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.
Native American and Indigenous Studies at Brown (NAISAB) will be hosting a year long lecture series. Our first guest is Kēhaulani Kauanui, an Associate Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Wesleyan University, where she teaches on colonialism, Native sovereignty and critical race studies. She earned her PhD in History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2000. Kauanui is the author of Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity (Duke University Press, 2008), and is currently writing her second book, Thy Kingdom Come? The Paradox of Hawaiian Sovereignty, a critical study of gender, sexuality, and nationalism. She is one of six co-founders of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, established in 2008, and has also worked as producer and host of a public affairs radio program, “Indigenous Politics: From Native New England and Beyond,” and an anarchist politics radio show, “Horizontal Power Hour.” Her talk, titled “Nothing Common about ‘the Commons’: Settler Colonialism and the Politics of Indigenous Land Dispossession” is sponsored by the CV Starr Lectureship.
This lecture is open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend. Please support Native American and Indigenous Studies at Brown University (NAISAB) and I hope to see some of you there!
Ciara Oakley-Robbins, 15, of the Native Tribal Scholar program demonstrates a traditional Native American toy at the program’s end-of-the-year family day. The summer program expresses the importance of college to Native high school students. photo by AYRIKA WHITNEY Mashpeen Wampanoag, … Continue reading →
Today, we talked about poems and short stories from “The Business of Fancydancing” by Sherman Alexie and watched a short documentary film called, “A Century of Genocide in the Americas: The Residential School Experience” by award-winning director Rosemary Gibbons, a graduate of the Native Voices Documentary Program at the University of Washington. The poems and stories talked about the clash of modern life and culture, identity and history, and being a native person navigating the complexities of contemporary changes. The film discussed residential and boarding school experiences of survivors with difficult circumstances being taken from home, made to assimilate and be institutionalized, and ultimately, be white-washed of their culture and have Indian culture, language, and identity removed from them. Discussion was great and students had good questions. They are fantastic in engaging with difficult material like this and thinking about them together.
Today, we talked about this reading and how she introduces some very controversial topics which at the time of her writing this story in the 1980’s was something that was discussed hotly: immigration. In this modern day, it is still a contested subject around America’s foreign and domestic policies post 9/11 and continually rising racial tensions. Also, she talks about the unique Native American perspective of being indigenous and native to this land while more and more immigrants come to America and how the view from each perspective is different depending on your viewpoint and where you are coming from.