Understanding American Indian and Alaska Native Early Childhood Needs

Understanding American Indian and Alaska Native Early Childhood Needs: The Potential of Existing Data

This report describes preliminary work in support of an early childhood needs assessment for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children prenatal to age five. The report uses existing data to describe the population of AI/AN children and families and their participation in early childhood services.

*Listen to and Download PDF of report here

Dr. Bowman Contributes to AEA Feminist Issues in Evaluation Newsletter

As we focus on intersectionality, we reached out to members of other TIGs to solicit their perspectives on and experiences with intersectionality. Three colleagues from different sectors and life experiences discuss how they address issues of diversity, equity, and justice in their evaluation work.
Nicole Bowman (Mohican/Lunaape), PhD is President of Bowman Performance Consulting and an evaluator/ researcher with the University of WI-Madison. She currently chairs the Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation TIG and is a member of the Independent Consulting TIG and Multi-ethnic Evaluation TIG.

In your own words, how would you describe intersectionality?
Intersectionality feels like linear lines but when I practice it, it is round and relational. I enjoy seeing where things “connect” and “are related” (like our Indigenous traditional teachings). So I conceptualize and practice intersectionality as paths crossing on our journey and hopefully paths that continue to circle around and back as I learn and grow from and with others.

Describe your feelings about intersectionality (particularly with gender/feminism) and its impact in/on your work?
Connecting and relations (AKA intersectionality) are central to my life (academic, professional, and personal). And these are not just thoughts but concrete activities and community-based or Indigenous concepts/frameworks that make my work with intersectionality multi-dimensional. They span the realms of physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional as I carry my work out with and in service to others/community. Gender and feminism are only things I have to think about when the western world impacts my life/work. Traditionally speaking there is balance and male/female (and all things) to keep life running smoothly (and work). Gender and feminism have become more important in my work as we seek to include diversity within all we do and gender, sexuality, (i.e. LGBTQF, etc.) really need to be considered more so that feminism also can be inclusive like evaluation should be with different notions of two spirit people.

How can work on intersectionality impact or propel learning to action (this year’s AEA theme)?
Gender and feminism have become more important in my work as we seek to include diversity within all we do within evaluation. Making feminism, gender, or sexuality primarily defined, represented by, and framed via a heterosexual lens is not sufficient and also is excluding a large percent of the population. Feminism, gender, sexuality, (i.e. LGBTQF, etc.) really need to be considered more so that evaluators and the field of evaluation is equipped with the skills, knowledge, and abilities to effectively work with, for, and value our two spirit brothers and sisters.

*Read more here: http://mailchi.mp/7628c56bc902/aea-feminist-issues-in-evaluation-newsletter-july-2017?e=e25a028289

Evaluation and the Framing of Race

Evaluation and the Framing of Race by

First Published March 15, 2017; pp. 167–189

Racial framing can have strong effects on programs, policies, and even evaluations. Racial framing developed as a justification for the exploitation of minorities and has been a primary causal factor in the persistence of racism. By being aware of its pattern, structure, origins, and how racial framing generates effects, we can significantly reduce its influence, thus enhancing the rigor of our studies by controlling for a potential bias that’s often covert. Stories play a critical role in framing and reframing processes. They constitute a key part of the vocabulary of action.

*Read here

A Note from Michael J. Lawler, MSW, PhD

Review Article Opportunity from CYF and APA

I am writing to inform you about an opportunity to contribute a brief review article to CYF NEWS, a bi-annual newsletter produced by the Committee on Children, Youth, and Families (CYF), which is a standing committee of the American Psychological Association (APA). I will be serving as a guest editor of the special issue, which will focus on the Well-being of American Indian Children, Families, and Communities. The special issue will review programs and practices that address the social, emotional, spiritual, and health needs of American Indian children, families, and communities.

CYF NEWS is a widely disseminated newsletter (here is a link to past issues of CYF news: http://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/newsletter/issues.aspx). The audience includes academic researchers, clinical practitioners, policy makers, funding agency representatives, federal lobbyists at APA, and representatives at NIJ, OJJDP, NSF, and NICHD. All have interest in child, youth, and/or family topics and issues in the field. Thus, CYF NEWS contributions have the potential to shape dialogue, policy, and possible future funding directions that can affect the lives of children, youth, and families. It is imperative that contributions to CYF NEWS are well-grounded in scientific research and evidence-based findings.

Details and submission requirements are as follows:

1. Submissions are limited to 1500 words. This word limit does NOT include references or brief author bios, and amounts to about 6 pages.
2. The deadline for submission is August 10th, 2017
3. Co-authors are welcome (including graduate and postdoctoral students)
4. Pictures and brief bios are published with the articles and are due shortly after articles are submitted
5. CYF NEWS is not a peer reviewed journal. I will serve as the guest editor, and will solicit help reviewing contributions as needed
6. The issue will be published in October 2017

  1. Between 3-4 contributions will be included

    If you would like to submit an article, please contact me. We can discuss your proposed submission to ensure it will be tailored appropriately and in the most effective manner possible. I can be reached at michael.lawler@usd.edu

First Cohort of Native Students to Graduate From UW Madison College Pipeline Program

Tacked to the wall of his bedroom on the Oneida Indian Reservation is evidence of how hard Michael Williams worked as a high school student — an acceptance letter to Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

But the real prize, the acceptance letter to UW–Madison, his dream school, travels with him in his backpack, always within reach.

Growing up, Williams, 18, says he watched too many young people flounder in their attempts to leave the reservation and find opportunities elsewhere. He was determined not to be one of them.

“I’ve always wanted to further my education,” he says. “The more I know, the better I feel personally. And I think college is the step to a successful job and a secure future.”

Williams participated in an extensive college pipeline program sponsored by UW–Madison for students from tribal communities. It is a new component of a long-running UW diversity initiative called the Information Technology Academy. The first cohort of 10 Native students, including Williams, is graduating from the program this spring and will be in Madison June 3 for a ceremony marking the occasion.

“The program changed my life,” says Williams, who plans to begin classes at UW–Madison this fall.

He had always hoped to attend college, he says, but UW had not been on his radar prior to the program. During a trip to Madison, he was captivated by the urban environment and found everything on the campus “new and exotic.” He could picture himself among the student body.

“I especially like the idea of walking to class every day and running into friends and new strangers,” says Williams, who has always traveled to school by bus or car. “It’ll be an experience I’ve never had before.”

The initiative is one of the most direct ways university administrators are trying to increase enrollment of American Indian students, currently estimated at just under 1 percent of 43,336 students.

A little background: The Academic Technology Department of the UW’s Division of Information Technology created the Information Technology Academy (ITA) 17 years ago. There are now three programs under its umbrella. All work to increase the number of students of color at UW–Madison and in the field of information technology — two areas where historically they’ve been underrepresented.

ITA Madison, the original program, began in 2000 and works with students from Madison public schools. Three years ago, the tribal component was added to more explicitly recruit American Indian students. It is called ITA’s Tribal Technology Institute and serves two communities: the Oneida Nation near Green Bay and the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in northern Wisconsin.

View entire article here

Dr. Bowman Contributes to Population Guidelines for Native American Populations

Dr. Nicole Bowman contributed to Population Guidelines for Native American Populations (CA Reducing Disparities project). The report was submitted to the CA Office of Health Equity.

*Download the PDF of the report

Moya-Smith: CNN’s ‘United Shades of America’ Passes the Mic to Natives, Which is Always the Right Thing to Do!

Tune in Sunday, May 14 (9 p.m. CST) to view Comedian W. Kamau Bell, the host of the “United Shades of America” on CNN discuss racism in the U.S. with a  focus on Native Americans in this episode.  Bell said it’s imperative that ‘we don’t forget to center Native Americans’ in discussions on racism in the U.S. 

I was sitting to coffee on May 10, in the middle of reading a nasty story, when I got a call from W. Kamau Bell, comedian and host of the piercing and poignant “United Shades of America” on CNN. Kamau and I have run into each other several times, once at the Democratic National Convention in Philly, and he towers over me like a sweet, chuckling oak tree. This time, though, I wanted to chat with him about his Native-focused episode, slated to air May 14 (10 p.m. ET/PT), and also just to shoot the shit because Kamau shoots shit, and he shoots shit well.

In this episode, Kamau visits Standing Rock, the now-gone Oceti Sakowin camp, with water protectors like Ojibwe attorney Tara Houska, actor Adam Beach, families on nearby Pine Ridge reservation, including one whose son had recently been a victim of gang violence.

I told Kamau that I’d been given a preview of the episode:

“I think it’s fuckin’ fantastic,” I said.

“Thank you, man,” he responded gleefully. “You don’t know how much that means to me.”

“The first question I wanted to ask is – Natives are typically overlooked in the mainstream and mainstream programs, especially when it comes to race – so, how did this episode come to be? Was somebody sitting around the table saying, ‘we should really talk about Natives’?”

“To me,” Kamau said, “when we started with the first season of ‘United Shades of America,’ you start to go, ‘well, this is a show where we talk to groups who aren’t being talked to enough or covered enough. And so from the first moments of the show, we were like, ‘we should do something with Native people,’ but even the fact that we approached it that way shows how little we knew. We were like, ‘something!’ So it revealed our ignorance … It’s the thing where it’s like if you talk about Muslims, it’s like, oh, yeah, Islamophobia (or) the Muslim ban. All those things are so covered you sort of know where the tension points are, and that’s where the show comes out of – the tension points. You can’t really pitch to CNN ‘something with Native people.’ They want a specific thing. So the second season comes around, and again we said, ‘we should do something.’ Then suddenly Standing Rock happens, and you’re just like ‘holy shit.’ And it sucks that it takes that, but nobody (at CNN) could deny that there was something to talk about.”

By this point in our chat I was seriously high on caffeine, vibrating like a cheap bed in a seedy middle America motel. I wasted no time in blurting the next question:

“What do you hope people will take away from this episode?” I asked.

“I know that for probably most people watching, an overwhelming majority – probably more than any other episode we’ll ever do – this is all new information,” he said. The Native episode isn’t meant to galvanize the closed-minded, stuck-in-their-way folks into action, prompting them to finally come to terms with what REALLY happened to Natives in this country, on this continent, Kamau added. Instead, he said, “I’m sort of going to the people who are already having these conversations. We need to make sure when we have conversations about America, America’s racism and white supremacy, that we don’t forget to center Native Americans in that conversation.”

We went on to talk about faux feather headdresses, playing Indian, people playing Indian in faux feather headdresses, and about the time musician Pharrell wore that mawkish headdress for the cover of Elle Magazine. (Pharrell quickly – and publicly – apologized after Natives took to Twitter and Facebook and hounded him with facts regarding the reality of cultural theft and misappropriation; he claimed he didn’t know he was participating in something so rotten and wrong.) So I asked Kamau:

“Was there anything (during filming) where you went, ‘holy shit, I did not know that?’”

“I really give Tara (Houska) a lot of credit for this. The conversation we had was probably one that I think about the most.” Kamau said Tara told him about police brutality in Indian country. That Natives are the demographic most likely to be killed by police. “That’s when I was like, ‘wait, wait, wait, what!? I believe you, but can you show me the statistics’? The fact that Natives, per capita, are affected by (police brutality) more and are not even in the conversation …” Kamau paused for a brief second. When he spoke again he admitted that this episode is the one he’s most nervous about in the second season. “It’s not like people can go, ‘OK, I’ll just watch the next hour-long program on Native Americans on mainstream cable television.” He said he wanted to do right by Natives, give them the mic as it were, “because it’s not my story,” he said. Kamau, in his booming, baritone voice, told me he knows full well that after this show airs, there won’t be another like it anytime soon … at least until the third season of ‘United Shades of America’ he hinted, adding that he knows there’s more to cover, more to film, more to learn.

“I know that the 43 minutes plus commercials is not the whole story,” he said, “that there was a lot of stuff that we got that we had to cut out because there’s only 43 minutes. We got great interviews on the Standing Rock reservation we had to cut out, and I also know that these are not the only two tribes in the country. I was trying to make sure that this (isn’t perceived) as thee Native American story. I just want to let people know that if the series continues past this season we will certainly go to other places and find more stories.”

I got off the phone with Kamau buzzing and rattling all over from the joe, feeling a little better about the state of Natives and the mainstream media, but still pretty damned depressed that Trump is president and that the Dakota Access Pipeline has already leaked oil into the soil in South Dakota. Hold on, I thought. Don’t stray into bad news. Not just yet. Ask Tara what she thought of the episode:

“Natives in mainstream media are a rarity. It’s refreshing and empowering to see indigenous voices featured, tearing down stereotypes and speaking from the heart on where we are today,” she said. “Kamau does not exploit, he provides space to speak for ourselves. In a single episode, his show breaks apart myths, educates, and inspires.”

Hear hear. I agree. Because although there is, today, a dearth of Natives represented in mainstream media, which is a sad state of affairs, for now, we must laud those who pass the mic and utter to a room full of non-Native producers and editors and writers, “we should do something with Native people.” Indeed. We should. A seat at the table. It’s coming.

Now, back to the shit show circus. The clowns. Watch yourselves. They bite.

“The Fire That is Beginning to Stand”: Teaching Historical Trauma at Stone Child College

History at its best helps the present make sense of the past. History at its best tells the nation’s story through the voices of all the people. These voices enlighten and provide wise counsel for the present, creating healthy and creative communities. History at its worst not only ignores the different voices, but eliminates them altogether. The resulting silence lives on and is seen and heard in the painful, dehumanizing community stories etched out regularly on American Indian reservations today. Yes, history at its worst is the narrative lived and experienced currently by the Indigenous peoples in the United States. This aftermath of the near extinction of the original peoples is still felt today, and its adverse effects are carried down from generation to generation. This phenomenon is known as historical trauma. In order to combat its adverse effects, it is critical to create new stories that are alive with the hope and determination reflective of a rich past that is not entirely lost.

Beginning in 2013, Stone Child College (SCC) engaged in a three-year process of designing and developing a comprehensive curriculum on historical trauma with the ultimate goal of individual and community healing. The title, Iskotew Kahmahch Opikik in Cree and Biskanewin Ishkode in Chippewa, is a metaphor for each Indigenous nation to begin reclaiming itself as a people. Each Indigenous nation has to fan the fires of rebirth to begin standing as a people, as a community with a sense of knowing how to connect to the trauma of the past in order to heal. Each nation needs to be the fire that burns— healthy and resilient, integrating the past and the present as a proud people.

THE CONTOURS OF HISTORICAL TRAUMA

Cultural traumas are created when attempts are made to eradicate part or all of a culture or people. Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, widely regarded as the mother of historical trauma consciousness among Native Americans, describes the phenomenon as “the cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over one’s lifetime and from generation to generation following loss of lives, land and vital aspects of culture” (Brave Heart & DeBruyn, 1998). This historical trauma is manifested in multiple ways and becomes more pronounced for each succeeding generation. As Carolyn Yoder (2005) asserts, the effects are cumulative and are seen in individual and group attitudes and behaviors in succeeding generations. The transgenerational transmission of these traumas can occur even when the next generation is not told the trauma story, or knows it only in broad outline. A “conspiracy of silence” surrounds events for which grieving and mourning have never taken place.

Unaddressed traumas affect not only those directly traumatized, but their families and future generations as well. Not releasing the trauma causes freezing, or trapping it in the nervous system. Brain researchers tell us that neurons which fire together, wire together. The more intense the experience, the tighter the neural association in the brain, making it difficult to release past memories and behaviors. Furthermore, reenactment behaviors are common in people who experience historical trauma. Such behaviors turn unhealed trauma energy against the self (acting in) or on others (acting out). Paradoxically, reenactments represent attempts to resolve the effects of trauma. Reenactment behaviors are a major public health issue and indicate that people and groups need psychosocial and spiritual help.

In addressing historical trauma at SCC, we began with these philosophical and educational tenets in mind: 1) education is an effective way to heal from our historical trauma of loss of land, loss of people, loss of family, and loss of culture; 2) each person must take responsibility for self-healing; and 3) as a communal culture, healing takes place within the context of community.

In regards to healing, we believe in: 1) Coming with gratitude— becoming more present to the wonder of being alive in this amazing world. 2) Honoring our pain—dedicating time and attention to honoring our pain ensures space for grief, outrage, and sorrow. This caring derives from our interconnectedness with all of life (a core Native belief). 3) Seeing with Native eyes—envisioning what is possible with a new understanding of our power to make a difference. 4) Going forth—clarifying our vision of how we can act for healing of our world, identifying practical steps that move our vision forward.

In teaching, we believe in the experiential—bridging theory with real world practice. We also believe in employing a high context, using multimedia formats with a variety of visuals so students can observe and listen. And we seek to be interactive, because processing in both small and large group formats helps internalize concepts and course content.

OUR CURRICULUM

When organizing the course content, it became apparent that there were core concepts that needed to be revisited over a three-course sequence. The depth and expanse of the coverage varies from course to course. Using a spiral model (see figure 1) provided the opportunity for in-depth and repeated explorations of the key concepts of historical trauma from different perspectives, always with a focus on: What does historical trauma look like? How does it feel? What does it feel like to be healed?

The curriculum consists of three courses (three credits each), with each course organized into three units (see figure 2). These nine credits are designed to cover the topic of historical trauma in 135 hours of instruction. The three courses also serve as core requirements in several of SCC’s Associate of Science degree programs. The first course begins with an overview of the theory of historical trauma from confronting, understanding, and releasing the past to healing and transformation. Sherman Alexie’s book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, was used as a real-world connection of how historical trauma plays out in the main character’s life. This novel was also used to illustrate the various phases of “the hero’s journey,” as articulated by Joseph Campbell (2008).

The second course revisits historical trauma but this time analyzes it by looking at the Maori, the Indigenous people of New Zealand. Through their life experience students gain an understanding of how historical trauma feels and what it looks like. They then step back to analyze the “acting out” behaviors (anger, rage, bullying, hypervigilance, nightmares, flashbacks, loss of capacity in working memory) and the “acting in” behaviors (depression, numbness, feeling weak or drained, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, feeling spaced out, unable to act, avoiding others).

The third course addresses historical trauma by taking a hard look at it within the community, using the qualitative research methodology of phenomenology to better understand how historical trauma is evident in the community—always looking at the solutions as well as the problems. Students receive hands-on experience in phenomenological research when they conduct 20 faceto- face interviews, gathering information from a cross section of community members ranging from young adults to elders. It was interesting to observe the students’ reactions when they began word-for-word transcriptions of these personal interviews along with an analysis of these data, noting the different themes that emerged. Suddenly, historical trauma became more real for them. Overall, SCC opted for a curriculum design that focuses on information processing and deep thinking. As illustrated in figure 3, first we begin with the big ideas and outcomes that serve as the foundation for the unit and course. Next, the assessments are linked to real-world experiences and require the student to demonstrate competence and understanding. Additionally, assessments are varied in order to appeal to the learning styles of the students, ranging from reading and writing assignments to projects, small and large group presentations, role playing, etc. Third, we develop a detailed lesson plan that gives ideas on how the actual teaching may proceed. Stage three can be adapted and modified according to time, place, and students. Lessons include readings, novels, short stories, dramatizations, discussions, video links, projects, and so on. The emphasis is always on engaging and challenging the students to understand the content and to demonstrate their understanding in their real-world contexts. Each unit has 12 to 15 lessons with options for adapting to fit the students’ needs.

When studying a phenomenon such as historical trauma, the goal is to look at the experiences from multiple points of view in order to eventually come to a sense of its essence. For example, how is historical trauma manifested today within the Rocky Boy reservation community? What do these manifestations signify for the participants and the community? Additionally, when considering the conscious aspects of a traumatic event, the researcher has to be aware and empathetic to the request of asking the participant to re-live an experience or set of experiences that may be extremely painful (Creswell, 2007).

CONCLUSION

Stone Child College has now taught the entire historical trauma curriculum during two summer terms and continues to teach it as an integral component of its overall academic curriculum. The college is hopeful that this information will help each person participating in the program to move toward the healing process, and that it will provide inspiration for the community at large, creating new stories that are alive with hope and determination reflective of a rich past not entirely lost.

V.P. Allery, Ph.D. (Cree), is a faculty member at Stone Child College. REFERENCES

Alexie, S. (2007). The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Brave Heart, M.Y.H., & DeBruyn, L.M. (1998). The American Indian Holocaust: Healing Historical Unresolved Grief. American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research, 8(2), 60–82.

Campbell, J. (2008). The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Novato, CA: Joseph Campbell Foundation Publishers.

Creswell, J.W. (2007). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design. London: Sage Publications.

Yoder, C. (2005). The Little Book of Trauma Healing: When Violence Strikes and Community Security Is Threatened. Intercourse, PA: Good Books Publishing.

The Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation Current Publication Now Available!

The current publication of the Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation is now available.

Articles published include:

Translating Project Achievements into Strategic Plans: 
A Case Study in Utilization-Focused Evaluation 

The World of Evaluation: Challenges Faced by Student Evaluators 

A Mechanism-Centred Approach to Evaluating Complex Aid Interventions: 
The Case of Accompanying Measures to Budget Support 

You Call This Exemplary? Lessons from an Unsung International Evaluation 

Click here to read the newest articles.

Ceremony Honors World War I Standing Rock Sioux Code Talkers

The families of 17 Standing Rock Sioux veterans are receiving Congressional Gold Medals in honor of the men’s service as code talkers during World War I. The men were among those fighting in the trenches along the Western Front in France seven years before Native Americans were granted citizenship by the United States government. Standing Rock Sioux Veterans Service Officer Manaja Hill says the tribe’s World War One code talkers served to defend their people and ancestral lands.

“Their commitment and their willingness to fight for, truly, our way of life, and our land, their families, their relatives,” Hill said. “Truly that’s what it was because there was none of this patriotic stuff that goes on now. We weren’t citizens. They weren’t citizens. What they fought for was what they believed in and that came from the heart. It can’t come from anywhere else.”

Hill also adds that for the Lakota, it was less a matter of talking in code than of simply speaking their own language to each other..

“During this period of time I think very few of our ancestors knew the English language,” he said. “The people who were listening – even on our side – couldn’t understand what they were saying. So I think the term code talker is misinterpreted to a large degree because our ancestors didn’t know how to speak English.”

The Standing Rock Sioux was among nearly three dozen tribes that used their Native languages as an unbreakable code to communicate vital information during World Wars One and Two. The code talkers were often not recognized at the time and for decades after because the strategy was classified. The program that used Navajo speakers during World War II was among the first to go public. They were honored by President Richard Nixon in 1971 and their story was popularized in the fictionalized 2002 film The Wind Talkers.

The Standing Rock code talkers were first honored by Congress in 2008. In all, 63 Standing Rock Sioux veterans were awarded Congressional Gold Medals.

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