Not Native Enough

Sep 15, 2016Commentary, Education, Ethnic & Racial Minorities

About 27 percent of Utah’s American Indian students are chronically absent from school — higher than any other racial group in Utah and higher than the national average of 21 percent for American Indians. Tracking chronic absenteeism — missing 15 or more school days in a year — is perhaps more crucial than looking at graduation rates. But under the law, local Title VI programs receive federal funding only for the students who’ve filled out what’s called a 506 form, which requires native students or their parents or grandparents to be tribally enrolled. Thousands of youths aren’t eligible to fill it out — even those who were raised with native traditions, identify as native and experience the same struggles as those with full tribal recognition because their not native enough.

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