Monday, November 4, 2013

We Have a NEW Website!


Thanks for stopping by... but we have a NEW website! 
Please visit us at:

See you there!

Thank you from the LCE Team!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WE HAVE A NEW WEBSITE! WWW.LAKOTACHILDREN.ORG



We have launched a new website!

Please visit us at www.lakotachildren.org, where you can learn all about us and keep up to date with our projects!

When you drop by to explore our new website, please subscribe to our mailing list!

See you there! 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Listen To The Voices Of The Children

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We have a new website.  You can read this post there! 

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Game Changers Youth Summit: 
Empowering Tomorrow’s Tribal Leaders
This is the first of a series of posts on LCE’s summer of 2013 on Pine Ridge. 
Game Changer Youth Summit Banner surrounded by 2 of 4 boards with participant comments. August 7, 2013
On August 7, 2013 in Kyle, South Dakota, in the heart of the Pine Ridge Reservation, thirty-seven teens gathered to hear from speakers at Lakota Children's Enirchment's Game Changers Youth Summit.  The free event was moderated by LCE President and Founder Maggie Dunne, with the help of Keith Martinez, Chair of LCE’s newly installed  Youth Advisory Board.   Youth Board members facilitated peer discussions following each speaker. 

“We want you to understand that the future is full of possibilities,” said Maggie Dunne, “you are going to hear from people who grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation and they will tell you about what they are doing to follow their dreams and we hope that you will take away some of their important messages.  Today's speakers are leaders, role models and mentors who you can follow and stay in touch with in the years to come.”
  
The Speaker Presentations
The day opened and closed with a traditional Lakota Four Directional prayer sung by Inila Wakan Janis, from Kyle. Speakers included: David “Bulldawg” Michaud (boxer, trainer and writer); Dana Lone Hill (journalist); Keith Martinez (LCE Youth Advisory Board Chair and Gates Millennium Scholar at Villanova University);  Kiva Sam (from Kyle and now a teacher on Pine Ridge with Teach for America), Meghan Kittisotikul (teacher supervisor from Teach For America),  Eileen Janis (suicide intervention and Sweetgrass representative); and Sarah Jumping Eagle (pediatrician and journalist).
TFA Teachers Meghan Kittisotikul and Kiva Sam (left) and David "Bulldawg" Michaud (right)
Following each presentation, students met in small groups and under the guidance of LCE’s Youth Advisory Board Members, discussed the content and then posted notes on boards. Participants were asked to reflect on what they LEARNED from the presentation; what the speakers inspired them to CARE about; and what they were inspired or determined to ACT upon. Throughout the day the students were encouraged to post their feedback and notes on boards identifying their DREAMS and GOALS for the future.

Central themes that arose from speakers included the importance of: following through on tasks, small or large; making an effort to remain positive and avoiding negativity from peers who discourage you from achieving your dreams or who may challenge the value of continuing in school; eliminating the influence of negative people from your life; pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone; finding mentors, through LCE, teachers and other participants in the Summit, who are also interested in bringing about change; and NOT giving UP or giving IN to negativity or discouragement from peers.
Two photos we took of Scatter Their Own's amazing performance: The band and all the speakers will be featured in later posts, along with videotaped interview clips.
The day closed with an inspirational talk and entertainment by SCATTER THEIR OWN, America’s latest and greatest family band, which delivered original rock music with a social message.

What are the DREAMS and GOALS of the YOUTH on the Pine Ridge Reservation?
Summit participants with LCE Youth Board #dreamteam
member Emily Janis (on the far right)
The participants told us that they want to be, doctors, veterinarians, journalists, writers, authors, artists, singers, clinical psychologists, suicide counselors, paleontologists, activists, protectors of Mother Earth and all her inhabitants, mentors and positive role models. 
IN THEIR OWN WORDS:
  •  My goal is NOT to give up on my dreams and to try harder every day to be responsible. 
  •  My goal is to graduate High School, go to the army, go to college, and have a better life than I have now. 
  • To become a doctor, to become what [Summit speaker] Sarah [Jumping Eagle] has become. 
  •  My big dream is to have my own store and to HELP people, the earth and animals. 
  • I hope to become a clinical psychologist to come back and help people, the way that I needed help. 
  • I want to save a life. 
  • My dream is ride an elephant one day….My dream is to dig up dinosaur bones... 
  • My goal is to be a better person, and try new things, and to be a positive role model.
  • My goal is to finish my Bachelor of Science degree so that I can become a lawyer, so I can help my people out. 
  • My goal is to never drink [alcohol] or do drugs. 
  • I want to run a coffee shop that helps troubled teens. 
  • I want to be a boxer; [Summit speaker David "Bulldawg" Michaud] is my inspiration.
  • To be a teacher, like [Summit speaker Kiva Sam]. 
  • I want to be a successful woman… I want to be someone worth remembering.... I want to be smart.

What did the participants LEARN at the SUMMIT?  
Summit participant with Youth Advisory Board
#dreamteam member, Wasu Janis on right
They told us that they learned to persevere, to dream, to have the courage to stand by their dreams, and that they have the ability to shape their futures.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS:
  • I learned about courage. 
  • I learned that you can’t give up, even if you messed up a lot of other times….  Put your all into it! You can influence YOURSELF! 
  • I learned to be kind and not to be scared to dream. 
  • I learned that if you put yourself down, then you won’t get your dream but if you put your mind to it, then your wish will come true. 
  • I learned that I want to be a doctor, like [Summit speaker Sarah Jumping Eagle]. 
  • Never doubt your abilities, or you won’t accomplish anything. 
  • I learned that [David Bulldawg Michaud] worked hard to touch his dreams and never quit! …I’m glad he did not give up. 
  • There ARE other opportunities in life; you just gotta look for them.
  • I learned to trust people… to take care of [myself]… I learned that thinking about the future is important. 
  • I learned not to mess around in class and [that I should] pay attention. 
  • Believe IN YOURSELF, don’t let other people put you down, and stay with positive people.
  • I learned that [I can] make change on the Rez.... My dream IS worth working for. 
  • I learned that you can overcome any obstacle, if you believe in yourself, even if you grew up on the reservation.

What do the participants CARE about?
LCE Youth Board members Bobby Pourier, Colton Sierra
and Youth Advisory Board Chairperson Keith Martinez #dreamteam

They told us that they care about their families, ensuring their families are healthy and safe, achieving something positive, protecting Mother Earth, her creatures and helping others. They want to make the world a better place and they want to help people in their community.


                              


                             IN THEIR OWN WORDS:
  • I CARE about my life. I don’t want to be a nobody, I want to be a SOMEBODY. 
  • I care about my family and want to cherish them.... I care about my family and how they didn't have a home. 
  • I care about suicide prevention.
  • I care about learning from others’ mistakes. 
  • I care about [Summit speaker Dana Lone Hill] and I admire that she did not give up [looking for] her brother [who was removed from the family and placed in foster care]…. Dana Lone Hill let her voice be heard and she found her brother!.... I care that her brother went to a [foster] home… I really care about [Dana’s] story….
  • I care about my siblings whom I do not know. 
  • [The speaker] made me care about how I shape my future.
  • I care about getting more businesses going on the Rez.
  • I care about my education…. I care about school. It gets you smart and that’s how you get a job and make change… [The speakers] made me care more about my activities and schooling. 
  • I care about changing the lives of young people on the reservation and I care about helping open their minds and helping mend their [pain]. 
  • I care about my family and my people. I am tired of seeing people suffer from alcohol and drugs, but mostly, [I am tired of] seeing my family being put into prisons just because of their racial background.
What are the participants going to do differently? What ACTIONS are they inspired to undertake? 
Justice Lone Hill, Junior Youth Advisory Board helper on left, with Summit participant
They told us they want to help themselves, their families and friends to believe in their abilities. They want to stay positive and get a solid education, to write poetry, write books and become leaders. They want to eliminate negative influences and behaviors at school and they to help others learn, so they all can achieve their dreams. They are positive and optimistic about the future, but understand that they will face obstacles along the way.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS:
  • I am going to stay positive.... I want to have a positive attitude when it comes to interacting with people. 
  • I want to help others believe in themselves. 
  • I will take responsibility for my actions. If I don’t like how some things are done, I am going to think about how they SHOULD be done. 
  • I will not be mean to teachers and I will pay attention in class…. I will pay EXTRA attention in class….. I will focus on my grades, pay attention and never talk back….  I am going to act smart. 
  • I am going to be a leader and show all the young ones right from wrong. I am going to stay determined…. I want to act upon my dreams to make a difference. 
  • I am going to test my abilities so my dreams can come true.  
  • I am going to help my friends do good in school. 
  • I will help my family…. I will help others… I will make sure my friends know that they can talk to me…. I will be nice and optimistic towards others. 
  • I want to learn more and work harder. You can’t achieve your goals without trying.  
  • I will always have a positive attitude, keep my goals high, make my family proud and I won’t give up on myself. 
  • I am going to write more poetry. 
  • I will make the rez a better place by volunteering for things and helping my family heal. 
  • I want to learn more about our culture and language and get more people who know about it to help us learn.  
  • I want to help the poorer people who don’t get to eat. 
  • I will follow my dreams/goal to become a clinical psychologist and to come back to help my people.  
  • Instead of saying I wanna do things, I’m gonna make it happen…. I’m never gonna give up…. I can make a change.

Take Away Messages from some of the Summit Participants and #dreamteam Youth Advisory Board members
Want to see dreams like these come true? 
Don't know HOW to get INVOLVED?  
You CAN join the movement calling for social change, by spreading the word, starting an affiliated club, holding a bake sale, car wash, running a race, or donating time. You can also donate a birthday, Bat Mitzvah or Confirmation, by asking guests to make a tax deductible contribution rather bringing gifts. If you are a resident of Pine Ridge stay tuned for updates on our next youth summit and upcoming events and projects.  Contact us at info@lakotachildren.org and we will help you get you started!

We can't change the past but together we can shape the future; together we can ensure that ALL of America's children have equal opportunities. 

Editor's Note: Some Summit participant comments were very similar and were combined for space purposes; the combination of different entries is indicated by the inclusion of elipses (...) between the two or three related comments, when participant comments are grouped together. 




Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Reservations About Books: Disney's Peter Pan

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We have a new website.  You can read this post there! 


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by Maggie Callan



The story of Peter Pan has delighted children for generations since the production of J. M. Barrie’s play in 1904. The play was later expanded into a novel in 1911 and the boy who “won’t grow up” has remained a beloved bedtime story, playground game and birthday party theme ever since.

When Disney adapted the story in 1953 to an animated film, the Peter Pan story became an even more prominent part of public consciousness. With wild beasts, dangerous pirates, and mermaid lagoons, it’s easy to be swept up in the world of Neverland without thinking twice about the story’s implications for Native Americans.
The original novel is remarkably less stereotypical than the Disney adaptation half a century later. The first appearance of the “redskins” in the novel is unsurprisingly one-dimensional, “they carry tomahawks and knives, and their naked bodies gleam with paint and oil. Strung around them are scalps, of boys as well as pirates,” (Barrie, 63). Excepting when Tiger Lily is rescued by Peter Pan and consequently vows to protect him, the “redskins” barely play a part in the print version of the tale.  Although this brief portrayal is neither a fair nor an accurate representation of American Indians, the image is also not nearly as harmful as the later film adaptation.
In Disney’s animated adaption of Peter Pan in a 1953, Peter, the perpetual child, and his crew of lost boys decide to entertain themselves by “hunting injuns.”  The group dons feathers and war paint and while prepping for their excursion, John Darling reminds them, “the Indian is cunning, but not intelligent.” The boys are captured and led to an “Indian Encampment” by a series of shirtless men all with the same black hair and hooked noses.

Once the Lost Boys are tied to a stake, an Indian Chief appears in a full headdress and speaks in fragmented sentences.  A boy asks “what makes the red man red?” and the Indian men break out into the Disney Classic song: “What Makes the Red Man Red?” 
Photo:Disneyscreencap.com

A pipe is passed around as the “injuns” answer terribly racist questions like, “when did the red man first say ‘ugh’?” The American Indians and the Lost Boys stomp around a campfire, slapping hands over their mouths while making shrieking sounds.  As the festivities continue, Wendy scolds her younger brothers for mimicking the Indians and for acting so “wild and uncivilized.”
At one point an older Native woman demands that Wendy go retrieve firewood. Wendy’s indignant final refusal to perform these “womanly” chores is portrayed as her protesting the Indians’ uncivilized treatment of women and infers that Native Americans do not treat their women with respect.  

The portrayal of femininity in the film is equally destructive for British women, as female characters either are perfect mother figures like Wendy and her mother, or they are jealous, scantily clad hussies like Tinker Bell, who is very resistant to the idea of another woman entering Peter’s life and instructs the Lost Boys to shoot Wendy. The Native woman is presented as a foil for the perfectly civilized woman of England, yet both depictions, independently, present and reinforce strong anti-woman sentiments.
Disney unquestionably is a giant in childhood entertainment, education and cultural representation. Millions of children grow up watching Disney films and are first introduced to parts of our society through the archetypes present in favorite Disney animated stories featuring heros, ethnic characters, princes and princesses.  
In Peter Pan, however, the seemingly harmless story of a boy who never grows up, is teamed up with negative and misleading depictions of Native Americans, from which one could conclude that American Indians are intellectually challenged savages who engage in nonsensical rituals and do not respect women.  
Growing accustomed to such dangerously racist portrayals of American Indians in childhood necessarily affects the way one will view them in adulthood.  Generations have danced around like “injuns,” donned ceremonial headdresses, and minimized the cultural values of American Indians, in part, because they were desensitized to the negative stereotypes promoted through this kind of popular culture.  
Disney’s Peter Pan may be one of the most prominent representations of American Indians for many Americans, and could be their first and/or only introduction to American Indian culture aside from Thanksgiving stories and collegiate Cowboy and Indian parties (both good topics for additional posts). By presenting American Indians as caricatures, the Disney version of Peter Pan encourages the formation of terribly negative stereotypes in the minds of children and the adults they grow to be.

At LCE,we give Disney's Peter Pan one thumb down.

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Maggie Callan is majoring in English and Film/Media Studies at Colgate University; She is one of LCE's first class of interns.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lakota Children's Enrichment Welcomes the Founding Members of Its Youth Advisory Board!

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We have a new website.  You can read this post there! 

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Hello All,

It has been a very busy few weeks here on the Pine Ridge Reservation for Lakota Children's Enrichment.  We had an informational booth at the 28th Annual Oglala Lakota Nation Wacipi (powwow), our first youth advisory board meeting, and our first Game Changers Youth Summit. Needless to say, these events were filled with lots of energy, enthusiasm, and great ideas from young people who want to make positive changes in their lives and their communities. More details to come!

Lakota Children's Enrichment is proud to announce the amazing, founding members of the youth advisory board (pictured below). Our programs at LCE have changed over the past few years, and as we look to the future we know that it is essential to have constant feed-back and ideas from young people. Youth Advisory Board members are leaders in their community as well as ambassadors for Lakota Children's Enrichment. 

If you have an idea or feed-back and you know any of these young people, then don't hesitate to reach out to them! As we grow this team over the next few months we hope this will be an effective way to incorporate more voices into the development of our programs and projects.



From Left: Mikala Marrufo, Colton Sierra, Laydeanne Young BullBear, Bobby Pourier, Deondra Randall, Keith Martinez (board chair), Jetta Tobacco, Emily Janis, Maggie Dunne (LCE founder), Justice Lone Hill (volunteer), Wasu Janis
(not pictured: Summer Montileaux)



Our first meeting was a great opportunity to get everyone in the same room, get to know each other, build a team dynamic, and talk about the responsibilities of advisory board membership. Members also participated in a basic leadership-training workshop to prepare them for their roles as group facilitators at our Game Changers Youth Summit.  

My favorite part of the meeting was hearing all of the great feed-back and project ideas that these young people have already started working on and/or would like to implement in their communities. Ideas covered topic areas such as mentorship, art, academic competitions, sports, traditional Lakota culture and many more. Lakota Children's Enrichment is a resource for mentorship and to help turn these ideas turn into reality. 

If you don't see your district represented, then please apply to become a Youth Advisory Board Member today at info@lakotachildren.org or nominate someone from your community. 

Stay tuned for more updates & ways that you can get involved today!

Peace,
Maggie Dunne

Founder & President, Lakota Children's Enrichment, Inc.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Be A Game Changer: Youth Summit 2013


WHAT is the Summit?
The Game Changers Youth Summit will be held on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 in KYLE, SD.  This is a one-day opportunity for Middle School and High School students to develop leadership skills. Highlights include:

Guest speakers from the Pine Ridge Reservation including Dana Lone Hill (journalist), Keith Martinez (Gates Scholar), Inila Wakan Janis (a/k/a/ Keith Janis)(Activist), Teach for America’s Kiva Sam and Megan Kittisotikul (from Pine Ridge), David “Bulldawg” Michaud (boxer) and others!

Leadership Workshops: discuss with peers and adults in your community how to turn YOUR dreams into action.

Group Service Project: Join the effort and participate in a group service project; do good for your community.

Entertainment: Chill with the LIVE tunes and entertainment from Pine Ridge Reservation’s Scatter Their Own, an amazing and inspirational musical duo.

WHERE Will the Summit Be Held?
Wednesday August 7 at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Kyle, SD. If transportation is a problem, please let us know.  Arrival at 8:30 AM and pick-up at 4:30 PM.

Pre-registration strongly suggested: for a registration package, send an email to info@lakotachildren.org  No participants under 18 will be admitted without a registration form and parental consent. Registration is permitted at the door, if space permits and written parental consent is obtained.

PERKS:
  •         Leadership training from leaders in YOUR community
  •         Healthy Breakfast and Lunch will be served 
  •    Free Admission, t-shirts and giveaways at the end of the day
  •         Entertainment, motivational speakers, setting personal goals
  •         Get to know students from other communities

ELIGIBILITY:  Residents of Pine Ridge ages 11-23

CONTACT US for registration package: info@lakotachildren.org