Norton to visit Indian Country
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APRIL 25, 2001

Indian Country will soon be able to meet Secretary of Interior Gale Norton, who said on Tuesday she is planning a trip centered around an Indian school.

"I am planning to do some visits to the schools so that I can see first-hand the situations that have been described to me," said Norton at a budget hearing yesterday.

Indian schools have long gone underfunded by the government despite pledges to support education of Indian children. Nowhere has this been more evident in the dismal facilities Indian children must deal with every day, said Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.).

"These Indian schools are judged by the those who have inspected them to be the worst in the country -- in desperate need of repair and renovation," said Dorgan. "It is unforgivable what is happening on Indian reservations because we have not done our job."

Funding to fix dilapidated Indian schools has increased over the years, thanks to the efforts of a number of lawmakers, including Dorgan and Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee. The Department of Interior's 2001 budget includes about $292.3 million for school construction and repair.

Norton's proposed 2002 budget includes a slight increase to about $292.5 million. Six schools are targeted for repair: Wingate Elementary in New Mexico, Polacca Day School in Arizona, Holbrook Dormitory in Arizona, Santa Fe Indian School in New Mexico, Ojibwa Indian School in North Dakota, and Paschal Sherman Indian School in Washington.

Bureau of Indian Affairs officials yesterday said Norton hasn't yet decided which school she will visit. But a decision will be made shortly so Norton can visit before the current school year ends, they said.

View Pictures of Schools:
BIA Schools Slated for Construction in FY2002

Relevant Links:
Senate Subcommittee on Interior Appropriations -

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