Education obstacles and opportunities

On this weekend edition we'll show you how Indian Country is overcoming unique challenges created by the pandemic.
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Patty Loew is a professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. A citizen of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, she joins us today to talk about Indigenizing universities

In 2019, the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University found that 33-percent of people who live on tribal reservations rely solely on cell phones for internet service. Talking today about the need for broadband on tribal lands is Loris Taylor. She’s the president of Native Public Media. 

And associate editor for Indian Country Today Vincent Schilling has more on the Kickapoo Captain America, Plus reporter Brian Bull puts down his press credentials and gets on the Oregon Trail. 

Volunteers from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Wisconsin have been making star quilts for the tribe’s high school graduates since 2011. The project began as a way to honor and recognize the often tough journey for Native students. ICT’s Mary Annette Pember reports.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • Three tribal leaders met with the Biden administration to discuss infrastructure needs facing tribes. 
  • A recent meeting of the Arctic Council included the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of Canada and Finland. 
  • The U.S Fish and Wildlife is considering federal protection for two rare plants found in New Mexico. 
  • The Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians in California is celebrating a milestone in healthcare. 
  • For 26 years in a row, Chief Earl Old Person and the Rawhide Singers of The Blackfeet Nation have shown up to sing at the University of Montana’s graduation ceremony. 
  • The first Indigenous Hip Hop awards are taking place this weekend and it will be held on social media.

Find more details on these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Some quotes from today's show.

Patty Loew, Bad River Ojibwe. (Photo courtesy of Patty Loew)

Patty Loew, Ojibwe

Patty Loew is a professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She's a citizen of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Lowe is also a documentary producer and former broadcast journalist. Patty is the award-winning author of three books including Native People of Wisconsin, which is used by 15,000 Wisconsin school children. She talked with us about Indigenizing universities.

Patty Lowe:

"First of all, we need to get away from the graduate record exams and the SATs and ACTs. We know from research, they don't predict success. And so we're testing, using tests that really are not very fair to, to BiPAP students. That's one thing. And then we really have to have a close discussion about diversity, because I think when most universities look around, they they're thinking in terms of color, do we have black faces? What about brown faces? What about red faces?"

"We have enough Asian-Americans, but they're not really committed to diversity of worldview. And, and so the, the PhDs that are hired are expected to conform to, you know, academic standards, which, which is publish or perish. And I have never gone into Indian country. And, you know, when asked, you know, what can I do? What can I w how, how can I help this community nobody's ever said, you know, Patty, we need a peer reviewed journal article in a top tier research journal. So I think there's a disconnect there."

Loris Taylor, Hopi/Acoma

Loris Taylor, Hopi/Acoma

Chances are, if you live on Indian lands, you experience poor internet service. It’s one disparity that was revealed during this pandemic. In 2019, the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University found that 18-percent of people who live on tribal reservations had no access to the internet. And 33-percent relied solely on cell phones. Joining us to talk about the need for broadband on tribal lands is Loris Taylor. She’s the president of Native Public Media. 

Loris Taylor:

"There are so many challenges, but let me just start first by talking about broadband and ecosystem. And I think that's a better framing in terms of understanding what broadband is and what it can do for tribes. So COVID-19 which you just mentioned really unveiled structural flaws, not just in the healthcare system, but also in the communication system. And what we found is that COVID-19 was really, and truly an information centric, pandemic."


"Everybody wanted information about hospital protocols, about where to get food about lockdowns and directed some governments. So at the end of the day, broadband is not just about hardware or the infrastructure. It's about a lot of other things, software capacity. And whether we have the people on the ground to deploy broadband or to use a broadband it's about policies, and essentially it's about internet as being a really dominant and transformational engine of communications and commerce."

Designed by David Cutler, Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation

Designed by David Cutler, Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation

Kids need role models. And one of them turns 80. It’s Captain America. ICT’s Native Nerd Vincent Schilling interviewed Marvel comics writer Darcie Little Badger about the series with a new Native character. Schilling is associate editor and senior correspondent at Indian Country Today. He enjoys technology, comics, and movies. He is also a film critic and writes the Native Nerd column. Vincent joins us with more details.

Vincent Schilling:

"Talking to Darcy Little Badger clarified some things and confused some others because they can't reveal everything yet. However, she did tell me he's not the type of Captain America that's going out and fighting Hydra every day. You know the character is Joe Gomez, who yes, is a Kickapoo grass dancer, who she told me is inspired by the mantle of Captain America. Now he does join Captain America on some sort of excursion of some sorts, but like I said, she can't reveal everything yet. Marvel has done the best they could in terms of introducing Native characters."

"I remember being a young kid back in high school, seeing Chris Claremont's The New Mutants with Danielle Moonstar who is a Native woman as part of the New Mutants universe. And I was like, wow, what is this a Native woman on a comic book? There are quite a few Native characters. And now there's Echo coming to the Hawkeye series in Disney+ who is a deaf Native American superhero. So I think Marvel is doing a good job of catching up and they're doing the best they can not to embrace all of these stereotypes that have existed for so long. So I think that Marvel is making some good strides in 2021. And I look forward to see what's going to continue to happen.

Brian Bull, Nez Perce

Brian Bull, Nez Perce

Before there was Marvel, Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto, there was the Oregon Trail. Developed in 1971, the text-based computer game teaches school children about the realities of 19th-century pioneer life on the Oregon Trail. In 1985, the game added graphics. Joining us is Nez Perce citizen Brian Bull, who was an advisor for the video game. Today, Brian is a reporter with KLCC in Eugene, Oregon.

"And there had been a call-out for a multicultural parts. And so long story short, I signed up and found myself cast as chief Joseph the younger. Which was kind of exciting because he's part of my family lineage, our family tree. And so for a series of shoots, I found myself on a small set in Minneapolis doing what was then revolutionary technology at the time F.M.V., which has full motion video."

"And if you've ever played the Oregon Trail: third edition, it's essentially just where you assume a position, you say your lines and then you resume back to what's called a neutral position. And by today's standards, it's a little stilted and a little odd looking, but back then it was cutting edge. I've heard some really good things about it. I have not purchased an edition yet. But I've talked to some colleagues and friends who have tried out the game. And it sounds like what they've done since I was a consultant, was they've really incorporated more and more of the Native American perspective and viewpoint."

Thank you for watching!

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

Shirley Sneve, Sicangu Lakota, is vice president of broadcasting for Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @rosebudshirley Sneve is based in Nebraska and Minnesota.

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider.

Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk, is associate editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter @VinceSchilling.

Mary Annette Pember, Red Cliff Ojibwe, is national correspondent for Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @mapember. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio.