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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 23, 2002 - Issue 57


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Salt River Tribe Breaks Ground on State-of-the-art School

by Anne Ryman The Arizona Republic
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community sealThe Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community broke ground on a $21 million state-of-the-art school Friday that is being paid for with casino revenues.

Tribal Council Member Leonard Rivers called it an historic day as he stood on the school site facing Red Mountain as clouds whipped across the sky.

"We are taking a big step in our community," he said.

The new junior high-high school is significant because few Indian tribes in the United States have built their own schools, Education Director Franklin Berry said. Historically, the federal government has set up schools.

The as-yet-unnamed school is expected to be finished by January 2004 and can serve 525 students. Features include a media and career center, weight room, computer labs and an 800-seat gym. The school also will have a basket and beading center, and a pottery and visual arts center.

Close to 300 children attend an aging elementary school established in the 1930s on the tribal land. Another 200 are enrolled in a junior high-high school housed in modular buildings that were built "circa World War II," Education Board Chairman Hans Klose said. Many more students ride the bus into the Mesa Unified School District.

Tribal officials hope the new buildings will entice more students to attend schools in the Indian community.

About 200 people attending the groundbreaking ceremonies, which featured Native American songs and Pulitzer Prize-winning author N. Scott Momaday as the guest speaker. Momaday, a Kiowa Indian, encouraged the school children to pursue an education while not forgetting their roots

"Always remain true to who you are," he said. "Don't lose your Native Spirit. It is the best thing that you have."

Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community
The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community was created by Executive Order on June 14, 1879 by President Rutherford B. Hayes. The Community is located in Maricopa County, aside the boundaries of Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills and metropolitan Phoenix.

Salt River I.R., AZ Map

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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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