June 13 2019 - A Succesful Native Youth Program Faces Eviction from Seattle Public Schools
A Native youth program with a record of boosting graduation rates and cultural enrichment for Seattle students has been evicted from Robert Eagle Staff building, echoing the heartbreak of broken agreements with local Native Americans over centuries. On Friday, June 4th, Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA) was sent notice by Seattle Public School Area Director Jon Halfacker announcing the Partnership Agreement will be “terminated”. This termination has been decided without due process, dialogue, or foundation in fact.
“The abrupt termination of the ‘Partnership Agreement’ with our successful Clear Sky tutoring, mentorship, and cultural Education program ‑ along with the Native Warrior Athletics basketball program ‑ will have reverberating impact on hundreds of Seattle Public Schools’ Native learners, families, volunteers, Robert Eagle Staff and Licton Springs learning community and our intertribal urban community”, stated Sarah Sense‑Wilson (Oglala), Urban Native Education Alliance Board of Directors Chair.
Clear Sky’s youth programming holds 11‑year record of 100% graduation for involved Native youth K‑12, and stands as a recognized model for improving Native student academic and personal youth outcomes. Clear Sky served 97 Native students, 62 volunteers, 61 Native Warrior Athletics student athletes, and over 811 combined community members, volunteers, students and allied programs in the past school year.
“Dispossessing our Native learners is an intentional decision to erase our presence and visibility at a school that we successfully campaigned for naming after Robert Eagle Staff”, Elder Tom Speer.
Robert Eagle Staff building is located on culturally‑significant sacred land (Licton Springs). This sacred site is where both Seattle Clear Sky and UNEA birthed as a grass‑roots community‑driven organization. Our connection to this land transcends time and is a sacred relationship. The spirit of this partnership was made visible through verbal and written agreement as well as symbolically through meaningful gifts that were received with gratitude in ceremony by SPD such as; traditional Star quilts, Robert Eagle Staff memorial bronze sculpture and other items of cultural importance, as an exchange of good faith and mutual support to honor and make tribute to the memory of Robert Eagle Staff and the Urban Native community's connections and roots to the sacred site of Licton Springs.
UNEA requested the immediate reversal of the decision and establish a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Superintendent. SPS needs to comply with their own policies on Educational and Racial Equity Policy #0030 , and SPS Strategic Plan for eliminating the achievement gap, and its Racial Equity Analysis Tool to ensure equitable access. Instead of using policies to terminate and further marginalize communities of color, they should be applying their own policies for parity, equity and building bridges for common and shared interests of our entire Seattle community. While the district’s data and outcome for Native students continues to reflect cultural incompetence, and disproportionate statistics, our comparative outcomes are in stark contrast. As a community we need to protect our children and uphold our collective responsibility to improve and create pathways for their holistic wellness.
Please contact Seattle Superintendent at firstname.lastname@example.org and Seattle School Board email@example.com to express support for our efforts to re‑establish our original partnership with SPS. District Public Testimony is on June 26t h, 2019, call ‑in (206) 252‑ 0040 (must call on Monday June 24t h, @ 8:00am).
Please feel free to email us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.urbannativeeducation.org .
Urban Native Education Alliance
P.O. Box 25142
Seattle, WA 98165