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Cherokee Nation Donates $6 Million To 108 School Districts

Posted at 5:46 PM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 12:09:20-05

TULSA, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation announced a $6 million donation for 108 school districts in Oklahoma.

This comes as Tulsa Public Schools Indian Education program faces some controversial changes.

"I am always hopeful that TPS will do what is appropriated," Dr. Tryg Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen is an advocate for Native American students in Tulsa Public Schools.

He has a number of concerns about the future of Indian Education at TPS. Among them, the number of students.

"They said it was 3,094, then they said it was 3,076, then they said it was 3,200 something," Jorgensen said. "Now, they are saying it's 3,181."

Jorgensen also worries TPS isn't following the law, which requires native input on all decisions when it comes to native students.

"The law says maximum Indian participation which means the parents, the teachers, the community has input into this entire program," Jorgensen said. "It's not just a decision made by Tulsa Public Schools, it is a decision made by the community."

Dr. Deborah Gist says the district is trying.

"We're gonna ask Native American students, educators, community leaders, and presenters from the tribe to come together with us to develop proposals for what all of this ends up looking like when we present it to the board of education," Gist said.

It's up to the school districts to decide how they spend the money from the $6 million donation announced Thursday.

Cherokee Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin says, superintendents know their schools better than anyone.

"We are engaged with them, we are meeting with them, and I think the outcome that is going to be good is the kids that are in public schools, the Native American kids in TPS."

According to Cherokee Nation, $1.3 million of the donation will go to Tulsa County Schools.

Tulsa Public Schools is to receive $219,525.36 of the $1.3 million, according to officials.

"A few years ago, we made the decision that we wanted those funds only to be provided to our Native American students," Gist said. "So, it goes directly to our Indian Education Office."

Tulsa Public Schools will be holding a Facebook live Q&A for the Indian Education program Friday, March 6, from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

To watch the Facebook live event, click here.

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