Tony Dearman serves as the director of the Bureau of Indian Education. Photo: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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Senate Committee on Indian Affairs set to advance Johnson O'Malley reform bill





The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has added a business meeting to its schedule this week.

One item is on the agenda for the Wednesday afternoon session. It's S.943, the Johnson-O'Malley Supplemental Indian Education Program Modernization Act.

The bill modernizes the Johnson-O'Malley Program, which funds cultural, language and other programs for Indian students. Among other provisions, S.943 requires the Bureau of Indian Affairs to update its student count -- the agency is still basing funding levels on data from 1995.

"Given this unacceptable situation, I come here again today on behalf of the over 1 million Indian children asking this committee and the Congress to quickly approve S.943 so that these children can rightfully obtain the kinds of supplemental educational services and assistance they need to become productive American citizens," Carla Mann, the president of the National Johnson O’Malley Association, told lawmakers at a hearing on July 12.

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Hearing July 12, 2017

The Trump administration "supports the goals of S.943," Tony Dearman, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation who serves as the director of the Bureau of Indian Education, told the committee. The agency is still relying on 1995 data because he said not all fund recipients have submitted data for an updated count.

The 1995 data identified 271,884 eligible students but more recent counts put the number at 321,273. Educators like Mann believe the true number is closer to 1 million.

The business meeting takes place at 2:30pm Eastern in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building. It will be immediately followed by an oversight hearing on the Indian gaming industry.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice:
Business Meeting to Consider S. 943 (October 4, 2017)

Related Stories:
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs takes testimony on three bills at hearing (July 12, 2017)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs adds another hearing to July schedule (June 29, 2017)