AIHEC’s Youngest Tribal College Accredited

Nov 15th, 1998 | By | Category: 10-2: Assessing Student Learning in a Cultural Environment, Tribal College News

Little Priest Tribal College—the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s institution of higher learning located in Winnebago, Neb.—has received accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The association is one of six regional accrediting organizations in the United States that evaluates universities’, colleges’, and schools’ effectiveness.

“It is a great credit to the Winnebago Tribe and to Little Priest Tribal College that we have met all the association’s standards for excellence and have achieved the distinction of accreditation, awarded after just two years after opening its doors to students,” said John Blackhawk, tribal council member and interim college president. “Accreditation often takes years for a school to achieve,” Blackhawk said. The accreditation process involves meeting a number of rigorous standards that the association has established in areas such as curricula, administration, finance, and institutional resources. Accreditation is important to the students who need national grants and who want to transfer.

Little Priest Tribal College –named after Chief Little Priest, the last war chief of the Winnebago Tribe in 1860s—is located on the Winnebago Indian Reservation in northeast Nebraska. The college began offering academic courses and community education classes in the fall of 1996 and currently has about 100 students. Four professors teach approximately 40 courses, including general education classes such as English, history, and math, as well as special emphasis courses or majors in American Indian history, education, and science. The college recently held its first graduation.. All five graduates went on to four-year programs.

Blackhawk said the college is part of the Winnebago Tribe’s plans for a comprehensive education program, involving Head Start, the public school and the parochial school on the reservation, and the college. The tribe demonstrated its commitment to education by providing the college with an initial $1 million grant and continuing to provide $500,000 per year for its operation. Because of its tribal casino and its proximity to an urban center (Sioux City, Iowa), the reservation’s unemployment rate is only five percent, he said. The tribe’s education program will eventually include immersion classes in the Winnebago language. “Our language is not only beautiful, but it provides a basis for looking at the beliefs of our people,” he said.

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