Monday, April 15, 2013

Native American caucus meets to review challenges, opportunities presented by higher education experts

Native American caucus meets to review challenges, opportunities presented by higher education experts

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – This week the Arizona Legislature’s Native American Caucus met to learn what challenges and opportunities face Native American youth who want to pursue a higher education. The group heard recommendations from experts who work with Native American students at Arizona’s public and private universities.

“Encouraging our youth to pursue a higher education and to have the resources to realize that dream is only the first step,” said state Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michael’s (District 7). “Once in college, these students need support. Sometimes it is financial support and sometimes it is mentoring and social support. Retention is a major challenge for Native American students.”

“Diversity is important and our higher education institutions are to be commended for prioritizing recruitment of Native American students to their campuses,” Hale said. “But the work does not stop there. The universities must also prioritize keeping our youth on the path to college graduation.”

The Native American Caucus heard from several experts in the field including:

  • Rick Waters, National Director of Tribal Relations, The University of Phoenix
  • Michael Begaye, Director of American Indian Student Support, Arizona State University
  • Dr. Joseph Martin, Special Advisor to the President, Northern Arizona University
  • Karen Francis-Begay, Assistant Vice President for Tribal Relations, The University of Arizona

“The economic benefit that comes with a college education and degree is incredibly important not just to those students and their families but also to our Tribal communities,” Hale said. “Having college-educated Natives returning to their home towns as professionals in the medical field, as engineers, as teachers, as lawyers – this is how our communities will overcome some of the economic challenges we face.”

The Arizona Legislature’s Native American Caucus meets biweekly at the Arizona State Capitol during the legislative session to discuss topics of importance to Tribal communities and their residents. Many members of the Arizona Legislature are involved in the Caucus. Some are Native American themselves but others, who are not Native, represent Tribal communities and so are especially concerned about issues of concern to Native American constituents.

More specific information about what was discussed at the Caucus meeting, including presentations and other documents, is available upon request.


Rep. Hale is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He was born in Ganado and raised in Klagetoh, Arizona. He is Ashiihi (Salt), born for Todichiini (Bitter Water). His maternal grandparents are Hanaghani (Walk About clan). His paternal grandparents are Kiyanii (Tall House clan). He is a 1969 graduate of Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school located east of Gallup, New Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (1973), and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1977), and an honorary Juris Doctor degree from Phoenix School of Law (2012).  He is the former President of the Navajo Nation.

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