Native American outreach focus of special event this fall

Guest Post

Nynalea Rew
Native American Home-School Liaison
Columbia Gorge Education Service District

December 13, 2017

Columbia Gorge Education Service District, Columbia Gorge Community College and the JOM Parent Committee hosted the first annual College/Career Day for 11th and 12th grade Native American students from North Wasco Co., South Wasco Co., Dufur, Hood River and Lyle school districts on October 3, 2017.

The goal of this College/Career Day was to encourage Native American students to stay in school and move on to a higher education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Oregon had a 26 percent drop-out rate among Native American youth in the school year 2014-15. The national statistics for graduation from high school are as follows: Asian/Pacific Islander students had the highest ACGR (90 percent), followed by White (88 percent), Hispanic (78 percent), Black (75 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (72 percent) students. Only 9.3 percent of Native American youth will go on to attend college and complete their degree.

We had special guest speaker, Gary “Litefoot” Davis. Mr. Litefoot Davis is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. He began his career in 1991 as the first Native American Rap Artist and he’s since performed thousands of concerts across North America and toured internationally, releasing 11 award-winning albums. Litefoot is an actor  and has starred in such major motion pictures as, The Indian In The Cupboard, Mortal Kombat, The Song of Hiwatha and television programs such as House of Cards, CSI Miami and Any Day Now. For over two decades, he’s meshed his talents as an artist and entrepreneur with his passion to better the future of Indian Country. 

We also had guest speaker Sergeant Russell Spino, from Columbia River Intertribal Fisheries Commission (CRITFC)The Blue Zone Project, Tana Atchley, CRITFC and the Eagle Quest Drummers, just to name a few.

Mr. Davis and Mr. Spino did a wonderful job addressing the issue of staying in school and going on to a successful career. Only time will tell if it motivated students stay in school and further their education. 

In all, there were approximately 28 students in attendance, along with members of the JOM Parent committee and various chaperones.