The Big Picture High School from Lafayette (Onondaga) in New York state came to visit Brown University on Oct. 17, 2014. The MET School and Big Picture Learning Networks are also found here in Providence, RI and they were able to take students to visit Brown University students and faculty demonstrating a Native American presence and positive role modeling aspect for the BP youth. Students from the Native Americans at Brown (NAB) student group gave generously of their time and were supportive of these high school students to continue their education and share their own experiences while Native faculty also shared experiences of what it was like to be teaching at Brown.
Native Americans at Brown (NAB) give a campus tour to BP students on campus.
The Lafayette BP has traditionally been around 50% or so Onondaga tribal youth as students, as Lafayette is right out of the reservation boundaries. This is noteworthy as most schools have an average of less than 1% of a Native student population. Having worked with Big Picture Learning Networks before and co-founding the Native Student and Family Wellness Initiative, we worked extensively focusing on and improving the Native American student experience in education involving family, community, advocates, and schools network for the wellness and success of our indigenous students, one of the most under-represented and under-served student populations in the country.
We hope that their visit was a positive and uplifting experience and makes their visit to Brown something they want to keep in mind for their own futures, as well as any other continued education they are thinking about pursuing after high school. We emphasized that being either Native American or from Big Picture schools is a great thing because diversity of student body is something these schools want and their backgrounds, cultures, and experiences make attending an enriching and educating experience for everyone. Many thanks to the NAB tour guides and organizers David Stablein (BP Advisor) and Susan Osborn (BP Lafayette Principal). We wish them the best of luck for the future!
Tonya Gonnella Frichner, featured on right, Onondaga (laywer, activist, professor of American Indian Law and International Human Rights Law and President/Founder of the American Indian Law Alliance of New York and New Jersey.
Gwendolen Cates, featured on far left side, Filmmaker and producer of “Guswenta” (documentary, 33 minutes)
Film Screening Event at the New School @ New York City, sponsored by the Environmental Studies Program and Global Studies Program at the New School
October 13, 2014 “Indigenous Peoples Day”
Fantastic overview of the event of the 400 year anniversary of the Two Row Wampum treaty between the Dutch and the Haudenosaunee (“People of the Longhouse”) in 2013 when the canoe journey from Onondaga in central upstate New York to the city of New York to the shore of the United Nations to bring the original message of peace and partnership as brothers “together side by side in the river of life, each not in the way of the other or their governance.” It is the first treaty, signified by the wampum belt and a living record of the event, made with the indigenous peoples of this East Coast region with the European settlers in 1613. Many other treaties followed, in similar fashion with other governments such as the French, British, Spanish, and, of course, the United States.
The government of the Haudenosaunee, otherwise known as the Six Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora), is one the longest standing participatory democracies in the world and the blueprint of the government of the United States of America respected and observed by men like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. The Treaty of Canandaigua, between the Haudenosaunee and the United States, in 1794 was commissioned by George Washington to memorialize the treaty in wampum as part of the “Peace and Friendship” treaties. The message is that it is time to recognize that relationship of sovereign brotherhood and respect with both Indigenous and European Americans, as well as to honoring the Earth and taking responsibility to take care of it again, to restore both peace and friendship.
Haudenosaunee writer, E. Pauline Johnson, of Mohawk and English descent considered “Indian girl of modern fiction” at the turn of the 19th century.
Today, we discussed Johnson’s reading and how her cultural influence shows up in her writing of this story and in many of her other ones as well. She writes a short story that is surprisingly full of issues that are struggled with by modern natives even today about love, death, religion, culture, identity, and home. Her ideas have been marvelously posed to readers speaking from the time of her writing of the turn of the 19th century which resonate today. The discussion was lively and interesting and garnered the curiosity of many Native Literature students.
Days 8 & 9 were unusual because we left early this week on Thursday to return on Sunday for classes which left us with a compressed schedule with no regular time to do minute papers in study sessions in the afternoon. Therefore, we pick up today with Monday (Day 10) and combine minute papers for both Sunday and today for the discussion around Eastman and Johnson’s writings talking about Wounded Knee and the Haundenosaunee.