Column: Indian charter school lessons now about greed
"She was the school's first teacher in 1972, and for 18 months she worked for free in a basement classroom with no supplies, telling stories passed down from her grandfather to eight students. When she finally got a paycheck it was for $25, and she was happy to get it, too.

For the next 35 years, Ona Kingbird taught the Indian kids how to speak Ojibwa, how to make fry bread, how to hoop dance and, most importantly, how to be proud of their heritage.

On Monday, Kingbird's former boss, Joel Pourier, was charged with embezzling nearly $1.4 million from the Oh Day Aki/Heart of the Earth school where Kingbird worked nearly half her life. He spent the money, authorities say, on giant houses, a Hummer, a Cadillac Escalade and even on dancing girls at strip bars. Meanwhile, school supplies dwindled so much that Kingbird had to resort to selling tacos to pay for them.

The school collapsed under the financial strain last year, and Kingbird lost her job.

On Tuesday, Kingbird sat in the back yard of her house, which crumbles at the foundation and has a couple of windows knocked out. Someone recently cut the wires to her air conditioning unit. Signs out front protest that the bank is foreclosing on her home, but she's fighting it. Sometimes she sends the toddler who lives with her to stay with family.

"You never know when the sheriffs will come," she said."

Get the Story:
Jon Tevlin: She taught Indians pride; lesson now is about greed (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 6/3)

Related Stories:
Ex-Indian charter school official charged with theft (6/2)
Editorial: Oversight at Indian charter school (8/14)