Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 3, 2003 - Issue 86


pictograph divider


Indian Students Get a Capitol Lesson

by Gwendolyn Crump -- Sacramento Bee Staff Writer
credits:Wendy Notsinneh, center, chief of staff for Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, works with students Danika Cvero, left, and Dugan Seymour. Sacramento Bee/Brian Baer

SacramentoMargaret Leyva's high school has a Christian club, a Latino club, and a club for African Americans. But she said Florin High School in the Elk Grove Unified District doesn't have a club specifically geared toward students like herself -- American Indians.

She hopes that will change someday and she's learning how to be an agent for change.

Leyva was among nearly 80 American Indian youths from throughout California who visited the state Capitol on Friday to learn how the Assembly works and how to make positive changes in their communities on issues of importance to them.

The State Assembly for Youth, a group of American Indian students in middle and high schools, developed a number of resolutions, including those outlawing the use of Indian mascots at non-Indian public schools, funding protection for Indian Education Centers, and the protection of tribal sacred sites.

The youths also participated in mock-committee hearings relating to the California High School Exit Exam and prayer in schools.

Students presented political leaders, including Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, with honor robes, a blanket given to elders as a sign of respect.

The majority of the students attending were from tribes that operate casinos, youth group officials said. Earnings from their casinos have lifted many Indians out of poverty and afforded them opportunities that previous generations never had.

"They'll have more of a say than their parents did in the political arena," said Cindy La Marr, incoming president of the National Indian Education Association, one of the oldest and largest Indian advocacy groups in the United States.

La Marr said it is important for the students to learn about the political process and understand the changes they can make in their communities.

Doug Elmets, spokesman for the Rumsey Indian tribe, which owns Cache Creek casino, reached by telephone agreed that Indian tribes will become a more significant political force.

He said gaming has provided self-sufficiency for Indians and Indian tribes and allowed them to obtain better housing, health care and education for their members.

"This is the first generation of Indians that have the ability to provide for themselves instead of relying upon the federal government for essentials to their survival," Elmets said. "Many tribal leaders say we don't want the next generation to live through what we lived through."

Many students said their parents didn't finish high school, but the youngsters are on the path for higher education or specialized career fields.

La Marr said she hopes the students gain a sense of pride, awareness of their heritage and learn about their history, so they can combat negative images.

Gary Markussen, 18, a senior at Central Valley High School in the city of Shasta Lake, said he learned how a bill becomes a law.

Curtis Notsinneh, a legislative aide, informed the students about Assembly Bill 858, introduced by Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, to end the use of American Indian mascots.

Markussen of the Yurok tribe spoke passionately about the subject.

"Some mascots can be really offensive," Markussen said, "totally ridiculous, stereotypical Indians wearing war bonnets and running around hooting and hollering."

He said it was refreshing to learn that he and his peers can have an impact on the political process to help their communities.

La Marr said the students' resolution will be presented to Goldberg's office Wednesday at a scheduled hearing on the bill.

"We don't want (the youth) to feel as if this is just an exercise," La Marr said. "They can make a difference."

Sacramento, CA Map

Maps by Travel

pictograph divider

Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  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, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!