Act Now to Support Indigenous Schools

New York State has consistently underfunded the three schools
serving Indigenous students on their own nations for decades


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Ahead of next week’s national holiday celebrating the birth of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we ask you to honor his legacy by taking action. While his primary passions were Civil Rights, eradicating poverty and ending militarism, he also strongly supported Indigenous Rights.  In his 1963 book Why We Can’t Wait Dr. King wrote, “Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. … Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience [genocide] into a noble crusade.”
As part of the historic treaty relationship between the Haudenosaunee and the United States, the US is responsible for providing healthcare and education to Indigenous communities. Unfortunately, these treaties have been repeatedly ignored and broken. This history includes the appalling boarding school era which Indigenous communities survived. Almost every public school building in New York New York State is owned by the School District in that community, except for three schools on Indigenous Nations – the Onondaga Nation School (Lafayette School District), the Tuscarora Nation School (Niagara Wheatfield School District) and the St. Regis Mohawk School (Salmon River School District).

NYS is responsible for maintaining the buildings which house these three schools. They have been terribly underfunded for decades – leaving them with major facilities problems – crumbling brick walls, poorly functioning heating and cooling systems, dangerously degraded concrete, inadequate security and fire protection and much more. The superintendents of those districts describe them as among “the worst building conditions in NYS.”

New York’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, approved in January 2018, emphasizes fostering equity in education for all students and ensuring that all students succeed and thrive in school no matter who they are, where they live, where they go to school, or where they come from. It specifically mentions historically disadvantaged students.

Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON) is joining with others across NYS in calling for Governor Cathy Hochul to include $60 million in the 2022-23 NYS Budget, $20 million for each of these three schools, plus $6 million ($2 million per school) on an annual basis for maintenance and improvements moving forward. We ask people to contact Governor Hochul this week to urge her to include this funding in her Executive budget proposal when she submits it to the legislature in the coming weeks. The Department of Education has already included $40 million in their draft budget, but we want Governor Hochul to raise this to the full $60 million which is needed.

A sample letter, which we encourage you to customize, is included with additional information at

Contact Information:

Governor Kathy Hochul
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Phone 518-474-8390