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Feds Must Provide Mental Health Service For Native Students

Havasupai students and the Native American Disability Law Center sued the federal Bureau of Indian Education so it would provide adequate teachers, special education and mental health services. The Havasupai Elementary School currently has three teachers to educate 70 students at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Havasupai Chairwoman Muriel Coochwytewa said the federal government has an obligation to Native communities.

“Our children do not receive even minimal sufficient education,” Coochwytewa said. “The consequences are dire for our children, for our community and for our future.”

The court’s ruling recognized for the first time in U.S. history that exposure to historic, intergenerational trauma has an impact on the way youth learn.

“Young people in this community are subject to decades of deprivation of educational opportunities, extreme poverty, separation from caregivers because of boarding schools, as well as violence in the community and substance abuse in the community.” said Kathryn Eidmann, an attorney representing the students.

Eidmann said this case has set a precedent for other tribes and marginalized communities.

Laurel Morales was a Fronteras Desk reporter in Flagstaff from 2011 to 2020.