February 12, 2007


These are the journal entries of Dawn Newman and Mike Reichenbach.

Dawn Newman and Mike Reichenbach received a Diversity and Inclusion Professional Development Small Grants Program Award from the University of Minnesota Extension for the purpose of attending the National Indian Education Association, 10th Annual Legislative Summit in Washington DC February 11 to February 14.

The National Indian Education Association is a membership based organization committed to increasing educational opportunities and resources for American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students while protecting cultural and linguistic traditions. www.niea.org

The annual legislative summit brings together tribal leaders, congressional representatives, educators, students and elders from throughout the United States. Participants at the summit receive updates on legislation pertinent to Indian education.

February 13, 2007

Language is the cornerstone of Native American Culture

On December 14, 2006 President Busch signed the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act of 2006 into law (H.R. 4766). The Act allows for competitive grants at the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), HHS, to support Native language immersion and restoration programs. Full text of bill: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h109-4766

The Johnson O’Malley Program in Jeopardy

JOM was enacted in 1934 to allow Department of Interior to provide assistance to Indians in the areas of education, medical attention, agricultural assistance, social welfare, and relief of distress because of findings that Indians needed support to transition form Indian-only settings to general population settings such as the environments founding public schools and in urban areas. The findings in 1934 are still the case today in Indian country. Funding for JOM is in jeopardy under the FY 2007 continuing resolution. The time is NOW to encourage Members of Congress and their staff to urge the Department of the Interior to fund JOM under the FY 2007. FY 2007 budget structure for JOM is going from 16,371 in 2006 to -0- in 2007.

Day One

The following are thoughts from Mike Reichenbach on the NIEA summit:

My expectations for learning at the NIEA summit were to learn about the issues in Native education. I have learned that and more. . .

Five words describe Day One

• Organized
• Beauty
• Passion
• Interesting
• Culture

Not knowing what to expect, I was riding the elevator down to the meeting rooms and met Michael Hawkes from New Mexico who gave me a brief overview of funding issues that he was dealing with on the reservation where he worked. I have learned that this was to be a common theme throughout the day.

I was welcomed at the registration desk and provided a full agenda of events and a packet of materials. The first day’s agenda included a presentation on Effective Advocacy Strategies and Lobbying. The meeting is well organized and has kept on schedule.

There is an urgency regarding the reauthorization of the No Child Left behind Act. The NIEA is working to include language in the bill that will address Native education issues and promote Native control of educational programs and recognition of cultural instruction and Native language instruction.

Full funding for the Johnson O’Malley Act will be requested during visits to members of appropriations committees on Wednesday. The Johnson O’Malley Act provides supplemental funds to public schools to address the unique educational and cultural needs of Native children. Funding may be used for culturally relevant learning materials, Native language role-modeling and Native youth leadership programs.

The beauty of the organization is watching people with diverse backgrounds work together toward common goals. Each tribe and school is different.

The speakers were passionate about the issues and the work ahead. For example, one person from Minnesota described himself as a stay at home type, but he had passion about the issues and was excited to be in Washington for the third NIEA summit. He also serves on a local school board.

The issue of language preservation and fluency is one of the key issues for the NIEA. The Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act was signed into law on December 14, 2006. This was the first bill in more than 14 years that will preserve and protect Native languages. The next steps are to increase funding at the Administration for Native Americans, US Department of Health and Human Services.

Jackie Johnson, the Executive Director for National Council of American Indians reported on language as a means to better achievement. Schools that teach native culture and language are seeing higher testing scores.

I personally have enjoyed the meeting, meeting new people and trying to learn their perspectives on the issues.

The respect for culture was evident from when I first entered the meeting room. Photo’s of events at previous meetings both reflected a unity and way of knowing that was profound.

Concluding thought
As a result of some of the presentations and discussions I am interested in learning about the difference between what it means to be a member of an indigenous people or an ethnic group. What position and influence does each have? How does an elected official view the differences and how does that influence action on the bills and funding issues of interest to NIEA?

February 14, 2007


The title of this blog is learning new worldviews. My worldview is both a product of my life experiences and education; and the interaction of past and present experiences and education. I am not sure that I can purposely set out to learn a new worldview, but I can set out to be open to learning and seeing things in a new way. I can purposely choose to think about the views I hold and why I hold them or should change them. This conference is a part of a journey to learn to think about how I think about teaching and education in American Indian Country. The National Indian Education Association summit has been an experience that has exposed me to new ways of thinking and seeing what I previously thought I knew. Presented as I remember them are some examples from the conference:

Indian Country has many different dimensions to both culture and language. This is was compared by Dr. Verlie Ann Maline-Wright to the many names for snow that Alaska indigenous people use or the many names for wind or rain that the indigenous peoples of Hawaii use.

Congressman Patrick Kennedy noted the vitality of the Native American Indian culture.
Many may view Indian culture from a historic perspective but it is alive now has a history but is not something that happened only in the past.

Students should not have to choose between their culture and education. Education should include learning about and immersion in native culture and language. This creates a positive learning environment and increases success.

Indian students often move between schools, sometimes from a BIA or tribal school to a public school. Each school has distinct funding streams and ways of accessing funding. In this situation, counting students and their achievement can be challenging.

Congresswoman Heather Wilson stated that, “The link between language and culture is undeniable.?

Congressman Dale Kildee read from the United States Constitution Article One where it refers to Indian tribes on an equal level with foreign Nations. Indian tribes have three citizenships, United States, their home state and their tribe. Congressman Kildee when he was in the Michigan state legislature introduced a bill that is law today providing Michigan tribal members access to higher education at no cost. The Congressman believes that this is part of the treaty obligation that the United States entered into with the tribes.

Both Congressman Kildee and Congressman Dan Born of Oklahoma caused me to think about the meaning of a sovereign nation.

Senator Akaka from Hawaii explained the meaning of Aloha as a binding together of what is separated in a spirit of love. He also talked of a paper he wrote as part of his thesis work in education about prescriptive education, where each student would receive a prescription for education. He also noted that not all knowledge is gained from one source.

Dr. Verlie Ann Malina-Wright, Native Hawaiian and the President of the NIEA closed with a story and thought, “Learning is the interaction of the brain and heart.?

February 15, 2007

American Indian History

The past is constant but history depends on your world view.

At the conclusion of the NIEA meetings there was an opportunity to visit the National Museum of the American Indian. Visitors have the opportunity to view the exhibits from a point of view that is likely to be one other than their own. The exhibit places the visitor in the context of pre-European contact when the land was populated by 10’s of millions of people. A quote from one of the galleries states, “There were no Indians?. Another, quote states, “A history is always about who is telling the stories, who the story teller is speaking to, and how both understand their present circumstances.? The NMAI tells the story of the American Indian from the point of view of the American Indian.

Another exhibit speaks to identity. “ . . . identity is not a thing but a shared experience.? It links the identity of the American Indian to the concept of survivance. After European contact the population of the America’s was reduced by 90%. The museum tells the story of the struggles and experiences of the American Indian people. It dispels myths about and provokes thought. A quote from the gallery stated that, “ The indigenous peoples of the Americas were not conquered. The confluence of events, disease, forced relocation, and war reduced population and disposed them of lands. Survivance as a concept involves raising social conscience, holding to ancient principles, eagerly accepting change and keeping culture alive.

So what of the future? My experiences over the past three days have encouraged me to think more deeply about what I have learned to be survivance and it links to community and sustainability of communities. Interwoven in all the presentations throughout the NIEA meeting was the need to retain Indian languages and culture. What is the link between language, culture and community?

February 22, 2007

Visit with our Representatives

It was a wonderful and productive day, where we got to meet with Representative Betty McCollum and Karne Huskee Senator Coleman's legislative aide on issues around Indian Education. We shared with each of them the hot topics on the table at this time, and where we stand on them. I also, got to mention the fact that the University of Minnesota Extension Service is directly working with the American Indian community and ways we are doing this work. Overall it was a very exciting and positive interaction with both offices. Representative Betty McCollum is already a strong supporter for Indian Country and was very familiar with the hot topics on the table, so that discussion was less formal per say. I was the lead person with Senator Coleman's office and everyone told me I did an outstanding job on steering the conversation, and that the outcome or reaction was more positive then they had expected. There were five us at the visit, and one of them had a much more negative experience or reaction from Senator Coleman office in the past. I felt that this opportunity really showed me how much impact these visits can make, and how important they are to do.

Agenda Feb 12-14, 2007

National Indian Education Association
10th Annual Legislative Summit
February 12- 14, 2007
Washington, D.C.

Sunday, February 11, 2007 HOLIDAY INN CAPITOL
8:30am - 5:00pm NIEA Board Meeting- Jupiter Room

9:00am – 4:00pm National Tribal Education Departments Forum &
Tribal Education Departments National Assembly Board Meeting- Discovery Room

Monday, February 12, 2006 HOLIDAY INN CAPITOL- Columbia Ballroom
9:00am - 5:00pm Registration (Lobby of Columbia Ballroom)

9:00am – 10:30am Breakout Training Session A - Debbie Ho, Ietan Consulting, LLC Effective Advocacy Strategies and Lobbying 101

10:30am - Noon Breakout Training Session B- Debbie Ho, Ietan Consulting, LLC, and Michael Hughes, Consultant on Indian Affairs
Issues Briefing
Federal Appropriations
Head Start
No Child Left Behind
Tribal Education Departments
Code Talkers

Noon Break for Lunch (will be provided)


12:30pm Opening Prayer

12:40pm Call Meeting to Order
Introductions and Welcome
Lillian Sparks, Oglala and Rosebud Lakota, NIEA Executive Director

Dr. Verlie Ann Malina-Wright, Native Hawaiian, NIEA President

1:30pm Update from Office of Indian Education, Department of Education

2:00pm Updates from Organizations (15 minutes each)
1. National Education Association – Donna Harris-Aikens, ESEA Policy, Government Relations, NEA
2. National Congress of American Indians- Joe Garcia, Pueblo of San Juan, President, NCAI
3. American Indian Higher Education Consortium – Dr. Gerald Gipp, Executive Director, AIHEC
4. Impact Aid- John Forkenbrock, Executive Director, NAFIS, and Brent Gish, Executive Director, National Indian Impacted Schools Association
5. Tribal Education Departments National Assembly- Quinton Roman Nose Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, President, TEDNA
6. National Indian Head Start Directors Association- Gregory Smith, Legislative Consultant, NIHSDA
7. National Indian Health Board- Kitty Marx, Legislative Director, NIHB
8. Council of Chief State School Officers- Bonnie Verico, CCSSO
9. Office of Hawaiian Affairs- Martha Ross, Native Hawaiian, Director of Washington, DC , OHA Office
10. National Museum of the American Indian – Dr. Helen Schierbeck, Lumbee, Director of Educational Programs

5:00pm First General Session Concludes

6:00pm- 8:00pm Congressional Reception at Sequoia Restaurant- 3000 K Street, NW Washington, DC 20007
Sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the National Education Association
(Held in conjunction with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING- Room 485

9:00am Opening Prayer

9:05am Call Meeting to Order/ Review of Day’s Agenda
Shari Williams, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, NIEA Vice President

9:30 am Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

10:00am Congressman George Miller (D-CA)

10:30am Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth (D-SD) – Tentative

11:00am Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM)

11:15am Congressman Dale Kildee (D-MI)

11:30am Congressman Neil Abercrombie (D-HI)

Noon Break for Lunch on Own

1:15pm Reconvene

1:30pm Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI)

1:55pm Catherine Knowles, Office of Representative Kay Granger (R-TX)

2:10pm Senator Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND)

2:30pm Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (Video Message)

2:45pm President Reg Weaver, National Education Association (Video Message)
Introduced by Robin Butterfield, Native American Liaison, NEA

3:00pm Congressman Dan Boren (D-OK)

3:30pm Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN)

4:00pm Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

4:30pm Review of the Hill Visit Schedule for the following day

5:00pm Adjourn for the Day

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
9:00am – 5:00pm Hill Visits (House and Senate-This year, NIEA will assign the meetings for attendees according to region. Please check in with your assigned team for specific times and locations)