News from the Pacific Northwest

Richard Walker
4/30/07

N.W. Indian College hosts 'get out the vote' training session

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Northwest Indian College will host a two-day ''get out the vote'' training session in May.

The training session is named Camp Wellstone, in honor of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn. Wellstone was a former college professor and community organizer; his 1990 and 1996 Senate campaigns inspired many college students, low-income people and minorities to get involved in politics for the first time.

College President Cheryl Crazy Bull said the camp was named for Wellstone because he believed in the right of all Americans to vote. Wellstone, his wife and a daughter died in a plane crash Oct. 25, 2002.

Camp Wellstone will be a crash course that blends the concepts of community organizing, large-scale grass-roots campaigning and progressive leadership with intensive training in the nuts and bolts of effective political work.

American Indian voters have proven to be a force in Washington state politics. Native votes were considered critical in the election of Maria Cantwell to the U.S. Senate in 2000. And voters have elected five Native state legislators, including the first Native female state senator in state history.

Entry fee for the two-day training is $125; space is limited to 75. Call Aaron Thomas at (360) 410-9304 or e-mail athomas@nwic.edu.

Fife School District to start teaching Native history

FIFE, Wash. - Fife School District students will learn about local Native history and government-to-government relations as part of their history studies, thanks to a teacher-training program developed by two staff members, funded by the Puyallup Tribe and led by a former Skokomish chairman.

Suzanne Shade, Fife's director of teacher learning, and Phyllis Covington, coordinator of Indian education, developed the teacher-training initiative in response to a 2005 state law that encourages school

districts to incorporate American Indian history, culture and government into their history and social studies curricula.

Shade and Covington attended a government-to-government training event led by former Skokomish Chairman Gordon James last year and made it a priority to develop a training program for district teachers. The Puyallup Tribe donated $5,000, enough to cover training expenses, lunches and substitutes for classroom teachers. James will lead the training, beginning in May.

Shade told the Washington State School Directors Association that she and Covington hope the program inspires other school districts to develop similar training.

''We believe our shared history is an essential element for all our young peoples' understanding of their own community and neighbors,'' Shade told the association's magazine. ''We look forward to the training and the curriculum that will be developed as a result.''

USDA announces $10 million for housing

SEATTLE - Some $10 million in grants are available for renovation of deteriorating homes and rental properties occupied by low-income families. Nonprofit organizations, public agencies and American Indian governments are eligible for the grants.

The grants are available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

The program also assists rental property owners and cooperative housing complexes in repairing and rehabilitating their units if they agree to make the units available to low- and very low-income persons.

All applications must be received by the USDA Rural Development office in Olympia by June 18. For more information regarding the Notice of Funds Availability, visit the Federal Register Web site at www.gpoaccess.gov; write Robert Lund at 1835 Black Lake Blvd., Suite B, Olympia, WA 98512; or call (360) 704-7730 or TDD (360) 704-7760.

Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at rmwalker@sanjuanjournal.com.

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