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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


November 3, 2001 - Issue 48


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 Students Get Science Lesson


 by Mike Roarke-Staff Writer Spokesman Review-October 27, 2001

About two dozen students from Wellpinit School on the Spokane Indian Reservation got a sense of what college life can be like at Gonzaga University on Friday.

A bookstore tour, a view of an amoeba through a microscope and a short physics lesson were all part of the field trip organized by the university's Indian Education Outreach Program that's now in its second year.

Afterward, the kids from Wellpinit provided their hosts with a look at traditional American Indian culture, dancing to pounding drum beats for more than an hour inside a residence hall.

Kaylynne Flett, a junior at Wellpinit, said she enjoyed the Gonzaga visit, especially the chance to look at tiny bugs in muddy water through a microscope.

In addition to Wellpinit, the university's Indian Education Outreach Program works with students from the Nespelem School on the Colville Indian Reservation.

Several Gonzaga students are mentors to the students. They write letters twice a month to the Wellpinit and Nespelem students and also go out on visits.

The Rev. Joe Fortier said the outreach program has one objective: to help children who go to school on the reservations succeed and make them interested in college.

"One of our goals is to increase the number of Indian scientists," said Fortier, noting the problems poverty, unemployment and substance abuse that some Indian reservations face.

Fortier, who spends two days a week teaching entomology classes in Wellpinit and Nespelem, noted that Gonzaga has few Indian students.

"Our school is very white," Fortier said. "But we're bound and determined we're going to raise the number of Indians going to school here.

At the very least, we will raise interest in college."

This week, Fortier said, an endowment fund was established for students from Nespelem and Wellpinit who want to attend Gonzaga.

So far, the fund has $10, but Fortier anticipates it will grow.

"We're not going to be able to help all of them, but I know we'll be able to help some of these kids," Fortier said.

     Maps by Travel

Gonzaga University

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