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News Release

U.S. Department of the Interior

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) yesterday to commemorate the school’s 50th anniversary. She delivered remarks at an event celebrating the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)-operated post-secondary school and its ongoing work to empower Indigenous students and provide a quality, culturally competent education to students from across the country.

During the visit, which coincided with National Voter Registration Day, Secretary Haaland highlighted Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute’s recent designation as a voter registration agency. This designation will expand access to, and education about, voter registration and election information in order to enable all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy.

In a July op-ed originally published by, Secretary Haaland noted that “participating in governing is a time honored and sacred tradition in our Indigenous communities. Our ancestors and relatives survived against seemingly insurmountable odds, which is why we owe it to them to make our voices heard at the ballot box ... Our votes reflect our values and the issues we care about.”

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Pictured: Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute - Science and Technology building.

Pictured: Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute - Science and Technology building.

Secretary Haaland and Bureau of Indian Education Director Tony Dearman toured the campus and met with distinguished faculty, including Chef Lauren Barker, who was recently recognized as the Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation – Rio Grande Chapter, and Dr. Danielle Lansing, an early childhood faculty member who recently received a Distinguished Service Award from the Department.

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, which is one of two postsecondary institutions operated by Bureau of Indian Education, officially opened in September 1971. The school prepares Indigenous students as life-long learners through partnerships with tribes, employers and other organizations. 

About the U.S. Department of the Interior

The Department of the Interior (DOI) conserves and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people, provides scientific and other information about natural resources and natural hazards to address societal challenges and create opportunities for the American people, and honors the Nation’s trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated island communities to help them prosper.

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