High Eagle Shares Story At AIHEC Conference

Aug 15th, 2004 | By | Category: 16-1: Sovereignty in Indian Country, Tribal College News

HAND GAMES. Using noise, distraction, and chanting, a tribal college student tries to bluff the opposing side in a hand-game tournament at the AIHEC conference. Photo by Lailani Upham-O'Donnell

Students and faculty from tribal colleges in Canada and across the United States gathered in Billings, MT, in March for the 24th annual American Indian Higher Education Consortium(AIHEC) conference.

“Never lose track of where you come from; then you’ll get where you’re going,” Little Big Horn College President Dr. David Yarlott (Crow) told the students. Yarlott, himself an alumnus of the tribal college in Crow Agency, MT, reminded the students that they were lucky to be staying in hotels. When he attended the first AIHEC conference in 1982, students stayed at the “Sioux Sanitarium.”

Jerry Chris Elliott High Eagle (Osage Cherokee) also addressed the students. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his duties at NASA during the aborted Apollo 13 space mission. He shared the personal loss he felt when someone broke into his house and stole his eagle feathers and other Indian things. It brought him to an epiphany: “The only thing you truly own is your education and what lies in your heart.”

Members of the AIHEC Student Congress elected their officers for the coming year: President Violet Tso, Diné College; Vice President Sydney Fox, Chief Dull Knife College; Secretary Jason Pretty Boy, United Tribes Technical College; Treasurer Mandi Owlboy, Cankdeska Cikana Community College; Sergeant-at-Arms Grace Samuels, Salish Kootenai College, and Historian Misty Hirsch, Salish Kootenai College.

Students gave the highest honors to Mr. AIHEC (Denny Guyton, Haskell Indian Nations University) and Ms. AIHEC (Tonya Small, Chief Dull Knife College).

In addition to the regular workshops and competitions, this year’s conference featured a two-day research symposium. Participants traded ideas and discussed good models for research and how to create appropriate measures of student success. Tanya Maile Parker, a student at Sinte Gleska University in South Dakota, presented her research paper on the Blue Water Massacre and the Fight for Artifacts and Repatriation. In future conferences, AIHEC hopes to have more students and faculty present their research.

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