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Stansbury secures $90 million in funding to build facility for To’Hajiilee Community School

To'hajiilee Community School

This past summer, we brought you a story on U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury’s effort to obtain funding for schools under the Bureau of Indian Education which serves over 40,000 Native students across the country.

Stansbury said this week that she helped secure $90 million to build a new facility for the To’Hajiilee Community School here in New Mexico.

The money is part of the huge omnibus spending package.

Stanbury says BIE schools have been underfunded for generations and have a dark history.

"Many of them were built as government schools during the time in American history when there were active efforts to try to assimilate kids and a lot of them were built as boarding schools."

The current school building was one such boarding school. Stansbury says she hopes the new facility will bring new life to her district.

"Culture, language, and community values are at the heart of what the school does." 

The current school is in a floodplain.

"And so this is an opportunity to build a new site, to build with a clean slate, and to build a school from the ground up."

The funding is a big win but Stansbury says that this is only scratching the surface.

"There is a backlog of more than $4 billion dollars in BIE funded schools and tribally controlled schools across the country, which really desperately need facilities to be either rebuilt or repaired."

Congress must vote on the spending bill by midnight Friday to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Jeanette DeDios is from the Jicarilla Apache and Diné Nations and grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She recently graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2022 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism, English and Film. She’s currently a part of the Local News Fund Fellowship where she will be working with KUNM-FM and NMPBS during her 9-month fellowship where she will gain hands-on newsroom experience. Jeanette can be contacted at jeanettededios@kunm.org or via Twitter @JeanetteDeDios.
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