Monday, May 19, 2008

State may be asked to help in Macy dispute

Published Saturday May 17, 2008
State may be asked to help in Macy dispute

LINCOLN — The attorney for the Macy, Neb., school district said Friday that the Attorney General's Office may be asked to intervene in a dispute between the school district and the Omaha Tribal Council over the status of school Superintendent Morris Bates.

Bates on Wednesday was escorted off the Omaha Indian Reservation by members of the Tribal Council and tribal police and told to never return.

That action followed a meeting of the Omaha Nation School Board in which a motion to fire Bates was made but never seconded.

The school board member who made the unsuccessful motion, Barry Webster, also is a member of the Tribal Council. He and the tribal chairman, Ansley Griffing, led the contingent that expelled Bates, according to minutes of the school board meeting.

Attempts to reach Bates at his home in Homer, Neb., were unsuccessful.

Webster said the Tribal Council was exerting its sovereignty rights, expelling the superintendent due to poor test scores of Omaha Nation students.

"It should have been done a long time ago," he said.

John Recknor, the school district's attorney, said the Tribal Council has no jurisdiction over employment of staff of the school, which is a state entity.

Bates, he said, just received a two-year contract extension from the six-member school board, a majority of whom believes the superintendent is doing a good job.

Recknor said he was instructed by the school board, during an emergency meeting Thursday, to send a letter to the Tribal Council informing them of the "real mess" they have created.

He said summer school would be canceled because of the removal of Bates, who must be paid because of the new contract. State funding and the status of federal grants administered by Bates also are imperiled, Recknor said.

Recknor said he hoped the Tribal Council would reverse its action against Bates and back off a threat to expel two other school administrators. If not, he said he might ask the attorney general to step in.

Omaha Nation Schools superintendent removed from reservation

Omaha Nation Schools superintendent removed from reservation
BY DOLLY A. BUTZ / Sioux City Journal
Friday, May 16, 2008 - 07:10:25 pm CDT

MACY — The Omaha Tribal Council has removed the Omaha Nation Public
Schools superintendent from the reservation and asked that two
principals be dismissed from their positions for unstated reasons, the
school’s lawyer said Friday.

John Recknor, an attorney based in Lincoln who represents the school,
said the school board was meeting Wednesday when a board member moved
that Superintendent Morris Bates be fired immediately. Recknor said the
motion was never seconded. A short time later, he said, members of the
Tribal Council ordered Bates off of the reservation.

“A couple members of the Tribal Council, including the board member,
came in and handed him a piece of paper saying that he needed to get
off of the reservation immediately, and that he should resign or they
would remove him from the reservation,” he said.

Recknor said the Tribal Council also produced a motion asking to
dismiss high school principal David Friedli and special education
director Mary Wilson from their positions. Unlike Bates, he said the
two were not ordered to leave the reservation. All three staff members
are under contract, according to Recknor.

Sioux City Journal reporters made numerous phone calls to the Omaha
Tribal Council office in Macy but were unable to speak with anyone
about this issue.

Recknor said Bates was escorted out of the meeting by a tribal police
officer, allowed to gather his things from his office and told to leave
the reservation.

Then, at 10 a.m. Thursday, the Tribal Council held a meeting in which
three council members voted in favor of a motion to remove the three
Omaha Nation school officials. Those council members were: Barry
Webster, Amen Sheridan and Sterling Walker, according to meeting

One member, Rodney Morris, voted against the motion, saying he felt the
school board should make the decision, not the Tribal Council. Council
member Ansley Griffin did not vote on the motion, and two council
members, Mitchell Parker and Tim Grant, did not attend the meeting.

Recknor said the school is unaware of any wrongdoing alleged against
Bates and said the Tribal Council has not provided a reason for his
dismissal, or that of Friedli and Wilson.

“He’s still our superintendent,” Recknor said. “We have no grounds or
desire for him not to be our superintendent.”

An emergency meeting was held Thursday afternoon at the school. Recknor
said Broderick Steed is temporarily acting as superintendent.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” he said. “Basically,
this appears to be usurpation of the school district’s power.”

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ojibway leader blames racism for holding back natives

Here is a recent Anishinabe news story (May 8th), posted on the front page of the local Sault Star (Bawating):

Ojibway leader blames racism for holding back natives — COMMENT ON THIS STORY
Posted By Michael Purvis

Racism, passed down over generations, still prevents native youth from getting the kind of education they deserve, says a prominent Ojibway educator and an early leader in the American Indian Movement.

Eddie Benton-Banai addressed teachers, principals and school administrators from a variety of Northern Ontario boards on Thursday as the keynote speaker for a two-day symposium hosted by Algoma District School Board.

"I think the biggest (barrier) is long-standing stereotypes, generational racism as well," Benton-Banai told media. "People don't like to disagree with grandmothers, grandfathers even fathers and moms, you know."

He told of confronting one school board in the United States on its failure to pass any native students over a nine-year span.

"They never addressed the problem, but they came up with the classic answers: 'Well, you know those Indians, they don't want jobs. All they want to do is draw welfare, and the girls all they want to do is become pregnant so they can have bigger welfare cheques,' "said Benton-Banai. "Those were the answers from white, civilized, well-educated school boards."

"That wasn't true then, and it's not true today. . . . So those of you in education: deal with those stereotypes that you have been given from your parents and your grandparents," he said.

Benton-Banai pointed to another barrier, an overwhelming North American mainstream culture that is fortified by religion and politics, and to the "continuing exclusion," of other cultures from education.

There should be "curriculum about other people, not just about native people, but about other people. We don't know enough about each other and I think that's a big barrier," he said to reporters.

The government is working to correct those issues, said Education Minister Kathleen Wynne, who toured local schools on Thursday and was to address the symposium that evening.

"What I would say is, it is starting to happen in Ontario because we do have now this aboriginal education framework; there's more funding for native programming, and so that's the kind of work we're doing," said Wynne. "Are we finished? No, we've got more to do but we're off to a good start."

Wynne said a line has been added to the funding formula, with $15 million in ongoing funding set aside for programming in aboriginal education.
Chief Lyle Sayers, of Garden River First Nation, and Chief Dean Sayers, of Batchewana First Nation, told the symposium that curriculum based on the history of First Nations people in this region would go a long way toward engaging students.

Benton-Banai told the crowd that the American Indian Movement, which gained notoriety in the early 1970s with its bold approach to protest, "sprang to life" behind prison bars, with an idea "that we must build our pride (that) we cannot walk around these streets or work in these factories and work on these jobs without knowing who we are."

"From that small movement came a bigger movement that rolled onto the streets of Minneapolis, where the police were treating native people like the Gestapo treated the Jewish people in Germany, where every Friday and Saturday the police wagons and trucks rolled up to any place where Indian people congregated and threw them into the vans and into the trucks and trucked them off to jail, week after week after week," said Benton-Banai.

He said the resulting movement spread to other parts of the U.S. and led to what is now known as Anishinabe education.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Step by step tribal members bring awareness to Great Lakes

Posted: 5-5-2008

Josephine Mandamin, a member of the  Ojibway First Nation tribe from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, carries a pail of Lake Michigan water while walking along Fruitvale Road in Montague last Monday on the Mother Earth Water Walk. Accompanying her is Josh Me

Josephine Mandamin, a member of the Ojibway First Nation tribe from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, carries a pail of Lake Michigan water while walking along Fruitvale Road in Montague last Monday on the Mother Earth Water Walk. Accompanying her is Josh Me

Josephine Mandamin is a woman on a mission. In fact, she’s an Ojibway First Nation woman on a mission to preserve the Great Lakes for future generations.

Her mission has been to create awareness of the lakes’ plight by walking around them - all five of them- from town to town carrying a pail of the lake water. She is joined by other tribal members and supporters.

Last Monday she passed through the White Lake area on the Mother Earth Water Walk.

Starting the morning at 3:30 a.m. and getting on the road by 4:30 a.m. each day of the walk, Mandamin and her fellow walkers, take shifts in traveling until sunset when the pail and staff of eagle feathers are put to rest at night. The group, which is followed by vans, takes rest days along the trip.

In the final year of the six-year effort, the Mother Earth Water Walk is traveling around the southern end of Lake Michigan and along the Wisconsin shoreline from Manistee, Michigan to Hannaville, Michigan near Escanaba.

This year’s walk began at the Little River Casino in Manistee on Saturday, April 26. Two days later they were in the White Lake area. At 9 a.m., Mandamin and her group were walking steadily along Fruitvale Road between Whitbeck Road and old U.S. 31.

They plan to finish in Hannaville on May 11.

“Lake Michigan has been very prostitutionalized by the money changers,” Mandamin, a resident of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, said. “Our water is not for sale.”

Mandamin said the walk brings attention to the lakes for those who pass by.

She said the lakes are like women who hold life inside them. “Water is life,” Mandamin added.

The walkers pass out brochures explaining the Mother Earth Water Walk, providing simple facts about water and recommendations in preserving water.

The Mother Earth Water Walk started in 2003 by circling Lake Superior. In 2004, the upper half of Lake Michigan was the route of the walk. In 2005 it moved to Lake Huron, then moved on to Lake Ontario in 2006 and Lake Erie in 2007.