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The next witness is Mr. Herschel Sahmaunt, executive director of the Coalition of Indian-Controlled School Boards. Why don't we treat this last group as a panel also. We will call Dillon Platero, Lorraine Misinszek, and Helen Scheirbeck. Why don't you all come forward.
Without objection, your prepared statements will be made part of the record. You may proceed to summarize your statements. [Prepared statements follow:]
PREPARED STAtement of BirGIL KILLS STRAIGHT, PRESIDENt, Board of DIRECTORS OF THE COALITION OF INDIAN-CONTROLLED SCHOOL BOARDS, INC.
Honorable Chairman, my name is Birgil Kills Straight. I am the president of the board of directors of the Coalition of Indian-Controlled School Boards, Inc. I want to thank Congressman Meeds and the members of this committee for providing the CICSB the opportunity to come before them today to discuss our concerns regarding the education of American Indian children.
In October of 1971, seven representatives from four Indian schools met in Boulder, Colorado, to discuss the feasibility of, and develop a strategy for, creating a coalition of Indian schools concerned with educational reform. Later, in December of 1971, this same core group of interested persons formally organized the Coalition of Indian Controlled School Boards, Incorporated. An alliance of Indian schools who share common concerns for education was formed, and a stronger, more unified group of Indians began a determined quest for greater control and management of their own educational systems. Thus, the Coalition took a stand, brought forth its position regarding Indian education, and has proven that the most effective way to successfully improve education for the American Indian is to place the control and decision-making power into the hands of Indian people.
The Coalition of Indian Controlled School Boards is a national non-profit, educational organization for educational research, training, and development of better education for Indian people. Its purpose is to promote better education for Indian people by helping them gain control over their own education. Membership consists of local community school boards who actually control their own schools, parent advisory committees who have organized to gain control, JOM Committees and Tribal education committees. In all, at the present time, there are two hundred member organizations in the Coalition. P.L. 93-638.
The Coalition has identified a number of problem areas with respect to the draft regulations now being considered for promulgation under the Indian Selfdetermination by passage of the Act, the regulations promulgated under the Act should permit Indian communities the most freedom possible to conduct their own affairs by exercising their contract and grant powers under the Act. To that end, the Coalition makes the following recommendations on the draft regulations: A major issue of concern to the Coalition is the question of preemption. The proposed regulations provide that a contract cannot be made if the Tribal Council does not request it. This presents a serious problem for groups who already have contracted or who want to contract independent of the tribe for whatever reason. While strengthening tribal government is one of the purposes of the Act, the main purpose is self-determination. Tribal government is only one aspect, although an important one, of self-determination. Regulations which prohibit contracts with groups other than tribal organizations could have a negative effect on self-determination. It should work both ways. When a tribal council requests a contract, it must be made. If the tribal council does not request a contract, it may be made with another local Indian group as in the past. In the Coalition's view, this is the major issue requiring your immediate attention. A resolution on this point is presently being considered by the Board of Directors of the Coalition, as well as its membership. Other regulations should conform to the change wherever present draft regulations are limited by the request of a 'tribe' or 'tribal organization'. Some of these regulations include the retention of BIA's burden of showing lack of community support for a contract, access to Bureau records and the regs on modifications, revisions and recontracting.
In summary, all regulations should conform to the position that discretionary contracting with Indian groups other than 'tribal organization' continue under prior authorities. This protection will insure that no more situations like OYATE occur, where good educational programs were lost due to tribal politics.
The second major issue of concern is where the applications for contracts are made. Under the proposed regulations, applications must be submitted the local agency office, although decisions are not made on the applications unt they are forwarded onto the area and central offices. In addition to the time loss, problems of conflicts of interest and local politics at the agency level are obvious. A resolution being considered on this point is also attached. Another area of concern to the Coalition is the appeal process. The proposed regulations provide for appeals to the Board of Indian Appeals. This is a cumbersome and time-consuming procedure. A separate mechanism would be faster and easier Possibly the central office self-determination coordinator, discussed below, could handle appeals with a panel including Indian representation. Full due process procedures should be specified in the regs, includings provision of legal counse at all steps of the administrative appeal process.
It is also recommended that legal assistance be specified as a part of the technical assistance to be provided to contractors and potential contractors, as wel as grantees under the Act.
It is the Coalition's understanding that there is general agreement with the Bureau on two important prior recommendations. The first is that full due process rights, including provision of legal counsel, apply in all retrocession cases. The need for such protections is fundamental.
The second area of agreement is the need for a central office self-determination coordinator, possibly at the Deputy Commission level.
Throughout the almost five-year experience with the executive self-determina tion policy existing until now, there has been an acute need for centralized authority in Washington to direct and control the contracting and grant-making process. Too often lower level field personnel, not attuned to the self-determitation concept and often ignorant of the fiscal situation in the BIA overall. have made decisions adverse to the general policy. There is no reason to suspect that mere passage of P.L. 93–638 will do anything to rectify this problem. Instead, as before, the only effective way to ensure that the Bureau as a whole carries out the policy is to put the entire program in charge of one official. The Comissioner could be that official, but it makes more sense, in view of the Com missioner's other duties, to delegate this authority to another official who would act as full time self-determination coordinator. Because the Act is both mandatory in directing the Secretary to sign contracts with eligible applicants and discretionary in allowing the Secretary to decide who is eligible, the need for such a centralized authority is greater than ever. There is no need to review all the arguments for it. The Coalition of Indian Controlled School Boards and others have been making the point now for years.
Lately, it seemed the Commissioner and Director of Indian Education Programs have been persuaded of the wisdom of this approach. But the draft regs de not provide for it. The coordinator's position and functions could be included under the hearing procedures, subpart G. His main role could be to conduct speeded-up field hearings in circumstances where, for example, in the case of a proposed contract for operation of a school, any undue delay would cause disproportionate harm to the applicant (since use of the Indian Appeals Board would likely prevent contracting for another full school year). As the Commissioner's agency. the coordinator could act as field mediator, arbitrator and if needed, judge, to make sure that Area Offices were complying with the spirit of the new law as well as its letter. He could also function as budget-maker for self-determination as a separate line item each year.
Clearly, these are only some of the areas of concern identified in the proposed regs. Consistent with the self-determination purpose of this Act, Congress and the Bureau should remain open to, and actively solicit in-put from local Indian communities, including Coalition membership. It goes without saying that adequate funding is essential to effective self-determination.
With respect to Title II (Johnson-O'Malley) of the Indian Self-determination Act, the Coalition recommends that the "Red Regs" adopted last year remain effective, with certain modifications. The JOM allocation formula presently in use has resulted in a serious loss of funds in certain states (e.g., Idaho). While per capita formula-based allocation may be an equitable overall distribution method, it has damaging effects on those students whose schools and states have previously been aggressive in obtaining JOM funds and establishing good on-going programs to their students. Therefore, the new regulations should provide that no state or school shall receive less JOM funds under the new allocation formula than it received during its highest funding year prior to the use of the formula. A second area of concern is the distribution of school construction funds. The
raft regs provide that twenty-five (25) per cent of construction funds are availble to previously private schools, that is, private at the time of the Act. This nterpretation of "previously private schools" unnecessarily limits construction unds by excluding new private schools which may become contract schools in the uture.
Again, these are only some of the issues. Openness to local Indian communities nd adequate funding are both essential elements to successful self-determination fforts.
It is the opinion of the Directors of the Coalition that significant evidence is not vailable upon which justification can be founded for maintaining the present NACIE members on the committee or for supporting their eligibility for additional erms on the committee.
With full realization that NACIE's first three years must of a necessity incur certain obstables of an organizational nature and experience problems of estabishing functional activities related to their legislated responsibilities the CICSB fails to recognize in their operation support for the spirit of Indian self-determination in education that prevails in the American Indian Community.
At the time of the passage of P.L. 92-318, the Indian Education Act, the membership and the leadership of the Coalition of Indian Controlled School Boards heralded the establishment of the NACIE and felt assured that American Indian people would be better served because American Indians would be able to influence Office of Education programming at the National level and that we would see tremendous expansion of education services to American Indian students and that the educational needs of American Indians would be interpreted for and fostered in the minds of the Administrators of the Office of Education.
Instead we find that American Indian programs are diminishing within the Office of Education and the Office of Education and the Office of Indian Education is being made a catch all for discarded programs from other O.E. agencies without the addition of necessary appropriations to fulfill their continuance. Likewise we are disappointed that the NACIE committee has insulated itself against American Indian people who are concerned that progress is made and that on occasion the Indianess of some people is questioned and made an issue rather than the educational needs of American Indian students being better served by their functions.
On the basis of our assessment we are compelled to recommend that none of the present NACIE members be allowed to serve additional consecutive terms. The CICSB recommends that a new committee be appointed by September 1, 1975, for a period of three years and that the terms of this committee be staggered so as to initiate a system of continuity in their operation. Five should be appointed for a one-year term, five appointed for a two-year term and that each consecutive year thereafter five new members be appointed for a three-year term. The CICSB does not favor service of more than one term without the passage of at least one year before being reappointed.
Representation on Committees serving American Indians must reflect evidence that the many Indian tribes and communities have the opportunity to be represented upon this Committee. Unless some provision is made whereby even the most uninfluential tribe or group has a chance to be represented the purpose of the Committee cannot be fulfilled.
The Coalition recommends that the NACIE be composed of American Indians whose primary background and experience has been in the field of education. Although political connections or party affiliations are important to appointments in the American Governmental System, our observation is that continuance of these kinds of appointments without some verification of interest and personal concern for educating American Indian students will continue to hinder the effectiveness and efficiency of the NACIE to successfully impact education programming for American Indians within the U.S. Office of Education. Teacher Training:
The development of American Indian Community Colleges,
The transference of formerly church supported private schools to American Indians,
The Federal Board School System,
Court ordered desegregation programs,
Faculty requirements associated with Federal funding, and recently, the passage of P.L. 93-638 which legitimizes the contracting of education serv62-746-76-14
ices by American Indian Tribal Organizations have all contributed to the exposure of the tremendous shortage of educators to serve as faculty in these institutions and who are themselves of Native American extract er who possess by virtue of education, the knowledge of cultural, traditions and educational needs of American Indian children so that successful lear ing will be fostered. Despite the existence of laws which provide the train ing of educators for public school systems, such as the Education Profes sions Development Act and the National Defense Education Act, America Indians have not realized any increase in the number of educators who can work effectively with American Indian children or who are avail able wherever the demand for such expertise or knowledge is made know Circumstances today emphasize the need for Native American educators with credentials which satisfy certification requirements and who are available sufficient numbers to fulfill present faculty needs and the expected increased faculty needs of the future.
The contracting of Education services by American Indian Groups and Tribes is predicted to emphasize the tremedous shortage of American Indian educators to fill roles as Principals, Superintendents, faculty, and as fiscal agents. Lake wise, the continued development of American Indian Community Colleges has already placed a strain upon Native American educators who can serve as fa ulty under the credential requirements established for those positions. Pa schools throughout the Nation are searching for Native American educators wh can help meet integration requirements or comply with Federal funding to Public Schools. Many Indian communities are also assuming control over for merly religious denominational supported schools, who are in turn making every effort to establish faculties who have knowledge of the educational needs American Indian students and the educational background which enables the to meet those needs.
After this year, the 5% set aside of money appropriated for Part D of the EPDA for purposes of training teachers of American Indian children will longer be available. It was these funds which represented the U.S. Office of Educations' effort of assisting American Indians meet the education personnel needs throughout the country. These funds supported Education Administration Programs at three major Universities, Minnesota, Harvard, and Penn State They supported a total of 55 grants to Indian Organizations, Tribes and Higher Education Institutions during fiscal Years "73,” “74,” “75.” Fiscal year 75 rep resents the last year of the EPDA Teacher Training Program for American In dians due to the phasing out of the Part D appropriation of the EPDA. Whereas in fiscal year 74 twenty-nine projects were funded in the amount of $2.466,190; fiscal year 75 funds eight projects funded at a level of $400.00 The Education Professions Development Act Teacher Training Amendment has proven itself to be of exceptional value to all Indian communities and has been extremely well received by them. Through this program American Indian people began recognizing the means by which they could become teachers of Indian children in their respective communities. However, present circumstances garding the program funding and phase out has curtailed circumstances regard ing the program funding and phase out curtailed training effort and will leave abandoned many teacher trainees in the third year of their program and without that financial means to continue their education to graduation.
The CICSB recommends that a supplemental appropriation be requested in mediately by the Education Committees of Congress earmarked expressly for teacher training to insure graduation to the many who started the training program in good faith and so that new programs will continue to meet the needs of the future. We suggest the figure for this appropriation be three million dollars. The CICSB does not desire that it be taken from present title IV a propriations if that figure remains the same as last year. We are extremel concerned that the Office of Indian Education does not become the catch all for all discarded O.E. programs with the expectation that all these programs be maintained by the Office of Indian Education, within a 42 million dollar budget. The CICSB expects Congress to appropriate new money each year to cover the cost of any programs transferred to the Office of Indian Education jurisdiction
There are nearly 300 Indian languages in use today in the United States More than one-half of the Indian youth between the ages of 6 and 18 use their
native language. At the same time a substantial number of the teachers instructing Indian children are unfamiliar with the only language their students understand. Thus, thousands of Indian children who know only their native language are taught by teachers who essentially know only English.
Title VII, ESEA, offers a unique opportunity to provide bi-lingual and bi-cultural education to Indian students, as well as to initiate programs which would give teachers a better understanding of Indian language, culture, and history.
A few years ago Title VII ESEA was receiving appropriations amounting to 7.5 million and of which $306,000 was being spent upon programs which benefitted only some 733 Indian children. Today the potential for tremendous increase in Bi-lingual programs for Native Americans exist with the appropriations for fiscal year expected to be in the vicinity of 80 million dollars or more.
The CICSB therefor recommends that there be created an Indian Desk within the Office of Bi-lingual Education. The responsibility of this desk will be to establish and monitor Native American bi-lingual projects. The CICSB has seen numerous Tribal groups uninformed and unaware of bi-lingual developments and feels that a Native American Desk could dissolve such confusion.
The CICSB recommends that the Office of Bi-lingual Education create two regional resource centers specifically for the compilation of Native American bi-lingual materials and it is further recommended that 20% of the 80 million dollar plus appropriation expected for bi-lingual education be set aside for American Indian bi-lingual projects. The CICSB believes that only through efforts such as these will significantly change be initiated and we urge this Committee to give this matter their full consideration.
The CICSB is concerned about the lack of policy regarding Indian education in the U.S. Office of Education. Although the Office of Education is mandated by law to provide services to American Indians it is disturbing that a defined policy does not exist and that representatives of the U.S. Office of Education when appearing before Congress Appropriation Committees have consistently opposed the funding of American Indian education programs in the U.S. Office of Education.
The CICSB recommends that a policy of Indian Education be developed and that the Office of Education through its office of Indian Education establish a positive approach to meeting and fulfilling its obligations to Native American education. Also that an extensive effort be initiated immediately on a long term basis for recruiting personnel of Native American descent to be employed in the administration of Office of Education programs.
AMERICAN INDIAN POLICY REVIEW COMMISSION
Inasmuch as a Commission has been established for the purpose of reviewing all aspects of Federal services to American Indians, the CICSB lends its support to the members of this Commission and its purpose with the expectation that far-reaching developments benefitting all American Indians will result. Congress must forever be cognizant of the needs of American Indian people so that a continuity of programming will assure that the needs of American Indian people are being met by the Federal Government. We urge Congress to utilize the findings of this Commission as criteria which emphasized the short-comings of the present Federal-Indian relationship.
BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS
For the last several years that the Bureau of Indian Affairs has operated a school system and provided education services to American Indians nothing of major significance can be positively identified as having a major impact upon the progressive education of American Indian children or innovative in the sense that methods of instruction are enhancing the educational success of the pupils they serve.
The policy of self-determination as practiced by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Education Division carries little hope for those many Indian communities who are daily attempting to improve the kind of education service that is now provided their children. As these efforts are being made in Indian communities the Bureau of Indian Affairs Education personnel insulates itself behind a wall of bureaucracy which tends to hasten the day that all Indian students are the responsibility of that very system that spawns a large body of their present stu