Education Secretary Rod Paige Visits SIPI

Aug 15th, 2004 | By | Category: 16-1: Sovereignty in Indian Country, Tribal College News

BLANKETED. SIPI student Michael Ray presented a Pendleton blanket to Secretary Rod Paige on behalf of all of the students. Ray (Laguna Pueblo) is president of Phi Theta Kappa and a computer science major. Photo by Mark Hopwood

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Rod Paige visited Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute(SIPI) in Albuquerque, NM, in April. The secretary, who has Mississippi Choctaw Indian ancestors, toured the college’s state-of-the-art science building and participated briefly in a circle dance.

This was not the first visit by a high-ranking administration official to tribal colleges and universities. Paige said he wants each of the federal agencies to become more familiar with the tribal colleges, their students, and their needs and include them in new and existing federal opportunities.

While in Albuquerque, he presented a check to SIPI President Dr. Joseph Martin for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). Martin (Navajo) serves as the treasurer of the AIHEC board.

Under the contract between AIHEC and the Department of Education, AIHEC will collect, analyze, and develop best practices from the tribal colleges and universities to present to the department and assist the administration with determining alternative, culturally relevant educational opportunities for K-12 American Indian and Alaska Native students. “Our goal is equity in education,” continued Paige.

In March, AIHEC hosted a forum for tribal colleges and universities and Office of Indian Education personnel to discuss the administration’s No Child Left Behind initiative; address common matriculation issues facing American Indian and Alaska Native students; and identify strategies to assist tribal college students to complete their degrees.

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