Students voice anger about budget cuts that will be felt back home and in Lawrence.
About 75 students and community members gathered Friday at Haskell Indian Nations University to protest looming federal budget cuts that threaten programs on Indian reservations across the nation.
The cuts, in a federal budget bill now before a joint House-Senate conference committee, won't reduce Haskell's $10 million budget for 1996.
But a cut of more than $100 million from the Bureau of Indian Affairs budget will take its toll on Haskell, said the schools' president, Bob Martin, at the late afternoon rally in front of Haskell's purple sign at 23rd and Barker.
Martin said Bureau of Indian Affairs offices in Oklahoma and elsewhere that support Haskell will soon lose employees and offer less support as a result of the budget cuts.
Meanwhile, he said, at least eight newly hired Haskell employees won't be able to start their jobs until Congress approves a budget bill for the 1996 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.
"We're trying to minimize the negative impact to the students," Martin said.
Without a budget bill, the federal government could be forced to shut down after next week. But Haskell, like other government schools, would be allowed to continue operating, Martin said.
If the budget with the proposed cuts is approved and signed by President Clinton, the cuts could be felt in other ways in Lawrence. For instance, Terry Brockie, a Kansas University junior who graduated with an associate's degree from Haskell earlier this year, faces loss of a scholarship from his tribe, the Gros Ventre of Montana.
The 3,000-member tribe, with a 70 percent unemployment rate, expects to loose 36 jobs and cut 45 scholarships if the government cuts are approved.
"That's 45 minds that could be adversely affected, that could some day help our people," Brockie said.
Organizers of the rally, such as Fredina Prye, a 24-year-old Haskell student from the Kaibab Paiute Reservation in Arizona, hope students and supporters will send letters to members of Congress urging that the BIA budget be restored.
"This is to let them know that they have a trust obligation," Prye said, referring to treaties the government signed with numerous tribes pledging education and other services in exchange for Indian land.