Proud Day for Laguna Pueblo
Last week, I was honored to deliver a keynote address at the grand opening of the brand-new campus of Laguna Elementary School in Laguna Pueblo. It was inspiring to see the years of persistence on the part of the Pueblo pay off. The modern campus will provide children with incredible opportunities to learn and grow.
Every child deserves to go to school in a building that is safe and healthy. I’ve been fighting for years to enhance the federal funding and speed up the processes at the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) to replace dozens of older campuses that are not providing quality learning environments for students in Indian Country. Last year, I was proud to secure a significant funding measure to address maintenance backlogs within the BIE and will continue working to improve educational facilities in Tribal communities.
PHOTO: Ribbon cutting at the Grand Opening Ceremony for Laguna Elementary School’s new campus, July 29, 2021.
I was proud to recognize the ways that the Laguna Department of Education stands out as an incredible and positive example of the power of Tribal sovereignty and self-determination in education. From the historic first step of building Laguna Middle School in the 1990s, the Department has expanded to offer services from their earliest years of children’s development all the way through support for higher education.
In addition to reading, math, and science, Laguna students receive an education in their native Keres language. The preservation and instruction of Native languages has proven to raise high school graduation rates and college enrollment for Tribal students. Teaching these languages—and keeping them alive in the next generation—should be a central educational priority for all of us. As part of the American Rescue Plan that we passed into law earlier this year, I championed $20 million in emergency grants to address the impacts of the pandemic on the preservation of Native languages.
This celebration was also a great way to honor all of the teachers, staff, parents, and students who remained incredibly determined to stay engaged in their education in the face of a global pandemic. I also recognized all of the Tribal employees who have worked so hard to protect the health and safety of the entire Pueblo of Laguna community throughout this pandemic. Thanks to all of them—and because 100 percent of the school’s staff will be vaccinated—students will be able to return to in-person instruction on this brand-new campus next month.
There is still work ahead of us to help all of our communities recover. But thanks to the success of vaccines in New Mexico—and particularly in Tribal communities—I am confident in our future. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office if I can be of any assistance to you or your family.
United States Senator