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AUTHOR: Betty Reid, The Arizona Republic
A group of urban Native American high school students launched a Web site
that acts as an educational site for the public and a useful source to Valley
Native Americans, especially parents.
Phoenix Union High School District's North High, launched in October. The
Native American Youth Council of North High built the interactive site, which
posts information about such council activities as fry bread sales, a car wash
and out-of-district events such as local powwows or Native parades in Phoenix.
Of interest on the site is a "numbers system" written in the language of the
Western Apache, Salt River-Maricopa, Cherokee, Navajo and Objibwe. The site
also offers an "indigenous geography" of Phoenix that shows the location of
ancient settlements of the Hohokam peoples, who built irrigation systems in
the Gila River Valley from 350 B.C. to A.D. 1450.
"I believe this project will allow more people to gain an understanding of
the importance of the land they walk upon each and everyday here in the
Valley," North High senior Brian Bex said. The Navajo 17-year-old is the Webmaster
of the youth council's site.
April Manywhisker, vice president of the North High's youth council, said
she is incredulous about how many people don't know about Native tribes. People
believe all tribes are the same, although each has a distinct culture,
language and worship, she said.
The plan for the site is to collect information about all 500-plus of the
federally recognized tribes in the United States. Northhighnatives.com will list
contact information of each tribe on the site so that high school students and
their parents are informed about tribal scholarships.
Cody Johnson, an aspiring fashion designer and a member of Tohono O'odham,
plans to add video to the site. The 17-year-old junior at North High student
envisions a project in which students speak their native language on the site.
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