Originally published Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at 11:17a.m.

Since Diné College opened its doors in 1969, Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) across the country have given young men and women educational opportunities steeped in the culture, traditions, and experiences of Native people. They have opened the doors for countless students who are seeking higher education, but now these institutions are under attack in the new budget proposal put forward by the Trump administration.

I am deeply concerned by the massive effort to restrict access to higher education for students across the country, especially in rural and tribal communities. Under the guise of tribal self-determination, the Administration is proposing to cut nearly $40 million from tribal scholarships and education programs. Reducing this funding will not improve education services in Indian Country; it will hurt families, students, and TCUs. On the Navajo Nation alone, these programs provided thousands of students with scholarships.

I am firmly opposed to this wide-scale disinvestment in our education system at every level, and I have spent my time as a public servant fighting against cuts. With high rates of unemployment across Indian Country and rural America, we cannot afford to slash funding to programs that prepare young people with the skills they need to compete in an ever-connected global market. If we want to continue growing our economy, we must focus on investing in education and skills-training programs.

These cuts will have a devastating rippling effect across Indian Country, and I will fight every effort made to pass them in the next budget. It is critical that we pass a bipartisan budget that reins in wasteful spending, but we cannot do that by crippling our economy and slashing education programs.

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