Communications & Public Affairs Department

Gila River Indian Community



(Sacaton, Arizona) – On Tuesday, Sept. 29, in a major step towards the new construction of the Casa Blanca Community School, the Gila River Indian Community and the Department of the Interior entered into a lease for the existing Casa Blanca Community School located in District 5.  


The Community negotiated this lease with the Department to provide compensation for the existing school facilities and that lease funding will help offset the costs of the new school.  


This innovative program was first utilized by the Community for the Gila Crossing Community School which was constructed in 2019.  That school construction/leaseback was the first lease entered into between the Department of the Interior and a tribal government under section 105(l) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.  The Community is now using that same program to construct the Casa Blanca Community School. 


The Community brought this program to the Department as an alternative to the existing backlog of school construction for Bureau of Indian Education schools.  Both the Gila Crossing Community School and the Casa Blanca Community School are tribally-run Bureau of Indian Education Schools that were first built over 100 years ago and had become overcrowded and were in poor condition.  However, due to the existing backlog to construct BIE schools, neither school would have been constructed for several more decades.


Governor Lewis stated, “The Gila River Indian Community is proud to work in partnership with the Department of the Interior to expand this lease program that offers an alternative approach to constructing much-needed infrastructure in Indian Country.  Today’s lease signing is the first step towards a new school for the students, parents, teachers and school officials of Casa Blanca Community School.”


Governor Lewis thanked the Department of the Interior and the Casa Blanca Community School Owner’s Team for all the work that occurred to make the lease signing possible.  


Groundbreaking for the new Casa Blanca Community School is slated for October 10, 2020, with completion expected in August of 2021.