"Education Concerns AFN"

by Mike Dalton, Staff Writer

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, October 8, 1968, p.1

Education was a major concern of the Oct. 5-6 convention of Alaska Federation of Natives, and that convention devoted a third of its 36 resolutions to the subject of education.

The convention, too, devoted much of its time to review and reports on education of the Alaska Natives.

Flore Lekanoff, chairman of the AFN education committee, recommended more Native involvement, making the schools a village (or community) affair, asking BIA and state to consult with the Natives more on education matters, and recommending high schools be closer to home with village education provided up through the 10th grades in present rural schools.

Mrs. Ellen Lang, the first woman ever selected to the Alaska Native Brotherhood, talked to the large delegation of Natives about expanded education facilities at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka. She also worked with the ANB and Sitka delegations on many of the education planks adopted by the two-day convention.

Dr. Orin Stratton, president of Sheldon Jackson College, was introduced to the delegation and congratulated the emerging leadership of Alaskan Natives in education.

James Harper, assistant director for rural education in the Alaska Department of Education, talked to the delegates about regional and vocational schooling, pointing out that the Kodiak regional high school should be completed by September 1970 and dormitories are being built now. This school will accommodate students from the Aleutian Chain, principally.

Harper said the Bethel regional high school, programmed to handle 900 students, will be started as soon as the State of Alaska can get a firm commitment from the BIA on the building of dormitories.

Funding for the Bethel regional school was approved by voters in the November 1966 general election, but no definite architectural plans have been developed yet pending the BIA-funded dormitories, Harper said.

Strong complaints were voiced about the poor quality of education at Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka. The Sitka delegation sent strong recommendations to the AFN convention, many of which were adopted in resolution form.

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