Each year, countless Native American youth are declared missing throughout the United States. An exact number isn’t given and statistics are limited because there is no centralized reporting system.
Students from Circle of Nations School, Wahpeton, want to reduce the amount of underreporting.
Circle of Nations is advancing in the national Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. The campus is one of five North Dakota schools, 250 nationwide, competing for $20,000 in technology and supplies. There will be one winner per state.
“This is about developing a sense of hope that they can change the world,” said Karie Trupka, Circle of Nations. “They have the skills and they have the ability.”
Circle of Nations’ student body includes youth from nearly 35 tribes. Most students come from communities outside the Twin Towns Area. They are aware of the depressing national trend.
“When one person in a community is missing, it affects all people within that community,” states Circle of Nations’ proposal to Samsung. “What affects one Indian community affects most Indian communities.”
Circle of Nations students will research missing persons data for each reservation in America. They’ll create a data summary sheet which will be sent to local tribal newspapers.
Students will also compose letters to tribal governments and agencies, asking for their written support of the project. It’s a large undertaking, but Trupka knows her students are up for the challenge.
“Even in creating the proposal, they were hands on. Everyone made sure to revise the information, to have the proposal the way they wanted. They knew how to work within the 1,000 character limit and they knew how to work together,” Trupka continued.
Four other North Dakota schools are competing with Circle of Nations for the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow package. They are Maple Valley High School of Tower City, North Dakota; Northern Cass Middle School of Hunter, North Dakota; Northwood High School of Northwood, North Dakota; and Red River High School of Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Richland 44 High School in Colfax, North Dakota, won first place for North Dakota in 2017. Students created a drainage system using chaff from soybeans. The idea was to have a cheaper, plant-based renewable drainage tile.
“Success breeds hope,” according to Trupka and her students.
While it waits for the Samsung results, Circle of Nations is celebrating its good fortune. The school has received numerous grants and gifts during the 2018-19 school year:
• $500 from Doosan Bobcat in a Doosan Discover Grant; will be used to determine “Who’s Stronger? White Rhinos or a Bobcat ’Toolcat Work Machine’?”
• Robots from BirdBrain Technologies
• Modules from the Southeast Career and Technology Center, paid for by a Native Youth Community Projects grant
• Chromebooks, paid for through DonorsChoose.org, to aid in “Who’s Stronger?”
• National Football League flag football equipment
“We are pleased to have this room,” Trupka said as she showed off Circle of Nations’ science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) lab. “It’s going to be an awesome workspace.”
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