Thursday, February 28, 2013

Our New Website

Visit our website to view essays written by high school kids across the nation on why reconnecting the circle with Native Americans is important today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reconnecting The Circle's Trivia Game

Test your knowledge on historical and contemporary facts about Native Americans.

Go to Trivia Game.

ESSAY CONTEST (grades 9-12)

Deadline: January 23, 2009

10 Winning Students
$2500 each in cash prizes

TOPIC: "Why is it important to understand patriotism in Indian Country?"

DEADLINE: Essays must be postmarked no later than Monday, January 19, 2009 and received by Friday, January 23,2009

WHO: High School Students (Grades 9-12)

WHERE: High Schools Across the United States

GUIDELINES: 750-1200 Words, typewritten, double-spaced, with numbered pages
**See official rules on the website for all entry details and essay specifications**

ESSAY CRITERIA: Originality & Creativity, eloquence of writing style, structure
(How well thought out the essay is), grammar and relevance to the topic

1. Go to the website
2. Read the Official Rules & Regulations.
3. Print out the Official Entry & Permission Form, legibly
print information in blue or black pen, and have a parent
or legal guardian sign it (if you are under the age of 18).
4. Read the full essay question.*
5. Include the completed Entry & Permission Form with 2
copies of your essay and send by mail to: Reconnecting
The Circle, National High School Essay Contest,
PO Box 8842, Reston, VA 20195.

NOTE: All Essay Contest details listed here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Language is the Culture

I learned something very valuable in my Native American circles -- without language, there is no culture.

Native American people are striving to sustain their languages, because they know once the language goes, so does the culture. Nuances in a language, expression, innuendo, perspective, double meaning (double entendre), 40 ways to say 'I love you', and the actual sound of a word and how that word is uttered -- all these elements of language contribute to its culture.

Watch Your Mouth
There are many words in our English language that have become part of our every day colloquialisms. Some of those words are actually derogatory remarks or references about Native Americans, which found their way into our vocabulary centuries ago. While some of those words seem harmless, they misrepresent or negate Native American people and cultures.

Reconnecting The Circle highlights some choice words on its website in the 'Watch Your Mouth' section. 

Consider how your own language has evolved over the years and how some words contribute to changing our culture, positively or negatively. Consider expressions like "phat", "ho", "hiphop", "WMD" (weapons of mass destruction), "real change", "just do it", etc. Consider every time there's a new catchphrase in the news about politics or a geographic location or media event and then think about how it affects you and your perspective on the world. Language is powerful. Language is the culture.

Challenge: What are your ideas for sustaining Native American languages? Send them to me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Establishing Your Own Blog - Easy as 1, 2, 3...4, 5

My friend, Shashi, aka Social Media Guru at Network Solutions, encouraged and counseled me on having my own blog. Below is his easy-to-follow method for establishing your own blog:

1. Create a blog account with Blogger or WordPress.
2. Create 3 posts to start. 
    a) Why I started this blog
    b) About you or your organization
    c) Something informative and useful to your audience
3. Register your blog with Technorati and mybloglog.
4. Register your blog at twitterfeed.
5. Post a short video related to your core topic at YouTube or Viddler and embed it into your blog.

You can also incorporate images, important links, and Social Media links for helping people share your content with the rest of the world.

The above sites are very user-friendly and can walk you through the set-up process. Good luck!

Note to the Skeptical: You may think you have nothing to say, but give it a go. You'd be surprised about how many things you feel passionate about, want to gripe about, want to share, and what you're actually an expert on.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Cherokee National Holiday - Labor Day 2008

I'm in Tahlequah, Oklahoma visiting friends and attending events for the 56th annual Cherokee National Holiday. Tahlequah, Oklahoma is where the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Western Band, resides. Cherokee Nation is the 2nd largest tribe here in the U.S. with over 200,000 enrolled tribal members.

The Holiday is a great time to meet new people, reconnect with old friends, and get a taste of Cherokee culture. Tomorrow is Principal Chief Chad Smith's State of the Nation address. Good stuff.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Negative Press Doesn't Always Lead to a Movie Deal

When the media continually focuses on all the negative aspects and stereotypes of a culture, the people of those cultures are devalued - individually and collectively. Reconnecting The Circle seeks to change that. And fast. 

There are so many beautiful and inspiring aspects of the Native American cultures; each Tribe or Nation different from the next. All most people know about Native Americans is: 1) high school drop-out rate, 2) diabetes rate, 3) high suicide rate, 4) drugs and alcohol rate, 5) casinos...and not the fact that revenue from the handful of successful gaming operations goes towards building tribal infrastructure, road systems, water management systems, better healthcare, and education, 6) sports mascots - Go Redskins!..not (sorry, people), 7) teen pregnancy... I think you catch my drift. It's always negative.

There's no positive counterpoint to the chronically negative coverage of Indian Country. So, when I speak to people, I always like to use my Italian-American analogy. For example, have you ever noticed that movies with "Italian" roles generally consist of mafia-type personas or New York "Italians" who speak in neanderthal English, "Yo, Vinny, fuh-get about it"! or animated movies ("Finding Nemo") who cast a gangster/mafioso/loan shark role to its main shark character? Granted, I've heard people speak like this, HOWEVER, let's look at the facts.

Counterpoint to some negative stereotyping, there is The Food Network. Everybody knows Italians rule The Food Network. After all, we are the top cuisine in the world. They can also learn to speak Italian by taking courses that are available in many, many locations AND online. Italy is a top travel location as it is marketed by those enamored with the history, geography, food, people, fashion, and scandals. We can also study the Masters in art class and history class. "Dante's Inferno" is a classic and is required reading in some schools.

So, my point is this -- Indian Country has no positive counterpoints to all of the negativity.

There's a growing number of us out there who are working to inform the public in a good way. Reconnecting The Circle encourages Native and non-Native students to find common ground in a positive way. No guilt, no shame. Just coolness.