By LORI EDMO-SUPPAH
FORT HALL — The University of Idaho (UI) is making sure tribes voices are being heard and its College of Natural Resources is hosting a Tribal Summit September 30 to October 1.
The Summit discussion includes development of courses and programs to support the Natural Resource work force development and gain greater understanding for UI tribal projects. Tribal leaders and Tribal Natural Resource departments are invited, along with UI College of Natural Resource faculty, UI President Staben and Provost Weincek.
UI Office of Tribal Relations Executive Director Yolanda Bisbee, Nez Perce, met with the FHBC August 18 to advise of the Summit and to encourage participation on the UI Native American Advisory Council that consists of tribal leaders, UI President Staben and Provost Weincek.
Johanna Jones, Idaho Department of Education, Office of Indian Education coordinator, was also present to address the Idaho Colleges and Universities Direct Admissions Policy. She said the State Board of Education is considering a new admissions policy to provide more Idaho students with the opportunity to obtain a higher education. The proposal is called Direction Admissions that will proactively admit Idaho public high school seniors to the state public higher education institutions based on each student’s grade point average and SAT score. Jones advised because the Shoshone-Bannock Jr./Sr. High School is considered a private school and is not required to participate in the Idaho State Department of Education’s Idaho System for Educational Excellence. She said an agreement must be made to include Idaho’s Bureau of Indian Education schools that would share student data with the State Board of Education. The next step would be to discuss, create, review the agreement then implement it.
Concerning the UI, Bisbee said her office was established to provide leadership, guidance and support for Native initiatives, organizations and programs. She is trying to make a change with UI and has been busy visiting with tribes.
One initiative she is working on is something she referred to as “Smash and grab research” where non Native researchers come up with grand ideas for researching tribal issues, get funding for it without even consulting with tribes. Her plan is to implement full collaboration with tribes at the onset of an idea. “I am pushing to write protocols for the university where anyone who wants to work in tribal communities has to get my approval first,” Bisbee said. She said the UI president has been supportive.
The Native faculty at UI will assist in a tribal relations advisory group to help review research. Cleve Davis, Shoshone-Bannock, has contacted her to look at more research available to Shoshone-Bannocks. Bisbee said she attended Davis graduation in Idaho Falls.
She advised the FHBC of the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding between the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Colville Confederated Tribes, Confederated Tribes of Umatilla, Kalispel Tribe, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Nez Perce Tribe, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, Spokane Tribe and the Yakama Nation. The MOU created the Native American Advisory Council that meets once during the fall and spring semesters and more often when necessary. The intent is to strengthen relationships between UI and tribes, along with improve the quality of educational services and opportunities provided to Native students at UI.
Bisbee said UI is leasing the old Ada County Courthouse in Boise and a decision needs to be made on whether to remove the two murals that show an American Indian being lynched. It’s on the agenda for the next advisory board meeting. She said two tribes have written letters wanting them removed, however FHBC member Devon Boyer believes they shouldn’t be covered up because it is part of the history.
Lee Juan Tyler, FHBC vice chairman, said our tribal people were murdered and the first person hanged in the old state prison was Native.
Tribal Chairman Blaine Edmo said he sent an email to UI concerning the murals but believes it was ignored. His comment is the murals should remain for public viewing to remind all Boise residents of the past policies of the state of Idaho where it was common practice by the good citizens to hang the tribal people in the area and offer bounties for their scalps as a mater of standard practice. “It is their history and should be a reminder of the attempts to erase the original occupants of the Boise Valley in their zeal to take all the resources and eliminate the Shoshone-Bannock and Paiute Indians who are the original residents,” he said. “It was a form of racial cleansing or genocide.”
Bisbee said it’s apparent there needs to be a separate meeting on the subject.
In addition to the UI Natural Resources Summit, she said other upcoming activities include Tatanka Means visit November 11 for Native American Heritage Month; a Native American Silent Art Auction November 12 for Native American scholarship development; a Native American Alumni Tailgate November 11 during the Appalachian State game and the Native American Advisory Council meeting November 13.
Chairman Edmo encouraged UI recognize the southern part of the state, as everything seems to be in Moscow.