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Standing Rock

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Language has power: “Education is the means whereby a culture perpetuates itself and transfers itself to the young"




This is first time UAS has had graduates with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Alaska Native Languages and Studies. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)
The University of Alaska Southeast graduated its first Alaska Native Languages and Studies majors in 2014. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)


Many of Alaska’s rural schools are not working. Low student performance and high teacher turnover are just two of more obvious indicators of problems in these mostly Native school districts. Those working in the schools say it’s time for radical changes.

Paul Berg has taught in Alaska for more than 40 years — 10 of them in villages.

“You want to see racism go to a village school,” said Berg. “You’ll see Outside, usually Anglo teachers have the best jobs, the most pay. Vast majority of administrators will be Anglo. It is not working. The statistics and the data are very clear. ”

Berg, now 70, teaches high school students during the summer and works as a cross-cultural specialist for the Goldbelt Heritage Foundation. He, among other educators meeting this month at the University of Alaska’s Natives Studies Conference, describes schools as colonial forces not that much different from the boarding schools of years ago that punished Native children for speaking their languages.

“Education is the means whereby a culture perpetuates itself and transfers itself to the young. Public education has taken this away from the Yupik, the Inupiat, the Aleut and others and given basically middle-class America to these people,” said Berg. “As to the degree that they wish that… that should be their choice but they should have the inalienable undeniable right to transfer the culture and the language to their children. It’s called the right of culture sovereignty and English-speaking nations are among the last on earth to recognize it.
Xh'unei Lance Twitchell addresses the crowd that had gathered for the signing of HB 216, a bill making Alaska's Native languages official state languages. (Photo by Jennifer Canfield/KTOO)
Xh’unei Lance Twitchell addresses a crowd at the 2014 Alaska Federation of Natives Convention. At the event, Gov. Sean Parnell signed HB 216, a bill making Alaska’s Native languages official state languages. (Photo by Jennifer Canfield/KTOO)


“My prayer is that Tlingit is going to live forever because we want our little babies to be talking,” said Xh’unei Lance Twitchell.

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adoptees take back adoption narrative and reject propaganda

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

Three Years already

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Thought-provoking and moving 11 October 2012
Two Worlds - Lost children of the Indian Adoption Projects

If you thought that ethnic cleansing was something for the history books, think again. This work tells the stories of Native American Indian adoptees "The Lost Birds" who continue to suffer the effects of successive US and Canadian government policies on adoption; policies that were in force as recently as the 1970's. Many of the contributors still bear the scars of their separation from their ancestral roots. What becomes apparent to the reader is the reality of a racial memory that lives in the DNA of adoptees and calls to them from the past.
The editors have let the contributors tell their own stories of their childhood and search for their blood relatives, allowing the reader to gain a true impression of their personalities. What becomes apparent is that nothing is straightforward; re-assimilation brings its own cultural and emotional problems. Not all of the stories are harrowing or sad; there are a number of heart-warming successes, and not all placements amongst white families had negative consequences. But with whom should the ultimate decision of adoption reside? Government authorities or the Indian people themselves? Read Two Worlds and decide for yourself.

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Read this SERIES
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ADOPTION TRUTH

As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

Our Fault? (no)

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