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California Tribe Sees a Bright Future for Native American Youth

A California Native American tribe will use a $1 million federal grant to improve the education of Native American youth in Los Angeles County.

With the help of a $1 million grant from the United States Department of Education, the Fernandeño Tatavium Band of Mission Indians plans to improve the future of Native American students throughout Los Angeles County.

The TAMIT—Teaching and Mentoring Indian Tarahat—program is expected to begin in 2012. The program’s goals include improving academic achievement, obtaining a college education, reaffirming Indian identity, nurturing a new generation of leaders, and building a holistic and sustainable program.

The program will focus on getting beginning ninth graders and exiting 12th graders to go on to higher education.

“Activities will include tutoring, SAT prep, steering students toward college prep classes, helping fill out college applications and informing families about financial options,” Pamela Villaseñor, a tribal member who is in charge of special projects, told the Daily News. “We are seeking students, parents, community members and other organizations to work with us.”

The band, which can be traced back to 450 A.D. in the region from the San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita Valley to the Antelope Valley, says it is committed to “system change” in the Los Angeles County community.

Part of that change will be partnering with other organizations in the community to create a sustainable program, especially since the Tatavium hope to continue and expand the TAMIT even after the four-year grant is done.

Villaseñor’s alma mater, California State University, Northridge, is on that list of collaborators according to the Daily News.

“We'll do whatever they need us to do,” Scott Andrews, the American Indian Studies Program coordinator at CSUN told the Daily News. “It could be that we would provide classroom space for tutoring. We might help set up curriculum, some of our faculty might provide programming. But this is the Tataviams’ project. We’ll really be following their lead.”

Students who benefit from the TAMIT program are expected to return the services by volunteering and being role models for younger students.