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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 26, 2003 - Issue 92


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Oneida Camp Helps Teens Find the Right Track

by Maricella Miranda Green Bay Press Gazette

Members of the Oneida community are helping students with real-world issues at an Oneida Tribal Gang Task Force cultural camp.

The camp focuses on topics such as drugs, alcohol, abstinence, teenage pregnancy, violence and the students' goals.

"Before I came to the camp I used to get into a lot of fights," said Julio Flores, 16, who will be a junior at Seymour Community High School.

After Flores heard the speakers at camp, he didn't see the point of fighting anymore. Flores was a camper the year the camp started. Now he's a camp leader for the middle-school group.

The inspirational speakers this year include a counselor from the Lincoln Hills juvenile facility and a worker from the Oshkosh Correctional Institution.

The speakers scare the students into not committing crimes by telling them what it's really like inside a correction facility, said camp leader Sgt. Mark Ninhamfrom the Oneida Police Department.

The main objective of the camp is to give the students resources they can rely on for help. Some of these resources include the Oneida Police Department, entities of the Oneida Tribe of Indians, social service workers and domestic abuse counselors.

The camp leaders also teach the students respectful behavior.

"Part of being Oneida is that we take care of each other," said camp leader Dan Ninham, who teaches the students traditional games.

"We are a community, and the young have to take care of the old and the old have to take care of the young, and that's why we encourage the kids to have that mind-set," Ninham said.

Students learn respect through traditional games, which stress the "appropriate touch" concept, positive comments to each other and team communication.

A game that incorporates those behaviors includes a ball of yarn, which students throw back and forth while the thrower says a wish or a positive comment. In the end, the yarn resembles a dream catcher.

The camp also encourages the students to consider their futures.

"Before I came to camp I didn't even think about going to college," Flores said. "Now I think of going to college, playing sports and getting a real good job."

First Nations Development Institute awarded a $20,000 grant to the camp, which is part of the Oneida Cultural Resiliency Project.

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