When the president and first lady recently arrived by helicopter at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, they made history. President Barack Obama is the third sitting U.S. president to visit an Indian reservation in the past eight decades. The Obamas took part in a Flag Day ceremony and met with Dakota and Lakota nation youth during their June 13 visit.
Addressing the crowd, Obama promised a renewed commitment to American Indian interests, with a particular focus on education.
“Let’s put our minds together to improve our schools, because our children deserve a world-class education, too, that prepares them for colleges and careers. And that means returning control of Indian education to tribal nations with additional resources and support so that you can direct your children’s education and reform,” said Obama.
In concert with the president’s visit, the Department of the Interior released a statement on a new plan to improve educational outcomes for Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools on June 13.
Statistics show that the current system is failing American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) students, who lag behind other demographic groups. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average public high school graduation rate for all U.S. students has grown from 75 percent in 2007-08 to 81 percent in 2011-12. But for AI/ANs, the graduation rate only increased from 64 to 68 percent over the same period. <Read more.>