Testifying for the first time before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Wednesday, new Interior Secretary Sally Jewell outlined her upcoming goals and priorities regarding Native American issues and lambasted the “embarrassing” state of Indian education.
Among the high priorities of her term are wildfire prevention and energy production on tribal lands, as well as Native American schools.
“Indian education is an embarrassment ... to you and to us,” said Jewell. “We need more resources,” she added later in her testimony, per Indian Country Today Media Network.
Of the 183 Native American schools that operate under the supervision of the Department of the Interior, Jewell identified 63 that are in “poor condition,” according to the Associated Press.
As Indian Country Today noted, Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) pointed out during the hearing that President Obama did not ask for resources to improve Indian schools in the 2014 budget.
Jewell said she wants Native American tribes to play a role in producing academically fit curricula pertinent to Indian culture.
The state of Native American education lags behind that of the rest of the country. According to the 2013 census, only 13 percent of those aged 25 and up had at least a bachelor’s degree. At the same time, the census found that 28 percent of the overall American Indian population had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Jewell, a British-born businesswoman, was sworn in on April 12.