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Congressman Tipton Introduces Native American Indian Education Act of 2011

September 26, 2011
Press Release

Congressman Tipton Introduces Native American Indian Education Act of 2011
Bi-partisan legislation ensures pledge to Native American Indians is kept

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) has introduced H.R. 3040, the Native American Indian Education Act of 2011, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced a version of this bill (S. 484) earlier this year.

“This legislation will ensure that our country’s pledge to Native American Indians is kept,” Tipton said. “Without increasing federal spending in any way, this bill will ultimately save Colorado taxpayers money, lifting the weight of a federal mandate from their shoulders.”

The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that federal funding is in place to support and sustain the long-standing federal mandate requiring certain colleges and states, to waive in certain circumstances, tuition charges for Native American Indian students they admit to an undergraduate college program. This includes the waiver of tuition charges for Indian students who are not residents of the State in which the college is located.

“With the state of Colorado facing a budget shortfall the education needs of many talented Indian students from around the nation could be in jeopardy. This legislation seeks to fix the problem,” Tipton said.

At the time of this release, the bill has eight original co-sponsors including Reps. Gardner (R-CO), DeGette (D-CO), Perlmutter (D-CO), Coffman (R-CO) and Polis (D-CO).

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Background from the American Indian College Fund website:

In 1910 the U.S. government deeded to the state of Colorado the property then known as the “Fort Lewis School” with the stipulation as condition of the grant that Indian students would be admitted free of charge and on equity with white students. The educational opportunities for Indian students have been maintained by the college and the state of Colorado since then based on federal and state agreements and court decisions.

In 1971 the Colorado General Assembly sought to restrict granting of free tuition at Ft. Lewis College to American Indians who were otherwise unable to pay. The U.S. government filed an action in U.S. District Court on behalf of Indian students at Ft. Lewis, and the court struck down the legislation, stating it was a breach of the state’s original contractual obligation to American Indians created by the Act of 1910, and that under the contract the state had undertaken the obligation to admit ALL Indian students tuition-free to Ft. Lewis who were otherwise qualified to attend. The U.S. Court of Appeals (10th Circuit) affirmed the District Court’s decision in 1972 that there is a contractual obligation between Indian pupils and Colorado.

In 2008 one in five students was American Indian at Ft. Lewis College.

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