Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 1556, which amends the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act to allow land taken into trust for the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico to be used to generate income to provide funding for academic programs and other purposes of the Sante Fe Indian School. I am proud to co-sponsor the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act, and I thank my colleague, Congressman Luján for introducing this legislation.
As a member of the Native American Caucus, addressing the needs of Native Americans is of great importance to me. California is home to over one hundred federally recognized tribes and it is my belief that these tribes deserve the right to use land to fund academic programs for the advancement of their citizens.
This legislation will allow eligible tribes to promote self-determination and economic self-sufficiency by allowing the land taken into trust under section 823(a) to be used solely for the educational, health, or cultural purposes and economic development projects that provide funding for such purposes.
The Sante Fe Indian School has a Community-Based Education Program that is seen nationwide as a model of instructional innovation. The over 700 students that attend the Sante Fe Indian School, are able to participate in a constructive learning environment with new dormitories, new classrooms, and student activity centers. Sante Fe Indian School graduates are given an effectual education and past graduates have received over $800,000 in scholarship assistance to schools such as Dartmouth, Georgetown, and Notre Dame. Not only are students of the Sante Fe Indian School able to enter into the competitive environment of college admissions, but students are also equipped with a knowledge to better understand the issues facing tribes in the Southwest to one day be able to return to these communities to contribute positively to the infrastructure that is necessary for continued growth.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H.R. 1556 to allow Native American tribes the opportunity to continue to improve the educational programs and environment for these students. Native Americans should be afforded the opportunity to raise funds for their educational pursuits and become actively involved in the economic development and constructive use of their land.
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