LaDonna Harris – Comanche, Woman, Activist.

LaDonna Harris: Indian 101 is a documentary film about Comanche

activist LaDonna Harris, who led an extensive life of Native political

and social activism, and is now passing on her traditional cultural and

leadership values to a new generation of emerging Indigenous leaders.

Harris’ introduction to the federal government began when President

Lyndon Johnson assigned her to educate the executive and legislative

branches of the U.S. government on the unique role of American Indian

Tribes and their relationship with the federal government. This course

was called “Indian 101” and was taught to members of Congress and

other agencies for over 35 years. In addition to her work in civil rights,

world peace, the environment and women’s rights, Harris is best known

for introducing landmark legislation, such as land return claims to the

Taos Pueblo Tribe and the Native tribes of Alaska, and returning federal

recognition to the Menominee Tribe.  Harris’ new program is a cutting-edge

program that trains Native professionals to incorporate their own tribes’

traditional values and perspectives into their work, while building a global

indigenous coalition.  LaDonna Harris:Indian 101 will explore Harris’

achievements, the personal struggles that led her to become a voice for

Native people and her contemporary work to reshape Indian Country in

America and abroad.

Reprinted courtesy of


Indian Taco Sale at Blue Earth Center

Blue Earth Initiatives Inc.

“First People’s Healing Road to Recovery”

2519 N Topeka Blvd, Topeka, Kansas/785-215-8360.

Blue Earth Initiatives, Inc. is a Native American Cultural Support Center committed to providing cultural/sobriety services for our Native community members who desire detox/treatment referral and Native cultural-specific group support. Blue Earth Initiatives Inc. was founded in 2009 by several Native Americans who identified a critical need for cultural-specific recovery support services for the Federal tribally enrolled Native Americans residing in the Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas area. Participants are members of the Cree, Sac & Fox, Potawatomi, Lakota, Iowa, Omaha, Mississippi-Choctaw, Winnebago, Creek, Comanche, Navajo, Kiowa, Apache, Three Affiliated Tribes, and Cheyenne/Arapaho tribal nations.                     

The Blue Earth Center offers these services:
■Alcohol and drug counseling referral available with the Prairie Band Potawatomi Alcohol & Drug Program certified counseling staff.
■Three cultural-specific healing circles (Fall/Winter/Spring) for both men and women on Sunday at 6 PM and Tuesday and Friday evenings at 7pm.
■Limited outreach to individuals incarcerated or currently in treatment or recovery facilities.
■An Employment Reintegration Program designed to cultivate and develop viable employment opportunities for Native Americans actively participating in a program of recovery.
■Transportation to legal, health, employment and social service appointments.
Prairie Band Potawatomi introductory language class now held at Blue Earth. Thursday evening, 6 pm, August 18th.

The Blue Earth Center is the only Native Support Center in the Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas area providing cultural-specific support services.

“Our vision is set the stage for a healthy, educated, and prosperous new generation of culturally enriched children and grandchildren to lead the way…” Terry L. Cross Bear.

The Blue Earth Center will be having an Indian Taco and Indian Frybread sale as well as free live music by The Rob Wade Band on Sunday, August 7th from noon to 3 pm.

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The Cradleboard Teaching Project

In 1986, a non-native teacher wanted a teaching unit on Native Americans for her fifth grade class. She asked a Native American teacher to develop a curriculum unit for the class. The Native American teacher did so, as well as expanding the curriculum into a 43 page unit  which could be used for all grades. This was the beginning of the Cradleboard Teaching Project, a program through which all students can be taught truthful and relevant subjects from a Native American perspective as well as allowing Indian and non-Indian students to connect and learn from each other.

Buffy Sainte-Marie played the Peterborough Sum...

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The Cradleboard Teaching Project was founded by Buffy Saint-Marie, a Cree woman who has had decades of experience as a singer, songwriter, and political activist. This program consists of traditional school curriculum units that are developed by Native Americans and are written from a Native American perspective. The project uses email, chat rooms, interactive web sites, bulletin boards and video conferencing to connect students with resources and other groups of students.

This program hopes to address several problems in American society.  First, there are many  misperceptions in our society about Native Americans. There is also a great lack of accuracy regarding Native American history and culture in mainstream curricula. This not only leaves a gaping hole in the cultural education of our children, but it also creates a lack of self-identity for many children of Native descent.

This lack of self-concept is in part to blame for the Native American community having the highest levels of depression and suicide in our country. This also is one of the causes of the high rates of school drop-out, concomitant high unemployment, welfare dependency, substance abuse and high poverty rates among Native American communities.

This interactive program helps give Native American students a sense of self-esteem and empowerment as they learn of their own and other tribal cultures, as well as having the opportunity to share their culture with other students around the country.

The program has science, geography, history, music, and social studies curriculum supplements that are available free at Check out the interesting topics, such as lodge building, Mayan sports, ancient trade routes, pyramid cities, Mohawk clanmothers, mouth bows, boarding schools, tribal governments, and Native American inventions. This curriculum program has much to offer students of every age.

Dancing Into the Future

The Royal Valley Native American Singers and Dancers have kept tradition alive for almost two decades in Jackson County, Kan.  This group consists of 82 children ranging from kindergarten to grade 12 who represent more than a dozen tribes. They are the five-time defending champions of the “Battle of the Plains” competition held every January in Bartlesville, Okla. They hold the title of “Best Native American Dance Group in the Midwest“.

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         The group was started 19 years ago by Laverne Hale, the Title VII co-ordinator for the Royal Valley School District.  When she left Royal Valley Schools, the position was taken over by Anita Pahmahmie Evans, who has been sponsoring the group for the last 17 years.  Anita also teaches physical education at Royal Valley High School in Hoyt, Kan.  Her co-sponsor, Connie Peters, teaches math at Royal Valley Middle School in Mayetta, Kan.

        Title VII is a federally funded program for Indian education.  Royal Valley uses part of this funding to support the dancers and singers, as well as a math tutoring program and other student services.  Two of the goals the school has for the Title VII program are to increase school attendance and to improve math scores among Native American students, who make up a large part of the student population.

        Anita says the dance group, as well as the Native American Club she started,  help achieve these goals.  Students must keep up their academic grades and attendance to participate in the dance performances.  Anita also encourages students to prepare for college.  She keeps them informed of ACT testing dates, available scholarships, recruiting events and takes them to visit universities.

        Students and parents alike get involved with the dancers and singers group.  It is a great way to encourage their children to learn about their traditions and it is a great boost to the children’s self-esteem and their Native pride.  The families of the dancers and singers not only show their moral support, but must supply financial support as well.  The regalia the children wear are very expensive.  A hand-beaded hair ornament or pair of moccasins can cost hundreds of dollars.  All of these items are custom-made, and children grow out of them quickly.

        Every outfit is exquisitely detailed, with beading, tassels, feathers, bells, ribbons and other adornments.  They are made in a rainbow of colors and each tribe or region has its own traditional style of clothing. The Prairie Band Potawatomi use many floral designs and fabric appliques, while other tribes may wear buckskin outfits.

        The kids want to look their best for each performance, especially the competitions.  They earn points for their regalia as well as for their dancing skills. The group performs about six to ten times a year, but the most important performance is the big competition Jan. 15, in Bartlesville, Okla.  They compete with schools from Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, and even as far away as Alabama.

         At the competition the dancers and singers are divided into age groups and into groups according to their style of dance.  Each individual earns points which are combined for their school.  The school that earns the most points by the end of the day wins the grand prize. The Royal Valley Singers and Dancers have been the grand champions for the past five years and hope to continue their winning streak at the upcoming competition in Oklahoma.

          Although the group has been a success, the future is uncertain.  Anita will be retiring within the next few years and someone else will need to take over leadership of the singers and dancers.  Preferably, someone who is Native American and can relate to the children as well as Anita has been able to. “I’m so close to the kids in this program. I live on the reservation with them. I know their parents and grandparents. I was where they are and I’m proof they can succeed.”