Archive for Friday, January 13, 2006

Haskell feels pinch of tight budget

Katrina, Iraq siphon school funds

January 13, 2006


Haskell Indian Nations University's classroom budget has taken another hit, its maintenance department is headed for a $900,000 deficit, and school officials are hoping they can somehow find a way to avoid furloughing employees.

"We're in some dire circumstances," said Haskell budget director Michael Lewis.

Last week, federal officials notified Lewis that Haskell's 2006 operational budget - $9.5 million - would be cut 1 percent.

"This is on top of the 1.5 percent cut we took to help pay for Hurricane Katrina and Iraq," Lewis said. "That 2.5 percent comes to about $238,000."

Most of the shortfall will be made up by relying more on adjunct faculty, offering fewer classes and increasing class sizes. Already, Haskell limits its enrollment to about 1,000 students.

Haskell employs almost 200 people.

"Basically, Haskell has lost a million dollars in buying power over the last five years," Lewis said of decreasing federal dollars. "This is an extension of that trend."

Last fall, Haskell officials were warned the university's budget could be cut as much as 6.5 percent.

"That 6.5 percent turned into 2.5 percent, fortunately," Lewis said.

Lorenzo Funmaker, an Oneida, Wis., freshman at Haskell Indian Nations University, foreground right, picks up his textbooks at the campus library. Funmaker visited the library Thursday, a day after classes started at Haskell. The university is feeling the effects of budget cuts from the federal government, and may have to furlough some employees to make ends meet.

Lorenzo Funmaker, an Oneida, Wis., freshman at Haskell Indian Nations University, foreground right, picks up his textbooks at the campus library. Funmaker visited the library Thursday, a day after classes started at Haskell. The university is feeling the effects of budget cuts from the federal government, and may have to furlough some employees to make ends meet.

The university's $4.1 million maintenance budget was cut $600,000 late last year. Since then, Haskell's natural gas bill went up an additional $240,000 that was not in the budget.

The maintenance budget also is short $60,000 needed for cost-of-living pay raises.

"Last year, cost-of-living was in the budget," Lewis said. "This year it's not."

Meanwhile, Haskell has asked the U.S. Department of Interior for help offsetting the spike in natural gas prices. Federal officials are expected to review the request during a Feb. 9-10 visit.

"We are waiting with bated breath," Lewis said.

If the request is denied, Lewis said Haskell would be forced to "furlough" many of its 45 maintenance workers.

"That means sending people home for the summer without pay," he said. "We're hoping against hope that we don't have to do that."

But even if the $240,000 is restored, some workers still may be furloughed.

"That would leave $400,000 (in deficit), which is a lot to make up," Lewis said, noting that 68 percent of the department's budget is spent on salaries and benefits.

It's likely, he said, that many on-campus repairs and maintenance projects will be deferred and that services will be pared back.

Unwanted summer break

Despite the concerns, officials expect there will be some money for cost-of-living raises for university workers.

"The (Bush) administration wants 2 percent; Congress has recommended 3.26 percent," Lewis explained. "It'll be somewhere in between."

Most of Haskell's faculty members have been furloughed for the summer in recent years after it became clear the university couldn't afford the $400,000 needed to offer summer classes.

"Furloughing is a big issue," said Mary Cofran, president of the Haskell Faculty Senate. "It's the same as taking a 25 percent cut."

Faculty morale, she said, has suffered.

Though some instructors were able to find grant-funded work for the summer, most did not, Cofran said.

"It really hurt," said Bill Welton, a science instructor at Haskell the past 16 years. "Keep in mind, these are people who were hired with the understanding they would be paid year-round - and Lawrence isn't the cheapest place to live."

Welton and Cofran said they did not blame the university's troubles on its administration.

"The budget was slim before Katrina, before Iraq. It's not going get any bigger anytime soon. We all know that," Cofran said. "The issue, really, is one of priorities on the federal level."

Future fundraising

Not all the news is bad.

Haskell recently received a five-year federal grant, part of which will be used to hire a full-time coordinator for the Haskell Endowment Assn.

The association will raise funds for Haskell from the private sector.

"We hope to have that person hired by March or April," said Venida Chenault, vice president for academic affairs.

Haskell's budget woes are not unique.

"All tribal colleges are underfunded and experiencing difficulty," said Richard Williams, head of the American Indian College Fund.

"It's sad," he said. "Look at it this way: Congress put up $80 billion last year to rebuild Iraq. That's more than what the federal government has spent, cumulatively, on American Indians since the beginning, since 1776."

Haskell's troubles are compounded by laws that prohibit federal employees from lobbying.

"No one speaks for Haskell on the national level," said Gerald Gipp, executive director at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium in Alexandria, Va.

"Until someone outside the bureaucracy steps up, I don't know that much will change," Gipp said. "This has been going on at Haskell for decades."

Gipp was Haskell president from 1981 to 1989.


cowboy 12 years, 5 months ago

Why doesn't the state drop a million of the SLT dough on em and get the road built , WIN / WIN

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 5 months ago

You don't want a compromise. You want your road, and Haskell be damned.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 5 months ago

It is true that the SLT is needed in Lawrence.

It is also true that Haskell owns some of the land and has claimed and has been granted a say in what happens to some of it.

It will be interesting to see how property owners along the proposed Lawrence park trail along the creek from 23rd to downtown respond when the city wants to build the park next to their property.

My guess is we will hear much wailing and gnashing of teeth about private property rights and so on.

cowboy 12 years, 5 months ago

Like everthing in life there has to be some compromise made along the way. From my little perch on the tree Haskell has been an obstruction when there is ample technology to build a road that can be a minimal impact in the area such as slightly elevated , with rubber surfaces to keep the noise down. Having lived in the south the elevated roads are populated by the same fowl that are in the wetlands.

Until Haskell becomes a working partner in the community the empathy for thier own issues will remain weak.

Confrontation 12 years, 5 months ago

This is too bad. Haskell could really use these funds. Most of these students are lucky just to have this opportunity, and I hate to see them suffer the consequences.

cowboy 12 years, 5 months ago

By the way where is our illustrious comgressmen in this issue , anybody fromHaskell have any info ?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 5 months ago

Here's a compromise-- build it south of the river. But it's all moot anyway. The state can't afford to build it anywhere.

badger 12 years, 5 months ago

So you're perfectly happy with students and non-administrative workers losing options and funding because of an administrative decision that inconveniences you in traffic? Cause, you know, when they cut classes and furlough workers it doesn't hurt the people who actually made that decision; it hurts people at the bottom.

The statement that the US has spent more on rebuilding Iraq than it has spent on American Indians since the inception of the nation is pathetic.

You know, looking at history, were I in any way affiliated with the American Indian community, I think I'd be pretty reluctant to give up so much as a square foot of land they'd promised me without a fight. The US has an awful lot of bad faith back there, and I don't really blame certain populations for viewing them with suspicion when they come asking for some land, and for being reluctant to surrender it.

It also wasn't Haskell standing alone against everyone with their heels dug in, as you imply. There was a lot of opposition, and even if Haskell had said yes, there would still have been a hard fight. There's no guarantee that it wouldn't have been just as expensive and still left them without enough money.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 5 months ago

Cowboy said: "Until Haskell becomes a working partner in the community the empathy for thier own issues will remain weak."

Agreed. However, a corollary is "Until the community of Lawrence treats Haskell with respect they will refuse to be a working partner".

cowboy 12 years, 5 months ago

None of us are gauranteed respect , we earn it. I beleive the native americans are entitled to much more than they receive. Raised in Arizona and just a block from a valley res Ive seen the conditions up close and personal. I have also seeen the way different tribes have utilized the available resources, some well , some poorly.

But I also think the failure of natives to fully engage the society they are in and live in a mire of anger over the past holds them back individually and collectively.

Engage the state in good faith negotiations and get all you can for your cause. I have to believe that if Haskell began a collaborative process with the state there could be tremendous benefits for the school , get out of the dang box , a eco center for students to intern in , a mitigation project to intern in , make a problem a solution to other problems.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 5 months ago

Anyone who was at the Corps meetings a couple of years ago would know that Haskell and plenty of others lobbied to have the SLT put south of the river.

And the notion that this won't go through Haskell land is merely a willingness to accept stolen goods, since the "Baker" wetlands are precisely that.

kcwarpony 12 years, 5 months ago

Haskell and the students are not the only ones against the SLT. A few years ago the Corps had to send letters to all the tribal nations that have ever had a tribal member attend Haskell advising them of the situation. I believe nearly all (if not all of them) responded with a big NO to the SLT. Of course the Corps ignored all of the responses and chose the 31st street route anyway. So it could be that Indian nations from across the country could get involved in this matter.

"But I also think the failure of natives to fully engage the society they are in and live in a mire of anger over the past holds them back individually and collectively."

Yes, some of us are members of the Angry Indian Movement but with good reason and you don't have to go into the "past" to see why.

Cobell v. Norton lawsuit, the mismanagement of the Individual Trust Fund accounts. The U.S. government can't and doesn't want to tell us where our money has gone. Happening today.

Abramoff lobbying scandal. Unbridled greed, plain and simple, from both sides! We're not just angry with the white guy, we're angry with some of the tribal officials caught in this greed also. Happening today.

A judge allowing snowmaking on sacred Arizona peaks with treated wastewater. Welcome to the Toilet Bowl! Tell us what you really think of our beliefs. (Gee, I wonder what would happen if some Indian peed in the Holy Water?) Happening today.
(Side note, I can't wait for some skier to land face first in that "treated wastewater". Gives new meaning to yellow snow!)

The mascot issue. When a young Indian child has any negative feelings about their culture because of something they have seen or heard turning a sporting event, who has the right to tell them to "get over it" and that they are being silly. If people want to honor us then write to your government officials and demand that the United States fulfill it's treaties obligations. Happening today.

I could go on but I won't.

What happened to the Indians was inevitable, the birth of a new nation was not going to be stopped. But the WAY that it happened is deplorable. Especially for a country that has touted itself on being founded on tolerance and Christian values. The days of just picking us up and moving us when we are in your way is over. You can no longer tell us to sit down and shut up and not end up with a fight on your hands. So, if you don't get your road where you want it, tough!

cowboy 12 years, 5 months ago

Hi KC ,

You have illustrated my point to a tee. Peace to ya!

Moderateguy 12 years, 5 months ago

This is just a simple question, and I'm sure it will get some folks upset. Will there be a point in the future, when special considerations given to native americans will expire, or is it indefinite? How many generations till we all have to get in the boat and row together? As far as I can tell, all of the "white men" who perpetrated all the horrible crimes were buried long ago.

kcwarpony 12 years, 5 months ago

Moderateguy, I know of no treaties that have an expiration date. Remember, Andrew Jackson's "for as long as the grass shall grow:"? Our ancestors realized that they were not the only ones effected by having to sale their homelands. Future generations would be effected as will and future generations should be included in the treaties.

"As far as I can tell, all of the "white men" who perpetrated all the horrible crimes were buried long ago." Yes, but people are still benefiting from those "crimes". Will justice ever be served for those "crimes"? They haven't yet. The government admits the Black Hills were taken illegally but will only give money, not return them. The Black Hills is the center of the universe for the Lakota nations and their heart has been riped from their soul and the government thinks money will make everything alright. The Lakota have never touched that money and they never will.

kcwarpony 12 years, 5 months ago

Hey Cowboy, What makes you think we are being held back? Haven't you heard? Indians are becoming the new political voting block. Why do you think Brownback was wanting to say "Sorry there you Indians, can we be friends'? He was thinking of running for prez, needs our votes. I think you'll see a lot more Indian issues come up in the next election campaign.

People have different meanings as to what "success" is. For us it is to be able to leave home and return with the knowledge and skills to be able to work on behalf of our people and assure the next generations will have a future. I can guarantee you that when you drive pass Haskell, you are driving past the students who will become our next lawyers, doctors, educators, and leaders of sovereign nations.

Besides, we run a $19 billion a year business, isn't that successful enough for you? Gee, you're hard to please!

Have a good weekend.

bthom37 12 years, 5 months ago

Um, kcwarpony, where do you get the idea that natives are becoming a voting block? And even if they are, we're talking about 1-2million people, across the US, running a business smaller than Microsoft.

Sorry, but there just aren't enough natives to make it onto the national stage. Which unfortunately means they only have moral suasion for recourse, at this point.

And yes, Haskell deserves significantly more money than it receives right now.

Godot 12 years, 5 months ago

The 2006 federal budget allots millions in Pell grants and other aid for Native Americans so that they can attend college, any college.

If we Kansans encourage illegal immigrants to attend Kansas universities by granting them "in-state" tuition status, why don't we have a program that allows Native Americans to attend our state universities, funded by Federal monies, for free?

Maybe the colleges that are just for Native Americans are out-moded.

Mike Ford 12 years, 5 months ago

Let's see, The Civilization Act of March 3, 1819 promised the education of Indian children if their tribes ceded away land. The Supreme Court case, Worcester V. Georgia, of 1832, said that Indian Tribes are self-governing, yet dependant upon the federal government for protection, just as U.S. States are. All of this country was expropriated by any means necessary from over 600 tribes. The majority of the tribes on the east coast didn't even get the chance to treaty with the United States prior to 1776. The Dutch, Puritans, and English, committed genocide upon the Raritan, Wampanoag, and Pamunkey tribes, to name a few. Then, literary authors proclaimed written genocide on the Mohicans, even though they're currently in Wisconsin.

Each tribal nation is a distinct one. Ones that many lazy uneducated American immigrants don't care to learn about, even if they're the current beneficiaries of theft that cleared the way for current Americans to live here.

I researched over 110 treaties between 1820 and 1880 that promised education in return for land cessions by tribes. Haskell land was paid for by Indian treaty and treasury monies, just like the monies in the Cobell lawsuit. Contrary to Blueharley73 and Cowboy's comments, all of the Wetlands area was Haskell's, and Baker acquired the land illegally, (see title 25, chapter 7, section 293a, or the Federal Indian Schools Surplus Lands Act of 1962, and read it.)

Haskell students deserve the funding for their school. If congress doesn't want to provide funding, maybe the tribes should ask for their lands back if the funding isn't provided. What would all these landless interlopers do then?

In closing, we're distinct people, we don't have to assimilate, we were here first. Americans invented their customs upon arriving here and killing and stealing in the name of patriotic facism. Our identity has survived genocide, boarding schools and theft. Assimilation only helps the guilty not have to remember what they did or benefitted from.

kcwarpony 12 years, 5 months ago


"American Indians and Alaska Natives turned out to the polls last November in record numbers, according to the final report of the Native Vote 2004 campaign."

"While registration and turnout is still below non-Native averages in many parts of the country, many Native communities saw increases of 50 percent to 150 percent in their turnout," the report stated."

"We believe that Indians can win in state and local elections in large numbers. In the 2004 election cycle, Indians enjoyed large electoral gains in the state of Montana with eight Indians elected to the State House and Senate and Minneapolis elected its first-ever Indian to the Minneapolis School Board. In addition, several local races were clearly decided by the Indian vote!"

It may not be what you would consider high powered postions but for us this is a huge achievement. You must also remember that we were not able to vote until 1924. Small steps but wait and see.

Godot 12 years, 5 months ago

I remember reading years ago that Native Americans felt they were being discriminated against, were subjected to segregation, by being confined to their own special "Indian colleges." Now, if I understand your point, that same segregation is no longer a penalty, it is a right.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 5 months ago

Dubya went to Harvard and Yale, but not because he had any special qualifications other than who his parents were. He could have still attended other universities, even though he might have had more difficulty qualifying.

Why can't Indians have that same advantage, with Haskell being their "Ivy League" birthright, and other schools being open to them if they meet the same qualifications everyone else has to meet?

Godot 12 years, 5 months ago

That would be cool, if Haskell had the same resources that Harvard and Yale have. I say, let those who would have no other option but to attend Haskell be given a free ride at Harvard, Yale, MIT, Berkeley, you name it. Wherever they want to go, they get to go for free. It is only right.

Godot 12 years, 5 months ago

If I had any say at Haskell, I'd change it to a hospitality and entertainment management school. I'd be hobnobbing with the big Casino owners, and I'd be hitting them up for big endowments. I would be educating the future casino and hotel owners of the nation, and I'd make Haskell the premier casino training school in the US. To hell with the trafficway. Make 31st the entryway to the Haskell Wetlands Casino.

I'm not joking.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 5 months ago

Casinos are at best a net zero in terms of economics. They don't produce anything that makes anyone's life any better-- no food, no shelter, no education, no nothing. They do very well at extracting money from a certain segment of the population, especially those with addictions (gambling, alcohol) and those with shady characters looking for easy pickings (mafia, Abrahamof/Delay)

Many Indian tribes have done well at using it to supplement their cash-flow problems due primarily to the dismal performance of the US government in fulfilling its treaty obligations. But those tribes need to be using that money to build real economic and educational institutions that produce the things they really need. You're suggestion would just make them even more dependent on the casino crutch.

CheyenneWay 12 years, 5 months ago

I have one simple question. On 31st street headed towards KC past best buy there is a 4-way stop. This holds up traffic from my understanding of having to wait for the many cars trying to just pass through and get on there way. Why cant Lawrence put up a freaking traffic light? Wouldnt that keep blue73harley from having to wait so long on his/her commute? Why waste all this money when you can just regulate the flow of traffic? Is it cause a minority invented the traffic light and the whole SLT issue is about a minority being supressed? Didnt I say I only had one simple question?

cowboy 12 years, 5 months ago

I think the city and county have decided not to spend a penny on it just to keep it a " sticking point " for local discussion. You have a point , make it a four lane with lights both at Louisiana and also Haskell

Godot 12 years, 5 months ago

"You're suggestion would just make them even more dependent on the casino crutch."

Bozo, that is no crutch, it is opportunity, one that those who are not native americans do not have in most areas of the country. Maybe you need to talk to the mayors of Las Vegas and Atlantic City to find out just how much a drain the casinos are on their cities.

Or, for starters, do a google search of "gambling on reservations." It might open your eyes.

sweetn8ive 12 years, 5 months ago

The article was about education and the US Government cutting finding. How in the world did this conversation turn to the SLT and Casinos? Obviously there are still some people out there that see Natives as only good for one thing (casino entertainment) and as a "roadblock" in their simple lives. No one is discussing how beneficial Haskell is to the students that go there, and the good that the graduates are doing in their own communities. With the limited funding that Haskell does get, it is an excellent school with some of the most dedicated instructors who are willing to give up pay to educate the students.

In many of these comments I see the mentality of individuals who still hold the beliefs of those ""white men" who perpetrated all the horrible crimes that were buried long ago." This mentality is carried on from generation to generation and people still express it today. As many can attest to, Lawrence does not have an excellent reputation in working with Natives. There are still prejudices and some oppression going on, so they are not completely "working partners" either. I know many that read this will not understand what I am talking about unless they are Native themselves. Lawrence is supposed to be open minded and accepting of all, but obviously not according to the comments above.

Haskell is a landmark within the Lawrence community that has been there since the beginning. Let's not lose focus of the students that go to the school and the education that is guaranteed to them through treaties with the US Governement. When we get those students educated, then they can go back and help their Native communities get on their feet and not depend so much on the government. Then all you other people can quit complaining about what the US Government does or doesn't owe to Native Americans.

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