Cindy Porter - Community Affairs Analyst
Published November 1, 1999 | November 1999 issue
Five programs on Indian reservations in the Ninth Federal Reserve District recently received distinction from the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. These five are among 16 finalists in the awards program, Honoring Contributions in the Governance of American Indians, which recognizes programs that create sustained and self-determined socioeconomic development on Indian reservations.
The Harvard Project evaluated applications for effectiveness, significance, transferability, creativity, and sustainability. The Harvard Project will select eight programs for "high honors" and prepare reports, case studies and instructional materials to share information about these success stories.
Brief descriptions of the five Ninth District finalists follow.
Pte Hca Ka is a tribal corporation that develops and manages the tribal buffalo herd. In 1991, the herd consisted of 85 head, used entirely for ceremonial purposes.
Today the herd has grown to 1,500 and serves as an economic resource and a cultural link between past and present. Pte Hca Ka owns the only mobile buffalo processing plant in the world, which uses all parts of the buffalo to maximize economic benefit while maintaining respect for the animal.
Buffaloes serve as a source of revenue and food, and are used in traditional ceremonies. The program also generates opportunities for other cottage industries, such as tourism.
The Fond du Lac Licensing and Placement Agency is a private, nonprofit agency contracted by the Fond du Lac Band. It is the only agency in the country that focuses on placing off-reservation Indian children with Indian foster homes.
When the agency was activated in 1991, very few Indian foster children in St. Louis County were placed in Indian homes. By 1996, 60 percent of Indian foster children were placed in Indian homes. The agency places children in foster homes and recruits, trains, and licenses foster parents with the goal of placing children in families with familiar traditions.
The Mille Lacs Band and the state of Minnesota collaborated to create a Conservation Code. The code, which covers land ceded by the Mille Lacs Band in 1837, designates hunting and fishing seasons, sets bag limits and governs licensing for tribal members.
Conservation officers from the tribe, the state, and Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission can enforce the code. The tribe uses fish and game for food; the state uses them to generate tourism. Both parties worked together to determine annual surplus levels and how to divide these surpluses.
Five other Minnesota tribes and two Wisconsin tribes now use this code.
The Ojibwe Language Program teaches and preserves the Ojibwe language and culture for current and future generations of the Mille Lacs Band.
The program serves 350 students, ranging from Head Start and day care programs to high school. The program includes Ojibwe language instruction using elder speakers, and provides curriculum support using books, music, videos, and computers. Each Ojibwe class for K-12 students includes two fluent speakers who engage in dialogue to expose students to conversational Ojibwe.
Students use their language skills by producing music videos, puppet shows, presentations, speeches and Ojibwe language fairs. Language classes are also broadcast, using interactive television, to local non-Indian public schools to reach additional Indian students.
In 1991, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe created a code of education, addressing six topics: curriculum, teachers, school boards, parents, parenting, and drug and alcohol curriculum.
This code set standards for schools and federally funded education programs on the reservation. A unique feature of the code is its use in public schools, since most Rosebud Sioux students are enrolled in local public schools. Some of the features of the code of education include monitoring of attendance and dropouts, parenting workshops, a truancy intervention program, and Lakota language immersion for all grades.
The Tribal Education Department has developed teacher training and a certification program, and recommends culturally sensitive teaching strategies.
For more information about the Honoring Contributions in the Governance of American Indians program, see the Harvard Project Web site at www.ksg.harvard.edu/hpaied/index.htm.
Shortly before this edition of Community Dividend was completed, Harvard University announced eight "high honors" recipients at an awards ceremony on October 6, 1999. Awardees from the Ninth District include: Pte Hca Ka, Inc., Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe; Off-Reservation Indian Foster Care, Fond du Lac Lake Superior Band of Chippewa; and the Ojibwe Language Program, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.