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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 12, 2003 - Issue 91


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Helping Elders, Saving Money

by Sararesa Begay The Navajo Times
credits: art by Ray Swanson

art by Ray SwansonWINDOW ROCK - Nathan Morgan, a participant in the Indigenous Community Enterprise youth individual development account savings program, is planning to save his money while he works hard on building a new hogan for a Navajo elder.

"We like the hard work in the hot sun," said Morgan, 17. "We know that the grandma we are building for is happy we are there to help."

Morgan said the savings program gave him the opportunity to have his first savings account while he learns a vocational trade. He is looking forward to completing the program.

Estelle Bowman, Indigenous Community Enterprises executive director, said the yearlong commitment to the savings program has lifetime benefits for student participants as well as their families and the communities.

"Once the participant meets their savings, training and community development commitments, the combined amount of their personal savings and the match can be used for secondary education, home ownership or development of a small business," Bowman said." ICE is excited to report that it has raised $15,000 to match the savings of 15 Navajo youth at a ratio of two to one."

Bowman explained that if a participant saves $500 during the year, ICE will provide a $1,000 match, and by June 2004, a participant can withdraw a total of $1,500 for an approved asset.

Bowman said having young people's families involved is exciting for the enterprises first youth individual development account savings program.

Bowman said the account savings program is one of the first in Indian Country.

"The kids are generally excited," Bowman said.

The enterprise has been working with the Oljato, Utah and Tuba City communities to bring an innovative savings program to moderate and low-income Navajo youth.

The enterprise provides daily vocational training skills in addition to workshops teaching financial literacy, home mortgaging, home-site leasing process, archeological clearance and environmental impact and land conservation for the savings program participants and their families.

The enterprise has brought together a group of sponsors willing to provide assistance to ensure the youth are meeting their target savings goals and training commitments.

"The Tuba City Navajo Workforce Development wants to help fund projects that not only teach our youth job skills, but also include life skills training," said Charlene Zahne an officer with Tuba City Workforce Development. "ICE is providing our students job training in building a hogan for a local elder and financial literacy instruction for the student worker and their families. We are hopeful our youth can show their commitment to saving and asset building."

Monument Valley High School in Monument Valley, Utah is one of the two high schools that the enterprise is working with.

"We are delighted to join with ICE, Oljato Chapter, workforce development and Office of Diné Youth to be part of this first youth IDA program in Indian Country," said Pat Seltzer, Monument Valley High principal. "Our students are excited and will remain committed. They know they are setting an example for future generations."

According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a national organization that tracks such programs, 400 adult savings programs and 21 youth savings programs exist in the United States as of December 2001.

There have been no opportunities for Native American youth until the enterprise worked to provide this summer savings program.

The enterprise along with 15 community sponsors has been working together for more than six months to bring this opportunity to the Navajo Nation.

The community sponsors include First National Development Institute, Wells Fargo Bank, Navajo Workforce Development, Office of Diné Youth, Southeast Utah Applied Technology College, Oljato Chapter, Tuba City Chapter, Monument Valley High School in Utah and Tuba City High School.

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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, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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