Completing the Circle

Completing the Circle Completing the Circle. documenting the Minneapolis American Indian Community—An Unexpected Outcome of the Federal Urban Indian Relocation Program.

Operating as usual

10/02/2016

Memo of the Week 55:

In 1972, the AIM Survival School in Minneapolis and the Red School House in St. Paul began by receiving children at a series of offices and houses.

The two schools started by providing services for a few students, and then up to 80 or more students at the Minneapolis school and 60 in St. Paul in their first few years, before Red School House secured its permanent quarters in December of 1974 at a former religious building at 633 Virginia Street and in the following spring the Minneapolis school secured its home in a former seminary building at 1209 4th Street SE near the University of Minnesota. The initial funding at both schools combined small grants from foundations with support from parents and the efforts of volunteer staff.

The first government funding came from the Office of Economic Opportunity in the form of $20,000 grants to American Indian Movement schools in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Milwaukee, to be administered by the Upper Midwest American Indian Center. Then funds were held back after OEO began an investigation into the possibility that some funds had been used for the November 1972 takeover of the BIA in Washington D.C. At first, the UMAIC voted to return the unused portion of the funds. Emily Peake, Executive Director, said they had not received sufficient information from the schools to continue to administer the funds, which potentially might have cost UMAIC about $20,000 a year to do. AIM leaders denied all charges and a hearing was scheduled for December. (Minneapolis Star, December 18, 1972, “Indian Center to Return Federal Funds.”)

From an email (Nov. 12, 2015) from attorney Larry Leventhal: The Office of Economic Opportunity was the agency that basically funded programs awarded grants under the former War Against Poverty initiated by President Johnson. There were community action agencies which existed at several levels. The more established agencies generally were grantees who directed monies to community people attempting to achieve direct actions.

Upper Midwest American Indian Center was the named grantee of a grant for $60,000.00 that was to be distributed with $20,000.00 going to AIM Survival School, $20,000.00 going to Red School House, and $20,000.00 being directed to the Indian Community School of Milwaukee.

OEO halted the grant specifying no real reason. The three schools sued with myself as attorney for AIM Survival School and Red School House. Another attorney, Thomas Dixon, represented the Indian Community School of Wisconsin. The case was assigned to Judge Miles Lord in United States District Court. OEO claimed that the three schools had no standing as the named recipient of the grant was Upper Midwest. Judge Lord was quite pro-active in the case. He called a meeting of the Upper Midwest Board of Directors to be held in his chambers prior to a scheduled court session. After determining a quorum was present, he stated he was making a motion that Upper Midwest oppose the cut-off of monies for the Schools and insist that the grants be honored and paid….The motion passed unanimously.

When Court convened, the Government attorney maintained that the cut-off was proper because the Government had specific information that grant monies (none of which had yet been received) were being misappropriated to the American Indian Movement and utilized to acquire weapons and engage in disruptive activities. The Court noted that no such documentation had been submitted to the Court, and without seeing the documents, the Court could not accept the representations; and further, that the plaintiffs had the right to examine and dispute any purported documentation to that nature. The OEO attorney stated it would take considerable time to accumulate the documents and have them sent to the Court. We advised that we could make arrangements to have them transmitted promptly if brought to Congressman Don Fraser’s Office. They had an early form of fax machine which could do this. The Judge stated that that would be a good idea and that he would give the Government until 4:00 p.m. to bring the papers to the Congressman’s Office and for them to be transmitted.

Just before Court reconvened at about 4:00, we checked with the congressman’s office and were advised that no such papers arrived. The Court noted, given the failure of the Government to forward the documents it had referenced the Court, it could only assume and would assume that the documents were full of praise for the Schools’ educational accomplishments and acknowledged that they complied with every federal regulation anybody could imagine. He issued judgment in favor of the schools.

In 1973, significant funding for the two Twin Cities schools and many others became available through the Indian Education Act of 1972, another offshoot of the Kennedy report of 1969, “Indian Education: A National Tragedy - A National Challenge.”

(Disclaimer: the principal researchers of Completing the Circle were employees of the two schools.)

This posting was made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. Any views, findings, opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this posting are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, or the Minnesota Historic Resources Advisory Committee.

Memo of the Week 54:Will Rogers Buffalohead, a member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, passed away on September 6.  Roger...
09/17/2016
Roger Buffalohead | Phillips Indian Educators

Memo of the Week 54:

Will Rogers Buffalohead, a member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, passed away on September 6. Roger was a college instructor, administrator, counselor and historian. He intersects with our account of Completing the Circle, the relocation of American Indians to the Twin Cities in the mid- to late-20th century, in several ways.

First, he held various positions in Twin Cities postsecondary education starting in 1970. He was the chair of the first Indian Studies Department in the United States, at the University of Minnesota.

An Ad Hoc Committee on American Indian Studies, led by Frank Miller, had proposed a degree plan and four courses to be built up to a bachelor of arts degree, either as a program or a department. (Minneapolis Star, May 23, 1969. “‘U’ Unit Recommends Indian-degree Plan.”) As Roger later related the subsequent events,

I was friends with a number of Native people who were working in the academic world. One of them was Ed Dozier who was a famous Tewa anthropologist. Ed agreed to become the first chairman of the first Department of American Indian Studies created in the country at the University of Minnesota in 1969. He called me and asked me if I would consider coming to Minnesota. I was at UCLA at the time. I liked it there, it was a nice position. I agreed to come so in the spring of 1970 I came here. Then Ed called and told me that he had a brain tumor, and he would not be coming to Minnesota. I was kind of stuck as the first faculty person at the Department of American Indian Studies. When the University officials found out from Ed about the circumstances, they asked me if I would consider serving as the acting Chair of the Department. I agreed to do that and helped them create what was really the first Department of American Indian Studies in the country with a major and all of that. I worked with a Dakota committee and an Ojibwe committee to create Dakota and Ojibwe language programs. For the complete account, see http://pieducators.com/wisdom/roger_buffalohead

For insights into his early thinking, listen to his 1971 interview that Studs Terkel conducted after a Minnesota Historical Society conference in St. Paul at which Terkel heard Roger, Henry Greencrow and Bob Powless speak. It can be found at archive.org.

Roger later directed the American Indian Learning and Resource Center at the University of Minnesota for five years, and held positions at other Twin Cities programs, as well as at other schools, including the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and Washington State University.

The other way in which Roger intersected with Completing the Circle was as an advisor and reviewer. Early on, he and his wife Priscilla compiled lists of names of people to interview and shared their ideas on how to proceed. They later critiqued the Memos of the Week and the overall research conducted under this investigation for MIGIZI Communications.

A memorial service was held at Augsburg College on September 13.

This posting was made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. Any views, findings, opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this posting are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, or the Minnesota Historic Resources Advisory Committee.

Introduction Native Education: Two Approaches Endemic Issues Changing Attitudes Integrating Culture into Education Program Examples Culture Is Alive Reevaluating Teacher Education For more on Roger, see Diane Wilson’s essay about Roger Buffalohead and Indian education

Memo of the Week 53:In the late 1960’s the growing recognition of the difficulties experienced by Indian students in the...
04/24/2016

Memo of the Week 53:

In the late 1960’s the growing recognition of the difficulties experienced by Indian students in the public schools led to new questions: What changes needed to be made, and whose responsibility was it to plan and fund the improvements?
Cross-over Effect Theory: The National Study on American Indian Education, United States Department of Education. spurred by the Kennedy report in the U.S. Senate, studied reports on Indian education and concluded that the data, “. . . place Indian pupils just below the national average during the first four school years, and then they drop substantially” But John Bryde reported in 1970 that Sioux children tested at or above [emphasis added] grade level on standardized tests up through grade six, then fell until they were two years or more behind in grade twelve. He called this the “Cross-over Effect,” and although it was discredited by a review of his data, this theory continued to influence the conversation around Indian education. What could cause the supposed effect? Was it the teachers or the school systems or a form of cultural dissonance for these children?
Increased funding and integration as a solution: In an editorial in 1969, the Minneapolis Tribune editors outlined weaknesses in funding for Indian students in Minnesota, and proposed that additional state funds be authorized and that the Bureau of Indian Affairs contribute more. They noted that Indian dropout rates in Minneapolis were at 60 percent, and that most Indian students in the elementary grades statewide were in nearly all-Indian classrooms, making the transition to junior high more difficult for them. If the BIA continued to only serve Indians on or near reservations, then 7,500 of the 10,000 Minnesota Indian students would not be served, of whom an estimated 1,600 were in Minneapolis. In addition, other federal funds, those providing districts money for serving Indians, were not required to be used to do so. (February 19, 1969).

That same month, plans were announced to make changes to Federal Johnson-O’Malley funds as they were applied in Minnesota, to be instituted in 1971-72 school year. These funds would not go to general support of the district, but would be earmarked for services to Indian students—counseling, reading, art, music and physical education. And, more Indian aides would be hired. Will Antell, special consultant on Indian education, was quoted as saying that the changes might cost $2 million a year, but that expectations were that the JOM funds could expand to $1.5 million. (Catherine Watson, Minneapolis Tribune, “Quadrupling of Indian Pupil Aid is Backed,” February 11, 1969). These changes were made and Minnesota schools were increasingly required to report on how the funds were spent to support educational activities for Indian children in more of the urban schools.

Separate programs as a solution: From MOW 51: Dennis Banks, Chairman of American Indian Movement was quoted in late 1970: “The Indians of Minneapolis must either face the consequences of rejecting a mixed school system or fight for a separate system.” In a discussion on separate or at least all-Indian schools prompted by the newspapers, Ted Mahto doubted there were enough qualified Indian teachers. Similarly, in St. Paul, school superintendent George Young met with American Indian Movement members and decided that no separate Indian school, as asked by AIM, would be needed.

In January and April, 1972, the AIM Survival School in Minneapolis and the Red School House in St. Paul were started, respectively. The first families to push for the schools were concerned with treatment of Indian students and the intrusion of the welfare systems into the lives of the families, often leading to removal of children from their families and further threats to remove those who were not attending school. An account of the early years of both schools is found in Julie Davis’s Survival Schools, (2013, University of Minnesota Press.)

The Memo of the Week is a page from the American Indian Movement Newsletter of April 1969, illustrating the multiple activities of this organization and both its similarities to concerns of existing Indian organizations—dance club and direction of the American Indian Citizens Community Center—and its departures from the past—the AIM Patrol and improving community-police relations. Also, at this early date, although AIM members were to confront the Minneapolis and St. Paul school systems within the following 18 months, there was as yet no organized plan evident for the immense task of starting separate schools. (Courtesy of the Elmer L. Anderson Library, Community Health and Welfare Commission, Box 4.)

NEXT WEEK: THE SCHOOLS FACE AND WIN A LAWSUIT AND THEIR FUNDING SURGES

This posting was made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. Any views, findings, opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this posting are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, or the Minnesota Historic Resources Advisory Committee.

Memo of the Week 52:We have been examining the growing emphasis on the educational opportunities for Indian students in ...
12/27/2015

Memo of the Week 52:

We have been examining the growing emphasis on the educational opportunities for Indian students in the Twin Cities during the late 1960s and early 1970s. This week we will broaden the view to include the wider changes in society and perceptions that led to new public school programs and independent schools. Recognition that the needs of urban Indians were different that those of others came into focus with the first Urban Indian Convention in February, 1967, sponsored by Minneapolis Mayor Arthur Naftalin’s Indian American Task Force. The group included George Mitchell, Ron Libertus, Emily Peake, and Gerald Vizenor (all White Earth Chippewa). Among the attendees was Larry Harris, urban affairs director for the Minneapolis Public Schools. (The strategy of the MPS was noted in MOW 49, embodied in the 1970 booklet “Is There an Indian in Your Classroom this Year?”)

Efforts in the public schools continued to center around counselor, principal and teacher training: Ted Mahto announced in 1970 that Minneapolis Public Schools would offer Indian language and culture classes to teachers at South High for city-wide teachers, while the Indian Upward Bound program sponsored seminars at Franklin and Phillips Junior Highs, again for teachers from across the city. (Minneapolis Star, February 10, 1970. “City Schools to Offer Indian Culture Class.”)

In that article, it was noted that Barry Blackhawk (Ho-Chunk) was teaching a communication course for students at North High at the request of the principal. The North High Students had formed a group called True American Native Students (TANS), the first such student activity in the MPS.

In this time before court-ordered busing, but needing to meet integration percentages, the Minneapolis School Board was to turn to magnet school programs, and more Black or Indian culture and history courses, along with more minority hiring. (Deborah Howell, May 12, 1970. “No Massive Busing Asked for ‘70s in City Schools.” Minneapolis Star.)

But new views were arising in this very turbulent time: In March of 1970, members of the American Indian Movement occupied the BIA Minneapolis Area Office in downtown Minneapolis for four days. Area Director Owen Morkin agreed to further discuss their demands for improvement in programs for urban Indians in employment, housing and education.

School curriculum itself came under fire: A film, The Minnesota Story, prepared by the Farmers and Mechanics Savings Banks and the Minnesota Historical Society several years before and used in schools to depict Minnesota history, was seized by members of the American Indian Movement at Adams School and was to be shown to civic leaders during an “Indian grand jury” at AIM headquarters. AIM Executive Director Clyde Bellecourt (White Earth) alleged that the film depicted “naked savages killing white women and children” and stated that such materials should be removed from the state educational curriculum. Bank spokesman Henry Kingman said the intent was to work with the Historical Society to present a fair picture. (Jack Miller, October 31, 1970. “Angered Indians Confiscate Film, Set ‘Hearing’ for Tuesday.” Minneapolis Tribune.)

Also in 1970, several non-public schools had cobbled together funding to run educational programs at the Way Laboratory School (along with AIM—See MOW 49), at the City School, and at the Freedom House. Now the AIM school went independent and secured a promise of funding through the federal Office of Economic Opportunity.

The text is from the Minnesota Indian Resources Directory for 1970, the listing for the True American Native Students, courtesy of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Commission—now Council.

This posting was made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. Any views, findings, opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this posting are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, or the Minnesota Historic Resources Advisory Committee.

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