Elders Meet to Define Educational Goals

Aug 15th, 1999 | By | Category: 10-4: Native Arts Education, Tribal College News

More than 150 elders from Native American tribes in the Northwest met at the Lummi Reservation on December 11 at the invitation of the Northwest Indian College Foundation to explore their vision for expanding educational opportunities for Native American peoples in the Northwest. Sandy Finkbonner, Lummi Council treasurer, welcomed those who came to the meeting, which was hosted by the Northwest Indian College Foundation and Northwest Indian College President Robert J. Lorence. Elders from the Lummi, Skokomish, Stillaguamish, Nooksack, Upper Skagit, Swinomish, Tulalip, Quileute, Suquamish, Tsimshian and Quinault Tribes attended.

Lorence outlined goals for the expansion of Northwest Indian College services to include more distance learning programs and to add baccalaureate degrees. Northwest Indian College was accredited in 1993 and offers associate degrees and certificate programs. Lorence stressed that continued development of higher education programs on reservations will require the support and interest of everyone. “We need you to give us your ideas about your vision for our future and the future of our children,” he urged.

After a program of entertainment provided by Vernell Lane and lunch catered by Lummi tribal members, the elders met for 45 minutes in small groups of four and five to discuss educational concerns and their visions for the future. They analyzed current educational experiences of Native Americans in the Northwest, looked at what factors encouraged and discouraged academic achievements, defined educational goals and ways those goals could be met, and identified individuals and groups who could help the college expand educational services. Much of the small group discussions examined how to help young people move forward with more confidence in the world while still honoring a strong sense of the past. The college is conducting follow-up interviews to further explore ideas presented at the meeting.

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