Navajo educators concerned over proposed Federal cuts

Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education are restructuring to save $65,000,000

Navajo Nation Board of Education member Rose Yazzie speaks about concerns regarding the BIA/BIE streamlining efforts at a meeting in FT. McDowell, Ariz. on April 19.

Navajo Nation Board of Education member Rose Yazzie speaks about concerns regarding the BIA/BIE streamlining efforts at a meeting in FT. McDowell, Ariz. on April 19.

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - On April 19-20, several Navajo Nation Board of Education (NNBOE) members met with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). Both federal organizations announced they are undergoing a restructuring in order to save $65,000,000 for fiscal year 2013. BIA and BIE officials said this streamlining effort is meant to increase efficiency in delivery of services to Indian country. The goal is to become a consolidated organization.

Some of the possible methods BIA officials said they are looking at in order to deal with budgetary constraints is consolidating agency field offices with minimal staffing and possibly services, consolidating regional office programs or BIA services. However, before any action is taken tribal consultations will be held where tribal leaders and the BIA/BIE will discuss concerns.

Several members of the NNBOE and Department of Diné Education (DODE) staff attended the April tribal consultation in Ft. McDowell, Ariz. The biggest concern they had was tribal program funding cuts and the possibility of students being impacted negatively.

"Many times as native people we need to go back and remind ourselves, what do we want for our grandchild?" said NNBOE member Gloria Johns.

She and others stressed the importance of not having educational programs impacted by the cuts.

Despite the concerns, BIE Director Keith Moore said tribal programs would not be affected. Instead, they are looking at areas such as cutting middle management to save money by Oct. 1, which is the start of the new fiscal year. Moore said BIE will continue to fund tribal programs.

"We do a nice job of supporting language and culture," said Moore.

At the end of the meeting, NNBOE presented BIA/BIE a seven-page document stating concerns with the streamlining reorganization effort. Federal officials will continue to consult with tribes in May before any decision is made.

"There are a lot of things in here the BIE needs to analyze," NNBOE President Jimmie Begay.

The Navajo Nation DODE realizes the importance of sharing this information with parents and educators. The office will be conducting public information sessions across the Navajo Nation to provide information on the BIA/BIE streamlining and reorganization. Most importantly, during these sessions, DODE will be gathering input from the Navajo people concerning these changes.

All meetings will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. The session dates/places include -

• Monday, GreyHills Academy High School Auditorium.

• Tuesday, Many Farms High School Auditorium.

• May 9, Dilcon Community School Gymnasium Transportation Conference Room.

• May 14, Atsa'Biya'a'zh Community School Gymnasium (Shiprock).

• May 15, Dibe' Yazhi'Habit'iin Olt'a School Gymnasium (Borrego Pass).

For more information or questions about the information session, call Misty Billy or Linda Yazzie at (928) 871-7475.

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