Utah's Native Americans Collaborate to Improve Education

March 10, 2003

Source: Deseret News


On March 10, 2003 the Deseret News reported that "nearly 90 percent of [Native American] students don't graduate from high school, according to [Forrest] Cuch, who was the Ute Tribe's education director from 1973-88. Those who do make it to college, he added, don't have the skills to stay there... 'People are running around trying to help the Indian,' Cuch said. 'So they give scholarships. But if the students aren't prepared for college, they drop out, and the donors get discouraged...' A two-year program, offered to Indian students after high school, is a wholly different approach. The academy would be run by American Indians, including leaders from Utah's eight tribal governments — not by state education officials... For decades, non-Indian state leaders have eyed the shortcomings of public-school curriculum and the dropout rate, Cuch says, but change hasn't come. 'We've never really been consulted,' he added. 'We haven't been considered capable of helping ourselves...' Task forces have looked at the problems, state representatives have wrung their hands, yet 'in the last 20 years, things haven't improved,' said Nola Lodge-Hurford, a University of Utah instructor. Now a Rocky Mountain American Indian Foundation board member, Lodge-Hurford said collaboration among Utah's Indian people will be key to the organization's progress."