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A year and a half after receiving a detailed complaint from tribal leaders, the Education Department plans to investigate their accusations that the Wolf Point School District in Montana discriminates against Native American students. Read The New York Times article.
‘I Feel Invisible’
At Wolf Point High School in rural Montana, Native American students face the same neglect Native students across the U.S. do as they navigate a school system that has failed American Indians. Read The New York Times article.
Reprinted with permission.
By Rachel Brazil, New Rockford Transcript
A new kind of food bank is on the way to the Spirit Lake Reservation. What began as a class project is now making the transition from vision to reality. Founder and coordinator Patrick Schmid, a student in the social work program at Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC) in Fort Totten, has partnered with Great Plains Food Bank in creating a non-profit food bank.
Schmid says, “The winter holidays can be hard for a lot of people regardless of race, class or family size. It is the goal of this project to distribute food to the people of the reservation and area communities, no questions asked. You don’t need to be tribally enrolled, live on the reservation or have a referral. No one will be denied. All in need of food assistance are welcome.”
The Great Plains Food Truck will arrive on Thursday, Dec. 27 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the west parking lot at Cankdeska Cikana Community College, 214 1st Ave, Fort Totten, N.D. There will be signs to direct traffic.
Starting Small, Thinking Big
Schmid has lived in the area for the past nine years and is an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Tribe. He was born into the Yankton and LaRoque families. His adoptive parents, Mike and Danette Schmidt, live south of New Rockford near Barlow.
His uncle, Roger Yankton, had a significant influence in his upbringing, inspiring Schmid to envision what the reservation could be when people care. Schmid says, “You’ve really got to really know a place to care about its future. The reservation means a lot to me. Geographically, yes— it has some of the most beautiful landscape that I’ve ever seen. But also socially, these are good people who live here.”
The idea for developing a food bank began as part of a class project, but was fueled by the frustration Schmid felt in knowing the limitations people have to overcome just to fill their pantry. Schmid says, “Food is a great starting point for change. It is what brings us together as people, and it is what bridges our communities.”
As part of the social work program as CCCC, Schmid participated in an internship with the Hope Center in Devils Lake, which has a mission to help “meet the nutritional, emotional and spiritual needs of others. Through regular food distributions and special programs, we are meeting needs and impacting hunger in the Lake Region.”
Schmid drew inspiration from the Hope Center model and saw the opportunity for a more inclusive food bank program on the reservation to address the disparities for the people on and surrounding the reservation.
Galynn Lindemann, instructor for the social work program at CCCC says projects such as this promote a kind of healing from the inside out that not only changes perceptions and keeps bridges open, but ultimately makes way for a future that is inclusive to cultural and economic diversity. The Spirit Lake Reservation and surrounding area is home to enrolled members, intertribal residents as well as non-natives and new American immigrants. What a better place to put the Dakota phrase, “mitákuye oyás’in” meaning “all my relations” into practice.
Often people are hesitant to participate in a food distribution program, assuming they will be judged or turned away, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Many clients who benefit from the Great Plains Food Bank are what can be called the working poor— those who make too much to qualify for supplement nutrition benefits, yet don’t make enough to always make ends meet.
As Schmid’s vision for a food bank began to take shape, he contacted the Great Plains Food Bank and then patiently waited for a reply. When he received a supportive email stating they would send a truck filled with food donations, Schmid was overjoyed.“I just kept reading that email over and over until I realized this was really happening.”
Volunteerism and community involvement were two of the special ingredients that contribute to Schmid’s success. In fact, not long ago he couldn’t have envisioned that his name being in a newspaper for any good reason. His involvement with the Hope Center, First Nations Women’s Alliance and Sweetwater Elementary as a special needs paraprofessional has opened the doors for many good things.
Now Schmid is building connections with small businesses like Lake of the Woods Pie Company, who is interested in making food donations and Recovery Appliance Repair, who is discussing refrigeration options at the food bank’s yet-to-be-determined location. Larger businesses like WalMart and area grocers have expressed interest in providing donations as well.
There is plenty more work ahead for the food bank’s five member board of directors. “So far, we have focused on building a solid foundation based upon honesty, inclusiveness and volunteerism.” Schmid explains. The next tasks ahead include securing a permanent location, hiring a director, and working with community elders to establish a name.
Inspired Problem Solving
Schmid’s story is just one example of how the social work program at CCCC offers students a unique opportunity to integrate their real life experiences into their academic work and career training. Instructor Lindemann says, “We currently have 20 students in the program, and each brings their own drive, which often fueled by their own lived experience. With such a broad diversity of strengths, each student brings a gift to share with the class and the community.” She goes on to explain, “Going into social work does not necessarily equate a future career in child protective services. In fact, there are 101 career options for someone with a degree in social work.”
The social work program at CCCC began in January 2016 with a partnership with Lake Region State College, later evolving into a 2+2 transfer program with the University of North Dakota. Schmid has already been accepted to UND and will be attending the fall semester 2019. This will offer new and exciting challenge as he juggles his responsibilities for his family at home. Still, his wife and children value his academic success and know it is a benefit to them all in the long run. “The social work program at CCCC is both rewarding and challenging,” Schmid says, “it’s not something you can do if you are dishonest with yourself. It forces you look within and better yourself to you can better serve others.”
It is the mission of CCCC to provide opportunities that lead to student independence and self-sufficiency through academic achievement and continuation of the Spirit Lake Dakota language and culture. For more information on courses and programs, call (701) 766-4415 or visit www.littlehoop.edu.
Joy Bridwell, an employee at Stone Child College Library in Box Elder, Montana serving the Rocky Boy Reservation, was recognized for her work as a staff member and member of several committees and an organizer of events drawing thousands of patrons into the library.
Bridwell’s important work with students, preparing them for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium Knowledge Bowl and creating Cree Language materials for the college and community and partners with area elders for the tribal archive were just a few of the reasons Bridwell was awarded a $1,000 grant from the American Indian College Fund. Bridwell used the award to purchase education media for the library.
Read the full article in American Libraries.
Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times names the American Indian College Fund in Forget Trinkets. These Gifts Change Lives, his annual holiday guide for presents with meaning.
Supporting the American Indian College Fund and Native access to higher education was listed as one way to be an ally of Indigenous people for Thanksgiving and beyond by the San Francisco Chronicle.
With help from the American Indian College Fund, Native students are learning how to navigate the path from high school to college and career. The College Fund’s Matthew Makomenaw (Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians) shares with the Center for Equity in Learning how the program is preparing students to succeed academically and in their careers.
Cheryl Crazy Bull on the Center for Equity in Learning blog. The piece is about our work at the College Fund with Native students and how we connect them to resources and advocacy and working to ensure they go to college in safe and welcoming environments while also understanding their historical experience and how that enters their goals as students.
Cheryl Crazy Bull interviewed about strengthening Native communities through higher education, by Eric Neutuch, NACAC Journal of College Admissions article, Fall 2018, Includes interview with Cheryl Crazy Bull.
College Fund named recipient of donation in legal settlement.
Game Site Apologizes For ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ Leak, Pays £1 million Donation,
by Brian Crecente, Variety
College Fund’s College Pathways Manager Interviewed About How to Increase Native American Student Enrollment.
College Fund’s College Pathways manager interviewed in article about how to increase Native American student enrollment. Despite Obstacles, ASU Native Community Grows, by Nick Hedges, State Press (ASU)
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, members of Congress crafted legislation that allowed us to reach an important milestone in our nation’s effort to achieve equity in research, education, and extension.
On Oct. 20, 1994, 29 tribal colleges received land-grant institution status, giving them access to federal government resources, improving the lives of Native students through higher education, and helping propel American Indians toward self-sufficiency.
At Northwest Indian College, students in the Native Environmental Science program pursue that holistic approach to research. They work hands-on in the lab, early in their educational journey. And they communicate with indigenous communities, who help direct the focus of research.
The high court decided 6 to 2 Tuesday to leave in place a state law that requires residents to provide an ID displaying a residential address rather than a P.O. box number to vote. Republican lawmakers who pushed for the measure say the rule is designed to combat voter fraud.
President Cheryl Crazy Bull of the American Indian College Fund’s work cited in story about how TCUs are educating Natives nationwide while preserving Native cultures and languages.