What's New In The Community: June 2014
Monday, June 09 2014
Written by The Circle Staff,
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By Rachel Eta Hill

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – In reaction to the Spring Fest incident on the University of North Dakota campus where several students posted photos of themselves wearing T-shirts with the school's previous mascot with the words, “Siouxper Drunk,” Native students and others rallied on May 16 at the University of North Dakota in an event dubbed #WALKFORCHANGE.

This was a student demonstration and was comprised of over 200 UND students, community supporters and UND administration members who walked together holding signs to educate their community and others on the adverse race relations occurring at their school.

Dani Miller, a recent UND graduate and Sisseton-Wahpeton citizen, was asked by her fellow student body to give a speech addressing the hostile learning environment at her school, sparked by the offending T-shirts.

“Native students are just trying to go to school and now they are being attacked,” Frank Sage, a Navajo doctoral student said. He attended UND for the last 14 years and said it was important for students not only to work on changing race relations between Native and non-Native students at the school, but that it ultimately comes down to educating others on why this type of behavior is inappropriate in an academic setting. “Treat people the way you want to be treated,” Sage said.

Miller added, “All people, native and non-native, to educate themselves on our histories and on the current state of race relations in the United States. Education is the answer to dismantling oppression and [assists in] … relationship building between all people.”

Native students at UND, like many others across the country are working to educate and inspire others on how to change environments of adversity and racism in their own schools. They are fighting hate with love, unity and education. Racism, after all, poses a great threat to the attainment of post-secondary education for our Indigenous students. We must support and applaud those in our communities who are a positive and motivating force for that change. To learn more, use the twitter hash tag #WALKFORCHANGE.

Rachel Eta Hill is an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and present graduate student in the American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Program at the University of California, Los Angeles.


Little Earth of United Tribes is seeking interested candidates for its YouthBuild Program, an education and construction training program. The cohort of participants will start training classes in late June and go until early September. The program provides young adults without a high school diploma the opportunity to continue their education, build skills, and serve the community.

YouthBuild is a program that helps young people earn their GED while training participants in the construction trades, teaches work readiness and leadership skills. Hands-on construction training takes place while refurbishing housing within the community. Participants will also build a greenhouse on site at Little Earth. Participants who successfully complete the training receive industry-recognized certifications and assistance in obtaining a livable wage job.

Little Earth is seeking individuals, 18 to 24 years-old, are low-income, have dropped out of high school or are in danger of dropping out in the opinion of a school official; that are be motivated to make a positive change in their lives.

Those selected for the program will earn a stipend for participation and will learn skills that will last a lifetime.

To learn more about the Little Earth YouthBuild Program, call Kelly at 612-455-2807. Application materials are also available at the Little Earth Resident Association office located at 2495 18th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404.


GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. – Perpich Center for Arts Education chose Red Lake Middle School as one of four schools to participate in Turnaround Arts: Minnesota, a national initiative designed to narrow the achievement gap and improve student engagement through the arts.

Schools in the program receive intensive arts education resources and expertise and the schools' communities will be involved in strategic planning processes with guidance from Perpich, a state agency serving all schools, students and educators in Minnesota. The agency seeks to advance K-12 education throughout the state by teaching in and through the arts. Selected schools will receive arts education training and resources to address their individual needs as well as access to community arts and cultural organizations and a national network of school leaders and teachers.

Participating schools were selected by program partners through a stringent, nationally-vetted process. Selection criteria included demonstrated need and opportunity, strong school leadership and a commitment to arts education. Turnaround Arts schools represent elementary and middle schools from across the country and encompass a diversity of student demographics and urban, suburban and rural settings. The program will begin in July with a summer leadership institute in northern Virginia for all schools in the network.

“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to be a part of the Turnaround Arts program,” Red Lake Superintendent Anne Lundquist said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to integrate the arts into the current improvement efforts underway at Red Lake Middle School”

The state legislature approved $750,000 specifically for the Minnesota Turnaround Arts initiative. In addition, the Minnesota State Arts Board has committed $300,000 for grants – up to $75,000 per school per year. Each school also will receive $25,000 in arts supplies, musical instruments and play licenses through national Turnaround Arts.

“One of the greatest challenges we face is student performance in the areas of academics and behaviors,” Red Lake Middle School Principal Susan Ninham said. “My hope is the arts integration program will provide our students opportunities to envision themselves as successful at learning. They can get a high-quality education that includes art forms from their Anishinaabe culture.”

Red Lake Middle School provides education to 275 children in grades 6-8. Most of the students live on the reservation. Ninham has led the school in turnaround efforts in recent years and says she sees the arts as key elements in the students’ lives as well as a tool to help them build confidence and perform their best.

“Our community has a rich cultural heritage that makes use of the natural resources to express our unique identity and our connection to Mother Earth,” Ninham said. “I hope our next seven generations can engage in bringing this artistic beauty into their lives and the Red Lake Nation.”

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