County School District officials bid a special farewell to 52
graduates during the Indian Education Program's annual Eagle Feather
Ceremony held June 8 at the Siletz Community Center.
by the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, the ceremony marks
the achievements of members of various Indian tribes who are graduating
from Newport, Taft, Toledo and Waldport high schools. According
to Patty Savage-Socha, Keeper of the Feathers and a teacher at Siletz
Valley School, the eagle feather symbolizes "the soaring of
the human mind at its best."
County had the most (Indian graduates) in the state," said
Fred Rider, the district's Indian Education Coordinator, noting
the students represent various tribal affiliations.
County also has the lowest dropout rate for Native American students
in the state, thanks to the efforts of Rider and his staff - Juanita
Whitebear (Lincoln City), Ann Goddard (Newport), Linda Wilson (Waldport),
and Patty Savage-Socha (Siletz). They oversee the federally-funded
program for the school district's 630 Native American students in
all county schools, including new charter schools in Eddyville and
Eagle Feather Ceremony honors the graduates through a cultural tradition.
said the feathers presented are not "ordinary" eagle feathers,
but "have been blessed," making them sacred. "They
must be treated as such," she added. "If you accept the
feather, you accept the responsibility to take care of it in a proper
who accepted that responsibility in 2004 were:
Allen (Blackfoot), Levi Brown (Seminole), Jennifer Butler (Siletz),
Bret Croucher (Siletz), Amber Dodson (Choctaw), Kristen Dunmire
(Chippewa), Sean Feller (Tlingit), Brandy Fortenberry (Cherokee),
Maria Goodell (Chehalis), Rhiannon Hamel (Siletz), Gyrrad Hibdon
(Siletz), Brandon Houck (Cherokee), Robbie Jay (Siletz), Tony
Johnson (Grand Ronde), Josh Kosydar (Choctaw), Nicholas Kosydar
(Choctaw), Roni Logan (Siletz), Jamie Mason (Siletz), Monica
Murray (Nez Perce), Ivy Potter (Cherokee), Jacob Reid (Siletz),
Toni Schroeder (Siletz), Kimberlee Sutherland (Sioux), Rachael
Smith (Cherokee), Kenny Thompson (Siletz), Ammanda Van Hoorebeke
Cloutier (Apache), K.C. Cox (Siletz), Deidre Danna (Umatilla),
Siscilee Gouge (Tlingit), Nicole Howe (Coquille), Jennifer Matthews
(Apache), Kristofer Nyquist (Cherokee), Shawn Phelps (Tlingit),
Susan Reed (Siletz), Trisha Trevino (Yaqui), Joel Viles (Siletz),
Ashlea West (Cherokee), Jeremy White (Choctaw).
Bartow (Wiyot), Diana Bunch (Shawnee), Ashley Garey (Cherokee),
Blake Hagan (Sioux), Jason Nelson (Cherokee), Aaron Watkins
Bartell (Aleut), Gavin Bessette (Siletz), Jesse Ervin-Combs
(Cherokee), Jaymes Gallagher (Blackfoot), Alicia Keene (Siletz),
Dustin Phillips (Comanche), Jeffry Wagner (Cherokee).
ceremony for the Class of 2004 featured an invocation by CTSI Elder
Darrel Butler; honor drum by the Eagle Beak Singers from Grand Ronde;
Indian flute player Bill White Eagle Wilson; opening introductions
by Patty Savage-Socha; and welcome messages from Scott Paul of the
Indian Education Parent Committee, acting school superintendent
Pat Cowan, Siletz Tribal Council member David Hatch, and Fred Rider.
Darcy served as keynote speaker, Savage-Socha presented the eagle
feathers, Juanita Whitebear told the story of the Eagle, and Siletz
Tribal Council member Bud Lane offered the benediction.
reception followed the ceremony.
are proud of our Indian Education students," said Rider. "We
hope they will continue to make us proud by pursuing ways to help
all beings soar like the Eagle."
students and other Indian youth are the future of their tribes and
and his staff, along with Siletz tribal leaders, and the Indian
Education Program Parent Committee for 2003-04 - Darrel Butler,
Bonnie Crawford, Sherry Draper, Cindy George, Heidi Goddard, Rhiannon
Hamel, Creighton Kenney, Debbie Marthaller, Kenny Paul, Scott Paul,
Heather Rivera, Kim Sutherland, Glenn Wagner, Jeff Wagner, Pat Whetstone,
and Susan Whetstone - strive to make sure the students receive the
best education possible, and to encourage the students to make the
most of the opportunities presented to them.
mid-April, the LCSD Title VII program and the Confederated Tribes
of Siletz Indians sponsored the Oregon Indian Education Association's
2004 Youth Conference in Lincoln City, which drew about 230 participants
from throughout Oregon.
around the theme, "We are the future, and the future begins
with us," the conference focused on education and careers,
and provided a venue for Oregon's Indian youths to collectively
explore their cultural heritage, learn skills to help them take
charge of their own lives, to see their own strengths relative to
others, and to break away from the stereotypes others try to impose
organized the effort, with help from the state executive board,
and a host of others.
historian Patricia Darcy, who Rider calls "a mentor and a force
in Indian education," also attended the youth conference. Darcy,
who lives in Siletz, played a key role in establishing the Eagle
Feather Ceremony here.
who started with the Lincoln County Indian Education Program 15
years ago, said he and his staff work with all K-12 students of
Native American descent. They serve as liaisons and advocates, doing
"whatever is necessary" to help students meet their academic,
cultural, social, and emotional needs, and make sure they have the
foundation to succeed.
program has grown considerably in the past 15 years, from a two-person
staff with a $60,000 budget to the current five-person staff using
a $160,000 federal grant derived from the United States Department
of Education's Office of Indian Education. Created in 1972, OIE
currently administers the Indian Education Program under the No
Child Left Behind Act of 2001. It establishes policies and provides
financial and technical assistance to support local education agencies,
Indian tribes and organizations, post-secondary institutions, and
other entities to meet the special educational and cultural needs
of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
been doing the No Child Left Behind thing for years," Rider
concluded. "We encourage academics. If they don't do it, there's
no tomorrow for them."
Eagle Feather Ceremony is a symbol of hope they will soar toward
a brighter tomorrow and better future - for themselves, their communities,
and their tribes.