The Mooretown Rancheria of Maidu Indians is located in Oroville, CA. The tribe originally applied for its Tribal Youth Program grant because of concerns regarding the high dropout rate of youth in high school.
The TYP grant has enabled the community to provide new academic, cultural, and professional opportunities for youth through the Teen Summer Work Program and the Maidu Nation Station. This year, the Summer Work Program placed 12 teens at jobs in various capacities on the Rancheria, including positions in clerical work, outside maintenance, daycare, and working with children. Youth also have the option of participating in a leadership academy, in which they take courses in mathematics, English, and cultural studies. Participants always complete a major project in their cultural class. Three years ago they constructed a full size cedar shelter on the Rancheria, and this year they built deer hoof rattles. The group also participates in activities with other teens including kayaking and attending baseball games and car races. In order to participate in the Teen Summer Program, youth must apply and maintain a minimum of a 2.0 grade point average.
The TYP program also enables youth to participate in broadcasting activities on the local Maidu Nation radio station. A consultant was hired to set up the program and teach participants how to conduct interviews, use the switchboard, take calls, and play music. Youth were also provided with business cards, and learned many professional skills that will be useful for future employment. Youth have substantial discretion over the content of radio shows, and it is hoped that they will be able to focus more specifically on teen issues in the future. The program is currently laying the groundwork for a conversational language class in Concow Maidu, the traditional language of the tribe. The program has also enabled youth to attend national events such as the Sundance Film Festival and the American Indian Film Institute awards. Through these activities, they have had opportunities to interview movie stars, directors, and actors. Approximately one to three youth participate in this program.
One challenge faced by the TYP program is maintaining connections with youth during the school year and helping them to succeed academically. Although truancy rates went down this past year, increases in attendance have not yet been reflected in many students’ grades. One of Project Director Tina Reszler’s goals is to increase outreach at schools by talking with youth and supporting Native American school clubs so that youth will be more inclined to seek her out for academic assistance. However, youth in the program have also experienced significant successes, including the acceptance of one student into a college connections program.
Ms. Reszler hopes that these programs will be sustainable and expand in future years so that youth will continue to benefit from the numerous opportunities they offer. They have also enabled youth to have their own voice within the community—another component she believes is critical for the future of the Mooretown Rancheria.