Archive for Friday, May 12, 2006

Tribal leaders urge Haskell funding shift

University hopes to cut federal dependency

May 12, 2006


For as long as anyone can remember, Haskell Indian Nations University has solved fiscal ills by begging federal bureaucrats for more money.

That used to work. It doesn't anymore.

"It's crazy for us to keep lobbying the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It's crazy for us to lobby the Department of Interior," said Joe A. Garcia, president of the National Congress of American Indians.

"They have no control. Ask yourself, do they advocate for us?" Garcia asked, addressing a Thursday gathering of tribal leaders at Haskell. "The answer is no, they really don't."

Garcia, who's also governor of the Pueblo of San Juan, N.M., urged members of the Haskell Board of Regents to bypass the bureaucracy and lobby Congress directly.

He wasn't alone: "It doesn't do any good to go to the BIA," said Harold C. Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, S.D., and the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Assn.

Tempest Mata, Haskell Indian Nations University freshman, Highland Village, Texas, from left, loads up her belongings with her mother, LaVelle Moalez, in the trunk of her car, and her sister Mi-Ya Mata, both of Highland Village. Haskell will have its commencement at 10 a.m. today.

Tempest Mata, Haskell Indian Nations University freshman, Highland Village, Texas, from left, loads up her belongings with her mother, LaVelle Moalez, in the trunk of her car, and her sister Mi-Ya Mata, both of Highland Village. Haskell will have its commencement at 10 a.m. today.

Haskell convened the daylong meeting to gauge tribes' willingness to help finance the university's budget and to begin the process for developing a new financial strategy.

Haskell's classroom budget - about $9.1 million a year - has lagged inflation for at least four years. Currently, 30 percent of the university's full-time faculty positions are vacant.

"Today was a first step, a good first step," said regents President Gil Vigil, who's also governor of the Taos Pueblo of Tesuque, N.M.

In the coming months, Vigil said, Haskell will ask other American Indian associations and tribes to add the university's needs to their lobbying priorities.

"We will assist them," he said.

The university, he said, is not interested in just asking tribes for money. Instead, Haskell needs to - and will - do a better job of selling itself to Indian Country.

Haskell events

Today 10 a.m., Commencement, Haskell Memorial Stadium. Noon, luncheon for graduates and families, Curtis Hall. 1 p.m., Haskell Alumni Assn. board meeting, Stidham Union. 3 p.m., memorial service, Haskell Cemetery. 6 p.m., alumni banquet, Lawrence Holidome. 7 p.m., graduation powwow, Haskell powwow grounds.

Saturday 9 a.m., Indian fast pitch softball tournament, Clinton Lake Sports Complex. 11 a.m., sixth annual Haskell golf tournament, Lake Shawnee, Topeka. 1 p.m., graduation powwow, Haskell powwow grounds.

Garcia, a 1972 Haskell graduate, agreed.

"It's true that Haskell is well known in Indian Country, and that there are a lot of Haskell graduates out there," he said. "But that's not enough. It needs to promote itself."

The best way to do that, he said, is for Haskell to "find out what Indian Country needs and then find ways to meet those needs."

Support, Garcia said, will follow.

Other strategies:

¢ Raising student fees or tuition.

¢ Adopting a "food-work contribution system" in which students who couldn't afford higher fees or tuition could, in exchange, help with chores on campus.

¢ Encouraging donations to the Haskell Endowment or the Haskell Foundation.

Though the foundation was forced into bankruptcy in 2000, it's since been restructured, and most of its debts have been paid off or forgiven with revenues generated by grants it administers.

"I started at the foundation in 1998, and this is the first time we've ever had any money," said Michael O'Leary, the foundation's sole employee.

The foundation recently donated $5,000 toward the luncheon following today's commencement ceremony. More than 2,000 people are expected to attend.

Senators respond to budget woes

The Journal-World contacted U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore and U.S. Sen. Brownback's offices Tuesday, seeking comment on Haskell's budget woes. Brownback's office did not respond by Thursday evening. Moore's response: "As one of only two Native American universities in the United States, Haskell is not only important to Lawrence, it's important to our country," Moore said. "I've consistently supported increased funding for Haskell so that the progress the students and faculty are making is not hindered. In the end, the final allocations of funding for Haskell within the Bureau of Indian Affairs budget are made by the administration and the secretary of the Interior. I will, however, continue to work to bring Haskell's needs to their attention."


Kelly Powell 12 years, 1 month ago

Good for them....The more they are indedendent from the fed the less the fed can tell them what to do.

cowboy 12 years, 1 month ago

Hopefully they will get some tribe dollars but what if they started vo-tech school focused on a few high paying trades to serve the local community as a revenue generator helping both native and non native students. Charge full fee schedules for non native students. Help the community here in a big way and generate much needed revenue.

Confrontation 12 years, 1 month ago

I had an internship at Haskell several years ago. Most Native Americans interns I spoke with said that they all wanted to work at Haskell. The reason? Those jobs start out at a significantly higher rate than similar jobs in Lawrence. For instance, one of the counselors who had been there less than 5 years was making about $20,000 more than KU counselors at the same level. Maybe they need to cut back on their salaries. Also, the students were only paying $150 per semester! I realize many of them come from poverty stricken backgrounds, but so do many KU students who pay a whole lot more.

cowboy 12 years, 1 month ago

Over 30% of positions are vacant ? sounds to me as if the retiring leader has been asleep at the wheel and or the endowment organization.

Raise the fees , these kids can get the same financial aid as mine and they may well do that. They just dont have to pay any fees of substance , $210 a semester. mine had the aid but if they wanted money in thier pocket they had to work.

Sound off Haskellites , what is wrong over there ?

kcwarpony 12 years, 1 month ago

What's wrong? Treaty obligations are not being fulfilled by the U.S. government. What part of "treaty obligations" don't you people understand?

Argue amongst yourself now, we got dancing to do!

cowboy 12 years, 1 month ago

KC I respect you but your response is so predictable , the oppressors keepin us down , ok go dance !

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 1 month ago

Well, kcwarpony, it would appear that it's every part of treaty obligations that cowboy doesn't understand.

cowboy 12 years, 1 month ago

so whats your solution Bozo ? Continue to whine while the students at Hinu are shortchanged and the institution further diminished. The meek shall inherit the earth is a big lie ! Hinu needs a full time lobbyist , and a person of note dedicated to gettting the tribal support.

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