Denver, Colo., February 2, 2020—Tribal colleges and universities are unlike any other higher education institution. Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, wanted to tell the story of how these remarkable institutions serving Indian reservation communities provide an education to the nation’s most underserved student population—while also supporting the process of rebuilding tribal identity and tribal nations. Crazy Bull gathered four tribal college presidents and experts in Native higher education to share how they do this work in their diverse tribal communities. The result of their work, titled “Tribal Colleges and Universities: Building Nations, Revitalizing Identity,” has been published in Change: The Magazine of Higher Education, Volume 52, 2020.
The article is co-authored by Crazy Bull, who also served as a tribal college president for 10 years at Northwest Indian College in Washington state, with veteran tribal college educators and presidents Dr. Cynthia Lindquist, Cankdeska Cikana Community College, North Dakota; Raymond Burns, Leech Lake Tribal College, Minnesota; Dr. Laurel Vermillion, Sitting Bull College, serving the Standing Rock Nation in North Dakota and South Dakota; and Dr. Leander “Russ” McDonald, United Tribes Technical College, North Dakota.
The article takes an in-depth look at the distinctive but overlapping approaches four tribal colleges use that support tribal nation-building. The narratives focus on how the presidents’ institutions work impacts their communities, such as culturally competent health and wellness programming, economic revitalization, workforce development, language restoration, community capacity building, and tribal governance.
Tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) are tribally controlled institutions with unique characteristics – a majority American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) student enrollment, predominately or entirely Native governing boards, culturally rooted curriculum, community-driven programming, and a commitment to tribal self-determination.
Copies of the article are available online at Taylor and Francis at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00091383.2020.1693819.
About Cheryl Crazy Bull
Cheryl Crazy Bull is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Indian College Fund, headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Her experience and research are primarily with and about tribally controlled education and leadership.
About Cynthia Lindquist
Cynthia Lindquist is the President of Cankdeska Cikana Community College, Spirit Lake, North Dakota. In addition to her higher education administration expertise, she shares her knowledge about community-based research, health and wellness, and equity through presentations and publications.
About Raymond Burns
Raymond Burns is President of Leech Lake Tribal College in Minnesota. His primary focus has always been on finding ways for Native students to achieve their academic best and help rebuild Indigenous communities to the status and importance that they once had.
About Laurel Vermillion
Laurel Vermillion is President of Sitting Bull College, located on the Standing Rock Nation straddling south central North Dakota and north central South Dakota. A former elementary teacher, Laurel is particularly focused on language revitalization and building community-wide initiatives that restore cultural practices and knowledge.
About Leander McDonald
Leander “Russ” McDonald is President of United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, North Dakota. Russ has served as Chairman of the Spirit Lake Dakota and as a regional representative to the National Congress of American Indians. He is an experienced researcher and promotes tribal self-determination through education and outreach.
About the American Indian College Fund
Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 30 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $7.72 million in scholarships to 3,900 American Indian students in 2018-19, and over $221 million in scholarships and community support since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit www.collegefund.org.