A group of students from the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School in Bena, Minnesota joined Leech Lake tribal leaders for a trip to Washington, D.C. at the end of February.
The students attended an oversight hearing for the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and appeared on “The People’s House with Congresswoman Betty McCollum,” a cable show on February 27.
“A lot of people don’t understand the responsibility that the federal government has to the Native American people,” McCollum, a democrat, explains on the show. “When the treaties were signed with sovereign nations one of the obligations that we undertook as the United States was the health and the education of Native Americans. And we have not done as good a job as we could as a nation.”
She and the three students—Marissa Wind, Ray Ogema and Nindonis Robinson—go on to discuss their hopes and dreams, why a tribal education steeped in culture and language is important, as well the conditions of the school they attend.
“There are wires everywhere where they shouldn’t be, water drips near electrical outlets. I think it’s a big safety hazard,” Robinson explains what the school is like. “There’s mold, we don’t have a quality air centralization system—I think it’s just hazardous for the staff and students. It doesn’t make anyone want to come and be a success from Bug school.”