In Canada, studies have found:
* 60% of all Aboriginals who commit suicide are acutely intoxicated at the time. This compares to 24% for non-Aboriginal suicides.
* Native communities which have retained some of their historical traditions have lower suicide rates.
* Communities which have less seriously affected by the government's paternal goals of "protection, civilized and assimilation" and remained partly isolated from the government's acculturation processes tend to have lower suicide rates.
Also, the same site has recommendations for prevention:
* Natives must regain positive self-image -- particularly the youth -- by reintroducing traditional religious and cultural practices.
* Recognize suicide as a major social problem; develop suicide prevention programs and crisis management teams
* Promoting individual and community wellness.
* Improving parenting skills.
* Provision of traditional, holistic therapy.
* Training Aboriginals for caregiver and administrative positions.
* Cooperation among all levels of government to improve economic conditions on reserves.
Explore the website. I'm sure you can get on their mailing lists. They need gas for school busses, money for hot lunch and breakfast programs, books for the library.....
I had hoped to find something besides just sending money.
I was hoping for something more hands on or personal.
Plus, aside from the fact that the money I could give wouldn't be much--I have very little faith in agencies.
I may be able to get a pen pal--a teenager on a reservation who I could correspond with and I wouldn't mind sending her or him some money.
I'lll see about that.
Maybe I could visit a couple of times a year. Volunteer some time at the reservation. I wanted to DO something. Then, I could become more aware of critical issues in a specific location and see if I could insult a government official on their behalf, while being someone reliable for a person....not a cold check. (Ya know?)
I was googling for reservations in my state, but I don't think we have any. I'll look around some more. I need one in Georgia, South Carolina, FL, AL ... Can't go too far. Is OK as close as I can get?
Found small ones in NC and FL.
I'll keep dropping off my trevails as I figure out what I'm going to do.
I'm sort of excited. I'm finally at a time in my life when I can do some of the things I've dreamed of being able to do for so long.
(Reminds me of Nicholson...in the movie where he has the little foreign pen pal....what was his name...?)
More power to you. Hands on help, one on one, would be much more useful than money. The Big Sister approach works.
From what I've read the reservation kids are the kids at highest risk--particularly the kids on reservations in the Great Plains where jobs are few and contacts with white culture are filled with prejudice against the dirty Injuns.
Hold your dominion. I'll be looking forward to your posts.
It's definitely an approach with caution sort of thing.
Non-native people being directly involved with their kids doesn't go over well for a considerable portion of the native community here. There is some truly ugly history to try and get past. Not everyone can.
I think it would be a good start to take Bibles and convert them to Christianity.
No, but, I'm getting some ideas about initial contacts. Thanks for the support Noddy. <nods>
I've been thinking about this for a while now and the only thing I can come up with is maybe some sort of youth programme that involves Art Practise.
I have done some study (BA level) on Art Therapy and the use of Art as a transformational process - turning negative energy into something creative.
It has been found that when art is used as a cathartic process, it can help turn feelings of victimization and powerlessness into symbolic expressions of ones feelings.
By 'Art' I mean film, sculpture, painting, drama, textiles, ceramics, sound,photography, poetry, creative writing, performance art.... anything like that.
The work of the artist Krzysztof Wodiczko comes to mind. His projection in Hiroshima, which gave voice (literally) to many who had experiences to share about the nuclear bombings of Japan, was a healing process for many. He has also worked with troubled youths, on art projects and such.
"Wodiczko, director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has realized slide and video projections on more than 70 historic monuments and architectural facades in more than a dozen countries. These include the Bunker Hill Memorial in Boston; the Martin Luther Church in Kassel, Germany; and the Bundeshaus (Capitol) in Bern, Switzerland, among many others. In 1999, Wodiczko received the Hiroshima Prize, awarded every three years by the City of Hiroshima, Japan, to an artist whose work has contributed to world peace."
Professor of Visual Arts
C/o Galerie Lelong
528 w. 26th St
New York, NY 10001
Email: [email protected]
Maybe someone should send him the original post on this thread?
I've been to a few native american museums (small ones) and they always seem to have a children's art exhibit.
I got chill bumps reading your post. Between the great idea and the fact you got so deep into it... I just wanted you to know I felt strength and a close sense of sharing this with you.
I will read into art therapy and research if any are in progress in some of the NA communities close to me. (post note--ENDYMION-- I think I could start by trying to fund some art materials for a reservation school. A lot of people would donate to something like that. I'm thinking over my ability now, but a non-profit could get funding for an art therapy program for reservations. <Thoughts zooming>
Maybe I can find an art therapist give me an idea of what would be necessary. (Getting EXCITED!!!!)
I have been mulling goals. Tell me what you think.
Partnering reservation teens with mentors in e-mail relationships and mailings--business leaders, people with resources to give help in getting through school and increasing hope re their chances post-graduation... and who will be on hand for them with help establishing a career.
Something to mine the rich heritage and put it on display as a source of pride to the children/teens and education for the public. Some kind of public relations program by the NA community (especially the children) for the public. Raise money, awareness, self-esteem...
But, those are rough ideas for long term goals. I have to start small.
I'm thinking of starting a correspondance with a couple of guidance counsellors at some schools on nearby reservations. Maybe they can tell me how to start. I plan to write my first letters by next week end. My goal is five schools.
Today, I was riding home from school and I got this neat vibe--this feeling of peace--as I was thinking of these things. I had been thinking of the young man who riveted my attention on the problem at reservations--I'll bring back the story. You probably all read it. He was an outcast--dressed goth, actually fixed his hair to look like horns...his mother had died, I think--his father was either dead or completely lost in alcohol. He was teased and unloved. He had even warned people he was going to kill himself or someone else.
Nobody did anything.
I think about him every once in a while.
<smiles again at E>
Lash, do you keep in touch with Wiyaka or Sam? Wiyaka in particular might be able to give you some leads/contacts. They are both very active in the aboriginal community. Good people.
School shooting: familiar echoes, new concerns
A killing spree by an isolated student highlights plight of native American teens.
By Amanda Paulson, Sara B. Miller, and Stacy A. Teicher | Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor
CHICAGO - Geographically and culturally, it's a long, long way from Littleton, Colo., to Redlake, Minn. One is an isolated town of about 1,500 on a Ojibwa reservation, the other an affluent Denver suburb.
Yet Monday's school shooting, in which 16-year-old Jeff Weise allegedly killed nine people and wounded at least 14 others before killing himself, is the worst since the tragedy at Littleton's Columbine High School six years ago and, in some ways, has a grim similarity.
Reports Tuesday were circulating of the shooter's social isolation, ties to Nazi beliefs, even of a black trenchcoat.
But the incident also underlines the specific challenges facing many people - and particularly adolescents - on Indian reservations. Such youth have far higher rates than do others of committing suicide, substance abuse, dropping out of school, living in poverty, and staying with foster parents or grandparents.
"There are certain ways in which traumatic events in the life of a child are very intense for children on reservations," says Esther Wattenberg, a professor at the University of Minnesota's Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, who has been studying native American adolescents on the nearby Leech Lake Reservation, which has seen a surge of violence by young people in recent years. "We were astonished at the number recovering from some kind of family trauma.... The accessibility to both substance-abuse treatment and mental-health treatment is very difficult in rural areas."
Indian leaders, however, were quick to distance the incident from specific native American issues, and to say it shocks them as much Columbine and other school shootings shocked the local communities. "The scary thing about this is it could happen anywhere," says Tuleah Palmer, director of the Boys and Girls Club in Leech Lake. "Red Lake was an extraordinarily secure school."
The shooting began Monday afternoon when Jeff allegedly shot and killed his grandfather, a tribal police officer, and his grandfather's wife. He then went to the Red Lake High School, where witnesses say he shot his way past the school's metal detectors, killing a guard, and then entered a classroom. He killed a teacher and five students, and wounded at least 13 more, before reportedly exchanging fire with police and then killing himself.
No motive was immediately clear, but Jeff reportedly espoused some Nazi beliefs, and posted last year on a website, Nazi.org, under the name Todesengel, or "Angel of Death." There he expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler, and claimed that he had been blamed for a threat to shoot up his school a year ago.
Before Monday, he was living with his grandfather and was in the school's "homebound" program for a violation of school policy. Relatives have told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that Jeff's father committed suicide four years ago, and that his mother lives in a Minneapolis nursing home, having suffered brain injuries in a car accident.
Because of its setting, the shooting is almost certain to call attention to some problems specific to Indian Reservations. While incidents from Columbine to Jonesboro, Ark., demonstrate that school shootings can happen anywhere, sociologists have been concerned for years about violence among some native American teenagers, and their high rates of suicide and substance abuse.
According to a Harvard University study, 1 in 6 American Indian youths has attempted suicide, and they are 60 percent more likely to report fights at school in the past year. The incidence of fetal-alcohol syndrome, which can contribute to mental-health problems and impaired judgment later on, is high on many reservations. A state-by-state study of graduation rates by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research found that 46 percent of American Indian students graduated high school, compared with 86 percent of white students.
Many of the problems go back to the US government's legacy of mistreatment, and the resulting disconnect from native land and culture. But drawing conclusions from such data can be tricky, say some American Indian leaders, who acknowledge things like suicide and substance abuse are problems, but worry that an extreme - and isolated - incident like this shooting could reinforce negative stereotypes at a time when reservations are making gains.
"They're doing a lot very well in Red Lake," says David Beaulieu, president of the National Indian Education Association. "When I visited [Red Lake] recently, I really sensed a strong network of support."
While multiple shootings always garner national attention, experts say events like this are anomalies. Russell Skiba, director of the Initiative on Equity and Opportunity at the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University, stresses that despite public perceptions, schools are still safe places: Violence is far more likely to occur outside school walls than within. And, he says, there is growing access to resources to help schools stay safe, a shift from the mid-'90s when little data was available.
Now prevention and safety guidelines abound. In the wake of Columbine, the country scrambled to put preventive measures in place, from metal detectors to zero-tolerance policies for everything from carrying weapons to, in some schools, swearing. Some of those programs seem to be working. A federal report released in November 2004 showed that violent crime in schools dropped by 50 percent from 1992 to 2002.
But Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, a Cleveland-based consulting firm that trains schools on emergency and safety preparedness, disputes that study because he says the numbers are based not on actual reported crimes, but on national surveys.
What's more, he says, violent crime in schools has been going up. His group tracked 49 violent deaths in schools in the 2003-2004 school year, up from 16 the year before. So far this year the number is 28. "The bottom line is, the federal study grossly underestimates the problem, public perception overestimates the problem."
According to the website indianz.com and based on numbers from the federal report released in November, 22.1 percent of native American students reported they had been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property - the highest rate of victimization for any student group. Data also shows that threats and violence grew more steadily in the native American community than in any other - rising nine percentage points from 1999 to 2003.
Nationally, Mr. Trump attributes the recent upswing in fatal school violence to three factors: complacency, cuts in school-safety budgets, and increased focus on accountability and testing. "The progress that was made in the days and weeks after Columbine has actually stalled," he says. "School violence has been alive and well in far too many communities."
But Skiba says the nation has to be careful about rushing to adopt more stringent policies - some of which he says go too far. According to research he helped gather last spring, 40 states now enforce a one-year mandatory expulsion for possession of a firearm, and 16 states also do so when students carry deadly weapons other than firearms to school. But some schools have zero-tolerance policies in place for minor infractions like swearing or insubordination. Twenty-three states have such policies in place for fighting, and 19 do for disruptions in class.
"There is no data that [proves] that simply taking a hard-line stance and removing ever-greater numbers of students for ever-increasing minor infractions has any impact on school safety," he says.
ehBeth-- I never spoke directly with Wiyaka or Sam.
It seems that what we're talking about here is mental trauma. To push the case for Art Therapy/Practise...
Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D., Author and Director of the Depression and Relative Affective Disorders Association, describes the value of self-exploration gained in Art Therapy:
"Because experiencing and expressing trauma material is so important to recovery, the expressive arts are being increasingly incorporated into PTSD treatment plans. The expressive arts help unlock rigidly held memory aspects that are nonverbal. Once expressed, the material can be processed and healing proceeds. The expressive arts are particularly appealing for a number of reasons. Some people find it difficult to talk directly about their traumatic experiences. Perhaps the trauma happened to preverbal children or children who were told by the perpetrator never to talk about the trauma
the expressive arts do more than access traumatic memories. They put us in touch with who we really are, the parts of us that reside beyond the intellect. They can also tap wisdom and healing powers in ways that normal conversation might not."
Source: Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D, The Post traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook, Lowell House, Illinois USA, 2002
I also read a passage written by a volunteer of the Red Cross - about a year ago. Sorry, I can't remember what site. She said that when children in Palestine were asked what they would like as a treat if they could have one...many asked for coloured pencils.
And you only have to look at the amount of creativity that resulted because of the First World War to understand that there is a need to convey pain and anguish (through whatever medium) in order to be free of the burden of it.
What about Uncle Sam funding some sort of Art Centres aimed at getting Native American youth into Higher Education? Maybe through art, their heritage could be kept alive.
I believe that art is a powerful thing.... if it wasn't, Colin Powell wouldn't have done this:
On February 5, 2003, US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, gave a speech at the United Nations Security Council, putting forward the case for a US attack on the sovereign nation of Iraq. On the wall behind him hung a large tapestry reproduction of 'Guernica,' donated to the UN in 1985 by Nelson A. Rockefeller. Evidently, some had thought the reproduction of the famous mural an unwise backdrop to Powell's suspect advocating of war and invasion. The tapestry had been covered with a large blue curtain and flags of member nations placed before it. Australian Parliamentary representative Laurie Brereton said before the Australian Parliament:
"There is a profound symbolism in pulling a shroud over this great work of art."
(It was 2003 when I last looked at this site - but go to google and type in Guernica Powell - that should do it.
If you know anything about this painting (Picasso) you'll understand.
Sorry if I got off the subject a bit there.
I was lucky enough to be encouraged by a tutor to go to university and use my art skills and I was lucky enough to get a grant.
I just wish all kids had the same help.
Thank you for your thoughtful analysis of what you think would be most helpful. I'm torn between a few goals, but I think you are ultimately right. I think I've probably been biting off more than I can handle. Art therapy seems like a good start. Everyone could take part in that, and it is probably more likely to be within the realm of possibility for me.
I just want the children to confront their intrinsic value. If art therapy can do that--that will be satisfactory.
Outward expression of inward feelings is important-- I just consider it important that whatever program we develop bolsters self-worth.
But, art therapy may deal with that.
Time for research and letter writing.
Thanks for caring about the project.
Well. It's much later, but I decided to focus on Native American Lit and religions with my minor. It may give me some platform to be of some use.
Things interrupted my previous endeavors.
Getting back on track, but it will take a year to finish. I guess even if I introduce Native N Am lit in regular classes it will be a start. Extend some respect....
Lash - I realize you won't be teaching younguns, but this book may provide insight to you and your students anyway - it's called "Through Indian Eyes" written by Beverly Slapin and Doris Seale. It's out of print, but when I looked, there were some copies new and used on amazon. It deconstructs stereotypes in even the most well-intentioned books about natives in early ed classrooms.
I didn't even think in those terms, lilk. That was invaluable advice. Thank you.
And, Joel Spring has a good book on the history of deculteralization through US history. If you haven't read it, it is a good balance between history (the real, even-sided history) and school techniques. Joel Spring, "Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality". He tackles the plights of Native Americans (he is Cherokee, I think), Blacks, Latinos and Asians.
I am in the midst of my Multicultural Ed course, can you tell? It's bringing up old passions.
AH! You'll be a great source of goodies, then! Drop titles and stuff off here anytime. I'll use them as I can.