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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


November 16, 2002 - Issue 74


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School News


gathered by Vicki Lockard


The information here will include items of interest for and about Native American schools.
If you have news to share, please let us know!
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Back To School


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Grants Aid Native American Children

"Two programs that serve Portland's Native American school children have received grants from the U.S. Department of Education to add services aimed at giving students a better foothold in school.

The Portland Public School's Indian Education Department plans to spend its $600,000, three-year grant to start a Montessori program to prepare 3-, 4- and 5-year-old Native Americans to read while also teaching them tribal cultures and languages.

The Native American Youth Association, a nonprofit based in North Portland, plans to use a $531,000 three-year grant to start an after-school program for Native American high school students. It will feature tutoring in math, science and reading and will encourage students to go to college.

"Native American students in Portland are disproportionately dropping out of high school," said Nichole Maher, association executive director. "They are the only ethnic group in Portland whose dropout rate has actually increased. Out of 400 Native American high school students in Portland Public Schools, 80 drop out each year."

One reason that Native American students don't achieve more in school is that educators label them as poor achievers, said Norrine Smokey Smith, Indian Education Program director.

Smith said one-third of the 1,100 Native American students in Portland Public Schools last year were mistakenly referred by their teachers for special education screening, then found to have no learning disabilities. Native Americans are also less likely to be referred to the district's
gifted and talented programs, she said.

"Teachers are thinking that something is wrong with them," Smith said, "instead of thinking there may be something wrong with their teaching."

She said she hopes the Montessori program will help demonstrate Native American students' academic potential.

It will also provide young students a place where "their culture is valued, and where they are viewed as having limitless potential, instead of allowing them just to sink into the woodwork where their culture and families are not valued," Smith said.

The Indian Education Program provides tutoring services to Native American students in Portland schools. Smith said the Montessori program could be the first step toward a charter school for Native American students.

This is the first federal grant received by the Native American Youth Association, which is primarily funded by Multnomah County. The county provides money to run an after-school program designed for 45 middle school students. But because there are so few services for Native American youth, the association uses the county money to serve about 270 students each year, Maher said.

"Students and families really like to go to agencies where other Native people work," Maher said. "Often, other service providers say, 'There must not be many Native students.' But we say, 'There are tons of them.' "

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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