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Tribal education bills unanimously pass House Education Committee

Feb 1, 2024

A student from Navajo Preparatory School testifies in support of HB 134

Our two tribal education bills received bipartisan support from the House Education Committee. Legislators were impressed with the bills’ bold emphasis on tribal self-determination. They unanimously voted to pass the bills, advancing them to the next committee.

In response to the extensive public testimony, committee members expressed their admiration for a group of students from the Navajo Preparatory School, who spoke eloquently about the need for culturally relevant education programs and supports within tribal communities.

HB 134 would establish a new Tribal Education Trust Fund, and HB 135 would simplify the Indian Education grant process. Representatives Anthony Allison, D. Wonda Johnson, Charlotte Little, and Patricia Roybal Caballero joined the original sponsor, Rep. Derrick Lente, by signing on to the Trust Fund bill.

Prior to the committee vote, HB 134, the Tribal Education Trust Fund, received a second hearing, because Rep. Lente had agreed with stakeholders from the Navajo Nation to make some changes to the bill. The amended bill no longer prescribes the make-up of the new task force that would be charged with developing a funding formula.

HB 134, as amended, now defers to the sovereign Tribes themselves to determine who should be at the table when funding decisions get made. In a first for state law, the bill now says that Indigenous values will guide decision-making, based on the principle of self-determination.