Saturday, January 7, 2012

Native American Center for Wellness Research, Message from the Director

It has been a very good year for the Native American Center for Wellness Research and I am happy to report that our efforts continue on as strong as ever. The center is involved with funded research, awarding scholarships, and starting a Native American Living & Learning Community, named after a UB building, honoring Chief Red Jacket.

Funded Research

For instance, as part of a fellowship grant from University of Washington’s Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (IWRI), Native American Community Services and I are working on a Native American specific intervention for safer sex practices. Although there are many interventions and programs around the country to help folks become more aware of and have safer sex, there are no such interventions specifically for Native Americans. We are working with UB’s Department of Media Study’s SUNY Distinguished Professor Sarah Elder in order to create a film-based intervention.

Also, as part of our effort to recruit and retain Native American students, a grant was funded to test a brief intervention. Native American students have been the leaders in SUNY college dropout since the 1980’s, the year SUNY began collecting data. UB’s record of retaining Native Americans over those years mirrors SUNY’s overall data. For the past 30+ years, Native Americans attending SUNY universities have dropped out of these institutions at a rate higher than any other student category. A brief intervention that has shown to significantly increase college retention for minority populations will be replicated at UB. The overall purpose of the study is to test a proven intervention with a new student population -- Native Americans. The study’s innovation is that while the intervention has proven successful with other minorities such as African American students, it has not been tested with Native Americans. This study has relevance and significance if the outcomes demonstrate a turnaround in the three decade phenomenon of Native Americans dropping out of UB and throughout the SUNY system.

Wolf-Fire Scholarship

Five UB Native American Students will be awarded Wolf-Fire Scholarships in order to help both their scholarly works and their own communities. This is the second cohort of UB students to receive Wolf-Fire Scholarships, each receiving $500. The awardees will be recognized January 24th at UB’s Red Jacket Building.

The awardees are:

Jessica Brant is from the Mohawk Nation and a senior at UB’s American Studies program. Jessica is also the current President of UB’s Native American’s People Alliance (NAPA). Jessica is committed to ensuring UB Native American students have a community of their own on campus and other supports systems. She plans to use Wolf-Fire funds to purchase some advertising materials for NAPA in order to better recruit students. She will also use some funds to support her on-going educational needs.

Monty Hill is a student in the Linguistic department and a member of the Beaver clan of the Tuscarora tribe, one of the six tribes of the Haudenosaunee. With Wolf-Fire funds, Monty intends to digitize Tuscarora language data present in Rudes dictionary, and, in order to better serve his community, begin development of an online multimedia language resource. He intends to have digitized the entirety of the English to Tuscarora part of the lexicon and have it available online. Eventually, the seed of this project will expand into something beyond the lexicon i.e. uniting texts, audio.

Aaron VanEvery is a proud member of the Cayuga Nation and Wolf clan of the Six Nations reserve at Grand River in Ontario, Canada and PhD student in the American Studies Department. Aaron has dedicated his scholarly efforts to helping Native students become more aware of their cultural heritages. He intends to be a positive role model for students and hopes to mentor students while pursuing their educational degrees. Aaron hopes to develop an educational structure that focuses on Native American cultural and language courses. Aaron will use Wolf-Fire funds to support his course work.

Joe Candillo is a tribally enrolled member of the Pascua Yaqui Indian Tribe of Arizona and currently a PhD candidate in the American Studies Program. Joe will use Wolf-Fire funds to visit the Catawba Indian community in Rock Hill South Carolina to conduct ethnographic research on their traditional bow and arrow making tradition in hopes that the information that I gather will help to preserve this tradition for future generations of Catawba Indians.

Beynan Ransom is a citizen of the Mohawks of Akwesasne and an engineering student. Beynan became interested in acquiring the technical knowledge needed to solve complex environmental problems. Since learning about the contamination of the St. Lawrence River near Akwesasne, he has dedicated his life to finding ways to help restore the environment. For his master’s thesis he is working with the Onondaga Nation near Syracuse, NY, to help them decide whether the Onondaga Creek dam should be removed. His study will use the latest hydrologic science and computer modeling to show the tradeoffs the Nation has to make should the dam be removed. Beynan will use Wolf-Fire funds to travel to Syracuse NY in order to collect data.

Chief Sagoyewatha Living & Learning Community

The event on January 24th honoring the Wolf-Fire Scholarship awardees will be part of an overall effort to recruit UB students into its new Chief Sagoyewatha Living & Learning Community. The new program gets its name from UB’s Red Jacket dormitory which honors the great Seneca leader, Chief Red Jacket. Chief Red Jacket was better known by his Native American name, Sagoyewatha (Sa-go-ye-wa-tha), meaning He Keeps Them Awake.

The new Chief  Sagoyewatha Living & Learning Community will officially begin Fall 2012 and is open to any UB student living on campus interested in Native American issues. The January 24th event is an opportunity to learn more about the new Chief Sagoyewatha Living & Learning Community and recognize the awardees of the Wolf-Fire Scholarship. To learn more about these activities or the Native American center for Wellness Research, please contact Dr. David A. Patterson at or 716-207-6411.

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