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December 27, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dec. 21, 2018

CONTACT:
Kyla McKown
918-549-2453 O
918-758-8106 C
kmckown@muscogeenation.com

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Praises S. 943 Passage to Revise Johnson-O’Malley Program Funding Process

WASHINGTON D.C. – The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is celebrating the U.S. Senate and House passage of Senate Bill 943, after more than 10 years of advocating for updates in the federal funding and allocations process for the Johnson-O’Malley Program.

The Johnson-O’Malley Supplemental Indian Education Program Modernization Act (S. 943) was passed on the House Floor by Voice Vote and sent back to the U.S. Senate desk for final approval Dec. 12, 2018. Following Senate approval, the bill now awaits President Donald Trump’s signature signing it into law.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, along with the National JOM Association and Watts Partners, has been recognized as a leader in advocating for the JOM Program for changes in the law. The JOM Program is a non-profit organization overseen by the Bureau of Indian Education and appropriates educational funding for Native Americans through awarded contracts with tribal organizations, schools and other entities to support the cultural and academic needs of Native students.

Since the beginning of the legislative efforts, the Nation has been prominently involved in supporting S. 943 by providing financial support, as well as human capital, making several trips to Washington D.C. to meet with the BIE and Congress to advocate for the Native students and their educational needs.

Once signed into law, S. 943 will hold the BIE and the U.S. Department of Interior responsible for carrying out the new legislation, which will include conducting the annual student count in order to award more accurate contract amounts based on the number of students served.

The program’s last official student count was in 1995; the census data reported 272,000 Native American students eligible for JOM Program activities and funding. Without the updated census data available, the current funding level still reflects the 1995 student count without considering the significant increase in students throughout the years.

During the 2018 NJOMA Conference, Steve Pruitt of Watts Partners, discussed the current estimated student count.

“If you look at the census data both the 2010 raw data, the 2012 update and now the 2014 update, as well, all of that data suggests that there are over 800,000 kids who have been designated as one tribe only in the census,” Pruitt said.

“We believe right now that if you count everybody who should be currently eligible with the JOM program, there are somewhere between 1.2 and 1.4 million kids who are eligible for Johnson O’Malley befits and activities,” Pruitt said. “Now that’s a big leap from 272,000.”

The new law also updates the student count to include funding for Indian students with less than one-quarter blood quantum.

The tribe’s ongoing effort to get S. 943 passed into law was pertinent, as the Nation funds 45 JOM schools with more than 17,800 JOM students from 103 different tribes.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Secretary of Education and Training Greg Anderson said the Nation provides an estimated $1.07 million in funding to the 45 schools. An increase in federal funding will allow the tribe to improve services and create additional services for Native students.

“For us, we hope the new count will trigger additional funding for the programs that we serve and when that happens we’ll be able to provide additional services to the Native students that we serve within our Nation,” Anderson said. “So, there’s going to be financial benefits that lead to educational opportunities for Native students.”

Additional information for the Nation’s JOM Program can be found online by visiting the Muscogee (Creek) Nation website, www.muscogeenation.com, or call the program directly at 918-732-7843.

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