NYS Legislature - Increase Funding for Indigenous Schools
write urging you to increase funding for three Indigenous Schools on
Indigenous Lands that have been significantly underfunded for
decades. In her Executive Budget, Governor Hochul included
$35.7 million for the three schools: the St. Regis Mohawk School
($17.8 million), the Tuscarora School ($11.8 million), and the
Onondaga School ($6.1 million). We ask you to fully fund the $20
million per school request from the Superintendents of these districts.
The three School Districts are under contract with the NYS Education Department to educate Indigenous students living on their own territories, fulfilling treaty obligations of the Federal Government under the 1784 Treaty of Fort Stanwix to provide for the education and health of the Haudenosaunee. New York State is responsible for the buildings which house these schools and due to historic neglect, they are in a shameful state of disrepair.
I write this letter as your constituent, and in the spirit of the Two Row Wampum Treaty, the first treaty between the Haudenosaunee and settlers and the basis of all following treaties. We have a shared responsibility to honor the treaties with our Haudenosaunee neighbors and address the unjust conditions at these schools.
The Onondaga Nation School (Lafayette School District), the Tuscarora Nation School (Niagara Wheatfield School District) and the St. Regis Mohawk School (Salmon River School District) are the schools with significant problems as a result of this lack of funding for maintenance and capital improvements. In addition to the $60 million in funding for this year, it is also important to address this issue in a long-term manner.
The three schools have major facilities problems – crumbling brick, poorly functioning heating and cooling systems, dangerously degraded concrete, lack of adequate space and much more. The superintendents of those districts describe them as among “the worst school building conditions in NYS.”
New York’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, approved in January 2018, emphasizes fostering equity in education for all students and ensuring that all students succeed and thrive in school no matter who they are, where they live, where they go to school, or where they come from. It specifically mentions historically disadvantaged students. The current situation clearly violates this commitment.
The current funding stream for these three schools is mixed in with funding for other marginalized students who attend schools for students with disabilities. Those students also deserve adequately-funded schools.
The New York State Legislature has taken important steps to address inequality and build a state that fairly serves all. This small step is an important way to continue that important work.
I look forward to hearing from you that you'll support this important effort.
I want to acknowledge that I write from traditional ____________________________ Nation territory.