Higher education advocates for Native students say President Joe Biden’s loan forgiveness program will help Native students, but doesn’t address long-standing financial obstacles.
As Aaron Bolton reports, Biden recently announced that people under certain incomes will have up to $20,000 of their student loans forgiven.
Dave Sanders is the vice president of research at the American Indian College Fund, which provides scholarships for Native students.
He says loan forgiveness will help many students go back to school if they never finished and make it plausible for many to accomplish other life goals like buying a house. But it doesn’t resolve the disproportionate barriers Native students face.
“So, you’re still going to have issues of access as well as issues of affordability going through the system.”
A recent report compiled by Native scholarship funds found that Indigenous students drop out of college at nearly double the rate as their peers in part because they can’t afford tuition and other basic needs like housing and food.
Among many possible solutions listed in that report, Sanders says schools could help Indigenous students pay for things like books or waive various fees for housing and health care. He adds the federal government could find ways to offer more grants to help students cover those basic costs.
The 17-year-old was among students on a field trip.
On their return home, their bus was rear ended by a semi-truck on Interstate 40 in Arizona.
Six other students were reportedly injured in the crash.
Funeral services for Gordon are pending.
The tribe is offering counseling services this week for students, teachers, and staff.
Alaska experiences some of the highest rates of suicide in the nation. Hannah Bissett from our sister station KNBA reports on a prevention program focused on young people.
In Alaska, a large community of people are trying to bring awareness and decrease suicide rates by holding educational meetings, events, and presenting in schools to teach the youth about the warning signs of someone that may be suicidal.
Bill Pagaran is Tlingit and Filipino and works as a president of a nonprofit in Palmer, AK called Carry the Cure.
Pagaran says that the idea of Carry the Cure was created after he played with a symphony in a village school in northern Alaska.
After the music stopped, the principal of the school told the students to go up to the musicians.
Many of the children came up to Pagaran, who played the drums.
“Until I gained healing until I embraced who I was as a child in god, as a Tlingit until I embraced those things, it was just, ‘What could I do?’… and I just thought, gosh, if there was any way that I could bring hope for kids like me, kids like I met in that village, other people around the world, if there was anyway I could bring hope so that they could live another day.”
He created the nonprofit to tie spiritual, cultural, and clinical practices of healing to help save youth.
He also says a large part of the mission is to visit every village in Alaska with their Committed to Life suicide prevention program.
“Our main program is a suicide prevention program for the public, school assembly, and public presentations called Committed to Life. So we give people reasons to live. That’s the whole deal, giving people hope. Giving them practical tools, clinical tools, cultural tools, spiritual tools, reasons to commit to life”
The Committed to Life program is structured to be fun and full of games.
According to Pagaran, it is like a “Native-style ‘Tonight Show.’” In the presentations, there are Indigenous dancers from many cultures including Yupik and Cree.
“We use that as a way in saying, ‘This is who we are’ and it’s important to embrace that as apart as our message in committing to life”
After the dancing, he starts a presentation on addressing identity.
During the presentation, many illustrations drive home the message of identity.
When the presentation ends, participants make a vow of Commitment to Life.
“We just make this verbal commitment to make a commitment to life. It goes like this: ‘We make a commitment to life and pursue my purpose. Whether times are good or bad, whether I have money or not. Even when I’m sick. When I am alone or lonely, I choose life.’”
Other non-profit organizations work to educate the public of various tools, recognizing warning signs, and reduce suicide rates in Indigenous youth in Alaska.
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