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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Acoma Pueblo Hosts Native Training Camp
by Bertha Parker - Cibola Beacon correspondent
credits: Bertha Parker - Cibola Beacon correspondent

ALBUQUERQUE - More than 70 participants from around the United States and Canada participated in a three-day National Indian Youth Leadership Project at the All Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Participants were introduced to Project Venture, a model program developed in the 1980s that targets regional middle schools with large Native at-risk student populations with alternatives to alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse.

Students participate in a year-long experiential adventure-based activities that include hiking, backpacking, rafting, snowboarding, rock climbing and ropes course incorporating traditional American Indian values. The learning approach incorporates traditional teaching elements of biology, science, social studies, history and geography in an outdoor environment. Mount Taylor is home to New Mexico's largest rope courses and is the home of Project Venture's summer camp and training program.

"Our Acoma Tribal Courts collaborated with NIYLP's Project Venture and New Sunrise Treatment Center to establish a site at Acoma on Feb. 3. The program is geared to high-risk behavior and are referred to Project Venture through court order or through the truancy program," said Acoma Pueblo Tribal Courts Administrator Janice Garcia.

"We had our first orientation on Jan. 27. Family members were told about Project Venture Students meet on-site with trained NIYLP Project Venture staff. In July Project Venture students will attend a one-week session that includes hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities. We are trying to get our children involved in our traditions, culture and reconnecting with Mother Earth. We don't really have anything on the reservation. A lot of our children are listening to their IPods and don't know their language and culture," said Garcia.

Funding for Project Venture comes from various sources, including federal grants, private fundraising, community contributions, school districts or a combination of programs.

Laguna Pueblo's Superintendent of Education Dr. Anthony Fairbanks confirmed Laguna is an active participant in Project Venture. The Laguna program uses a multi-disciplinary approach collaborating between graduate student fellows in the sciences and K-12 teachers in the school.

Bernalillo Public School District Superintendent Barbara Vigil-Lowder also confirmed the school district utilizes the Project Venture model through its Native American liaison department. Tim Martinez, a Bernalillo school coach, participated in the recent training session at the All Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Sandoval Pueblo, Farmington schools, Isleta Pueblo, Pojaque Pueblo, Native American Community College, Santa Fe Community College, Espanola and Farmington schools are participants in NIYLP's program.

NIYLP is a non-profit public charity headquartered in Gallup.

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