The Wyoming Department of Education’s Native American Conference played host to history Thursday at Central Wyoming College in Riverton as the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of the Interior came together to discuss Native American education initiatives and challenges. It was the first time in memory two Presidential Cabinet members came together in Wyoming to discuss Native American Education.

United States Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell participated in a roundtable discussion where they answered questions, listened to concerns, and took suggestions for improving educational opportunities for students on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Central Wyoming. They were joined on the panel by tribal leaders, along with state and local education officials. Former Wyoming Department of Education Interim Director, Dr. Jim Rose, moderated the panel.

In opening remarks, Duncan noted that the cycle of poverty, unemployment and social issues that plague reservations can only be broken through high quality educational opportunities. Jewell acknowledged that forward progress must be made on education, and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) under the Department of Interior (DOI) must uphold the federal governments’ treaties and trust obligations with the tribes. Jewell added that improving education in Indian Country will be a dual priority.

After the roundtable discussion Secretary Duncan and Secretary Jewell took part in a basketball event at St. Stephens School as well as cultural event with native dancing at Arapahoe School.