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The Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      APRIL 1979      v09 n04 p19  
Cliff Starr

Cliff Starr-Director of Education. (Right)

An introduction and explanation of the College and its programs.

This is the first installment in a planned series of articles that will introduce you to and inform you about the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College.

In order to get a clear picture of how we fit into the overall structure of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, we must first go back a few years to the beginning of the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College.

The College began operations in 1972, as the result of finding uncovered by the Task Force on Indian Education. These findings, such as the drop-out rate, age-grade differentials and truancy, to name only a few, sparked a great deal of interest and controversy on the part of educators and Indian leaders alike. They also served to point out, that we, as parents and leaders, had little or no control over what our children were being taught in the schools.

Extensive research was also done to compile statistics on income, housing, population distribution and growth, unemployment, vocational training, incarceration rates, accident rates, life expectancy and so on, in order to present a accurate picture of the current life situation of Indian people in Saskatchewan.

Several directions and new initiatives emerged from the combined efforts of research and experience in dealing with these educational issues confronting Indian leaders and their people.

Acquiring Community College status, to tackle adult up-grading and skill development, and affiliation with the University of Regina, to deal with the University level education and training, have been our two most notable achievements over the past four years.

Although we have undergone some very major changes over the past years, the SICC has not lost sight of its goals. That goal is to be of assistance to Indian Bands in Saskatchewan so that they would be able to utilize the College as the key vehicle for the provision of educational resources and services to reserves.

Clifford Starr, 3rd Vice-President of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, is the Executive Director of Education. This, in addition to his other responsibilities as an Executive member of the FSI, keeps him very busy. In his capacity as Executive Director he must take responsibility for "the planning, organization, direction and control of the major educational functions of the College."

In general, the Executive Director shall establish college objectives, formulate policies and programs, and set standards by using a knowledge of the organization's capacities, by analyzing social, cultural, educational and other trends with specific reference to Saskatchewan Indian communities.

Presently, under the Directorship of Mrs. Myrna Yuzicapi, the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College is still undergoing changes to keep up with the over all changes in Indian education and keeping the college sensitive to the needs of the Indian people on the Reserves.

Let us now look at the overall aims and objectives of the College:

  1.  To maintain a comprehensive and sensitive communications network with all Indian communications network with all Indian communities, so that it may plan and implement its activities with the sure knowledge of the needs and wishes of the people. For the same reason, the College will develop a system for obtaining advice and guidance from our elders. To further ensure that the College continues to be attentive to the educational needs of people at all levels, decision-making authority for the institution will be kept in the hands of the elected representatives of the Saskatchewan Indians, i.e. the Executive of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians.

The Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College

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  2.  To create educational programs in such areas as history, philosophy, religion, art, literature, and the social sciences in order to help our young people develop a proud Indian identification.

  3.  To promote the teaching of courses that are uniquely suited to the demands of Reserve life.

  4.  To identify, support and promote talented Indians in the arts, professions and sports.

  5.  To collect, produce and circulate written and audiovisual materials dealing with Indians.

  6.  To act as a clearing house for research concerning Indians in the Province of Saskatchewan. This is necessary in order to protect our people from misinterpretation and to preserve the authenticity of our cultural tradition.

  7.  To provide assistance, consultation and directions to all agencies serving Indians in Saskatchewan. Examples of these would be IAB, the Provincial Department of Education and the Universities of Saskatchewan and Regina.

  8.  To give all possible help to Indian bands in such matters as planning of schools, improvement of school curricula and training of teachers as well as other staff.

  9.  To develop and teach courses related to Indian culture, e.g. Indian dance and music, Indian law, Indian political science.

Since its humble beginning in a warehouse at 1402 Quebec Street to Emmanuel-St. Chad and now, most recently, to the old Teacher's College on Idylwyld Drive North, the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College has expanded and changed a great deal.

Myrna Yuzicappi
Myrna Yuzicappi-Cultural College Director

Following is a brief description of each of the Programs that make our College.

a) CULTURE CENTRE: Coordinator, Smith Atimoyoo.
This department can probably be viewed as the hub of the College, and it concerns itself in the areas of culture, tradition, ceremonies and philosophy and continues to foster the Eldership movement by; -having daily pipe ceremonies, - assisting as resource persons, - lecturing and counselling staff and students.

Cultural Center staff have been involved in three major areas:
1)  Collection of information,
2)  Assistance in the organization of cultural events,
3)  Resource leadership.


This department is engaged in producing curriculum guides for school programs and in producing resource and reference materials to accompany these programs. All materials are intended to accurately reflect the culture and values of the five Saskatchewan tribes.

Research is being carried out in three major areas:
1)  Field Work: - collection of information from people on Reserves. - Organization of information collected by Cultural Center from elders workshops.
2)  Library Research: - all of the projects which this department undertakes requires library research to identify existing materials on any given topic.
3)  Evaluation: - material produced by department must be tested and evaluated in the schools to determine whether they are meeting the needs of Indian people.

Staff members are available to act as consultants and resource persons whenever they are requested. All you have to do is make the request and any of the department within the College is at your disposal.

c) CULTURAL ARTS: Coordinator, Bill Brittain.
This department has been involved in introducing, promoting and performing traditional Indian music and dancing, to the delight of many children in schools across the province. Requests and invitations are received daily for their participation in school Cultural Days and other events.

d) EDUCATION LIAISON: Coordinator, John McLeod.
The major functions of this department can be broken down into three areas.

1.  Assisting band councils in the development of educational programs which meet their needs.
2.  On-going research to develop information on socio-economic conditions of registered Indians.
3.  Relaying research and other information to the bands.

The Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College

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Staff of this program serve as resource personnel to band Councils and school committees, as well as to the other departments of the College and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians.

e) LIBRARY: Coordinator, David Sparvier.
The library is involved mainly with provision of information, both print and audio-visual, about and by Indian peoples in North and South America.

Areas of concern are as follows:
1.  An Indian cultural information and learning resource center, as used by all FSI staff and all Saskatchewan bands.
2.  An Indian instructional resource center as used by the three Indian colleges.
3.  A multi-media resource center where there is available a collection of audio-visual and printed materials.

The library of the College has been and is continuing to collect and catalogue all information in the form of books, periodicals, tape recordings, records, films and video tapes, which pertain to Indian languages, history and culture. The staff is also available for consultation to bands.

f) GRAPHIC ARTS: Coordinator, Edgar Thomas.
This department is responsible for the printing of most of the publications of the FSI. They also print conference kits, pamphlets, books, brochures, certificates, posters and specifically, the monthly newspaper of the FSI "The Saskatchewan Indian." Many bands are making increased use of printed material for communications, and this department is most capable of supporting and assisting these projects.

g) VISUAL ARTS: Coordinator, Brian Tootoosis.
This department is producing material in various forms relating to both modern and traditional Indian culture. The effective use of Audio-Visual aids and the production of videotapes, slide/tape presentation etc. involves a tremendous amount of skill and technology. This expertise is available to Indian bands to improve communications between the Indian and non-Indian people of Saskatchewan and of our country.

This department works mainly in the areas of:
1. Video taping (cable vision)
2. Audio recording
3. Photography
4. Slide-tape presentations
5. Print
6. 16 mm. film making
7. Tape lending library
8. Public Relations

"In The Spirit Of Our ForeFathers" a 30 minute color film, won the 1977 award for the best promotional film at the Yorkton International Film Festival. I might just also mention that it was the only film from Saskatchewan to win an award.

h) INDIAN LANGUAGE: Coordinator, Ida McLeod.
This department concerns itself, primarily, with the development of an Indian language program which is being used in the schools. It is also attempting to establish the Indian Language Program under the authority of the Indian Language Instructors Association with the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College providing the administration support function for the Program.

For many years Indians in Saskatchewan have been concerned about the way in which their native language has been treated in the school which their children attend. In the past, the use of a native language has been positively discouraged by various schools and educational authorities. This policy of discouraging and sometimes even forcing Indian children not to use their native language has had some far reaching and discouraging results.

The Indian people of Saskatchewan have been aware of the problems created when their language was excluded from the school room. Over the past few years they have expressed their concern about this situation and have made suggestions for changes. Early in 1971 an Ad Hoc Committee with representatives from the FSI, IAB, the provincial Department of Education, the U. of S. and the Saskatchewan Indian Teachers Association came together in an effort to consider requests coming from reserve people in order to meet local needs.

After several meetings the Ad Hoc Committee came up with several conclusions. First, it was recommended that the future objective would be to restore dignity and respect to the Indian Language in the classroom. Furthermore, it was decided that positive steps must be taken to preserve and develop the Indian language through school and other educational programs.

During the past two years the Indian Language program has undertaken three particular functions:
1. To provide for the development of curriculum material for classroom use.
2. To plan and develop training programs for the instructors.
3. To provide classroom instruction to the children.

Aims and Objectives

a) To promote history and culture of the Indian people by preserving the Indian languages in Saskatchewan.

b) To promote the professional development of the Indian Language Instructors.

c) To develop a language curriculum to meet the needs of each local community.

d) To establish liaison among Indian language instructors, parents, community, Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College, Indian Affairs Branch, and other agencies and organizations.

e) To promote awareness and importance of the Indian language and thereby enhance a better self-image of the child.

i) YOUTH DEVELOPMENT: Coordinator, Bill Wesquate.
The purpose behind the Youth Development program is to educate the youth throughout the province about their rights as Treaty Indians, their culture and also any issues concerning Indian people in general.

The Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College

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In order to do this, they have to be organized in a working body. The methods employed in the past have been workshops, seminars and cultural camps. This department has also tried to create employment for the youth where they can learn by experience. Most of the areas of learning that are needed are put into projects where the youth are hired during the summer months to complete these projects. The projects have been successful to a certain extent, as indicated by the requests for more of the same kind of projects.

The eventual goal of Youth Development is to have a provincial body of youth with representation from each Reserve and urban center. It is felt that once they are organized in this fashion they can work together to achieve goals they set for themselves, and they can also benefit their own communities and educate themselves as well.

That has been just a brief glimpse of the SICC and a few of the people that work here. In the next and future issues of the Saskatchewan Indian, we will be having a closer and a more in depth study of the individual coordinators, their staff and their respective programs.

If you have any questions relating to any of the program covered so far, please don't hesitate to phone us or write us at the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College, P.O. Box 3085, SASKATOON, Saskatchewan. Phone: 244-1146 Area code: 306.
Next month: The Cultural Center and its People