Published April 10, 2016
CASS LAKE, MINNESOTA — After years of lobbying Washington, D.C., for a new tribal school will be built to replace the dilapidated Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation.
The announcement was made by the U.S. Department of the Interior this past week.
“Our kids will finally have a safe environment to learn and grow. Years of hard work have paid off and I’m incredibly proud and excited there will soon be a new Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School,” Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Chairwoman Carri Jones stated.
“Thank you to the many people who worked on this effort, including those who serve Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate who have continually advocated for our school’s funding. We also owe a special thank you to our students, teachers, school leadership, current and past RBC committees, and a particular thanks to Eugene Whitebird.”
The Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School’s run-down conditions have been documented in the Huffington Post, The New York Times, and in a series of articles in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Rotten flooring, poor insulation, rodent infestation, broken heaters, and substandard and exposed wiring are just the tip of a very large iceberg that makes up the overarching adverse situation at the Bureau of Indian Education-funded school.
Regardless of whether tribes choose to exercise their self-determination rights to schools in the BIE system, the federal government retains ownership of the schools and the responsibility to ensure that the schools are properly maintained, repaired, improved, and ultimately replaced at the end of their lifespan.
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