October 15, 2003

For Further Information Contact: Melody McCoy, (303) 447-8760

 

INDIAN LEGAL DEFENSE FUND AWARDED $20,000 GRANT BY U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION; PUBLIC WELCOME TO AWARD CEREMONY ON SATURDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2003 IN BOULDER, COLORADO

BOULDER, CO – The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $20,000 grant to the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) to augment NARF’s tribal education project by establishing the Tribal Education Departments National Association (TEDNA). TEDNA will be a nonprofit organization composed of American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Departments of Education.

This award is one of nearly $122 million in grants that will be distributed by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Indian Education to Indian tribes, organizations, schools, and state and local agencies. Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, these grants will help improve educational opportunities for about half a million American Indian and Alaska Native students in areas including professional development, college preparation, and early childhood education.

"For years NARF has been providing the legal infrastructure to ensure federal and state cooperation with tribes in national Indian education efforts," says John Echohawk, NARF’s Executive Director. "The creation of TEDNA is a huge and important step. It will be a permanent fellowship where tribal education directors can coalesce, share ideas, and plot the future of tribal education. We appreciate the U.S. Department of Education’s and Secretary Rod Paige’s recognition of NARF’s past work and their help in moving tribal education departments to a new level."

To date, funding for NARF’s tribal education department work has been provided primarily by private foundations such as the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. The U.S. Department of Education’s recent grant is the first time that a federal agency has contributed directly to NARF’s and tribes’ efforts in this area. The new TEDNA will serve over 110 tribal education departments that in turn will serve over 500,000 American Indian and Alaska Native students nationwide.

On Saturday, October 18, 2003, the public is welcome to NARF’s national headquarters for a continental breakfast and a check presentation by the Office of Indian Education’s Director, Victoria Vasques. In her position, Vasques serves as the principal contact with the federal government for Indian education. She is part Diegueno of the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians in California.

For more information about the Office of Indian Education and its grants, visit http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ous/oie/contacts.html. For further information contact: Office of Indian Education, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Room 3W111, FB-6,