SKC Hosts National Education LeadersNov 15th, 1998 | By tcj | Category: 10-2: Assessing Student Learning in a Cultural Environment, Tribal College News
Three of the nation’s top educators visited the Salish Kootenai College (SKC) campus in Pablo, Mont., during July. U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Administrator Dan Goldin, and National Science Foundation’s Alliance for Minority Participation Director Dr. A. James Hicks met with students and faculty at the college.
Goldin and Hicks delivered the keynote addresses to the sixth annual Alliance for Minority Research Conference. Goldin said that the rainbow chasers at NASA had failed to notice that the hues of NASA did not match the hues of the planet, according to a story by Bernie Azure in the tribal newspaper. Goldin has vowed to recruit Natives so that the first people of this country might be the first people to step on the surface of Mars. Across the nation, NSF sponsors 27 Alliances for Minority Participation designed to increase the number of underrepresented minorities earning degrees in science, math, engineering ,and technology. The All Nations AMP based at SKC hosted the conference for about 400 students and teachers from throughout the country.
Riley came to visit because the college and its president, Dr. Joe McDonald, have a good national reputation. “I wanted to listen to him because I personally have great respect for him,” Riley said of McDonald in an interview with the Missoulian newspaper. Between 1935 and 1976, only 41 members of the Salish and Kootenai tribes earned college degrees, according to figures provided by Riley. Since SKC opened its doors, 423 tribal members have graduated.
SKC President McDonald also has an international reputation in indigenous education. In May, he was invited to Taiwan to speak about tribal colleges at the World Conference on Adult Education for Indigenous People. He presented a slide show on the tribal college model to participants from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the Pacific Islands as well as Taiwan. Following the conference, he and his wife, Sherri, met with indigenous people from Taiwan, some of whom are interested in establishing community colleges themselves. There are nine tribal groups on the island, he said, who were there long before the Chinese began to migrate from the mainland. McDonald talked with a Maori scholar from New Zealand, Graham Smith, who wants to organize an organization of World Indigenous Colleges and Universities of Excellence. He invited Salish Kootenai College to be a charter member.