WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) to commemorate the school’s 50th anniversary. She delivered remarks at an event celebrating the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)-operated post-secondary school and its ongoing work to empower Indigenous students and provide a quality, culturally competent education to students from across the country.
During the visit, which coincided with National Voter Registration Day, Secretary Haaland highlighted SIPI’s recent designation as a voter registration agency. This designation will expand access to, and education about, voter registration and election information in order to enable all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy.
In a July op-ed, Secretary Haaland noted that “participating in governing is a time honored and sacred tradition in our Indigenous communities. Our ancestors and relatives survived against seemingly insurmountable odds, which is why we owe it to them to make our voices heard at the ballot box … Our votes reflect our values and the issues we care about.”
Secretary Haaland and BIE Director Tony Dearman toured the campus and met with distinguished faculty, including Chef Lauren Barker, who was recently recognized as the Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation – Rio Grande Chapter, and Dr. Danielle Lansing, an early childhood faculty member who recently received a Distinguished Service Award from the Department.
SIPI, which is one of two post-secondary institutions operated by BIE, officially opened in September 1971. The school prepares Indigenous students as life-long learners through partnerships with tribes, employers and other organizations.