By Nate Wisneski – Kalihwisaks
The Oneida Nation was well represented at the Wisconsin Indian Education’s (WIEA) annual conference held April 1 in Madison, Wis.
This year’s conference theme was “21st Century Indigenous Education: A Self-Determined Pedagogy”. WIEA selects various awardees every year based upon five categories. The categories are, Outstanding American Indian Student of the year, which has 7 sub-categories by age and grade division, Outstanding Elder of the Year, Indian Educator of the Year, Indian Parents of the Year and Ronald N. Satz-Friend of Indian Education.
Caden Wilson, 11 year-old son of Matt and Danelle Wilson was named Outstanding American Indian Student of the year for the 4th through 7th grade category.
Caden is an enthusiastic and eager student who is part of the Gifted and Talented program at MacArthur Elementary school, exceling in both reading and math. Last year he participated in a Math Bowl comprised of schools in the Green Bay district and placed in the top two out of the all 4th graders. He always is challenging himself inside and outside of school and recently recited the Thanksgiving Address, with six other language students, for the 21st Annual Community Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., held at NWTC, with over 300 people in attendance.
As expected, Danelle swells with pride when talking about her son’s accomplishment.
“When my husband Matt had read the letter to me over the phone, my eyes filled instantly with tears of joy. I hung up and shared the good news with Caden. I hugged him and told him how very proud we were of him and his recognition. Winning this award has boosted his confidence in many ways,” she said.
Wilson thinks her hard work towards her education helped mold Caden’s attitude towards academics.
“Education is very important in our home. I stayed at home raising both of my boys while I pursued both my Bachelor and Master degree. They had witnessed determination, hard work and late nights mom put in and were present when I walked across the stage to receive my Master’s degree,” said Danelle.
“Both kids understand the value of education and being able to choose their destiny. I believe them seeing me furthering my education, is motivation for them to always want to do better and learn more.”
For Caden, the award reinforces his dedication to hard work.
“I feel happy. This award might help me get into a good college and get a good job. The banquet was fun and all the people shaking my hand made me feel proud,” he said.
Indian Parents of the Year will be awarded to Elijah and RC Metoxen, who were nominated as role models who are consistently active and participate in school, traditional, community and living a healthy lifestyle. They have four children, sons, Elijah Jr. 15, Loh^tiyo 9 and Lawisanawe^se 5 and their daughter Jossalyn 12. RC and Elijah both have multiple post graduate degrees in liberal arts, Science, Business Administration and organizational management and leadership. Both parents stress education by example and they are both employed by the Oneida Nation. Rhiannon and Elijah take great pride in raising their children with respect to the seven-generation philosophy. Both credit their extended families for the support and success of family values.
The award came out of left field for both Eli and RC.
“Being nominated and selected for this award was definitely a surprise, we do work hard and feel like we are just doing what we are supposed to do as parents. Being a parent is a gift and if you’re taking care of your responsibility than nothing is more rewarding than watching your children become successful, healthy individuals,” said RC.
“We appreciate the recognition and it reminds us that we are doing something right but still learning everyday how to be parents, a job that is not easy but gratifying.”
The Metoxen’s know life opportunities are more abundant when education takes a priority.
“Education is very important to us because it allows individuals to realize their potential and beyond. There is no limit as to how educated one can become whether it’s higher education, learning your language or learning how to parent, as long as the person is willing to work hard for it then the sky is the limit. We teach our children this and want them to challenge themselves to the fullest extent, we agreed as parents to push them and support them no matter what,” said RC.
Outstanding Elder of the Year went to Maxine Thomas, a language teacher and elder who has demonstrated leadership, creativity and commitment to the Oneida language, culture and support for education at the Oneida Nation School system.
“I was surprised that people noticed or cared what I was teaching. This really brought my spirits up again about what I’m doing, and that it made a difference in our community. To see all the people on face book with good words for me, made me proud of myself and all the work and advancement in Language and Culture that Oneida has provided for the people,” said Thomas.
Also winning awards were Linda Orrie for Graduate Student of the Year, and Michaela Welch, and enrolled Stockbridge-Muncee citizen who attends the Oneida Nation School System. Welch was named the 11-12 grade student of the year.
WIEA was established in 1985 by a group of concerned Indian educators. Initially, WIEA was an informational organization, however they now have become a pro-active entity addressing high-level issues that affect Indian Education in Wisconsin.