JOLLA INDIAN RESERVATION ----- After more than a century of sovereignty,
less than 1 percent of American Indians are college-educated,
leaving tribes reliant on outsiders to help manage their lands
and natural resources.
the last four years, a tribal-run program called Young Native Scholars,
has been working to change that by exposing future leaders to college
and careers in science. Over two summer weeks, Indian high school
and undergraduate students live on, and study at, reservations and
universities throughout the county.
important that we make a bridge between the university and the reservation,"
said Marc Chavez, program director and a graduate of UC San Diego.
"You don't find many Native American people in the science
profession. Our goal is to encourage them so they can help with
very important things like water and land."
Thursday, 26 students from area reservations learned about water
quality, supply and demand on the La Jolla Indian Reservation with
San Diego State University professor Eric Riggs.
rolled up their pants and waded through the San Luis Rey River to
measure its volume and determine the number of gallons that flow
through the reservation in a day. It's the kind of work, Riggs says,
that usually goes to outsiders such as himself.
tribal people like to hire tribal people. The problem is, there
aren't many with the training," he said. "You go into
a county environmental office in San Diego and you see a lot of
people. You go to a tribal environmental office and they have three."
even with a science degree, Riggs said, it takes Indians to understand
and appreciate their own land.
have very clean standards. They're all about sustainability,"
he said. "Even if they have me, I'm not a Native American.
I don't have the priorities that they were raised with."
Miranda, 16, of the Pala reservation, said the camp has taught her
the importance of studying science for the future of her reservation.
didn't know we need environmentalists. I just thought we needed
more lawyers," she said. "We should take care of our land
because this is our home."
said the program has also helped her believe in herself and her
not a lot of Native Americans that graduate high school. It's hard
with all the racism and slander ... A lot of them give up,"
she said with tears in her eyes. "(The program has) motivated
me to stay focused on education. It's made me feel proud to be a
more information, to make a donation or volunteer, call (858) 688-2624
or log on to www.NativeScholars.org.