Student Writing Featured in New Format

Aug 15th, 1999 | By | Category: 10-4: Native Arts Education
By Marjane Ambler

We have dispensed with our usual format in order to bring you this special issue featuring creative writing by tribal college students. As subscribers know, each issue of the journal normally provides three or four feature articles and a guide to literature related to a particular theme. In addition, most issues include scholarly research, a tribal college profile featuring a student or alumnus, land grant department describing a tribal college’s U.S. Department of Agriculture program, “On Campus” shorts, and book reviews. This time, we have omitted much of our regular content. The Tribal College Student is being printed as a pull-out section so that extra copies can be distributed to the colleges for classroom use.

In 1993, Tribal College Journal began publishing Tribal College Student as a means for encouraging budding writers. The first six issues were distributed primarily to tribal college English classes and libraries. Students found stories they could relate to, unlike the usual college magazines that focus upon fashion, celebrity lifestyles, and an often foreign world.

A few copies found their way into other hands, and these readers suggested that more of the journal’s regular subscribers would like to see the students’ work. The most significant endorsement came last year from James Welch, the Blackfeet author whose books include Fool’s Crow, Winter in the Blood, and Killing Custer. He said that when he first started teaching a course on contemporary American Indian Literature in the 1970s, he had difficulty finding enough writers of American Indian descent for the class to discuss.

Writing the introduction to last year’s Tribal College Student, he said, “Judging from the diversity of subject matter and the quality of the writing in this anthology, American Indian writing is alive and well and coming from our tribal colleges.”

The students are of course the heart of the tribal colleges, our reason for being. We often provide a profile of a student in our issues. Yet in our coverage of tribal college philosophy and programs, the journal rarely gives more than a glimpse of students’ lives. This issue is designed to display not only their developing talents but also the sometimes dark reality of reservation life. Their words give us all a better perspective on students’ incredible achievements.

To devote this many pages to students requires a tradeoff. Other stories are not being told. We’re interested in your feedback on whether you think we should make this an annual tradition and publish an arts edition every year. You can respond by phone or mail at the numbers listed on this page or by e-mail to

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