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More Tribes Receive Funding to Take Control of Schools

Cross-posted from the Learning the Language blog.

By Corey Mitchell

The U.S. Departments of Education and Interior have awarded nearly $2.5 million combined to eight federally recognized tribes to improve their educational programs.

William Mendoza, director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, and Charles "Monty" Roessel, director of the Bureau of Indian Education, announced the awards Thursday during the seventh annual White House Tribal Nations Conference.

The grants are funded through the education department's State-Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) program, a push to give tribal education agencies more control over reservation schools and the education of American Indian children, and the BIE's Tribal Education Department (TED) program, an effort to improve the quality of education in BIE-funded schools.

"Through these partnerships, we will be putting tribes in the driver's seat by designing culturally responsive programs to help Native children reach their education potential," Mendoza said in a statement.

The following tribes will receive STEP funding:

  • The Chickasaw Nation, Okla. ($500,000)
  • Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho ($330,000)
  • Coeur D'Alene Tribe, Idaho ($330,000)
  • The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Okla. ($318,463)
  • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Mont. ($287,769)

The following tribes will receive TED funding:

  • Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Mich. ($300,000)
  • Leech Lake Band, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minn. ($200,000)
  • Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Miss. ($150,000)
  • The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Okla. ($50,000)

The first round of TED program grants, awarded in August, provided a total of $1,350,000 to six tribes: the Acoma Pueblo and Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico; Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation in Arizona; and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the Dakotas.

The impact of Generation Indigenous, or Gen-I, an initiative launched nearly a year ago by President Barack Obama to address barriers to success for Native American youth was a primary focus of the White House Tribal Nations Conference.

A report released by the White House detailed how Gen-I participants have helped start tribal youth councils, Native language immersion programs, and mentoring programs.

The report also detailed the BIE's new partnership with The New Teacher Project to train and support teachers at 30 BIE-funded schools to help them earn national certification and provided brief synopses of the White House Tribal Youth Gathering and the education department's School Environment Listening Sessions report, based on feedback gathered during a nine-stop, seven-state listening tour on K-12 issues.

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