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Advisory council supports full funding for tribal colleges
22 February 2005

UTN - An advisory committee to the Bureau of Indian Affairs believes the nation's tribal colleges and universities should be fully funded in next year's Federal budget.

      The BIA-Tribal Budget Advisory Council, a panel of representatives from each of the BIA's 12 regions, is on record in support of restoring cuts made by the Bush Administration. The action came February 17-18 in Chandler, Arizona. BIA and other Federal officials who helped prepare the President's budget were present.

      In particular, the council recommended full restoration of funding for Crownpoint Institute of Technology, Crownpoint, New Mexico, and United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, North Dakota. Over $5 million dollars in funding for the two colleges was deleted from the administration's budget for fiscal year 2006, which begins on October 1, 2005. Funding was cut for the nation's other tribal colleges and universities by almost $10 million.

      The Council cited the proven record of tribal colleges and universities in helping improve the lives of tens of thousands of American Indian students and their families. In meetings with Federal officials last year, tribal leaders had specifically requested increased funding for tribal colleges and for United Tribes and Crownpoint for FY 2006. Asked why their priorities were not followed, Federal officials present would only say "hard choices had to be made."

      Restoring funds for tribal colleges, said Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Chairman Ken Davis, would take less than what the President asked to fund law enforcement and detention centers.

      "Apparently someone thinks that it's more important to put our members in jail than to keep them in school. And that's unfortunate," said Davis.

      The council's resolution noted the trust responsibilities of the Federal government. Education and other services were legally committed to American Indians and Alaska Natives in treaties, statutes and other agreements when tribes ceded vast tracts of land and resources to the United States.

      The budget advisory council was established in 1999 to ensure tribal government participation in planning the BIA budget.

      Council co-chairs, Jim Gray, Principal Chief of the Osage Tribe, and Tex G. Hall, President of the National Congress of American Indians and Chair of the Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara Nation, signed the resolution.


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