Monday, April 26, 2010

SIPI Commencement Ceremonies

I have been on my own since Jonas returned to Portland and I found myself on the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute campus interviewing students with my production assistant Kelly B.

The campus is quiet because classes are over, but we make time to get stories about the new head start facilities on campus(which is available for the students) and we managed to run into a few of the dedicated science students still working on their projects and research. We were fortunate enough to see and get information about the Advanced Technical Education at SIPI and talked about the latest awards and breakthroughs with Dr. Nader Vadiee, as he gave alumni tours and demonstrations at the new Science and Technology building. They are really into the practicum learning in renewable energies here, but that is a totally different blog item/story to be told soon.

My best time was sitting in on graduation rehearsal and the actual graduation ceremonies on Friday. There was a meet and greet in the Hogan located on campus prior to commencement that had staff, administration, state/tribal/and national government leaders, parents and a hummingbird seemingly trapped in the rafters above. Someone mentioned that in Navajo philosophy the hummingbird is there to ease the mind and clear our thoughts. It was clear these students we were celebrating and sending off to the real world worked hard and finished their degrees with the hopes and visions to continue their educations at 4-year colleges or go on and apply their educations to their own endeavors.

I leave you with a quick slideshow from the rehearsal and graduations day. I had a great time with a great group of students and staff. There are many hidden gems in New Mexico and SIPI is surely one of them.

The following photos are shot and produced by Jaime Aguilar, with production assistance, onsite, from Kelly B., a SIPI student from New Mexico.
The song that accompanies the photos is by Aaron Johnson (Navajo), a natural resources major, titled
"Let Those Colors Fly" written and performed on the hand-drum for the graduation ceremony.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Institute of American Indian Arts visit

We made our way from Crownpoint to Santa Fe to visit the Institute of American Indian Arts, "the nation's only fine arts college devoted solely to the artistic and cultural traditions of all American Indians." IAIA has produced many of the top names in Native art. The school is a hot bed for up and coming filmmakers and artists, but also museum archivists and lawyers.

We were welcomed by the students and staff and had an amazing day of interviews. Watch this clip of Dylan Iron Shirt telling us about his tattoo.

Dylan Iron Shirt's Tattoo from Jonas Greene on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Mexico tour continues

Hello all, a day late, but fresh from New Mexico!

Production has really increased as we wrapped up in Crownpoint on Tuesday and arrived at IAIA late Wednesday. We went right into interviews with our scheduled students during the magic hour and we were totally spent. We started early today and met new students and kept our production level up, solving problems as we encountered them while not missing a beat.

We concluded interviews from the campus in Santa Fe today, but we leave you with a flashback from our food experience as guest food critics for the culinary school at Navajo Technical College, the solar oven, some campus shots at dawn and the "man on the street" (a relative of the Martin Family-owner of the intriguing llama). Enjoy and please wish us safe travels.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Navajo Technical College


We drove in to Crownpoint late Sunday evening, dragging in the inclement weather is synonymous with the season's spring winds and cool rains. We checked into the Navajo Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center and got ready for our adventure awaiting us here in the Land of Enchantment.

Our first day of shooting started early with landscapes of the campus and a visit to the honorable Dr. Elmer Guy, Navajo Technical College president and Fund board member. He shared with us the campus' recent accomplishments, including the two-year college's success and the recent AIHEC conference competitions. This building houses the financial aid, president's office and other tribal entities, and it is properly named the Empowerment Building. Here, we met some of our contacts including Tom Davis, Dean of Instruction.

Mr. Davis has an unique experience in the tribal college system with a resumé that includes helping found the College of Menominee nation and assisting Dr. Robert Martin in rejuvenating the academic accreditation of Tohono O'odham Community College in Arizona. Currently, he evinces the knowledge of the programs here on campus and fittingly so. He gave us a brief, fulfilling tour of the campus' highlighted programs. With a thorough knowledge of every classroom we walked into, we were fortunate to get Martin's experienced viewpoint of this unique oasis of technology instruction that is beyond many four-year mainstream colleges in the setting of a small tribal college on the Navajo Nation reservation.

After all, how many times do you come across a server that has 256 gigabytes of RAM and sophisticated scanner technology that can scan and "print" a 3-D model or create a virtual rendering of a cave that you can fly through with the aid of red and blues paper glasses? All of this is housed in a remote location without a restaurant, yet Navajo Tech does have a culinary arts program in the curriculum. We'll report and share a little more about that later, so please stay tuned.

We had time to visit with the students and faculty on campus at the library, at the bus stop, around the dorms, in the dining hall and Jaime even managed to play some hoops in the multi-purpose room of the dining facility late Monday evening. The skies have been overcast and occasionally sending down a few drops of moisture, but it has been a great, welcoming trip so far.
Being here and seeing/hearing the stories first-hand has really given us an idea of an education experience for Native students can really be at a tribal college. As we move further along on this adventure on reservations and tribal college campuses, we can only hope for more great students to interview and encounter(the more the merrier if you have any suggestions at SIPI, IAIA, Salish, OLC, Sinte Gleska, NWIC, or College of Menominee Nation, let us know in the comments section of this blog). Time will tell if the weather wants to cooperate a little more with our mission, too. So long, until Santa Fe. Please enjoy the Vlog, video blog, we put together for you.

Visiting Navajo Technical College 2010 from Jonas Greene on Vimeo.


Monday, April 19, 2010

American Indian College Fund to Film Video at Tribal Colleges

The Public Education team of the American Indian College Fund is on the road, filming students at tribal colleges and universities. Students at Tohono O'odham Community College, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic University, Navajo Technical College, Institute of American Indian Arts, Northwest Indian College, Oglala Lakota College, Sinte Gleska University, and College of Menominee Nation will be filmed.

Jonas Greene (Laguna Pueblo) and Jaime Aguilar will be on the road with the students, and will be doing the videography and the still photography. Jaime and Jonas will be sharing some of their experiences and conversations with students, faculty, and staff at the tribal colleges here on the blog in the coming weeks.

Join us for a special behind-the-scenes look at Indian Country as seen through the eyes of Jonas and Jaime!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Remembering Minnie Two Shoes

On April 9, the journalism world lost a fine journalist, activist, and teacher. Minnie Two Shoes (Assiniboine from the Ft. Peck reservation in Montana) passed on. She was a founder of the Native American Journalist Association, tireless teacher, journalist, and activist. Godspeed, Minnie.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wilma Mankiller Passes On

Our sympathies and best wishes go out to the friends and family of Wilma Mankiller, who passed on from cancer this week. Mankiller was an author, lecturer and former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. She served 12 years in elected office at the Cherokee Nation, the first two as Deputy Principal Chief followed by 10 years as Principal Chief. She retired from public office in 1995. Among her many honors, Mankiller was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton.

Her roots were in the rural community of Mankiller Flats in Adair County, Oklahoma where she spent most of her life. She was born in 1945 at Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah, and grew up with few amenities. At age 10, her family moved to San Francisco as part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Relocation Program where she lived for two decades before returning to Oklahoma in 1977.

Mankiller was the founding director of the Cherokee Nation Community Development Department, which received several national awards for innovative use of self-help in housing and water projects in low-income Cherokee communities. In 1983, she was elected the first female deputy chief of the Cherokee Nation, and president of the tribal council. In l987, she was elected to serve as the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, and was overwhelmingly re-elected in 1991. She chose not to seek re-election in l995.

During Mankiller's tenure she met with Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton to present critical tribal issues, and she and Navajo Nation President Peterson Zah co-chaired a national conference between tribal leaders and cabinet members which helped facilitate the establishment of an Office of Indian Justice within the U.S. Department of Justice. Her tenure was also marked by a great deal of new development, including several new free-standing health clinics, an $11 million Job Corps Center, and greatly expanded services for children and youth. She led the team that developed the core businesses which comprise Cherokee Nation Enterprises.

She has been honored with many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She has published several works, including Every Day is a Good Day, Fulcrum Publishing 2004, Mankiller: A Chief and Her People, co-authored, St. Martin's Press 1993, A Reader's Companion to the History of Women in the U.S., co-edited, Houghton-Mifflin 1998. She has also contributed to other publications, including an essay for Native Universe, the inaugural publication of the National Museum of the American Indian. Wilma Mankiller lived on the Mankiller family allotment in the Cherokee Nation with her husband, Charlie Soap.

Mankiller served on several philanthropic boards, including 12 years on the board of trustees of the Ford Foundation, four years on the Board of the Ms. Foundation for Women, and four years on the board of the Seventh Generation Fund. She current serves on the board of the Freedom Forum and as well as its subsidiary, the Newseum, a $400 million museum of the news being constructed on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. to promote the First Amendment. She served as a member of the external Diversity Advisory Council for Merrill Lynch. She presented more than 100 lectures on the challenges facing Native Americans and women in the 21st century. She served as the Wayne Morse Professor at the University of Oregon for the fall semester, 2005 where she and Dr. Rennard Strickland taught a class on tribal government, law and life.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Coca-Cola First Generation Scholars Honored

Making the transition to college is hard for anyone, but when a student is a first-generation college student, the transition is even more difficult, because they do not have the family resources to help guide them through the process.

The Coca-Cola Foundation is helping to ease that transition for first-generation scholars through its first-generation scholarship program, which provided 46 scholarships to American Indian students for the academic year 2009-10. The scholarships are for the amount of $5,000 a year and they follow the student throughout their academic career if they maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or above.

For a list of scholarship recipients and their schools as well as a slide show of a banquet honoring the Coca-Cola First Generation Scholars in Chandler, Arizona, click here.

Congratulations to Our Tribal College Students of the Year and Dr. Robert Martin

Thirty-three tribal college students were honored at the AIHEC Student Conference in Chandler, Arizona for their achievements as being named Students of the Year.

In addition, Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee), president of the Insitute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was honored with the Fund's Tribal College President Award.

Congratulations to all of you for your hard work and outstanding achievements!