. She said this means a lot to her as someone who graduated from Oaks High School in Oaks. “Everybody actually from Oaks is like very proud that I finally finished. It took awhile. It was a long bumpy road, but I finally got it all finished,” she said. “That says a lot about that little community. Not very many people from my high school have anything past a master’s (degree).” Kelley said her next step in life would be to move with Lowe to Tallahassee, Florida, and start the first Indigenous Native Nursing Research Center at Florida State University. She said the center is important because “it’s the first of its kind.” She added that they would also conduct research with Natives “globally and internationally.” She said doing this would act as her postdoctoral fellowship. “The thing is with nursing you can never stop learning,” she said. Kelley said the encouragement from Lowe helped her get to where she is today. “I can’t say enough about what he’s done for me,” she said. “When you do a program like that you have to have that support and encouragement.” She said with her accomplishments she hopes to act as a “positive” role model. “That’s what our people need. They need the positive role models,” she said. <strong>A Student Spotlight features Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band or Eastern Band students whether they are in grades kindergarten through 12 or higher education, excelling in school or doing something extraordinary. To recommend a student, email <a href="mailto: stacie-guthrie@cherokee.org">stacie-guthrie@cherokee.org</a>.</strong>
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/10/2016 04:00 PM
LONGMONT, Colo. – First Nations Development Institute on Aug. 5 opened the application period for the third year of its First Nations Native Agriculture and Food Systems Program that aims to encourage more Native American college students to enter the agricultural sector in Native communities. First Nations will award 10 scholarships of $1,000 each to Native American college students majoring in agriculture and related fields, including but not limited to agribusiness management, agronomy, animal husbandry, aquaponics, environmental engineering, fisheries and wildlife, food production and safety, food-related policy and legislation, food science and technology, horticulture, irrigation science, nutrition education and sustainable agriculture or food systems. Complete information and a link to the online application can be found at <a href="http://www.firstnations.org/grantmaking/scholarship" target="_blank">www.firstnations.org/grantmaking/scholarship</a>. All applications must be completed and submitted by 5 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time on Oct. 5. To be eligible, applicants must: • Be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student majoring in agriculture or an agricultural-related field, including food systems, • Be Native American (citizen of a current or terminated federal/state tribe) and be able to provide documentation, • Have a grade point average of at least 3.0, and • Demonstrate a commitment to helping his or her Native community reclaim local food-system control. Applicants will be asked to complete an online application and provide other required information, including proof of tribal enrollment, college enrollment verification, unofficial transcripts, a letter of recommendation from a faculty member and a short essay submission of 250 to 500 words. First Nations believes that reclaiming control over local food systems is an important step toward ensuring the long-lasting health and economic well-being of Native people and communities. Native food-system control has the potential to increase food production, improve health and nutrition and eliminate food insecurity in rural and reservation-based communities while also promoting entrepreneurship and economic development. The Native Agriculture and Food Systems Scholarship Program’s aim is to encourage more Native American college students to enter these fields so they can better assist their communities with these efforts. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.firstnations.org" target="_blank">www.firstnations.org</a> or call 303-774-7836, 216 or email <a href="mailto: ktallmadge@firstnations.org">ktallmadge@firstnations.org</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
08/10/2016 09:15 AM
WILBURTON, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Zana Johnson, 19, a sophomore at Eastern Oklahoma State College, on July 8 released her first gospel album titled “We Praise.” Johnson, a vocal performance music major, said she had a CD release party at her college. “That was really fun. I gave a little concert, and I was able to invite quite a few people,” she said. “I had probably about 40 people come out, and I got to sing all my songs and sign CDs. That was really cool, to be able to sign everyone’s CDs.” She said she began singing at 14 while participating in organizations Oklahoma Kids and American Kids. “It’s a performing arts organization, so I sang in that for a long time, and I was a (American Kids) national performer of the year for that organization in 2012,” she said. “I sing like all over the place. I’ve sang in New Mexico, Texas, Florida at Disney World. I performed at the Grand Ole Opry.” Johnson said in 2015 she won a contest through a partnership with “American Idol” producers and StarMaker Interactive. She said contestants posted a video of them singing and others voted on their favorites. Johnson said officials took the top 11 contestants. She said although she didn’t win the contest the opportunity gave her “a lot” of exposure. “I really learned a lot from that experience,” she said. “I didn’t make it on the TV show (‘American Idol’). I wasn’t really upset about it because everything happens for a reason, and it just wasn’t the right time for me to do something like that, and I think that it really made me grow into what I am now.” She said the opportunity lead her to sign with Tate Music Group in Mustang. “I mean, I was able to sign with this label and get a CD and be able to spread the word through my songs,” she said. “I really feel like this is just what I’m meant to do. I’m just answering the call that God is giving me.” Johnson said in the future she hopes to sing at a church in Dallas. “I’m trying to get into a lot of churches, so I figure I’ll be doing that. Maybe like a mega church in like Dallas or something,” she said. “That would be pretty cool.” <strong>A Student Spotlight features Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band or Eastern Band students whether they are in grades kindergarten through 12 or higher education, excelling in school or doing something extraordinary. To recommend a student, email <a href="mailto: stacie-guthrie@cherokee.org">stacie-guthrie@cherokee.org</a>.</strong>
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/09/2016 02:00 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation is accepting grant applications for its fall education tours. The sponsored tours provide an exclusive look at the Nation’s rich history and culture. Applications are accepted through Sept. 16. Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism awards the grants in the spring and fall to elementary public schools within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction. Complimentary curriculum is provided to schools that receive the grant and is available to teachers upon registration. Curriculum includes a teacher’s guide to prepare students for the education tour, as well as a student activity. The tour program features three tours: the Cherokee History Tour that visits Tahlequah’s historic Capitol Square and Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum, Cherokee National Prison Museum, Murrell Home, Cherokee Heritage Center and Diligwa; the Will Rogers Tour that visits the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and Dog Iron Ranch; and the Civil War Tour that visits Capitol Square, Murrell Home and Fort Gibson Historic Site. Grants are available for grades third through sixth and funding is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Minimum requirements for eligibility for schools include being located within the CN’s 14-county jurisdiction, a majority of the school’s students must hold a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood card, the school’s class size may not exceed tour capacity and the majority of the school’s students must be eligible for free and/or reduced school lunches. Schools that do not meet the requirements or miss the deadline may experience the program for a small fee. Special rates are available for seventh through 12th grade and college students. Applications are available at www.VisitCherokeeNation.com. For more information or to book an education tour, call 918-384-7787.