Idle No More Washington ~ Call-In Campaign to Save Indian Heritage

When:
May 14, 2013 @ 8:00 am – May 18, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

 

The people you should call are:
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (Washington)
• Randy I. Dorn
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Phone: (360) 725-6000

State Education Agency Indian Education ~
Washington State Department of Indian Education
These offices have primary oversight over Indian education programs in their respective states.
• Ms. Robin Butterfield
Director Indian Education Office
Ph: (360) 725-6160
Cell: (360) 515-8023

The Divisions enforcement efforts involve all aspects of the education process, including combating discrimination in the assignment of students to schools and classes and academic programs, the transportation of students, the hiring and placement of faculty and administrators, the condition of educational facilities, and the distribution of school district resources.
• If you believe that you or your child have been denied access to an educational program or otherwise discriminated against by a school operated by a state or local government or by a school that receives federal funds, you can contact the Divisions Educational Opportunities Section at (877) 292-3804.
• You also can contact the U.S. Department of Education at (800) 421-3481 if the school district receives federal funds. Need children in SPS, get forms from them.

Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools
• José L. Banda, call (206) 252-0180

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Sadly, after nearly 40 years of operation, the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announced the closure of the Indian Heritage Middle College program, a.k.a. Indian Heritage, located at 1330 N. 90th Street, Seattle, WA.

The History of Indian Heritage:
In its prime and under the leadership of Robert Eaglestaff, Indian Heritage was once a vibrant, visible, robust alternative school serving over 130 Native youth. Indian Heritage was originally dedicated to support the unique academic and cultural needs of our urban Native learners. Indian Heritage’s primary mission was to provide quality Native-focused curriculum, instruction, support services, and community engagement to urban Native learners.

Indian Heritage was started in 1974 as a result of the Indian Education Act of 1972, and with the efforts of many visionary Native community members. It started slowly and grew to a small, yet respectable number of students within ten years.

By 1992, the success of Indian Heritage could not be denied. Not only did Indian Heritage graduate every student, but graduates also enrolled in post-secondary or vocational school. Plans were being made to expand the program from a 6-12 grade to a K-12. All this changed after the death of Robert Eaglestaff in 1996, and the school was never the same. Indian Heritage High School became Indian Heritage Middle College program in 2000. In 2009, Indian Heritage graduated one Native student from its graduating class of approximately 20 students.

The Dismantling of Indian Heritage:
Further deterioration was underway at the hands of district administrators resulting in a complete annihilation of Indian Heritage program. Last year District leadership made the abrupt announcement to eliminate the school and proceeded to reassign Native instructors and students to other sites, effectively cutting the thread binding Native students to the program.

Jose Banda presented a public statement last July 2012 expressing commitment to keep the school intact for another year and commitment to consult with Native community on ‘next steps’ in consideration of the pending BEX Levy and demolition of the Heritage facilities. The Heritage program in reality became a shell of a program 2012-2013 with digital learning, no Native-focused instruction, no Native infused curriculum, and a new instructor unfamiliar to Native students, parents, and community. Our proposals and concerns addressing these drastic changes have been ignored.

It is unconscionable that resources continue to be withdrawn from Native programming and services, while SPS acknowledges the statistical facts illustrating disproportionate academic performance, disciplinary action, and highest dropout rates for Native learners. The trajectory for Native learners in SPS is of tremendous concern given the districts decisions to eliminate Heritage and displace current programs functioning at Heritage facilities.

Our Recommendations to Revitalize Indian Heritage:
It is at this time we will again initiate and voice our opposition with Seattle Public Schools plan to eliminate Indian Heritage. We as a community will invite SPS to listen to our viable plan that includes:
• Relocating the program to a place of learning (and NOT at Northgate Mall) until the new site has been completed 2017.
• We recommend the district commit to re-establishing Indian Heritage back at the new Wilson Pacific site once new building is complete.
• We recommend for continued funding of this much needed program.
• We ask for the hiring of a new instructor that is Native American and/or culturally competent to address the needs and concerns of our Native learners, families, and community.
• We recommend that a Native-focused instruction and Native-infused curriculum be established for our Native learners. Currently there is absolutely no demonstration of this in SPS relocation program.
• We recommend that all the murals that were made by Andrew Morrison (Apache/Haida) be preserved and incorporated in its original form into the new school (and not replicated as Mr. Morrison requests).
• We demand that our Inter-tribal Coalition be recognized and respected as the Native community-led advisory committee to SPS for the purpose of community recommendations for our Native learners. The current SPS attempt at forming a ‘Native American Advisory Committee’ is not in the best interests of the real needs and concerns of our Native students or community.

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Talking Points:
• Indian Heritage has historically served Native learners as a viable alternative.
• Indian Heritage has proven successful in graduating Native students.
• Eliminating Native programming and opportunities is serving to support institutionalized racism and contributes to a system designed to fail our Native learners.
• Native students disproportionately face a reality in SPS that is detrimental to their education:
o They have the highest dropout rates
o Low performance
o Disciplinary actions
• Native Community, Students, and Families were not consulted in district decision to eliminate Indian Heritage.
• Eliminating services, resources, land base, and murals is an attempt to erase our existence, marginalizes and contributes to destabilizing community.
• Duwamish Tribe was not consulted or included in decision making process, which effectively denies their existence and historical ownership of this sacred land.
• Saving Heritage=Educational Justice
• Ignores legacy of this being a sacred place of cultural significance to Coast Salish peoples.
• Cultural continuity is being severed
• Our Native learners thrive in environments, school climates which support their identity, cultural and historical experience.
• Connection between institutional and land based memory contributes to the importance of Heritage program remaining at Indian Heritage site.
• Site has been our ‘Place of Power’ symbolized in the magnificent iconic Murals gifted by Andrew Morrison.
We need to continue to address this gross negligence because we know and research illustrates that our Native American learners struggle from continued forced assimilation.
Cheryl Currie’s research published this week in the journal, Social Science and Medicine, indicates urban natives who participate in traditional activities such as ceremonial dance, smudging and sweatlodges have higher self-esteem and fewer problems with prescription medication and illicit drugs.
• Edmonton Journal, “Urban aboriginals who follow traditional ways less likely to become drug addicts, study finds,” by Marty Klinkenberg http://www.edmontonjournal.com/Urban+aboriginals+follow+traditional+ways+less+likely+become+drug+addicts+study+finds/8318431/story.html
“A Hand to Hold Onto,” posted 23rd of June 2010 by Prevent Child Abuse Americahttp://preventchildabuseamerica.blogspot.com/2010/06/hand-to-hold-onto-surveys-american.html
• Seventy four percent of youth in custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons are AI/AN; an increase of 50% since ’94 (Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2008)
• In Several States, AI/AN youth make up from 29% to 42% of all youth in secure confinement (Guilfoyle, M., 2003).
• Incarcerated AI/AN youth are much more likely to be subjected to the harshest treatment in the most restrictive environments (Youth Law Center, 2003).
• The suicide rate for AI/AN juveniles (57 per 1 million) is almost twice the rate for White juveniles and the highest for any race (Youth Violence Research Bulletin, March 2004)
• Cultural Pride and identification has a positive effect on Native youth and is associated with:
o Increased School Success (Journal of American Indian Education)
o Lower rates of alcohol and drug use (The Journal of Primary Prevention)
o Higher Self-esteem (Social Work Research
(c) 2013 Sweetwater Nannauck

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