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“When You Come in This House, You Speak Mohawk”

The long history and hopeful future of Mohawk language revitalization is explored in a new report

By Paul Boyer

Carole Ross was born on the St. Regis Reservation and spoke Mohawk as her first language. Now retired, she previously served as the tribe’s language coordinator. Photo: Paul Boyer

Native language revitalization is often said to be a young movement. While nearly all of the nation’s indigenous languages are threatened, and dozens are now characterized as “dormant,” many tribes and Native communities are only now taking steps to reverse the loss.

On the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, however, language survival has been a priority for decades. Carole Ross, who grew up on the reservation and now teaches the language, recalls that, as a child in the 1950s, Mohawk was both widely spoken and actively protected. “When you come in this house,” her father once said, “you speak Mohawk.”

With an estimated population of 14,000, the Mohawk nation (known as Akwesasne), straddles the St. Lawrence River and includes territory in both New York and Canada. Despite its small size and fragmented boundaries, however, the reservation now supports two well-established immersion schools, numerous adult instruction programs,and policies that promote use of Mohawk throughout the community. Mohawk linguists and language teachers travel the country, serving as speakers and consultants.

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From High School to College, Micropipettors at the Ready

Research is the centerpiece of Salish Kootenai College’s new dual enrollment STEM Academy

By Andrea Panagakis, Mary Larson, and Taylir Schrock

STEM Academy students using their pipetting skills during Science Research class at Salish Kootenai College. Photo: Mary Larson

On a recent fall afternoon, a group of high school students enrolled in Salish Kootenai College’s Science Research class are bent over lab tables, deep in concentration. Their instructor, Taylir Schrock, circulates around the group. “Massage the smeg!” she urges.

The students, all participants in a unique STEM-focused dual enrollment program, know what to do. Using precision instruments called micropipettors, they mix samples of Mycobacterium smegmatis, also known as “smeg,” a bacterium that tiny viruses called bacteriophage prey upon.

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Twenty Years of NATURE

This long-running academic enrichment program is creating pathways to STEM careers for Native students in North Dakota

By Paul Boyer

In the fragile and fleeting world of education reform movements, it’s worth noting the durability and accomplishments of the NATURE program, now celebrating its twentieth anniversary.

NATURE (Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education) began in 1998 as an informal collaboration between four North Dakota tribal colleges–Turtle Mountain College, Sitting Bull College, Cankdeska Cikana Community College, Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, and United Tribes Technical College–and the North Dakota State University.

Carol Davis

According to former Turtle Mountain College Vice President Carol Davis, the goal was to strengthen STEM education opportunities for American Indian middle school, high school, and tribal college students. “Our motivation in the beginning was to increase the number of American Indian students who would declare STEM as a major,” Davis recalled.

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Antioxidant Activity of Common Vegetables in Hawai’i

Cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)

“Antioxidant Activity of Common Vegetables in Hawai’i” is one of three papers selected for publication as part of the Native Science Report’s 2018 student research showcase. Submitted by Shane Yaw, an undergraduate student currently enrolled at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, it analyzes the antioxidant content of several leafy vegetables, both native and introduced, that are easily grown in Hawai’i. The project was completed under the supervision of Dr. Joseph Bariyanga at the University of Hawaii-West Oahu, where Shane was previously enrolled.

A graduate of Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu, Shane is majoring in biology with a minor in mathematics and plans to pursue a career in medicine. He is the oldest of seven children in what he describes as “an even larger Hawaiian/Puerto Rican family.”

Shane Yaw’s research project can be downloaded here.