N. M. Voters Fund College Construction

Aug 15th, 1999 | By | Category: 10-4: Native Arts Education, Tribal College News

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute plans a new science building. Photo © by Lee Marmon, American Indian College Fund

New Mexico voters approved a $71.2 million general obligation bond last November to support education in the state, including construction on two tribally controlled college campuses. Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque will receive $1 million for the first phase construction of its new science building. Diné College-Shiprock will receive $1 million to complete phase one of its new campus.

“We made history. Never before had any tribal colleges been involved in a bond issue in New Mexico like that,” Lauren Bernally of Diné College-Shiprock said. The victory was historic nationally since tribal colleges across the country rarely benefit from state funding. The two colleges credit the victory largely to Sen. John Pinto (Navajo), Sen. Joseph J. Carraro, and Rep. James Roger Madalena. To encourage voters to support the measure, the committee put Public Service Announcements on television and radio stations in both Navajo and English languages. The bond was one of five on the ballot, three of which were successful.

In a fire last August in Shiprock, Diné College lost a major portion of its present campus, which is a 1950s boarding school abandoned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. To complete the first phase of construction, Diné College expects $2 million from the Navajo Nation and $1.5 million from the American Indian College Fund plus half a million in-kind from the Department of Defense. In addition, it hopes to raise $10 million from Congress, $1 million from its own development efforts, and $5.2 million from the Department of Energy. Diné College will need a total of $40 million over the next 20 years to complete the Shiprock campus, including dormitories, faculty housing, gymnasium, and conference facility.

SIPI needs a total of $9.3 million for its Advanced Technical Science Applications Building, according to Valorie Montoya of SIPI. SIPI, an intertribal Bureau of Indian Affairs college, is currently using two modular buildings as science labs. These buildings do not meet the requirements of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges (NCA). For details see the SIPI website at www.sipi.bia.edu.

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