Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to Visit Riverside Indian School in Oklahoma

Interior Secretary Jewell will visit Riverside Indian School on Wednesday

Interior Secretary Jewell will visit Riverside Indian School on Wednesday

Senator Lankford, Representative Cole will join meetings with students to discuss unique challenges facing Native Youth

ANADARKO, OKLAHOMA – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will visit Riverside Indian School on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, to meet with students and school officials, tour the educational facilities, and host a roundtable discussion. The visit is part of the President’s Generation Indigenous (“Gen I”) initiative to remove barriers standing between Native youth and opportunities to succeed. It also builds upon the White House Rural Council’s efforts to reduce rural child poverty.

Jewell will be joined by U.S. Senator James Lankford, U.S. Representative Tom Cole, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn and Director of the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) Dr. Charles “Monty” Roessel. Jewell will lead discussions regarding how federal, state and local partners can address rural child poverty and improve the graduation rate in BIE-funded schools. Riverside Indian School is a BIE-funded boarding school that serves nearly 700 American Indian students in the Anadarko Basin of southwestern Oklahoma.

During the sixth White House Tribal Nations Conference in December 2014, President Obama announced that members of his Cabinet would visit Indian Country to hear directly from Native youth on how to bolster federal policies to help improve the lives of and opportunities for the next generation of Indian Country. Secretary Jewell kicked off the Administration’s Native Youth Listening Tour in February 2015 with tribal visits and student discussions at Salt River Elementary and Gila River Crossing Community schools in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

Nearly half of Native American people (42 percent) are under the age of 24; more than one-third of Native children live in poverty; and Native youth have the lowest high school graduation rate of students across all schools, according to a recent White House report. To address the critical educational needs of these students, the Administration’s Blueprint for Reform, an initiative of the White House Council on Native American Affairs chaired by Secretary Jewell, is restructuring Interior’s BIE from a provider of education to a capacity-builder and education service-provider to tribes.

The transformation gives tribes the ability to provide an academically rigorous and culturally appropriate education to their students, according to their needs. Complementing the Administration’s ongoing focus on Native youth, in March the White House Rural Council launched “Rural Impact,” a coordinated effort across federal agencies to improve quality of life and upward mobility for kids and families in rural and tribal communities. Last week, the Rural Council released a report, Opportunity for All: Fighting Rural Child Poverty, which examines poverty in rural areas, discusses the positive impact of safety net programs on reducing rural poverty, and highlights the Administration’s efforts and proposals to reduce poverty and promote opportunity in rural communities.

BIE announced last week that it is offering grants ranging from $25,000 to $150,000 per fiscal year for federally recognized tribes and their education departments to help tribes assume control of BIE-funded schools in their communities.

WHO: Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior
James Lankford, U.S. Senator, Oklahoma
Tom Cole, U.S. Representative, 4th District Oklahoma
Kevin Washburn, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs
Dr. Charles ‘Monty’ Roessel, Director, Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)
Tony Dearman, Superintendent, Riverside Indian School
WHAT: Visit to Riverside Indian School
WHEN: Wednesday, May 27, 2015
11:15 a.m. CDT – Media check-in
11:30 a.m. CDT – Riverside Indian School Tour begins
WHERE: Riverside Indian School
101 Riverside Drive
Anadarko, Oklahoma 73005


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