Congratulations on an overwhelmingly successful Powwow! Not only was our Powwow well-attended by tribal families, we also hosted a record number of neighbors, friends, and other tribal nations.
I was so proud of how our Tribe came together in memory of Alice Lopez to honor our Wampanoag Traditions. All who attended were able to learn more about our rich heritage and how we are working to reclaim and preserve our proud history.
In addition, our dancers and drummers gave an incredible exposition of our Eastern dances and songs. The Eastern War Dancers and Eastern Blanket Dancers were so powerful! Special thanks once again go to Leslie Jonas, who was a wonder of efficiency and patience as our Powwow Director. But it takes a whole tribe to experience a successful, good medicine Powwow, and for that I thank each and every one of you.
The last month has been an extremely busy and important time for our Tribe. I am proud to represent our Nation; advocating for our needs, particularly in the area of education. As you know, bridging the achievement gap and supporting our tribal youth as they pursue their education is a major focus of the tribal agenda. It was an honor to represent USET at a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on the Native CLASS Act. I spoke about the challenges we face as we try to support our tribal youth in the public schools, and about the flexibility, funding and authority we need to play a major role in our children’s education.
While our Tribe has taken great steps to offer support to and advocate for our children in the public school system, we simply do not have the resources to fully address the problem. Currently, we have five service delivery areas in Massachusetts, with three major concentrations of 300-plus enrolled tribal members in Barnstable, Bristol and Suffolk Counties. Presently, we receive very little in the way of Title VII monies, $40,000, which is used to fund tutoring, Native American teachers, educational advocacy, and development of curriculum designed to meet the learning style of our tribal students in public schools. This funding is clearly deficient. I hope you will review the oral testimony I gave.
I was also greatly honored to attend the opening of the inaugural session of the Native Scholars program. This program, which is being run in partnership with UMass Boston, seeks to prepare tribal youth for college and beyond. Forty-one students are attending the program at Regis College this summer, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Congratulations to these students, their families, the Education Committee, Education Department, and the talented teachers and counselors at the program. If you have a student who may be interested in participating in this ongoing program, please contact Gail Hill.
There is no greater way to ensure the healthy future of our children and our Tribe than to make sure our young people get the educational opportunities they deserve. I will continue to fight until every tribal student is given the opportunity and the support they need to succeed!
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)