White House Comes to Wyoming

By Michael Sevren
Fremont County Reporter

For the 4th annual Indian Education Conference, the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, and the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, came to central Wyoming to discuss Native American Education. 

The two secretaries joined tribal leaders and educators to discuss and inform the public on where they stand.

Sally Jewell, Who has only been with President Obama's cabinet since April says that she made it very clear early about her commitment the kind of forward progress that her predecessor Ken Salazar made in upholding our trust and treaty obligations to Indian Country at every level.       

Arne Duncan who has been with the Obama administration since 2009 says that "When you see unemployment rates as high 60%...suicide that are staggering and see the challenges of alcoholism... I continue to believe the only way to have strong communities is if we have high qualify education."              

But with less federal dollars coming to reservations thanks to sequestration, some of the countries must impoverished people are being hit harder. 

Michelle Hoffman who is the out-going superintendent of district 19 says that "Unfortunately the majority of our students come into the early grades two to three years academically behind, but because the poverty issues that are parent and community face."

Michelle has been the superintendent for Wyoming Indian High school for more then nine years and says that this deficient is not because of culture. "On this reservation we have seen a cut of almost seven million dollars. With the effects of sequestration, we will see many more cuts coming into our programs. This is money that provides food, after school programing, school security, and preschool opportunities for our children."

Hoffman also gave both secretaries a printed hand out with more information and stated that additional cuts will devastate progress they have made in the last few years.

While both secretaries would like to avoid more budget cuts on reservations, the political deadlock in washington continues with no end in sight.

Secretary Duncan says that he will be the strongest proponent for increased funding. "But as a country, we have to decided is education an investment or an expense."

Secretary Jewell echoed Arne. "It's human lives, It's children's lives that where talking about and their not willing to wait a long time. We could loss another generation if we don't deal with this right now and we could unwind  a lot of really good that's allready been done.

U.S. Secretary of education Arne Duncan urged the public to inform their congressman and senator about why more funding should be given to native American education. Senator Mike Enzi will be in Riverton tomorrow for the ground breaking ceremony for the Wind River Job Corps campus.