by Stephanie Barbosa
On June 22nd, 2021, I attended and stood in solidarity with the LA Students Deserve rally at LAUSD district headquarters. Members of the Indigenous Education Now (IEN) coalition were able to share public comments at the LAUSD board meeting throughout the day. The IEN Mobilization Team was able to speak on the importance of allocating funding for American Indian and Indigenous students. LAUSD has a highest population of urban American Indian and Indigenous Students than any other district in the state. In the evening, the LAUSD Board unanimously voted to dedicate $10 million to support Indigenous Student Achievement and will bring necessary relief for Native and Indigenous students that have experienced various hardships due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The $10 million funding will be allocated to Native and Indigenous organizations and tribes who can help address student’s needs, COVID-19 recovery efforts, and ensure their unique linguistic, cultural, and historic backgrounds.
The Indigenous Education Now Coalition (IEN) is composed of students, parents, community members, local land-based Tribes, and Native American organizations. Prior to the LAUSD board meeting, IEN Coalition members were able to organize community members to leave over 100 voicemail messages to the district hotline, have dozens of community members submit public comment, and collected over 1,000 signatures in support of the Indigenous Student Achievement seed funding. This funding will also go towards much needed data and information of Indigenous Students from Mexico and Central America. Currently, Indigenous students from Mexico and Central America are not being accounted for in LAUSD due to not having tribal affiliations to a federally recognized tribe within the United States. With this funding, the Indigenous Education Now Coalition will be able to continue their data collection on Indigenous students from non-federally recognized tribes as well as help implement a language survey that will help document Indigenous languages that are spoken by LAUSD students. The allocation of this money is a huge win for young Chicano/a/x LAUSD students who identify with their Indigenous roots and lineages.
( L to R; Front Row: Cheyenne Phoenix, Isel Cuipao, Stephanie Barboza (me), Shannon Rivers, Isaac Micheal Ybarra. Top Row: IEN Coalition Member, Mark Villasenor, Vice President of Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, Maria Viamil, IEN Coalition Member, Rudy Ortega, President of Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.)