N. M. - Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and Acting Assistant
Secretary for Indian Affairs Aurene M. Martin today joined students
and community members celebrating the opening of Baca/Dlo'ay azhi
Community School, a K-6 facility serving approximately 390 students
from the Prewitt and Thoreau communities on the eastern portion
of the Navajo Nation reservation in New Mexico.
will have a special meaning here this year because this school
is not only a model of sustainable environmental design and 21st
century technology but also embodies the elements sacred to the
Navajo culture," said Interior Secretary Norton. "The
Baca Dlo'ay Azhi School is one of 20 new Indian schools funded
as part of President Bush's promise that 'no child will be left
behind.' We are committed to ensuring that the 48,000 Indian students
attending schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs receive
operates 185 schools in 23 states, either directly or through
tribal grants and contracts. The opening today marks a milestone
in BIA efforts to replace all of its aging schools with modern
structures that are safe, comfortable, ecologically friendly and
equipped with the most modern technology.
new facility will allow Baca Community School parents to focus
on their children's education," said Martin. "We remain
committed to the goal of replacing debilitated BIA schools to
provide our students and teachers with a physical environment
best conducive to learning."
azhi Community School replaces two aging BIA schools - Baca Day
School and Thoreau Boarding School - with a modern structure whose
design combines Navajo culture with a 21st century learning environment.
It is located adjacent to the historic Baca Day School site that
was established in the 1930's. The firm of local architect Dyron
Murphy, a Navajo Nation tribal member, designed the new structure.
is also a landmark achievement in culturally sensitive and environmentally
conscious construction. Its aesthetic design incorporates several
elements of Navajo culture. The school's main entrance, for example,
faces east to greet the morning sun--thereby symbolizing the beginning
of life--and four wings, representing the four directions of the
Navajo universe and painted in sacred colors appropriate to each
also incorporates the latest in computer technology and environmentally
sustainable design features, including an optimized heating and
air conditioning system and the use of recycled steel. In fact,
this new facility is in position to become New Mexico's first
building and the nation's first BIA-funded school to be certified
by the United States Green Building Council for its "Leadership
in Energy and Environmental Design" award.
of Indian Affairs, an agency of the Department of the Interior,
has 10,500 employees nationwide and is responsible for providing
services to approximately 1.4 million individual American Indians
and Alaska Natives from the federally recognized tribes.