LAWTON, Okla._New information has been made available on a petition drive calling for a special meeting of the Comanche Tribe.
Just last week, Eleanor McDaniel brought up her concerns about the way the Comanche Business Committee is budgeting their gaming money. She believes funds that are being spent on higher education and administration could be used more effectively elsewhere.
McDaniel wants to remove all funding for the Comanche Nation College, saying lack of accreditation and student enrollment don't coincide with the $2 million allotted for it each year. Comanche Chairman Wallace Coffey, board members and even students claim that the money is one of the best investments the tribe could ever make.
Comanche Nation College student Pevodah Nauni says he would be nowhere if it wasn't for his education.
"This school does a lot more for the community than many people want to give it credit for. This college has been a real helping hand, not just to me and my brother in attaining our dream of getting a college degree, but a helping hand to a lot of people whom I've seen who've come from various walks of life," he said.
Criticism of the school in the petition packed a panel room Friday morning with supporters. They said the school is a rising gem in the future of the tribe with accomplishments already on board.
"The initial candidacy for accreditation, that's the legal name for it, was achieved on November 2, 2012. And we're seeking full accreditation by 2016," said Augustine McCaffery, member of the Board of Trustees.
Accreditation means everything to the college and once they achieve full status classrooms will be eligible for non-tribal funds. In the meantime, Chairman Coffey says his tribe is willing to make ends meet in the name of the Comanche Nation's future.
"We also have to invest in the future of the tribe by creating opportunities for our students that can come work for the nation, the tribe, and provide us with expertise that we currently do not have or are lacking," said Coffey.
As for the argument that funds could better used for the welfare of the tribe, Chairman Coffey said they are willing to help anyone in need. He goes on to say that continued funding of the school will help unemployment and those in need for future generations. As for students like Niyah Nauni, he's just grateful to be in class.
"To shut down the school is like denying someone's right to an education. Who are they to say you can't get an education?" said Nauni.
Eleanor McDaniel's petition has about two more months to get the two hundred signatures needed for a special tribal council meeting. If she gets them early, that meeting could be scheduled as early as mid-march.
For access to the petition click here.