CHICAGO Several Chicago American Indian families spent
this past Sunday afternoon enjoying each other's company at the
Chicago Public Schools T7 American Indian Education Program's "Festival
of Stories and Public Forum."
second edition of "Chi-Noodin" - or "We Write for Ourselves" was
released at the event. The booklet is filled with articles written
by an American Indian writers group. Comprised of Chicago American
Indians, the writers group releases short writings that depict their
living in the urban setting of Chicago.
The staff of the T7 American Indian Education Program took an
opportunity to make a presentation on the various activities they
offer American Indian students who attend the Chicago Public Schools.
Among the activities are: the running club, tutoring program, American
Indian speakers bureau, college and career guidance, book club,
Presentations were made by the program's staff: Jolene Aleck,
Paiute, program manager; Lisa Bernal, Lakota, home/school coordinator;
Maria Guzman, Stockbridge Munsee, data specialist; Monica Rickert,
Potawatomi, public relations consultant; and Debra Yepa-Pappan,
Jemez Pueblo, youth development coordinator.
Each provided an overview of their responsibilities to the success
of the program.
D'Wayne Begay, Navajo, of the United States Tennis Association
gave a presentation on the value of tennis in his life. He was there
in hopes of attracting American Indian youth interest in taking
up tennis a sport.
The keynote speaker for the event was Dallas Goldtooth, Dine/Dakota,
of the 1491's ensemble. 1491's is a ragtag of American Indian filmmakers,
actors and comedians who make satirical short films. The films are
meant to be humorous, while at the same time they encourage the
viewer to find a deeper meaning behind the film.
Goldtooth spent much of his time showing some of 1491's work.
Among the popular on Sunday that drew huge laughter were: "Slapping
Medicine Man," and "Singing Lessons."
The Native News Network is proud to republish two of the short
entries from this year's "Chi-Noodin"
By Raven Roberts, Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation
I was a little girl in the first grade I was put in bilingual class.
I remember not understanding my teacher or the students. The teacher
thought I was a mute in the beginning. Then the day came when I
had to have a parent-teacher conference. My grandmother couldn't
make it so my neighbor, also my babysitter, went in her place. First
thing that came out of my teacher's mouth was, "She does her work
but she doesn't talk or seem to listen." My babysitter laughed and
said, "Because she doesn't speak Spanish. She is Native American."
Then my teacher broke out into laughter. I moved to my new English
speaking multi-cultural class shortly after the meeting.
This is just one incident out of many where my identity was
mistaken. One time some "Mexican" elders were trying to
talk to me in Spanish. I told them, "I apologize but I do not
speak Spanish." Then one of the women broker out in English
talking to the others saying, "Oh these kids today don't even
know their language.' Then I stepped into their circle and told
her, "Spanish isn't my language nor is it yours. I am Native
American. I speak English because my people were taken over by them,
and you speak Spanish because your people were taken over by the
I am not Hispanic but my "cousins" are: we are all
related and some closer than others. Imaginary lines in our minds
and on the maps are what separate us. Hispanics think I look like
them and sometimes I think they look like me, but the reflection
inside is what really matters.
By Debra Yepa-Pappan - Jemez Pueblo and Korean
was not born in Chicago but I was raised here, in the city. I'm
a city girl to the bone. Don't ask me to go camping, because I will
not. I love the city for all its diversity and culture. I am diverse.
But all this is not to say I don't enjoy visiting the woods, the
country, or the mountains. I love the mountains and it's the Jemez
Mountains I love the most. If it weren't for the family trips to
Jemez when I was a kid, I don't know if I would appreciate someplace
other than Chicago.
I like to go back "home" to Jemez. Only there can
I see the entire expanse of the sky, the mesas and mountains making
up the horizons, the turkey vultures flying overhead, and the coyotes
crying in the distance. At night, it is darker than dark and ever
so quiet except for the occasional rez dog barking at something
only it can see. I'm afraid of the dark; I miss my orange city lights.
Only when the sky begins to lighten do I feel safe.
My daughter Ji Hae was born in Chicago. She is being raised
there. She is a city girl through and through. She's more diverse
than I am, made up of two parents of many cultures. She loves the
city. Diversity is natural to her. But unlike me, she would go camping
in a heartbeat if asked. She loves nature hikes and being out in
the woods walking on wet, muddy trails.
We've picked up the tradition of going to Jemez once a year.
I can tell Ji Hae feels right at home when we're there. We take
our drive to the mountains, to the place where we had spread my
father's ashes. We love it up there! We're at peace and feel like
we're with my dad. There's hardly ever anyone else there. The air
is cool and crisp. It's quiet except for the sound of the running
stream and the occasional little bird squawking at us if we get
too close to the tree where it it's nest is. We talk to the bird
to reassure it that we're not there to bring it harm as we move
along our way. Ji Hae loves it there. I think she feels her grandfather's
We make it back to the village before it gets dark, because
like me, Ji Hae is afraid of the dark too. I think she misses her
orange city lights.