BIE Acting Director visits the Community

July 1, 2016


Christopher Lomahquahu

Community Newsperson


The Bureau of Indian Education Acting Director Anne Marie Bledsoe Downs visited the Gila River Indian Community to get an on-the-ground perspective from education and tribal leadership on June 23.


Before traveling to the Governance Center, Downs visited the Tribal Education Department offices and Blackwater Community School to get familiar with the Community’s education needs and services.


Tribal Education Department Director Isaac Salcido said the Community is in the midst of completing a BIE Sovereignty in Indian Education grant by December, which has been awarded to four other tribal nations.


The SIE grant provides funding to tribal education departments as a way to bolster the support of tribal control and operation of BIE funded schools.  


Salcido said communication is crucial between the Community and BIE and that it is a positive sign for them to visit the Community and tribal leadership.


The assessment can compare third graders from all of the schools located in the Community together to a get a picture of how they are performing across the board.


“We are doing a student academic assessment across the Community. [We] are the first Native community to be doing [this] with tribal and BIE schools,” said Salcido.


Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis said the BIE is being very proactive by taking an interest in GRIC’s BIE funded schools.


He said, “It is beneficial to serve tribes in Indian Country where they are wanting to provide technical services to the tribes and the schools while working with tribal leadership in a respectful manner.”


One of the more pressing needs of the Community is the advocation for the improvements to schools, like the Gila Crossing Community School campus that is in need of new infrastructure.


“We would like to work in a very collaborative way with the BIE to get schools like Gila Crossing Community School to get new infrastructure,” he said.