Our Movement Will Always Be About People

Aug 15th, 2003 | By | Category: 15-1: Indigenizing Our Future
By Gerald E. Gipp, Ph.D. Executive Director, American Indian Higher Education Consortium

Gerald E. Gipp

Every year the Tribal College Journal dedicates one issue to our students, offering our national audience the opportunity to read their poetry, short stories, and first-hand accounts. This annual issue keeps all of us within the tribal college movement fully engaged in continuing our mission on their behalf. This is the issue that opens the eyes of America, reminding many that the tribal college movement is about people – our people – and it is about our struggles, our hopes, our dreams, our future.

We have progressed over the past 30 years, but it is how we change the landscape of Indian Country – and America – over the next 30 that will enable future generations to achieve what was once considered unattainable.

Take Jennifer Foerster (Muscogee), who graduated in May with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. She plans to use her writing skills in community development, teaching in Native and international refugee communities.

Then there is Dulbert Ray Yazzie, a Navajo who spent 20 years in Phoenix before he and his wife decided to move back to their homeland to continue their education about their culture and general studies. After graduating from Diné College (Tsaile, AZ), he plans to earn a master’s degree and then return to the reservation to teach the younger generation.

And, Ben Rosales is an Oglala Lakota Native studying agriculture and researching bison at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Kyle, SD. With his education he will devise a way to work the land without the use of harsh chemicals and to teach others to farm so that they will never hurt valuable land, rainforests, or water.

Jennifer Foerster, Dulbert Ray Yazzie, Ben Rosales, and the other students from diverse tribes who are featured in this issue represent the leadership potential nurtured by our tribal colleges and universities. They will incorporate their culture and life experiences into their personal and professional development.

This issue also addresses American Indian leadership, highlighting an initiative by AIHEC and the tribal colleges to meet the challenge of developing and enhancing the leadership capacity in Indian Country. We recognize that transforming the poverty of many of our reservations and Indian communities requires us to develop new leadership, which will extend to our tribal governments and federal agencies serving our communities.

We hope this edition of the Tribal College Journal will help you visualize our students as the next generation of leaders. They will transform our dreams into reality.

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