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While American Indian schools crumble, Obama administration is slow to act
The Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School serves nearly 200 students on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation.
Rep. Betty McCollum
An architectural drawing of the Circle of Life school.

Minnesota’s BIE schools

Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School
Bena, MN
Facility condition (2011): Poor

Circle of Life School
White Earth, MN
Facility condition (2011): Good

Fond du Lac Ojibwe School
Cloquet, MN
Facility condition (2011): Good

Nay-Ah-Shing School
Onamia, MN
Facility condition (2011): Good

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Mac Riddel on 06/18/2014 - 10:08 am.

    Why fund?

    Was there some 1850-or-so treaty that mandated that the state or federal government subsidize Native American schooling? We all know of the treaties that they routinely publicize that give them rights to their own land, but are there any that require permanent federal assistance?

    Why not mandate the rich tribes support the poor? Shouldn’t the uber-rich Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community assist such tribes in building new schools? I know they send token amounts to remote tribes, but not enough to fund a new school presently.

    I’d rather the federal government fund schools for citizens that pay taxes to the federal government. It makes for a better fiscal policy and such schools are open to everyone rather than a very small ethnic group.

    • Submitted by Doug Gray on 06/18/2014 - 12:51 pm.

      Yes. Treaty with the Sioux, 1868

      Article 7.

      In order to insure the civilization of the Indians entering into this treaty, the necessity of education is admitted, especially of such of them as are or may be settled on said agricultural reservations, and they therefore pledge themselves to compel their children, male and female, between the ages of six and sixteen years, to attend school; and it is hereby made the duty of the agent for said Indians to see that this stipulation is strictly complied with; and the United States agrees that for every thirty children between said ages who can be induced or compelled to attend school, a house shall be provided and a teacher competent to teach the elementary branches of an English education shall be furnished, who will reside among said Indians, and faithfully discharge his or her duties as a teacher. The provisions of this article to continue for not less than twenty years.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/18/2014 - 02:34 pm.


      Native Americans pay taxes to the federal government. They also are citizens.

  2. Submitted by jody rooney on 06/18/2014 - 10:16 am.

    Are these schools responsible for the

    achievement gap between native students and other students?

    New facilities may be warranted but what takes place in the building is more important than the building itself.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/18/2014 - 01:35 pm.

      What takes place outside the building

      There are a number of factors that could contribute to this gap.

      Twenty-eight percent of the Native Americans living on all reservations are under the poverty line. The rate for all Americans is 15%. The alcohol dependency rate for Native Americans is the highest of all ethnic groups, and over twice the national average. Natives on reservations have a high school graduation rate that is less than half the rate of all Native Americans.

      Over 1/3 (35%) of reservation residents are out of the labor force (not working, including those not actively seeking employment). Ironically, the largest employers historically have been reservation schools. On reservations with casinos, the average unemployment rate is 13%. The median income on all reservations (casino and non-casino alike) is around $29,000; the median income for the entire US is around $41,000.

  3. Submitted by Dennis Olson on 06/18/2014 - 01:16 pm.

    Native American Schools

    There are no American Indians attending……just Native American children.

    Wild rice, not curried rice.

    Try to keep up with the world.

    • Submitted by Crystal Brakke on 06/18/2014 - 02:35 pm.


      Either term is one of many that is chosen by, and used by, indigenous people to this country to describe their people. These comments are disrespectful and uncalled for.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/18/2014 - 04:09 pm.

    Where’s the democrats’ incentive?

    The tribal elders at Standing Rock greeted Barack Obama with open arms last week, thanking him for all his help and pledging their unflinching support despite their 72% unemployment rate.

    What has Betty done? The article says she visited reservations in New Mexico and South Dakota, but has she ever been to the school in Leech Lake?

    Where’s her spending request that she submitted for addition to the congressional budget? Did she ever submit one?

    Why should she? She doesn’t need those votes.

  5. Submitted by jody rooney on 06/18/2014 - 06:49 pm.

    Treaties and obligations

    Perhaps Mr. Riddel you want to review the constitution and brush up on your understanding of history before you vote again.

    1. Treaties are made between nations. The fact that the US chose to make treaties means that it recognized tribal governments. Article 6 of the constitution makes them the supreme law of the land. Tribal treaties are generally about property rights, what rights the tribes retain “hunt fish and gather in the ceded territories” and which they give up – exclusive occupancy in exchange for some compensation. Education was often one of the types of compensation. .

    2. Tribal members (and most carry a citizen or membership card from their tribe) all pay federal taxes just like everyone else. They also pay state income and property taxes just like you or I if they don’t live on land in trust held for them by the federal government land and/or outside the boundaries of reservation. That is pretty much most of the country.

    3. It is irrational to suggest that wealthy tribes be made to share their income involuntarily with other tribes. That would like suggesting that since Sweden has a higher per capita income they share the surplus with Romania. The assumption that all tribes are alike is like saying every one white is related. That kind of stereotypical thinking about categories of people based on superficial characteristics like ethnic group, gender or skin color died in educated people in about the 90’s. There are words that end in ism that are used for people who still express them.

  6. Submitted by David Frenkel on 06/18/2014 - 10:28 pm.

    DOD schools

    The DOD schools are being studied for closure per budget cuts. Only about 15% of military children attend DOD schools. All children deserve an education and the opportunity to improve their future.

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