March 23, 2006

Dorgan Calls for More Investment in American Indian Education

FORT YATES, NORTH DAKOTA – American Indian children represent North Dakota’s fastest-growing population of students and deserve a better investment in their education, U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said at a listening session on Indian education issues he convened here today.
Dorgan serves as Vice Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which organized the listening session as a way to bring together Native American students and local education and tribal leaders, along with the President of the National Indian Education Association President, Ryan Wilson, to discuss the future of reservation schools.
Dorgan said that while enrollment in most schools in North Dakota is dropping, the student population on our reservations is growing. At the same time, many of these schools are the ones most in need of additional resources, he said.
“The student population on our reservations is on the rise, and that’s a good thing, but it also means it’s more important than ever to step up the investment in the educational experience that’s available to them,” Dorgan said. “We need to devote more resources to education, as well as to health care, housing and other infrastructure, but unfortunately the President’s budget continues to sell our reservations short. I plan to work in the Senate to turn that around.”
Dorgan said he will work during this year’s budget cycle to reverse funding cuts proposed in the President’s budget for American Indian-related programs, including Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) school construction and United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck. He also will continue to lead the fight in addressing the high rate of suicide among Indian youth. In February, he introduced a bill with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) that would provide more counseling, professionals and suicide-prevention materials to rural tribal communities, where suicide rates among teenagers is as high as 10 times the national average.